Some 45 million people are trapped in modern slavery around the world. From forced labour and child slavery, to women and girls forced into prostitution or marriage, these people are living in abhorrent conditions.
And it’s happening in the UK too. In 2017, a total of 5,145 potential victims of modern slavery were recorded in this country — up 35% from the year before.
Victims of human trafficking could be washing your car, working in hotels where you stay, painting your nails, and all hidden in plain sight.
Within the UK last year, potential victims of trafficking were identified from 116 different nationalities, according to the National Crime Agency, including Romania, Sudan, India, and Poland.
But of all of these, British nationals were the most commonly reported potential victims, with 819 identified in 2017. Albanians were identified in 777 cases, and Vietnamese in 739.
Despite the scale of human suffering, our laws are ill-equipped to deal with the problem.
In England and Wales, victims of modern slavery are guaranteed just 45 days of support. Support for victims at present is limited to the time when they are being identified — which should take 45 days. In practice, delays in decision-making about whether or not someone has been trafficked can take longer.
The government has promised to increase this to 90 days guaranteed support for people who are confirmed as having been trafficked, but we believe this is still not long enough.
People who escape modern slavery have suffered the most horrific violations of their human rights. If and when they escape, they need proper support to rebuild their lives or they are at risk of becoming homeless and vulnerable to being re-trafficked.
Right now, a bill is going through parliament to try and make this support happen.
If passed, the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill, introduced by Lord McColl of Dulwich, would require the government to provide a year of guaranteed support to victims.
That would include a safe place to stay, access to medical treatment, mental health support, legal advice, training, education, and support as they figure out the next steps in rebuilding their lives.
But this potentially life-saving bill will only pass if enough MPs vote for it.