Anti-Slavery Day, 18th October, provides an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to do what they can to address the problem. It was created by the Anti-Slavery Day Act, a Private Members Bill introduced Anthony Steen CBE, now Chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation.
Each year more and more charities, individuals, local authorities and police forces take action to mark Anti-Slavery Day.
The Human Trafficking Foundation hosts Anti-Slavery Day Awards to recognise journalists, filmmakers and broadcasters who have exposed issues of modern slavery, and to celebrate organisations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery.
UK Anti-Slavery Day on 18th October is a chance to raise awareness of modern slavery, highlight good practice, and focus attention on the areas of policy and practice where improvements still need to be made.
HTF (Human Trafficking Foundation) hosts Anti-Slavery Day Awards to recognise media, press, and filmmakers which have exposed issues of modern slavery, and to celebrate organisations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery.
What is Human Trafficking?
Although human trafficking can take many forms at their core is the control and exploitation of the vulnerable for the profit and gain of their traffickers.
The UN Palermo Protocol provides a definition of which can be simplified as:
The acquisition of a person;
By means of deception or coercion;
For the purpose of exploitation
Facts and Figures
The fastest growing international crime and the second largest source of illegal income worldwide, with estimated profits of $150 billion per year.
Human Trafficking in the UK
In 2016, 3,805 potential victims from 108 different countries of origin were referred into the National Referral Mechanism. In reality, however, the extent of human trafficking in the UK is likely to be far greater than the NRM statistics would suggest. The Home Office has estimated in its Modern Slavery Strategy that there may be as many as 13,000 people held in slavery in the UK.
Exploitation in the UK takes a variety of forms, but most commonly forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced criminal activity.
A full breakdown of the NRM statistics can be found here.
Trafficking or Smuggling?
Human trafficking and smuggling are often confused. Although there is often some overlap between instances of trafficking and smuggling, they are legally distinct.
Smuggling involves facilitating someone’s illegal passage over an international border, and once they reach the final destination the ‘customer’ is generally left to their own devices.
Human trafficking, by contrast, involves force, threats and deception and specifically targets the trafficked person as an object of criminal exploitation for labour or services. Human trafficking doesn’t necessarily involve crossing any border: there are many instances of internal trafficking.
Trafficking for forced labour
The financial crisis cost me my job. I slept rough. Two men approached me. They offered me work near London. I shared an old dirty shed with a tin roof with another man.
Every day we were picked up by a van at 7am and then knocked on people’s doors asking if they wanted any work doing, digging patios or making drive-ways. We were picked-up at 9pm: if we didn’t get back in time, we’d get beaten. Everyone was afraid. Some got beaten up often, punched in the head or kicked. We worked 6 days a week unpaid. Someone tried to escape, but was beaten with a spanner.
One Sunday the police raided. I had never heard of trafficking before. When I looked around, I saw how ill everyone looked, skinny and unwell, as if we had all been in a concentration camp. For the first time in my life I am now being cared for, thanks to the Salvation Army. I am still nervous of going out alone.
I am a Hungarian and was experiencing hard times. My wife had left me and I lost custody of my children. I had to get work to get my family back.
I was offered a job in the UK by a man who travelled with me and three other men by car. We arrived in North East England. I was kept prisoner in rented property by this man. All our personal documents were taken, and we were closely watched. We weren’t allowed out unaccompanied. Several times we were physically assaulted. I felt suicidal.
I was taken to work in a pizzeria as a kitchen porter and later at a chicken factory. I received no payment for any of this work. The traffickers took my money. I was given just enough food not to starve. This carried on for at least 6 months.
I tried to escape, but it wasn’t easy, as I was watched all the time. Later I changed my tactics – I got the traffickers to trust me more. I was then told I must work on a building site. There was an opportunity to escape. I did. I went to the police, although I was afraid I’d be sent home. They helped me. I was then placed in the City Hearts* shelter in Liverpool. Now I am improving my English and looking forward to a better life than ever before.
When I was 16, my mum forced me to sleep with men to pay for our flat in Romania. One client, Sorin, suggested babysitting work in the UK. Mum wanted us to go but I didn’t trust him when he provided a false ID.
Sorin drove us from the airport to a house in Birmingham. There, a man and woman controlled three girls who worked for them in their spa salon doing massage. I was bought vulgar clothes, taught bad English words. They called me Roxie. It wasn’t massage we did in the spa, but other things. I was forced to provide sexual services for more than a year.
One day the police saw me with my make-up on getting out of a car. They asked questions. I didn’t understand English. They took me to a police station. I spent the night in a cell. I told them everything through an interpreter. I testified against the traffickers. I was placed in local authority care, the traffickers nearly kidnapped me from there. I am now on a hairdressing course and 18. My future is uncertain.
I was trafficked from Nigeria two years ago. I was training as a primary school teacher. A man befriended me, offered a cleaning job in the UK earning me enough to go to university – my dream. Before leaving, he made me participate in a witchcraft ceremony, drinking a mixture of the inside of a hen, and making me promise never to disobey him or else I would go mad. I received false documents, including a script of what to tell border officials in the UK.
I was picked up at the airport and driven to a house in London. I was locked in a room with three other women and then sexually exploited. The witchcraft ceremony back in Nigeria haunted me. I was moved to different flats, working as a sex worker in all of them. This went on for months.
When the police raided our flat, I was placed in a detention centre and then a hostel. The traffickers threatened to harm my mother in Lagos if I didn’t return as a sex worker. I had to go back. A further 7 months passed till I was rescued by a police raid. I was placed in City Hearts shelter, which helped and supported me. Perhaps, my university dream can now come true.
I grew up in Indonesia. When my single mother became sick I had to find work. There was nothing in my village. I went to Hong Kong, hoping to earn enough to support her.
I was put in charge of three children 24 hours a day, with much housework. I worked for 7 months but wasn’t paid. They said I must pay off the debt for my travel first. My employers then arranged a ‘holiday’ to the UK. It turned out to be 16 hours’ work a day, sleeping on the floor, always on call. I was ordered to care for the elderly grandparents as well. That was the last straw.
I ran away, despite the fear of being homeless and deported. Kalayaan helped me. I cannot get a new job because my visa has expired. I cannot stay here. I must go home with nothing. The family who exploited me gets off “scott free”.