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Christian charity says it is possible to build world with no slavery after Covid-19

by Cara Bentley

An anti-human trafficking charity says if countries put in the effort to eradicate modern day slavery, it could be done. 

International Justice Mission, who campaign on all forms of trafficking - from sexual exploitation, online abuse and forced labour - claims that with greater awareness, slavery could end. 

As the industry already operates secretively, the effect of Covid-19 is hard to calculate. But it is suspected to have had a negative impact as people lose income and become more susceptible to false offers of work and the filmed abuse of children, often from the Philippines, has been watched online in the UK by many more people since the lockdown - with websites crashing because of demand. 

Esther Swaffield-Bray, England director of IJM told Premier: "Law enforcement have recorded a huge spike in this brutal crime over lockdown, quite simply because people here, in countries like ours, are spending more time online. They're at home, they're on the internet and children in the Philippines are locked in with their perpetrators."

She added that there has also been "rescue after rescue" but that "if we don't take action now, then we're going to see slavery increase."

Over 40 million people are thought to be in some form of slavery worldwide, with various charities working on the issue from different angles - such as making sure there is punishment brought on those committing crimes, freeing people from exploitative settings and exposing industries that are using forced or illegal labour. 

Swaffield-Bray said in the light of Black Lives Matter and the discussions around the transatlantic slave trade, we should be aware that slavery still exists and is global. 

"Slavery, sadly, is alive and well and I think there is a growing awareness of the issue but still often there's a sense of, 'it's something over there' that we are not connected to. Whereas the reality is we are all connected, whether it is through the items that we buy, who is making our clothes, what we eat, there are more people in slavery around the world than have ever been and we are all connected through those things that we use every day."

Drawing a link between Christians in the 21st century and a Christian of the time, she said anti-slave trade campaigner William Wilberforce's plea for "money, awareness and prayer" summarises the same methods that will eradicate modern slavery today. 

"We've really got a choice I think, in terms of the type of world we want to see, as the people of God and as Christians."

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