“My name is Daia*. I’m from a small town in Edo State, Nigeria. My family were very poor and from a young age I was always chasing a ‘better life’.
At 18 I met and fell in love with Victor*, from Lagos. I was so impressed by his fine clothes and his confidence. Victor suggested going together to London – he said he had friends there and a job for me, cleaning in a hair salon. I was so excited. Victor travelled ahead and I was to follow him.
After a long journey I arrived in Dublin. I had never heard of this place but thought it was just another stop-over on my way to London. Victor had arranged for someone to meet me. This man took me in his car. But we did not go to Victor, or to the hair salon, or to London. He took me to a brothel. I have been here ever since.”
* This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect identities.
Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery
Jesus tells us, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NJB).
But many people do not have life to the full. They have fallen victim to the scourge of human trafficking and modern slavery which are an assault on a person’s innate human dignity. People are not commodities to be traded ruthlessly for criminal profit.
Indeed, this is something that is happening in communities across our country, not just in our big cities. It’s not only happening in brothels and nail bars, but on farms, building sites and factories as well. Nor is this a problem confined to immigrant communities, it is affecting our own citizens too.
Trafficking is a growing problem and the UN estimates that over 40 million people worldwide are in slavery. In the UK alone, it is estimated that every year there are over 13,000 victims of trafficking from all countries.
Criminals exploit some of the most vulnerable and desperate people. We can act together to stop this. It is a crime hidden in plain sight, it’s difficult to investigate, and the police need our
help to identify and stop the traffickers and rescue and support the victims.
How Can We Help?
The Catholic community can make a real difference to help solve this problem – to help them find freedom and live life to the full. There are many organisations working to put a stop to human trafficking and modern slavery. One of these, the Santa Marta Group, works internationally to bring the Catholic Church and law enforcement agencies together to eradicate slavery. To read more visit www.santamartagroup.com
Locally, dioceses, Caritas and other church communities can effect real change for trafficked people living in these areas.