Slavery and Human-Trafficking
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go.’ This is a kind of opening chapter in a continuing story.”
- Martin Luther King, Nobel Lecture 1964
About modern slavery
Slavery calls to mind images of biblical slaves in Egypt, or the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, slavery is an ongoing problem, even though it is illegal in most countries where it is practiced, and prohibited by a multitude of international laws and conventions. In fact, there are more enslaved people in the world today than at any point in history.
Another misconception is that slavery is a problem only in the developing world. Actually, slaves live in both the developing and the developed world. At any point in time, as many as 5,000 people in the UK are victims of slavery or trafficking.
Modern slavery exists in many forms including forced labour, forced marriage, and child labour. The practice of slavery and its effects impact all of our lives, in ways we often do not even realize. For example, when we purchase clothes from the high street, we may be contributing to modern slavery. To learn more about the forms of modern slavery, read our policy paper on modern slavery.
The Jewish connection
During Biblical times, the Jewish people were enslaved. Today, particularly during the festival of Pesach, we remember that we are free. René Cassin believes that as we celebrate our freedom through our every day activities and choices, we must remember that there are many people around the world, including in our own countries, who are still not free, and take actions to end enslavement for all people. To learn more about why the Jewish people should work to end modern slavery, and improve the lives of workers around the world, take a look at our policy paper on modern slavery. Or, download our Passover Haggadah Companion to incorporate modern slavery into your Passover Sedar.
What we do
René Cassin seeks to end modern slavery through education and advocacy. We run unique educational programmes and events for children, university students and professionals, which aim to raise awareness of modern slavery around the world, in the UK and in Israel. We also advocate for change to relevant laws and policies both in the UK, and on the international stage using our status through the CCJO as a United Nations-accredited organisation.
In addition to our ongoing campaign and educational work in this area, we have two current projects on foot that you can support:
- Slavery Free London 2012: Events like the Olympics bring jobs, tourists and infrastructure when they come to town, but they also bring an increased risk of human trafficking as the demand for cheap, temporary labour goes up. Join our Slavery-Free London 2012 campaign to help leave a positive, slavery-free legacy for the games.
- Voice of Freedom: A joint project with PhotoVoice, Leila Segal, and the Ma'agan Safe House for Trafficked Women in Petach Tikva, Israel. To learn more, please click here.
What you can do
Ending modern slavery is truly an area in which a single individual’s decisions and actions can make a difference. You have already taken the first step, by learning more about the issue! Regardless of your age or profession, you can help us as we seek to raise awareness of, and put an end this practice.
Here are some things you can do:
- Represent René Cassin at various anti-slavery events and speak at schools and universities on our behalf. Please email us if you are interested, and we will provide you with background information and training.
- Sign Antislavery International's Slavery-Free London 2012 Pledge and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
- Measure your slavery footprint and support companies who subscribe to ethical guidelines.
- Raise awareness of the issue by talking about it with your friends and family, or attending one of our upcoming events.
- At work, encourage your company to adopt a responsible business practices policy.
- Support the women at the Ma'agan Safe House for Trafficked Women through the Voice of Freedom Project by clicking here.
- are a lawyer, you can assist us in our legal work to pursue the enactment of such laws.
- are involved in politics, you can assist us in our advocacy work with domestic and international politicians.
- would like to talk to us about how you can be involved in or contribute towards our campaign, please email us.
- celebrate Passover, you can also read our Haggadah Companion around your seder table this year. It will inform you and the other participants at your seder about the facts and give you a greater insight into our slavery and human trafficking campaign. If you would like to order hard copies of this resource, please email us.
You can and will help us make headway in the fight to provide people worldwide with fair working conditions and protection from individuals looking to take advantage of the vulnerability of others.
On 1st March, 2012, René Cassin hosted a party to raise awareness about its work to make the London 2012 Olympic Games slavery free. You can download a flyer for the event by clicking here. If you would like to support this particular area of work, please click here and quote 'Slavery Free London 2012' to have your donation restricted to this campaign.
René Cassin was recently involved in efforts to ensure that a recent UK Government delegation trip to Egypt raised the issue of combating human trafficking and torture in Sinai. To read a sample of the letter we used to initiate communications with government representatives, please click here.