Women in the Shadows online modules

A compelling and powerful resource exploring how modern slavery affects women and girls. The course centres around a series of short films with survivor stories and insight from from line experts, supported by material to stimulate deeper consideration.

A compelling and powerful resource exploring how modern slavery affects women and girls.


There are two version of Women in the Shadows materials. The original material was produced as a Lent course and includes biblical passages and spiritual reflections. There is also a non-faith version where the spiritual content has been replaced with additional expert interviews and articles exploring specific forms of exploitation in more detail. Both packs follow a similar format and use the same films. Whichever pack you choose to use, you will discover how women are drawn into modern slavery and exploitative situations; what life can be like for them once they are rescued, and the many challenges they face as they recover from trauma. You will also find out more about sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and county lines and how to recognise signs of modern slavery.

Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM
Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

As the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, I have a UK-wide remit to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery offences and the identification of victims.

My Strategic Plan 2019-2021 outlines four priorities: improving victim care and support; supporting law enforcement and prosecution; focusing on prevention and getting value from research and innovation.

I am therefore delighted to write the foreword to The Clewer Initiative’s Women in the Shadows resource which touches on many of my strategic priorities.

The films and supporting material open our eyes to the stories people are living; the framing discussions highlight how law enforcement and prosecution need the support of the wider public and invitations are made to each of us, within our communities, to learn how best to contribute to victim care and support, and to combating this most egregious of crimes.

I have met and spoken with many victims and survivors of modern slavery and when I watched the films, I found they brought home to me afresh the horrors of modern slavery. The survivor testimonies, which are dramatised by actresses, communicate powerfully the reality of the different ways in which women get drawn into slavery and the lasting damage that is caused. The interviews with frontline workers really underline the message that modern slavery is in our midst, it is much closer than we will ever know, and we all have a part to play. It raises important questions about prevention and how organisations can work together to build the sort of communities where modern slavery cannot get a foothold. While the material is shocking and provokes some serious soul searching, it also suggests that when communities unite and begin caring for individuals, there is hope.

Modern slavery affects the most vulnerable in our society and exists very much in the shadows. I am thankful for any resource that seeks to shine a light on how criminals operate and how they can be thwarted.

Watch the films, read the supporting material, and tell a friend – everyone has a part to play in making modern slavery a thing of the past.

Bishop Alastair Redfern, founder of The Clewer Initiative
Modern slavery and The Clewer Initiative

For too long, in the shadows of the world’s great religious, cultural and economic systems, women and girls have been overlooked and taken advantage of. ‘Women in the Shadows’ helps us understand better the exploitation of vulnerable women and girls in our communities.

The films explore three specific areas – sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and county lines - and invite us to gain a deeper understanding of the suffering experienced by many women and to reflect upon our possible complicity and indifference. They also remind us of the continuing vulnerability of many in our society and look at how victims can be supported to live independent lives, free from fear and abuse.

We are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped bring this material to fruition and we hope it will awaken our hearts to the suffering of others and stir us to reach out to more women in the shadows.

What is modern slavery?
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, National Crime Agency (NCA)

The term ‘modern slavery’ encompasses both trafficking - the arranging or facilitating of the travel of another, whether into, out of, or within the UK, with a view to that person being exploited - and exploitation itself, which can take place both alongside and independently of trafficking.

Exploitation can take many forms, including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, domestic servitude, and exploitation in criminal activity, such as county lines drug supply, shoplifting and cannabis cultivation.

The vast majority of modern slavery offending is motivated by profit. Modern slavery is almost unique in that the repeat exploitation of victims generates ongoing profit for offenders, which can result in substantial financial gain.

Each module in the standard course follows the following structure:

  • a series of opening questions
  • a five-minute film
  • question time – an opportunity to reflect on issues raised in the film
  • in-depth articles from subject experts and interviews from people working directly with victims
  • extension – additional resources and information related to the week's topic.

Each module in the Lent course follows the following structure:

  • a series of opening questions
  • a five-minute film
  • question time – an opportunity to reflect on issues raised in the film
  • a passage from the Bible, accompanied by a reflection, discussion questions and prayer
  • background reading – statistics, quotes, interviews
  • extension – an opportunity to reflect more deeply and to find out more about the life and ministry of Harriet Monsell, the first Clewer sister.

Tips on running the course with a group:

  • distribute the booklet over e-mail (this is available either as a complete pack or weekly modules so you can choose how to use it)
  • organise a weekly zoom call so that you can work through and discuss the material together
  • check that you know how to share the films and documents over zoom so you can all work together.

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