Thursday 8th February is the Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita – the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. On this day Catholics are encouraged to pray for all those affected by the crimes of modern slavery and human trafficking, and the people that volunteer and work to eradicate this crime. This year the particular focus is on those who are caught up in forced labour and labour exploitation both in the UK and beyond. The Santa Marta Group is an initiative of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales whose mission is to bring the global Church and law enforcement together to combat and eradicate modern slavery.

ARSINTE’S STORY
Arsinte was approaching 60, a mechanic and driver in Romania, living close the Hungarian border. In 2013 he was approached by men who asked him if he would be willing to drive vehicles from Ireland to Romania. Arsinte jumped at the chance, he came from an impoverished background, and even with his skills work was hard to come by. He flew to Dublin, where at the airport he was met by his traffickers. They told him that he was now their property, and they sold him to a gang for 400 euros. Arsinte lived in fear, constantly under threat from his traffickers, and was forced to work on vehicles with no pay, and without proper accommodation. Later he was moved to another part of the country, and made to shoplift and scavenge in bins for food. Arsinte refused to be involved in this criminal behaviour and made the extraordinarily brave decision to go to the police for help.

How can you help a victim of modern slavery? First spot the signs https://bit.ly/2Bvv8QF