This panel will critically examine the role of faith actors in combating modern slavery and human-trafficking, as well as the ways in which religious identities are pertinent in the trafficking domain (e.g. for trafficked individuals, activists, those providing services and for perpetrators).
Although estimates are contested and data collection is poor, the Global Slavery Index tells us that '45.8 million people are enslaved in the world today'; the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate is that profits from human trafficking are $150billion annually; and UNICEF tells us that at least 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. Strong advocacy by many groups attests both to the gravity of the problem and considerable impetus to address it. Faith actors are important in anti-trafficking advocacy, and often play a positive role in support and service provision. Moreover, for many trafficked people a faith commitment is an important part of their identity. However, religious identities can be relevant to issues of human trafficking and modern slavery negatively. For instance, religious teachings may underpin unequal gender relations that enable sexual and labour exploitation; faith communities may choose to ignore trafficked people, viewing their situation as the product of unwholesome life style choices that are at odds with faith based values; faith based institutions may support practices that result in the trafficking of people (e.g. 'forced marriage' and other harmful traditional practices) or traffickers may use religion as a means of coercion. What roles do faith actors play in in providing services to support trafficked people, and in campaigns to end human-trafficking and modern slavery? How are religious identities pertinent in the trafficking domain? (e.g. for trafficked individuals, those providing services, activists seeking to end trafficking and for perpetrators).