SLAVERY is probably as close to you as the mobile phone in your
pocket, the Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, said this
Speaking after an international Anglican consultation on
modern slavery in Rome, Dr Redfern explained that "a great
proportion of the electronic devices we all use and devour come
from systems where slave labour is endemic in the chains that
produce them. So it is probably close to the heart - literally - of
most of us. I carry my phone in my top pocket."
Dr Redfern described slavery as "an international endemic crime
that is increasing". He said that, without a joined-up response,
the "hidden crime" would be "really hard to tackle".
About 20 Anglican specialists from El Salvador, Brazil, the
United States, southern Africa, Burundi, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, and
the UK took part in the consultation last week; under the
chairmanship of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to
the Holy See, the Most Revd Sir David Moxon.
Dr Redfern said that the financial downturn had led to "a growth
in the informal economy" involving "gangs that are recruited for a
day, they are bused somewhere; they work; they go home".
In one case, in Derby, 27 men were crammed into a two-up
two-down house, and their passports were confiscated by the
traffickers. "There were signs that people could have noticed; but
nobody did. . .
"There are people working on the land, in other areas, the
building industry, car washes: people we just take for granted,
where, if we look carefully, then maybe the people we just think
are foreign migrants are in fact people who came here looking for a
better job, have been duped, and are trapped in some exploitative
He called for "a partnership between countries where trafficked
people come from, and those of us who benefit from traffickers and
trafficked people being enslaved in our midst and providing cheap
goods and services". He said that churches could help to "put the
victims at the centre" of attempts to tackle slavery.
A former child-slave in Ghana, James Kofi Annan, took part in
last week's consultation. He was one of seven boys who were sold to
traffickers for $20 at the age of six. Only three survived.
They were seen as expendable by their masters: they were forced
to dive at great risk into the deep waters of Lake Volta to free
trapped fishing nets. The nets cost $200.
After seven years in captivity, Mr Annan escaped. He now runs
the organisation Challenging Heights, which works to rescue and
educate children sold into slavery.
One unnamed speaker told the story of a woman who had been
arrested 166 times for prostitution. "Only on the 167th time did
the judge ask her if she chose to engage in prostitution. We need
lawyers and judges who know how to ask the right questions to
uncover human trafficking."
"It is truly shocking to hear the accounts of men, women, and
children who have been trafficked and enslaved," the co-executive
director of the Anglican Alliance, the Revd Rachel Carnegie,
"This consultation has enabled us to learn together . . . to
shape a stronger collective response to end this crime against