The World Cup has been riddled with reports of migrant workers exploited, injured or killed, working in terrible conditions to build stadiums and infrastructure in Qatar. But these issues aren’t limited to football or just one country: exploitation and slavery is happening everywhere, throughout our global supply chains and structures.
International Justice Mission UK (IJM), Tearfund and Compassion UK all work in different ways to either stop exploitation, trafficking and slavery, or to empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty so they are less vulnerable to traffickers.
You can find out more about each of the charities involved in Justice United below.
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International Justice Mission
International Justice Mission (IJM) is a global organisation working to stop slavery and violence. As part of this, IJM works with police to bring people in forced labour to safety and hold traffickers to account, as well as supporting survivors as they build their future in freedom. They work to transform justice systems so that people are protected and not abused in the first place: IJM has seen slavery reduce by up to 86 per cent in places where they have worked.
Tricked into slavery
Chandrabati’s nightmare of forced labour started because – like many mothers – she wanted her daughter to go to school. She had no idea that a brick kiln owner’s seemingly kind offer of a loan to help pay school fees would trap her and her family in brutal slavery.
Chandrabati, from South Asia, told us how the owner forced her to spend backbreaking hours moulding and firing heavy clay bricks in gruelling heat, with no water or pay. Even her five-year-old daughter was forced to work.
She remembers, ‘The owner’s men would constantly threaten that they would give us electric shocks and remove our skin if they see us not working – we lived in constant fear.’
When Chandrabati’s husband bravely told IJM staff about their harrowing situation, local officials tried to bring them to safety. But the trafficker hid their children and threatened to harm them. With IJM’s support, authorities found the children and brought 61 people to safety, arresting the kiln owner and two of his associates, who were then convicted.
Finally free and able to return home, IJM’s aftercare team supported Chandrabati’s family with housing, education and opportunities for her daughters, so they could build a better future as a family. Today, Chandrabati is a leader in her community.
Tearfund works with over 23,000 churches and Christian organisations in more than 50 countries around the world to tackle the underlying issues of poverty that can make people vulnerable to trafficking.
Hope of a better life
When Alisha* was still a child she was already employed in housework in Kathmandu. That’s when a colleague told her about a job opportunity with a better salary.
After travelling many miles, Alisha and some other girls were finally dropped off at what they assumed was their new workplace. But they quickly realised something was very wrong – they were no longer in Nepal, but had crossed the border and been taken to a brothel in India.
The nightmare continued for a year and a half, until a police operation found Alisha and the other girls. With the petitioning of Nepali organisations, they were finally returned home.
But the problems of poverty that had made Alisha vulnerable to trafficking in the first place were still there. And now she had the added burden of discrimination because of what had happened to her.
Alisha went back to Kathmandu, and that’s where she met a member of Tearfund’s partner organisation. She describes this as her ‘turning point in life’. Mentors from the organisation work with survivors like Alisha to help them build skills and confidence, advocate for their rights, and integrate back into society.
‘I started to develop myself,’ says Alisha. ‘They taught me that women like us also can make a difference.’ Today, Alisha is a board member of Tearfund’s partner, has the skills and experience to support herself and her daughter, and is respected in her community.
*Name has been changed for protection.
Compassion is a leading child development charity partnering with more than 8,000 churches in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By providing support, including nutritious food, access to educational resources, pastoral support and health checks, children, families and entire communities are being empowered to overcome poverty and thrive both now and into the future.
Child labour: a daily reality
Raphael is a Compassion Project Director from Lomé, Togo.
‘Child labour is real in my community,’ he says. ‘My daily journey to work reminds me of how hard I must defend children. From the mere age of seven they are sent into workshops as apprentices. You can also see them working on building sites or gravel extraction sites.’
Denied a childhood
As a child, Cephas was always taken to the gravel extraction site by his father and couldn't go to school. But then his father was invited to an awareness session at the Compassion Project run by Raphael. As he listened, Cephas’s father realised the harm labour was doing to his son, and how it was robbing him of the chance of a better future. At the time he said, ‘I was not aware this was harmful to my child. I will stop it.’ He remembered the session and his promise. Cephas is now 13 years old and is fully settled into his studies at school.