Campaign launched to save girls from abuse and slavery

One by One works with about 1,000 children in Pakistan.(Photo: One by One)

A campaign has been launched to rescue more girls from slavery and sexual abuse in Pakistan. 

Operation Mercy, launched by Christian charity One by One, has been inspired by the horrific murder of three-year-old girl Mercy. 

Her body was found in a brick factory near Faisalabad in Pakistan earlier this year with signs of sexual assault. 

One by One has been supporting Mercy's family since the tragedy.

The charity has already rescued 50 children from brick factory slavery in Pakistan who are being cared for in a safe house, but it has identified 30 more girls in need of help. 

One by One founder Becky Murray said, "Mercy's story doesn't end here. We were heartbroken when we heard about this little girl. Who could do something like this to a three year old?

"We stepped in and helped Mercy's family, but then we realised that so many girls like Mercy are at risk.

"Just a few weeks later another girl in our outreach programme, who is just 10, was raped. Thankfully she survived but it highlighted to us that more needs to be done." 

Murray aims to raise £75,000 for Operation Mercy which will go towards expanding the safe house and buying furniture. 

"The girls have never had nutritious meals, have been robbed of an education and have never slept in a normal bed. Our safe house is run by kind, loving and phenomenal staff. They will get the very best care," said Murray.

"We won't quit in our desire and passion to end the giant of modern-day slavery. God's heart is very much broken by these stories and we feel driven to take his love to more children."

Poor families in Pakistan can end up enslaved to brick factory owners after borrowing money from them. The money is loaned by the factory owners on the condition that the individual will work for them to pay it off, but sadly the interest is often so high that the money can never be paid back. 

Murray said: "We have stories of people who borrow £100 so they can afford a simple operation. They then work for the brick factory masters but the interest on the loans increase so much that it's impossible to pay back. £100 can turn into £5,000 and sometimes more. We have met families who have been stuck in factories for more than 20 years."

A businessman has offered to double all donations to Operation Mercy up to the value of £20,000 during the month of September.

"It's amazing to see people step up," said Murray.

"The match fund will help and every donation can be doubled. I hope others can join with us and help us reach our target. It's our dream to welcome the 30 new girls by Christmas. We know with God's help, it can happen."