Our choices have the power to combat modern-day slavery

The scourge of human trafficking and the devastating impact on its victims was acknowledged by the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) in its annual awards announced on October 30, 2020.

The article ‘I don’t want slaves working for me’ published in the February 2019 edition of The Good Oil received the bronze award in the category of Best Social Justice Article. The twin aims of the ARPA awards are to acknowledge and encourage excellence in Christian publishing.

Through the article we learn about ‘Mary’, a victim of modern-day slavery, who was brought to Australia and held captive, deprived of food and subjected to physical and sexual violence for two years. Her harrowing story raises many questions:

“How is it possible for one human being to use another person like they are a ‘thing’ to be abused and discarded? What does it mean to live in a community where there are people who can treat other people in this way? And if this darkness exists in my community, what is my responsibility for that?

“It is easy for us to be complicit in systems and processes which allow human trafficking to be a growing problem in our world. Though not abusing people directly, our choices every day connect us with the systems and supply chains in which people are used as objects, in which the life of a human person is worth very little indeed.

“Everyday purchases like clothing, food and technology connect us with supply chains in which slavery and labour exploitation are endemic. The choices I make reflect my values, my commitment to human rights and my ability to recognise every person as having equal dignity and value.”

The judge’s comments said: “This telling article points out that slavery – the buying and selling of humans – still happens today. Many women and children are forced into prostitution; others are made to work in slave-like conditions in places such as cocoa farms in West Africa and sweatshops in Bangladesh. Pointers and resources for action are included.”

The Good Oil is a free, monthly e-journal of the Good Samaritan Sisters. The editorial focus is on publishing news, features and opinion articles, and reflective content which aims to nourish the spirit, stimulate thinking and encourage reflection and dialogue about issues of the day from a Christian, Catholic, Good Samaritan perspective.

To read the current and archived editions of The Good Oil, click here.

ARPA is a professional association which aims to develop members’ skills, knowledge and professionalism; to offer opportunities for networking, fellowship and information-sharing among members; and to recognise excellence through the presentation of annual awards.  

For a complete list of the 2020 ARPA Awards, click here.

Published in The Good Oil, November 2020.