Fr Shay Cullen writes on modern forms of slavery

 It is the bicentennial of the abolition of slavery in the British Parliament. I was a speaker at a conference in Hull recently and will share you my speech about modern forms of slavery. I thank you for being here today to listen to my account of the situation of modern-slavery as I have seen and encountered it in the past 36 years as a missionary in South East Asia. This is not a pleasant subject, it is heart wrenching, troubling, and above all a challenging issue for us who are free and better off than almost two thirds of human on the planet today. These are the people who are crying out for freedom from the chains of modern slavery today - the children, women and men enslaved by poverty and the greed of their exploiters in the most dehumanizing kind of work. They are crushed too by a global system of injustice and abuse. The fact that we are here today recalling the commitment and dedication of William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson to successfully have laws passed to abolish slavery is evidence that their Christian Faith and unshakeable belief in the dignity of the human person, is still alive and well today. Your presence is also a tribute to the people of Hull and Yorkshire who had the wisdom and trust in William to elect him to parliament when only 21 years old and re-elect him in 1784. It's a signal that we today, need to trust, encourage, and inspire young people in their idealism. We need to be prophetic, outspoken and active in defending and promoting human rights and the dignity of the human person. It teaches us that political action motivated by gospel values can have a global impact and benefit the lives of millions. This is what William Wilberforce achieved with the help of his supporters and friends. It only takes one to say no to injustice for many to say yes to freedom. It is this no doubt that brings all of us here together today. What inspired and motivated people like William Wilberforce and what sustains those working for justice and truth and decency is a love that is unselfish, compassionate, challenging and liberating. This is what can help free all those captives of the modern forms of slavery. We live in a materialistic world driven by consumerism, a passion for profit where human value is measured by how much money one has and the poor are excluded and rejected as worthless, unless they can be exploited and enslaved. In one sense slavery today is the same as it always was; it is the dominance of the powerful over the weak , the rich over the poor, human beings are still being reduced to a commodity, deprived of freedom, working for nothing, exploited for profit, owned like an animal, forced to grovel. And worst of all it is the slavery of children in the organized sex industry. That form of slavery is now a billion dollar business. What is most repulsive of all is that it is tolerated and boasted, encouraged and approved by local governments in parts of the developing world who have vested interests. Responsible too are the Internet service providers (ISPs) and companies that refuse to filter and block access to child pornography web sites when they could easily do so. British Telecom has shown the way. Government could legislate to make it mandatory for access to child pornography to be blocked to protect children and minors accessing it and save those children being enslaved and abused in order to make the pornography. In the worst forms of sexual exploitation child sex slaves are chained to beds, abused daily, threatened and tortured, punched and punished, beaten and bruised, and made a plaything for the powerful, a toy for the depraved. This kind of sex slavery is organized, financed by local and foreign investors, many of them have criminal backgrounds in their own countries and are protected by politicians, prosecutors and judges. Some of these officials are implicated and compromised by illicit relationships with minors and open to blackmail by the child and women traffickers and exploiters. They can prosper with impunity. To be continued... For more information see:

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