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Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
World News

Church called to speak up on behalf of millions of people trapped in slavery

The charity is urging "abolitionists to rise up" and for the "church once again to take a lead" in the fight against slavery.

Today, there are more people in slavery than there were in the 200-year transatlantic slave trade combined and every minute two children are sold into slavery, according to IJM.

IJM's UK CEO David Westlake told Premier it is a multi-billion pound industry: "It is a £116 billion a year industry that we are all funding. We may not be buying directly from slave-owners themselves, but slavery is hidden in the supply chains of hundreds of the products we use every day.

"Everything from t-shirts, to make-up, smartphones, rice, chocolate, and jewellery- all of these can have slavery in their supply chains. Even here in the UK, there are men, women and children enslaved in the sex industry, in nail bars, cannabis farms and car washes."

Westlake said International Day for the Abolition of Slavery looks forward to "the abolition of all slavery. Decisive action has been taken to end slavery, most famously Wilberforce and the end of the transatlantic slave trade nearly 200 years ago."

Westlake said the day provides us a moment to stop and think and ask ourselves the question, "can we live up to our forebearers of 200 years ago and bring an end to the slave trade?"

The Home Office estimates there are around 13,000 slaves in the UK, but many charities think it could be around 100,000.

Westlake believes there can be an end to slavery and says it only exists because people are able to get away with it, he told Premier: "When people can't get away with it, slavery stops. We know this, we know that around the world. When people think they'll get caught, they stop doing it.

"So we work with the authorities around the world to see the people involved in the slave trade, go to court, get convicted and imprisoned and stop."

IJM says it has seen that the deterrent of being caught and punished leads to dramatic decreases in violence, exploitation and slavery.

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