An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Slavery still lives on

Some days ago I was helping my daughter with her Latin homework. She had to answer questions about a typical family who lived in Pompeii and who owned slaves. The practice of slavery was rife in the Roman Empire from about 200 BC to 4 AD. Slaves were put to work in heavy labour intensive industries like mining to living in nice home where they served their rich masters. It all was such an age ago I thought...till today.

Slavery is alive in the world and, more shockingly, in Britain. A group of about 100 men have been held in a slavery racket run by Irish travellers. These men were homeless, alcoholics, illegal immigrants or British residents who had slipped through the net. They were forced to work for very little or no money, were given accommodation that didn't have running water or loos and used leaves in place of loo paper. How wicked is this all? They were forced to work with hand tools only and had to dig up tarmacs or toil on building sites. Violence and initimidation by the Irish travellers ruled the days of these poor men who felt powerless to do anything. All this in modern day?

Slavery in the history of Christianity is one of those episodes of tension which showed how the Christian teaching can be used to support both sides of a contentious argument. We see the example of slavery being used as an analogy in the ordination of women as Bishops. The Methodists were far more straight forward about it and regarded slavery as an abomination. The view of the Church of England seemed to have been finalised on slavery when it apologised for the 'sinfulness of our predecessors'. Slavery has no part to play in the modern world and goes against the grain of Christianity and natural justice which reflects the Christian sentiment.


  1. The recent story is truly shocking, but sadly I understand, only the tip of the iceberg of slavery in this country today. Someone has estimated there are now more slaves in the world today than before the abolition of the slave trade in which Britain was once legally involved.

  2. Indentured labour, which is almost like slavery, since debts can be inherited, is common in India, even today. People who move to the Middle East to work as domestic servants can experience conditions like slavery--passports confiscated, no recourse if they are not paid, etc.
    There are 21 million people in the world who live in conditions akin to slavery, according to the anti-slavery campaign.