The roadside sign to have your car washed for £3 is so tempting. With busy lives, and when time is precious, this amount is small change. You can have your car cleaned in a few minutes by a team of people, generally from overseas, while you catch up on emails or read a magazine. For many of us it’s a no-brainer.
Then you begin to hear that some car washes (although certainly not all) are places where the victims of modern slavery are forced to work. Along with nail bars, brothels, domestic service and horticulture, these are the places where people are found caught up in this vile trade in human beings. The trade includes children as well, often violently coerced into illegal activity, and there is a horrifying international trade in the poorest people having their organs trafficked for the benefit of people who are ill and wealthy enough.
If you thought slavery ended with William Wilberforce then think again.
Each and every human being is made in the image of God – the Imago Dei – so anything less than human flourishing is an affront to God. Any behaviour that values some human beings less than others, or exploits or abuses them, is contrary to God’s will. This is why, as Christians, we must take a stand against modern slavery in all its forms. In such a way, we follow in the steps of Jesus in proclaiming release to the captives and letting the oppressed go free.
Working to combat modern slavery is the responsibility of us all. The Church of England’s Clewer Initiative is working to bring these crimes to the attention of the wider public. It is also helping us to spot the signs that are there, often in plain sight before us, if only we had the eyes to see.
For further information about their work and what you can do to help, please see www.theclewerinitiative.org, and for indicators of trafficking, domestic servitude and labour exploitation, see their “spot the signs” page.
Together we can make a difference and banish the scourge of slavery in our midst.
Rt Revd Graham Usher
The Bishop of Dudley