The very first story in the book of Genesis affirms that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore have a basic God-given dignity. This aligns with the UN’s Human Rights Day observed every year on the 10th of December.
This Day was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 1948 after the second world war and states that everyone is entitled to equal rights as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Equality, Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights.”
This is not only important but timely given the pandemic, which has deepened poverty due to the loss of financial security, increased inequality, job discrimination and other gaps in the spectrum of human rights protection. As a result, there are far more people who are vulnerable to human traffickers.
In a world where labour and sexual exploitation is still rampant, equality means demanding that we all be treated without discrimination.
Why championing equality is vital to the EFN’s work?
EFN was created with the vision to live in a world free from all forms of human exploitation, where every person has the opportunity to live in freedom and dignity. Equality is at the centre of the work that we do because oftentimes people in vulnerable groups or situations are the ones most exposed to injustices and inequality.
For example the most reported form of trafficking in human beings is sexual exploitation. This includes prostitution, strip clubs, the pornography industry, modelling agencies and even massage parlours. This is a strongly gendered form of exploitation because the people trafficked are overwhelmingly women and girls.
Research shows that trafficking for sexual exploitation is rooted in gender inequalities. This happens when women’s rights are disregarded in the forms of lack of mobility, the lack of education, and the lack of political representation. Therefore understanding and tackling the root causes that lead to women and young girls being robbed of a bright future is key to ending sexual exploitation.
Another key crisis that puts equality at the heart of the debate is the rapid rise of modern slavery. In 2014, the EU and other developed economies made an estimated $46.9 Billion USD in profits from modern slavery. Modern slavery encompasses a wide range of exploitation such as sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.
People are often tricked into forced labour or servitude by promises of a better life. When they arrive at their point of destination their documents and phones can be seized, cutting them off from the outside world and they are made to work long hours for little or no pay.
This happens primarily due to poor societal structures. This comes in many forms such as a lack of opportunity, inequality and education. Illiteracy leaves much space for modern slavery because a person who cannot read may not have the ability nor the knowledge to affect their freedom or decision making.
Time and again, history has proven that societies that protect and promote human rights for everyone are more resilient and sustainable, and stand better equipped to weather unexpected crises such as pandemics and the impacts of the climate crisis.
Therefore we must all call for a new social contract, one that addresses the pervasive roots and ills of inequality and all its forms. Because as Jesus said “I came to bring life and life in abundance. ” (John 10:10) This is not a theoretical concept or something to look forward to once we live in eternity, but a very practical and achievable reality – only if ALL people prosper and have social equality and dignity.