Human trafficking contrary to the will of God

A new resource is being developed to help congregations identify victims of human trafficking.

Human trafficking
Over 20 million men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning, Moderator of the General Assembly, said the leaflet would provide tactical advice to enable people to respond to a situation that is “contrary to the will of God”.

He made the announcement today in an address to a conference on human trafficking and modern day slavery at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Organised by UN House Scotland, the event is entitled “See Me, Free Me” and seeks to raise awareness and strengthen collaboration to “break the chains”.

Other speakers included Kevin Hyland, UK independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Peter Hope-Jones of the Scottish Government’s human trafficking group and Stuart Houston of Police Scotland.

Humanity diminished

Dr Browning said: “From our Christian faith perspective, we recognise that human trafficking is contrary to the will of God.

“Each number represents one life, one woman, one man, one child, for whom life has become less than that, a travesty of life.

“From whom dignity has been taken as she or he is held captive and violated both spiritually and physically.

“When any person is treated as a commodity, all of humanity is diminished.”

More than 20 million men, women and children around the world are forced to lead lives as slaves.

Women from Eastern Europe are bonded into prostitution, children are trafficked between West African countries and men are forced to work as slaves on Brazilian agricultural estates.

Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, sex and race, and it happens here in Scotland.

Dr Browning said the Church and other faith communities want to work in partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities and other not-for-profit organisations to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery.

“A new leaflet will be produced containing practical information for churches on how to identify human trafficking victims,” he added.

“It will continue to develop and produce theological resources that can be used by churches and church groups to examine and respond to human trafficking.

“One of the Church’s strengths is our national presence covering every part of Scotland.

Right Rev Dr Derek Browning
The Right Rev Dr Derek Browning said the leaflet on human trafficking will provide tactical advice for congregations to help identify victims

“Through our congregations we have thousands of eyes on the ground in all areas of communities, but we need to know what we are looking for in our rural and urban settings.

“The Church, through ministers and elders and deacons alike, can gain access to places that local authorities might struggle to locate.

“We believe it is imperative that our church members are aware of what is going on in their local communities, and know what to do about it.”

No borders

Dr Browning said the Church of Scotland has extensive partnerships with faith groups and charities across the world.

He added that the Kirk’s World Mission Council has around 60 partner churches around the world.

Dr Browning said: “Many of these churches are in countries where human trafficking is a very prevalent issue.

“The Church of Scotland is working ecumenically and with interfaith friends internationally so that we can address human trafficking wherever we come into contact with it.

“Traffickers see no borders and trafficking is global so it is important that we work together.”

The Kirk is part of an organisation called Action of Churches Together in Scotland, which has anti-human trafficking group and leads initiatives around trafficking and modern slavery.

Dr Browning said: “A conference focusing on the stories of World Mission’s Partner Churches combined with a local drama production is being discussed for 2018-2019 to continue to raise awareness.

“The group aims to be present at the annual ‘Heart and Soul’ event, to be held on Sunday 20th May in Princes’ Street Gardens as part of our General Assembly meeting."

For more information about the Church's campaign work against human trafficking and modern slavery, email rerskine@churchofscotland.org.uk