International Day for the Abolition of Slavery
Human trafficking, child labour, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and forced recruitment in armed conflict, are all forms of modern slavery that are still happening today across most countries, affecting roughly 40.3 million people globally, with a ¼ of these victims being children. Modern slavery has no right to exist today in our society, yet it is closer to home than many would ever realise. In the UK in 2016, 3805 people were identified as potential victims of human trafficking. Furthermore, the UK is 1 of the top 7 countries of origin for potential trafficking victims. Modern slavery dehumanises, discriminates and violates all human rights; we cannot allow for slavery to still take place in the 21st century.
Discrimination plays a large part in slavery, as those who are discriminated against are more likely to become enslaved due to their race, gender or caste. Females are heavily affected with 99% of sex trafficking victims being girls or women. Forced marriage is also a form of slavery; stripping girls of choice over their own future from a very young age and placing them into circumstances where they are often at further threat of sexual and domestic violence.
Human trafficking consists of transporting, recruiting and harbouring individuals for exploitation. The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are roughly 20.9 million victims of human trafficking today. Debt bondage involves payment in advance for the individuals travel and a job abroad, which in many cases is used as a way of controlling victims over the debt that they may owe. Trafficking affects those living in poverty or with less job opportunity more often, and criminals abuse their power to force individuals into situations they cannot easily escape from.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 states that any business in the UK that has a £36m turnover or more, has to produce an annual report summarising the steps that the company has taken in order to ensure there is no slavery across their own business or any of their supply chains. Failure to do so results in potential unlimited fines and court injunctions. However, many companies have failed to produce these statements, and not enough is being put into place by individual businesses to investigate potential slavery cases within their companies. There’s more of a focus on prosecution over the protection of victims.
The true statistics/figures for modern slavery are hard to identify because of its hidden criminality, yet any number however small should not be tolerated, and we need to start implementing stricter legislation for all supply chains and businesses globally. We need to identify and fight areas of discrimination, and spread awareness of modern slavery now.