A couple rescued from modern slavery by Hope for Justice have welcomed their beautiful baby boy into the world – born into freedom.
Only a few weeks before his birth, his parents, James* and Mary*, were trapped in a “desperate situation” of forced labour and debt bondage after being trafficked to Norway from another country.
When Mary was heavily pregnant, global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice was contacted about the two potential victims of human trafficking. The charity was able to rescue the couple from their exploitation and has since been involved in their aftercare, restoration and practical support.
Just a few weeks ago, they delivered their child in safety.
James and Mary told our team: ”We are incredibly thankful. We praise God that he sent Hope for Justice to us in what were very difficult circumstances. At the time, we did not know what to do or where to turn. We are very thankful for the help we have received.”
Mary, who is in her 30s, and James, who is in his 40s, were tricked into travelling to Norway with the promise of well-paid employment, accommodation, food and medical care, for an agreed price.
But when they arrived, they were told that they owed substantially more money than they had consented to. Their traffickers continued to raise the stakes, until the couple had no option but to work to “pay off their debt”, receiving little or no income.
Sondre Høysæter, Hope for Justice’s Norway Director, said: “This couple were left in a desperate situation, without medical care, without food, without a home, and were forced to work to repay their ‘debt’ without any prospect of being able to escape.
“Thankfully, they recognised that they were being exploited and coerced, so they contacted a support centre for help, who in turn approached Hope for Justice.
“We were able to secure vital medical care for the mother, who was previously fearful of going to see a doctor or attending hospital in case she and her partner were deported or asked to pay money they did not have.”
With the support of ROSA, another anti-trafficking agency in Norway, the charity collaborated on providing access to medical care for the remainder of the pregnancy and postnatal care. The two organisations also secured accommodation for the family, provided essentials for their baby, enrolled them in a government scheme aimed at assisting human trafficking victims, and put them in contact with a lawyer.
Hope for Justice has also helped the couple to report their exploitation to the police.
Sondre said: “A fundamental principle for us is that every human being is born free. It was a joy for us to see this baby boy born into freedom, not exploitation.”
*Names changed to protect identities of victims