Modern slavery is where one person controls another for profit by exploiting a vulnerability. Usually the victim is forced to work or is sexually exploited, and the trafficker keeps all or nearly all of the money. The control can be physical, financial or psychological.
Modern Slavery Facts
£100 billion made each year from modern slavery, that’s over £3,300 every second i
7 in every 10 victims worldwide are women and girls i
Many UK businesses have slavery in their supply chains without even knowing it i
Victims are told police are corrupt, and that seeking help leads to being deported i
There were 10,613 potential cases reported in the UK last year i
Traffickers make threats against victims' families, using fear and shame as weapons i
Human trafficking and people smuggling are different things i
How many people are in modern slavery?
It is a hidden crime, but the best estimates suggest there are 49.6 million people in modern slavery of which: i
People in forced labour in private or state-run companies, or criminal exploitation
People experiencing domestic servitude in private homes
People in forced sexual exploitation (including 1.7 million children)
People in a forced marriage to which they had not consented
How do traffickers keep their victims under control? i
People are tricked or forced into exploitation and kept there through violence, fraud or coercion, and often end up living and working in abominable conditions.
Some are beaten and abused; others have threats made against their families in their home countries. Many are forced into fraudulent ‘debt bondage’, with their wages kept by a trafficker to pay non-existent bills for their travel, accommodation or food. They are told they will be deported if they go to the authorities.
Often, the trafficker takes control of a victim’s identity documents (e.g. passport). They accompany them to open a bank account, then take control of its associated bank card and correspondence (this functions both as a simple way for the trafficker to control the victim’s earnings, and a way for them to exert dominance and control by offering occasional small sums of money from what should be the victim’s own wages).
Traffickers usually focus on those easiest to exploit, which tends to be people with fewer resources or existing vulnerabilities.
Risk factors for trafficking i
Anyone from any walk of life can be targeted and can end up as a victim of modern slavery. But people experiencing any of the following things can be at particular risk:
Alcohol or drug addiction
Mental health problems
Chaotic home environment or recent family breakdown
Debts or criminal convictions
Fearful of deportation or being discovered by authorities
Physical injuries or disabilities
Why don’t victims run away? i
The relationship between someone experiencing modern slavery and the person or group controlling them is complex. It is rare for the control to be based on physical confinement like locked doors or shackles. Instead, victims are exploited through manipulation, fear, dependency, threats or debt bondage.
This means that during the time they are actually in exploitation, few people think of themselves as being a 'victim'. They often describe feeling hopeless or having no options, or even feel a sense of obligation towards those who trafficked them. They do not understand their situation as being one that they could run away from or escape from.
For many, it is only once they get long-term help from a specialist organisation like Hope for Justice that they understand the extent of the exploitation and that a different life is possible, with the right support.