On 8 February, Caritas Plymouth hosted an event at Abbey Road in Torquay to celebrate the Feast of St Bakhita and to reflect on the issue of modern slavery. Saint Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869 and sold into slavery as a child by kidnappers. After she found freedom, she joined an order of nuns in Northern Italy, where she died in 1947. Inspired by her life, she is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery.
Pope Francis has spoken about this topic many times. His stated aim is “to …free the victims of the new forms of slavery… to unmask the traffickers and those who create this market, and to offer effective assistance to cities and nations; a service for the common good, and for the promotion of human dignity, that it may be able to draw out the best of every person and of every citizen.”
Guest speakers included Caroline Virgo from the Clewer Initiative and Neville Bradbury from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. We heard about the risks of modern slavery in the UK including in the agricultural and care sectors – both significant employers in the southwest. Modern slavery is a serious crime being committed across the UK in which victims are exploited for someone else’s gain. It can take many forms including trafficking of people, forced labour and servitude. Victims are often hidden away, may be unable to leave their situation, or may not come forward because of fear or shame.
We learned how to spot the signs of modern slavery and what we can do about it. We aim to continue raising awareness in the Diocese and further events will be planned, including during Anti-Slavery Week in October. Caritas Plymouth would welcome contact from parishes interested in what more we can do in our local communities to be alert to this important issue and to take appropriate action.
Please contact Alexandra Miranda firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.