On Tuesday 19th September 2017, Hampshire Society welcomed The Lord Bishop of Derby for a talk on human trafficking and modern slavery. Georgina English (U6F) provides us with an insight into the lessons learnt from the discussion:
The Lord Bishop of Derby is part of a select committee on modern day slavery in Parliament. He was involved in the making of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, working alongside Theresa May while she was Home Secretary, and she was very supportive of the legislation. Currently Theresa May’s position helps raise awareness of the fact that there are 60 million people globally involved in slavery and many more in dubious professions. Bishop Alistair spoke about how the position he is in makes a difference to the ‘globalisation of indifference’.
The talk began with Bishop Alastair asking how many of us thought we were involved in slavery – no one raised their hands. However, he then asked how many of us owned a phone and all of us raised our hands. It was then evident that actually we are all involved in the oppression of people in some way or another; for example, children in India can be exploited for the production of sim cards in our mobile phones.
Many will remember the Rana Plaza Primark factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed over 1100 people; this was a form of slavery where thousands of people were being used for cheap labour in order to manufacture cheap clothing that we buy today. Bishop Alastair explained to us that we pass people in our daily lives who are trapped in a job that they never meant to be in. A number of girls in the crowd had been to a nail bar and had women paint their nails for a low price. This, in many cases, is a form of slavery where women are exploited by the nail bar owner to work long hours, inhaling the toxic fumes and being paid next to nothing. 2007 saw the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by William Wilberforce, yet since then, the exploitation of human beings has become the second most profitable crime after the drug trade, with it likely to become first because people are more replaceable than drugs.
It could be argued that in society there is a total over-tolerance of liberalism; as citizens we do not care what others do, we pay little attention to the lives of one another and as a result the exploitation of vulnerable people is allowed to occur. As human beings we have a duty to our community to help protect the innocent. The Bishop gave us three things we could do easily with little effort and they are:
1. Ask questions about what you see and notice things around you, like people’s behaviour.
2. Use social media to pressure businesses into having an ethical stance on slavery (this was developed by the Modern Slavery Act which required companies with a higher turnover of £30 million to put a statement about modern slavery on their website).
3. After buying a ‘cheap’ item from a shop think about where it could have been made and even send a letter to the company asking them to assure you that there is no exploitation involved in the making of the product. This puts pressure on them to correct anything that they are doing wrong.
Social media and influence from consumers has enormous power when it comes to changing a business’ ethical practice because a business’ reputation can be ruined in seconds if their exploitation practices are revealed.
Bishop Alastair finished with an interesting point about the fact that politics is based on compromise and NGOs exist to speak out against bad ethics. This is crucial in explaining the influence of the church on the matter of modern slavery.
Having the Lord Bishop of Derby speak to us on modern slavery was an incredible opportunity and it opened many eyes to the harsh realities of the world outside the Repton bubble.