The Area of Europe has a working group Supporting the Prostituted, Enslaved and Sexually Exploited (SPES) made up by Srs Susan, Gloria, Juliet and Veronika FCJ (photo). The SPES group recently organised a gathering at Katherine House (FCJ Spirituality Centre in Salford) to explore the issue of Modern Slavery or trafficking. A fundraiser and a safe house manager from the Medaille Trust came to give input on their work in the North West and Modern Slavery in general. This gathering gave us an easy opportunity to become better informed about a huge problem, as well as the chance to meet old friends and hear about their own involvement in this crucial issue. We invited two parish friends, both of whom are involved with a variety of groups, to come with us.
The two speakers gave excellent and widely differing presentations. One was full of engrossing, harrowing, incredible and at times funny stories about ‘my men’ as she put it, those at present living in safe houses in Manchester; the other gave us a broader view and a wealth of statistics. The speakers complemented each other and helped us to grasp something of the complexity of this modern problem.
Many of our preconceptions were blown away, for example, that not only women but a huge number of men are victims of slavery; that this is not simply a tragedy affecting young people – men and women in their middle age and beyond are trapped in lives of slavery; that within a mile’s radius of any of our homes, modern slavery is in operation under our very noses! A final statistic was one of the saddest, namely, that some victims become so programmed by their experiences that they eventually prefer captivity to freedom. The day gave us all much to ponder and pray about.
By the Stretford Community