Although the number of people living in bondage or slavery
as a percentage of the global population has dropped, the actual number of people living in bondage of some kind is believed to be higher now than at any point in history. Though the most obvious forms of slavery are illegal in every country (as of 2008), various insidious forms of bondage and slavery still plague the modern world (while chattel slavery continues to be practiced in some places). Throughout the world, women and children are trafficked, laborers are forced to work in mines and sweatshops or even in service industries, whole families are controlled and forced to work through debt bondage, and countless individuals are forced into unwanted marriages.
Modern slavery and human trafficking are inhuman practices that treat our fellows as less than human and debase the humanity of both those who perpetrate and those who are complicit.
Nonetheless, perhaps there is hope in all of this. For years, NGOs, governments, religious groups, and concerned individuals have been working to abolish all modern manifestations of bondage and oppression. More recently, this has become an increasingly central topic in the Orthodox Christian world. In 2017, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew launched the first public work of the newly founded patriarchal taskforce on modern slavery (see 35, 51). This task force has had yearly conferences, and, in conjunction with GOARCH and the Patriarch Athenagoras Institute, has begun training at the parish level (see 40). St. Catherine’s Vision has also taken up the topic, launching the Divine Compassion and Human Trafficking initiative in 2015 (see 14). Other more on-the-ground groups have begun taking concrete steps to eradicate this crime (see 2, 40, 55). We at the Orthodox Peace Fellowship have also taken up this issue. Last year we ran a holiday fundraiser to found “St. Nicholas’s Purse,” which during the season between St. Nicholas’s Day and Christmas honors the witness of St. Nick, who rescued with the gift of gold three young women from being trafficked. All proceeds from this fundraiser were given to the nuns of All Saints (see 24).
In your hands you hold the product of this recent Orthodox work on this vital topic. This journal contains articles, statements, and poetry from a diverse group of authors representing the various ministries just mentioned. We hope that you will join us in this work.
COVER STORY FEATURES
40 FIGHTING MODERN SLAVERY AND TRAFFICKING AS A PARISH
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN COALITION AGAINST SLAVERY AND TRAFFICKING
51 MODERN SLAVERY—A JOINT STATEMENT
THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH AND THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY