What I’m seeing today is slavery

Today the Church of England remembers William Wilberforce, Olaudah Equiano and Thomas Clarkson, who successfully campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the later 18th and early 19th century. Olaudah Equiano spoke and wrote of his experiences as a slave working for a variety of masters before he bought his own freedom. His memoirs gave a voice to those without a means to speak of their horrific experiences of working as slaves.

Wilberforce and Clarkson, Christian men of power and influence, worked with many others in the battle for abolition. It was largely economic – those who had most to lose from freeing slaves from the plantations arguing vociferously against the moral stance of the abolitionists. Slavery was finally abolished in the UK in 1833.

Modern slavery is often hidden and complex, but is still thriving. Of the 40 million people estimated to be trapped in modern slavery worldwide, a quarter are children and three quarters are women and girls. HM Government suggest that there may be upwards of 10,000 people held as slaves in the UK (2019 UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery). It is a terrible inditement on our society that slavery remains a blight on the lives of so many people. Wilberforce, Equiano and Clarkson would be scandalised.

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