IJM Perth Seminar
On March 31st, Terry Tennons from the International Justice Mission came to Perth Baptist Church to conduct a seminar on the problem of slavery in the world today, and the work that IJM does in the fight against it. The seminar was informative without being sensationalist; horrific in terms of the scale of the problems it outlined; but also encouraging and hopeful in its descriptions of prisoners released, and justice won.
IJM presented the audience with a barrage of facts about the prevalence and nature of contemporary slavery around the world today. Slavery - the trade in humans - is worth $39bn/year, making it the third largest illegal industry after weapons and drugs, and a rapidly expanding sector of the organised crime world. Coca-Cola is a leading world brand, but is not as financially significant as slavery. India alone is thought to have over 30million people toiling in forced labour, half of whom are children. Rwanda has 2m child-slaves, being sold and used in the sex-industry. Slavery is not restricted to the sex-industry however, and slaves can be found working as soldiers, operating street crime networks, domestic servitude, cultivating drugs, working in factories, mills, quarries, brick kilns, or having their organs removed and sold for transplants. In Cambodia a child can be 'purchased' for as little as $100.
Slavery, and its associated industry of people-trafficking, is present in the UK, especially associated with the 'payment-for-rape' of the sex-industry. A criminal in the UK might expect to pay £5,000 to import a sexual-slave to the UK, and make over £100,000 profit from the first year of her abuse. In 2007/8 at least 325 children were imported into the UK for slavery from West Africa, Vietnam, China, India and Thailand. In the British police sting operations named Pentameter 1 & 2, hundreds of slaves were released, and huge numbers of arrests were made. Many British people were shocked to discover that brothels staffed by slaves were operating in quiet, rural locations.
The International Justice Mission's Response
IJM is a Christian-charity, at the forefront of the fight against the evil of violent forced-labour around the world. There are four main elements to IJM's work. (1) Victim Relief, (2) Victim Aftercare, (3) Perpetrator Accountability and (4) Structural Transformation.
1. Victim relief: IJM is involved across Africa, India, SE Asia in working to physically release slaves from their captivity. They work with local police forces, helping them with all manner of information gathering and surveillance, to mounting raids on slaveholding facilities in order to see forced labourers liberated.
2. Victim Aftercare has become essential to IJM's work. They have developed a system they call "Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy" (TFCBT), as a way of helping freed-slaves to process their experience and recover from it. Many of the people they work with have been the victims of the most appalling physical or sexual abuse from an early age, and physical liberation is only the first step to recovery from slavery. In many cases the recovery work is led by former slaves, released through IJM's work. Liberated people are also assisted with gaining the skills they will need to build successful lives in freedom, such as literacy, numeracy and marketable skills.
3. Perpetrator Accountability is another essential element of IJM's work. When slaves are released, slave-holders and gangmasters need to be brought to justice in order to prevent them simply abusing a new set of vulnerable people. IJM's specialist legal teams are able to secure far higher conviction rates than many governments whose police and state prosecution services are either ill-trained, under-resources, over-stretched or all of the above.
4. "Structural Transformation" is the term which IJM use to describe their work in building the effective rule of law in countries whose legal and social care systems are malfunctioning. Working with Police, Prosecutors, Judges, and Social-workers, IJM is making progress in helping several government repair their legal systems to make them effective for the first time in combating modern forms of slavery.
IJM are dedicated to constantly measuring every aspect of their work to establish the extent of the success of their programs. Independent research has suggested that in cities where their approach has been applied, slavery has been reduced by almost 80%! The Gates Foundation has funded some of their work liberating sex-slaves, as part of their strategy to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, so successful is it at reducing the use of sex-slaves who are frequently infected.
These post consists of a few of my notes from the seminar, which I have put here as several people who couldn't make it, have asked for information about what they missed. Please find out more about the important work of IJM by clicking on the following links:
International Justice Mission (UK)
At The End of Slavery