We can be the generation that ends slavery
  • Eight national faith and spiritual leaders sign Declaration against Modern Slavery
  • All-faith call recognizes Modi Government’s initiatives against human trafficking, creation of national anti-trafficking body
  • Pledge to tackle modern slavery, including bonded labour, forced marriage, child labour & human trafficking
  • India has highest number of modern slaves, according to 2014 Global Slavery Index

New Delhi & Brussels, 03 December 2015:

Eight Indian faith and spiritual leaders signed a joint declaration to end modern slavery within a generation at the Global Freedom Network gathering in Delhi today. This landmark declaration was signed by faith and spiritual leaders from the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, and Jains faiths; who together represent 95% of the Indian population of 1.2 billion people.

The Declaration against Modern Slavery was signed in Delhi by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – Hindu, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Hindu, Dr Mufti M Mukarram Ahmed – Muslim, Jathedar Avtar Singh – Sikh, Mr Alwan Masih – Christian, Rabbi Ezeiel Isaac Malekar – Jewish, Mr Shatrughun Jiwani – Baha’i, and Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni Ji – Jains.

Today’s event marks a major milestone in the rollout of the Global Freedom Network internationally. It comes one year after the signing of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery on 02 December 2014 by Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Orthodox and Jewish leaders in the spirit of peace, love and respect for each other’s religion, and a day after a similar inter-faith commitment was made in Canberra by Australian faith leaders, on the occasion of the UN’s 2015 International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

“When I heard the news of the agreement signed last year on the 2nd December, 2014,” said His Holiness Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, “I was so touched and glad to see the leaders of all faiths coming together, beyond borders of religion, race, country, culture and creed, all in agreement about the importance to end slavery.

“Today here in India, it is so beautiful to have all our faith leaders together, joining hands and hearts in the great mission to end this atrocity, to end this crime against humanity. Freedom is not a religious tenet. It is an inviolable, inalienable human right. We are here today not only to pray for an end to slavery but to pledge to WORK for an end to slavery.”

Commenting on the signing of the joint declaration against slavery in India, Mr. Andrew Forrest, Chairman of the Global Freedom Network (GFN), philanthropist and founder of the Walk Free Foundation that was a founding partner of GFN said:

“Last year’s Declaration created the first public agreement between Islam faiths including the top leaders of Sunni and Shia, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. It was also the first meeting between a Grand Ayatolloh and a Pope in history. However I suppose what struck me most was the public agreements from the very top, the global leaders of religions in huge stress, Shia and Sunni. It was even the first public agreement between the Anglican and Catholic faiths at the holy Father the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, since prior to Reformation. Yet they all came together in peace, love and respect.”

“Yesterday, in Australia, we repeated last year’s Vatican declaration. With the full endorsement of the Australian Government, with Australian Faith Leaders came together making the same declaration as that made in the Vatican, on the UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Today with even more fervor and commitment, we strongly and resolutely declare our commitment in India to now bring slavery to an end as well. Our challenge is now much greater here, but so is the commitment and dedication of our people and leadership.”

“The Modi Government has demonstrated that it is actively tackling the issue of human trafficking by creating the National anti-trafficking body under the Home Ministry and recognizes the problems with rescue and rehabilitation of victims. The issue of human trafficking and modern slavery is a severe one in India and it requires the joint efforts of the Indian government, civil society, faith and spiritual leaders, the business community and the people of India. I applaud the Declaration today of India’s faith and spiritual leaders to embed action against modern slavery in the very fabric of their advocacy.”

The declaration against slavery assumes significance as India tops the 2014 Global Slavery Index with as many as 14.7m people estimated to be trapped in bondage, the highest number of modern slavery in absolute terms. In terms of prevalence (the percentage of the population in modern slavery) India is ranked fourth globally of 162 countries, after Mauritania, Haiti and Pakistan.

The Global Slavery Index 2014 released by the Walk Free Foundation last year estimated that throughout the world, almost 36 million people are estimated to be living as modern slaves – trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labour, victims of debt bondage or born into servitude. Modern slavery is defined as: child labour; forced labour; forced marriage; forced prostitution; child prostitution; children in armed conflict; human trafficking; debt bondage, and being born into servitude.

About the Global Freedom Network

The Global Freedom Network harnesses the combined power of faiths to deliver on a bold ambition of wiping out the blight of modern slavery across the world. The Global Freedom Network is an open association and which faith leaders are invited to join and support. The Global Freedom Network carries out programmes of coordinated action and activity with international organisations, governments and national authorities, civil society organisations and NGOs, as well as people of good will around the world, to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking throughout our world and for all time.

 About Walk Free Foundation:

The Walk Free Foundation is a global organisation with a mission to end modern slavery in our generation by mobilising a global activist movement, generating the highest quality research, enlisting business and raising unprecedented levels of capital to drive change in those countries and industries bearing the greatest responsibility for modern slavery today.

The Walk Free Foundation consists of five institutions dedicated to help the world end Modern Slavery namely

  • The Movement
  • The Global Slavery Index
  • Freedom Fund
  • Global Freedom Network
  • Global Fund to End Slavery

Reference Link: http://www.walkfreefoundation.org/

Note to editors: Definition of modern slavery

The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) of the Global Freedom Network defines modern slavery and human trafficking as an umbrella term referring to the systematic removal of an individual’s freedom. It encompasses the following types of modern slavery, as defined by the following international instruments:

  • Human trafficking including forced prostitution – Palermo Protocol 2000, European Trafficking Convention*;
  • Slavery – The Slavery Convention (1926) and Supplementary Slavery Convention (1956);
  • Forced Labour – ILO Forced Labour Convention (No. 29, 1930) and Convention Concerning the Abolition of Forced Labour (No. 105);
  • Children in armed conflict – Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict;
  • Child Prostitution – Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography*;
  • Worst forms of child labour – Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182);
  • Debt bondage and forced marriage – Supplementary Slavery Convention (1956).
  • Any other forms of modern slavery and human trafficking that the Board considers should be included within the vision and objectives of this Memorandum of Agreement.

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