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Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery


Human trafficking is one of the biggest travesties that still exists in our world today. Modern slavery is a serious crime being committed across the UK where thousands of people are being held in dilapidated conditions and undertaking forced labour.

Slavery auctions where human beings are sold off to the highest bidder, are still happening today.

Slavery is illegal in every country around the world but we have more slavery today than over the hundreds of years of slave trafficking took place between the 16th and 19th century.

Some people may be fleeing war zones and others may have financial problems, but all find that their dreams of a brighter future soon turn into horrific nightmares as their life’s plummet into fear, debt and drudgery.

People who are trafficked have very little or no choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families.

Trafficking for forced labour:

• Victims are primarily from developing countries.
• They are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion, finding themselves held in conditions of slavery in a variety of jobs.

Trafficking for forced criminal activities:

• Allowing criminal networks to reap the profits of a variety of illicit activities without the risk.
• Victims are forced to carry out a range of illegal activities, which in turn generate income, including:
• Theft
• Drug cultivation
• Selling counterfeit goods,
Trafficking for forced criminal activities.

Many victims can be engaged in agricultural, mining, fisheries or construction work, along with domestic servitude and other labour-intensive jobs.

Human Trafficking is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights, victims come from primarily from developing countries. People are recruited and trafficked using deception and coercion and then find themselves held in conditions of slavery in a variety of treacherous and disparaging Ill paid work.

Victims of modern slavery can be men, women and children of any age across the world.

There is an assumption that victims of modern slavery are often trafficked to the UK from other countries, but residents of the UK are also among the victims that are exploited in the UK and other countries. The crime is often hidden from the authorities and the general public.

Victims may struggle to leave their situation because of threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception, and some may believe that they are not in a situation of exploitation.

The Details

The five main types of exploitation that victims of modern slavery may experience are:

Sexual Exploitation:
Victims are exploited through non-consensual abuse or another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other non-legitimate purpose

Domestic Servitude:
Victims are domestic workers who perform a range of household tasks (example, cooking and cleaning), some live with their employers and have low pay, if any at all

Labour Exploitation:
Victims are forced to work for nothing, low wages or a wage that is kept by their owner; work is involuntary, forced and/or under the threat of a penalty, and the working conditions can be poor

Criminal Exploitation:
Victims are forced to work under the control of criminals in activities such as forced begging, shoplifting, pickpocketing, cannabis cultivation, drug dealing and financial exploitation

Organ Harvesting:
Living or deceased victims are recruited, transported or transferred, by threat or force for money, for their organs

Possible indicators someone may be a victim of modern slavery are:

• Signs of physical or emotional abuse
• Appearing to be malnourished, unkempt or withdrawn
• Isolation from the community, seeming under the control or influence of others
• Living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation
• Living and working at the same address
• Lack of personal effects or identification documents
• Always wearing the same clothes
• Avoiding of eye contact, appearing frightened and hesitant to speak to strangers
• Fear of law enforcers

Types of modern slavery:

• Human trafficking
• Forced labour
• Domestic servitude
• Sexual exploitation, such as escort work, prostitution and pornography
• Debt bondage, a person being forced to work to pay off debts that realistically they never will be able to pay off.

Trafficking For Sexual Exploitation include:

Commercial Sexual Exploitation:
Where women and children are trafficked into prostitution (including through brothels and escort agencies), pornography and every part of the sex industry.
Victims may be trafficked by a pimp, a partner, a family member or by a gang or criminal group.

Forced Marriage:
Where women and girls are forced into marriage without their consent and they are denied the option to refuse or are promised and married to someone by their parents, guardians, relatives or other people and groups. Forced marriages often involves domestic abuse and sexual abuse or exploitation.

Mail Order Brides:
This involves poor women and girls being chosen from a ‘catalogue’ and ordered by a man in a more affluent country to become a ‘wife.’ Often, the women and girls are trafficked illegally, stripped of rights and subject to domestic violence, abuse and servitude. In addition to abuse in the home, often many women and girls are forced into prostitution.

Thousands of people across the UK are being held in squalor and undertaking forced labour. Some may be fleeing war zones, others may have financial problems, but all find dream turns to nightmare as their life descends into fear, debt and drudgery in exhausting, ill-paid, dangerous and degrading work, with escape impossible, forbidden or punished. Combating modern slavery and human trafficking is one of our highest priorities. We’re working with partners in the UK and around the world to pursue offenders and safeguard victims.

The nature of the threat

Although it is impossible to know exact numbers of victims, we do know that modern slavery has been on the increase.  Many victims work in the construction industry, in agriculture, in the sex industry, and in places like nail bars, car washes, and cannabis farms. Children are found working in all of these situations, as well as in sexual slavery.

Many victims have been trafficked from overseas – frequently from eastern Europe, south east Asia, and Africa – and their exploitation often begins en route.  British victims tend to have fallen on difficult times, making them vulnerable to the lure of well-paid work complete with decent accommodation, which proves a cruel lie. 

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