Ethos Education

Black Widow: How the Christian faith responds to modern slavery and human trafficking

Learning Objectives:            

  • Students will examine a Christian perspective on human trafficking and exploitation.
  • Understand the Bible’s teaching on the protection of vulnerable people and the role of Christians in campaigning and working with survivors of trafficking and exploitation.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Consider the persuasive means used by charities to communicate to supporters.
  • Reflect on the complexity of trafficking and exploitation through discussion of a clip from Black Widow.
  • Analyse Bible passages to find a Christian rationale for fighting exploitation and trafficking.
  • Consider an example of how an anti-trafficking organisation (IJM) works with individuals who are subject to exploitation.
  • Consolidate learning by writing a campaign post for an imaginary Christian anti-trafficking organisation.

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of tolerance and respect for others holds that all humans are of equal worth, and underpins the concept of protection of the most vulnerable in society.
  • This lesson encourages students to consider the impact of trafficking and exploitation on the lives of more vulnerable members of society and encourages students to understand other people’s views and feelings about a sensitive subject, learning to listen and express their own thoughts respectfully.


In advance of the lesson, collate online examples or print a selection of charity adverts and campaigns designed to motivate giving or action.  Divide the students into small groups and give each group a campaign to scrutinise (for examples try,,,,,, Invite students to consider the following questions:

  • What problem is the charity trying to address?
  • How does the campaign make you feel?
  • What do you think the charity wants you to do about how you feel?

Discuss some of the answers as a whole class then invite students to suggest what motivates the people behind the charities. Examples might include:

  • Being paid to do a job
  • Caring about the cause (people, animals, climate, unfairness etc)
  • Wanting to change the world for the better
  • Being affected by the issue (either directly or through witnessing a family member or friend being affected)
  • Having a faith perspective on the issue

Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be thinking about one particular issue and considering what motivates people to address it. The issue is modern slavery and human trafficking – where a person is transported somewhere or made to do something illegal against their will.

Explain that during the lesson, you are going to learn about why Christians believe that modern slavery and trafficking are wrong, and look at an example of how a Christian organisation tackles the practice.


Show the clip from Black Widow (Marvel Studios, 2021, certificate 12). Click here to buy the DVD online.

Explain that this clip shows Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) discussing the Red Room, a place where girls are taken to be trained as killers for the villain General Dreykov.  These killers are known as ‘widows’. Natasha and Yelena grew up together as part of a surrogate spy family. Natasha always knew that Yelena was not her real sister, but Yelena was not aware of this before the family was broken up and the girls separated. Meanwhile, Natasha has defected to The Avengers, and Yelena is suspicious of why her sister has not made contact with her. Ask the students to pay particular attention to the relationship between the women, and to how what has happened to them in childhood has affected them.

  •  Start time: 0.42.57
  •  End time: 0.49.47
  •  Clip length: 6.50 minutes

The clip starts with Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) walking into a petrol station to buy supplies. The first line is Natasha saying ‘The Red Room’s still active. Where is it?’. It ends with Natasha saying ‘We’re going to need a jet’.

N.B. The clip includes two mumbled swearwords – ‘bullshit’ at 0.43.53 and ‘shitload’ at 0.48.25. To avoid these, start the clip at 0.44.02 where Yelena says ‘And the Avengers aren’t really your family,’ and end it at 0.48.22 where Yelena says ‘Even though the Red Room is impossible to find and Dreykov is too slippery to kill?’.

Ask the students what they noticed about the relationship between Natasha and Yelena. Why do they think Natasha has defected to The Avengers (try not to get drawn into a long discussion here about The Marvel Universe!)? Natasha is trying to make up for her past actions by doing good. Yelena doesn’t seem to think that this is possible – she says that they are both still killers. There is a lack of trust between the step-sisters.

Both women have been kidnapped and trained as killers by Dreykov. From an early age they have had their freedom taken away. Ask the students if they noticed anything that the women said that would demonstrate how their lives were affected. For example, Natasha says she never lets herself be alone long enough to think about what her story could be, and Yelena says that her jacket, the first thing she has ever bought for herself, gives her control over her life. Kidnap and exploitation have traumatic impact on the lives of survivors.

Ask the students if anyone spotted the phrase Yelena used to describe how Dreykov felt about the girls he kidnapped and trained – “To him we are just things, weapons with no face that he can just throw away because there is always more.”

Explain that while Black Widow is fantasy, all around the world there are real people who are exploited by others. People all over the world are treated as things, not valued as human beings, and many are traumatised as a result.

The term ‘modern slavery’ is used to describe any form of slavery that happens today. It includes trafficking, where a person is moved from one place to another for work that is not properly paid or to take part in criminal activities. Over 40 million people across the world are caught up in slavery, more than at any other time in human history.[1]

70% of victims of modern slavery are women and girls, and one in four are children[2]. Modern slavery can include forced labour in factories, agriculture and construction as well as sexual exploitation and forced marriage. In the UK, people working illegally in nail bars, car washes, farms and in the food industry are victims of modern slavery. Young people in particular can be targeted by criminal gangs, and forced to smuggle drugs or take part in other criminal activities. Slavery affects people living in our communities as well as those in other parts of the world.

Give out copies of the Why Care? worksheet and explain that students should write their answer in the first box, then circle any phrases in the Bible verses about why Christians believe they should care about modern slavery and trafficking. They must then complete the final question and discover what additional reasons Christians have for caring.

Explain that there are many Christian organisations working to end modern slavery across the world. Show the class screenshots of the websites of the following two organisations.  International Justice Mission ( is one of these. They work with lawmakers and the police across the world to rescue victims of slavery and bring those responsible to justice. Another example is A21 ( They aim to end slavery by breaking the cycle of vulnerability, exploitation and re-victimisation. Both of these charities are examples of Christians putting their faith into action.

If you have time, the following activity grounds the principles of caring about slavery in a tangible example from Ghana. Show the film The Deep Place from the  IJM website. This is the re-enacted story of a boy called Foli who was trafficked by his uncle and forced to work in dangerous conditions in the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana. IJM is just one organisation that works to end slavery and exploitation because of the belief that God wants his followers to protect the vulnerable.  After you have shown the clip, invite students to share their responses to what they have watched. Ask students what difference the work of IJM has made to Foli.


Give out copies of the Campaign Planner worksheet. Explain that their task is to write a social media post for a Christian anti-trafficking organisation. The post must include some information about modern slavery and must include a picture and a description of what they want the public to do about the problem.




Comments are closed.