The world must act now to prevent a surge in global slavery under the conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has warned today, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.
Covid-19 is exacerbating poverty and the circumstances that cause people to fall into bonded labour and servitude, the IJM, a Christian anti-trafficking charity, has said. Furthermore, the lockdowns that many governments have imposed in an effort to control the virus have led to a marked increase in online sexual exploitation of children, as adults in the West who are restricted to their homes have spent more time on the internet, facilitating the abuse of children elsewhere.
Estimates from the World Bank suggest that 49 million extra people will be forced into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The IJM said that it had already observed people-traffickers trying to exploit this by offering false job offers or loans to entrap vulnerable people who had lost their income because of the virus.
The IJM’s principal adviser on modern slavery, Peter Williams, said that evidence suggested that certain vulnerabilities were key key, and that these — loss of income, family medical emergencies, isolation — were “characteristic of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on people in poverty”.
In the developing world, public institutions that were needed to combat trafficking and modern slavery — such as local police forces, social services, and the courts — were being put under unprecedented pressure by the pandemic, Mr Williams said.
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— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) December 2, 2020