Article 4 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms“.
Human trafficking, modern slavery and exploitation of both adults and children is not an issue confined to the past. It exists here and now. In this country. In your country. Possibly even in your street or on your doorstep.
Modern slavery is an international crime affecting almost 30million people around the world today. It is a global problem that transcends age, gender and ethnicities, including here in the UK. It is important that this hidden crime is brought into the open.
Modern slavery can include victims that have been brought from overseas, and vulnerable people in the UK, being forced to illegally work against their will in many different industries, including brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and farms.
Victims found in the UK come from many different countries, including Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK itself, 90 were UK nationals in 2013.
Poverty, limited opportunities at home, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are some of the key drivers that contribute to trafficking of victims.
Victims can often face more than one type of abuse and slavery, for example if they are sold to another trafficker and then forced into another form of exploitation.
You can read more about the types of slavery including child trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude here.
So what are we going to do about it in the UK?
Parliament is currently debating a new Modern Slavery Bill and it is absolutely vital that this legislation is optimised to make sure it is fit for purpose and to ensure that it will fully protect the vulnerable people who are victims of these heinous crimes.
What should you do?
If you are in the UK and you suspect slavery is happening you must report it. Do not attempt to let the victim know that you have done this or try to intervene yourself to confront the perpetrator. Your own safety, and the safety of the victim, is paramount and you must let the authorities take the necessary action. If you feel that you are a victim you can use the same methods to report your own situation.
You can report, or get advice and assistance, using any of the methods here.
Modern slavery is an appalling crime against humanity and no matter what the media or political hype may be we all have a moral obligation to ensure that this crime is stamped out and those people who are responsible for introducing legislation need to ensure that the laws introduced properly protect victims – especially vulnerable children.