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18 October 2014

Anti-Slavery Day raises awareness of millions in slavery

Anti-Slavery Day raises awareness of millions in slavery

There are almost 30 million people living as slaves currently around the world, according to extensive research by Walk Free.

After the successful 18 Days of Freedom campaign, today marks Anti-Slavery Day – an opportunity to highlight the plight of people in slavery and to think about what each of us can do to help end slavery.

Slavery is often depicted as a despicable practice of the past. We imagine 18 century American cotton plantations, not semi-detached houses in modern suburbia.

The current reality paints a very different picture. The millions of people in slavery are forced into work, war, marriage and prostitution. These people are treated as mere property rather than with respect and fairness –qualities at the heart of human rights.

In the UK thousands of victims of slavery and trafficking are identified every year. This is all the more disheartening given our strong and proud legacy of abolition, established by William Wilberforce.

However, this doesn't need to continue to be our reality. We can all do our bit to end modern slavery in the UK.

In support of Anti-Slavery Day, a team of cyclists are participating in a five-day cycle challenge from Liverpool to London. They will finish today in London with a race following the 2012 Olympic route and they'll be joined by many others who want to support their efforts.

Cycle for Freedom is fundraising to support the work Sport for Freedom does providing rehabilitation for UK trafficking victims. You can visit their website to find out more and to find out how you can support their work.

The Modern Slavery Bill, which is currently progressing through parliament, is another important tool for ending slavery and trafficking in the UK. This bill was introduced in response to many thousands of people calling for an end to slavery in the UK.

The Evangelical Alliance, along with many other NGOs including Unseen, Walk Free and Alliance member the Salvation Army have been calling for improvements to strengthen this law, to make sure it's as effective as possible. We want to see better support for victims, greater independence for the anti-slavery commissioner and holding businesses to public account with their supply chains.

This week we're pleased to see the government has announced they will amend the bill to require businesses to publicly state what action they are taking to make sure their supply chains are slavery free.

This is a positive step. However, more still needs to be done to make sure we get a law that truly protects people and ensures that all people are treated with respect and fairness.

No one should have to endure a life of slavery. Everyone deserves to live a life of freedom. Anti-Slavery Day provides the space for us to seriously think about this tragedy.