A Tale of Two Mondays

Chris Mould

Harrowing. An ordeal that had to be endured. But if ever I were to label anything compulsory viewing, BBC 2’s Doing Money fits the bill. Hard hitting, based on a true story, this drama highlights the details of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK and contemporary Europe. That’s how I spent the first Monday evening of November and, as always when I come face to face with the individual human tragedy at the heart of modern slavery, I was left angry that such things go on, hidden in plain sight, and disturbed that society seems so powerless in its ability to put an end to it, once and for all.

A week later and another Monday evening in November it’s human trafficking and modern slavery once again. But this time hope rises. I’m attending the [www.arise.foundation] Arise Foundation’s launch of a new report which attempts to document the anti-slavery efforts of men and women religious and give voice to their work. Yes, slavery still exists, and it’s estimated a staggering 40 million people are living as slaves, today, but the anti-slavery movement is growing stronger and frontline abolitionists all over the world are working to prevent it. Arise is working to enhance collaboration between them.

At Shaftesbury Partnership we are always looking for ways to scale initiatives that work. Equally we know that social reform gives birth to its value one individual at a time. However laudable our motivation, ideas and sentiments are only ever hot air until they’re used in action. In highlighting the anti-slavery work of religious, Arise is drawing attention to a significant resource. There are over 1 million religious sisters worldwide who are committed to preventing trafficking of women. And Arise is helping these frontline abolitionists to collaborate more effectively.

Criminal networks underpin human trafficking and modern slavery. Networks of those committed to combating slavery create hope. The more effective those anti-slavery networks can be made, the more hope we can hold that slavery will be stopped.

Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery at Nottingham University doesn’t beat about the bush: “We in the academic and policy communities have been saying for decades that we can’t defeat slavery without strengthening civil society.”

Modern slavery is a global challenge, for sure, but for us in the UK, Southeast Europe has a special significance: Albania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania are all notable source countries. Shaftesbury Partnership is pleased to be sharing with a Moldovan NGO, Beginning of Life and a Bulgarian NGO, the Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion, in a fresh, collaborative initiative, the Forum for Social Transformation in the Balkans and Eastern Europe [www.socialtransformation.org] which aims to strengthen civil society and address some of the principal drivers of slavery: poverty, lack of education and opportunity and weak civil society.

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