understand modern slavery

At Walk Free Foundation, we focus on a multi-faceted approach to engage a number of stakeholders including faiths, businesses, academics, civil society organisations and governments in global initiatives to drive change and build awareness around the complex and often hidden nature of modern slavery.

An estimated 40.3 million people are victims of modern slavery across the world. Those highest at risk include those who are physically or linguistically isolated, culturally disoriented, subjected to crushing debts and have little to no knowledge of their rights.

Its victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. On behalf of all of them, our communities of faith are called to reject, without exception, any systematic deprivation of individual freedom for the purposes of personal or commercial exploitation.Pope Francis

faces of slavery

This image was taken in India, in a community recently liberated from intergenerational debt bondage under the control of a landlord. The community now uses their carpet weaving skills to generate a fair income, empowering them to be part of a wider community, generate local revenue and send their children to school.

Photo credit: Grace Forrest

The daughter of a farmer based in India. Many Indian farmers have been affected by the rising costs of farming cotton, including the cost of fertilisers, pesticides and the use of new genetically modified seeds that cost more but have not produced the higher yields that were promised. They are forced to borrow from local money lenders at exorbitant rates of interest which they have no means of repaying. There is a strong connection between usurious debt, crisis borrowing, landlessness and debt bondage.

Photo credit: GMB Akash

This community was in transition from slavery to freedom in a stone cutting district of Varanasi. The members of this community did not want to be interviewed as they were concerned by potential repercussions from authorities, but were happy for photos to be taken.

Photo credit: Grace Forrest

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 2015. Houda (14 years old) pictured with her teddy bear. She left Syria (Raqqa) four years ago and she got married about one year ago. She lives in the Bekaa Valley with her family while her husband works and lives in Beirut. Her husband stays with her only on the weekend. Approximately 1.3 million refugees are officially registered in Lebanon. Marriages in refugee camps often involve girls of 11 to 13 years, but can include more extreme cases of girls as young as nine years old.

Photo credit: Laura Aggio Caldon

A female textile worker is working in a textile factory of Bangladesh. The majority of garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, set at 3,000 taka a month (approximately £25). This is far below what is considered a living wage, calculated at 5,000 taka a month (approximately £45), which would be the minimum required to provide a family with shelter, food and education. About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh’s garment industry, making it the world’s second-largest apparel exporter. The bulk of exports – 60 percent – go to Europe. The United States takes 23 percent and 5 percent go to Canada.

Photo credit: GMB Akash

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