Why we must all be vigilant in the fight to end slavery

10 Aug 2017

Herald View: Why we must all be vigilant in the fight to end slavery


SLAVERY, an emotive word, is something we thought consigned to the past. But, today, it appears to be alive and well-funded, largely through its association with human trafficking. Whips may not be cracked on backs. Bodies may not swing from trees. But, often, there is violence or its threat. And, always, there is subjugation, exploitation, coercion and control.

The scale of the problem has been revealed by the National Crime Agency (NCA), which says every large town and city in the UK is affected. It is, says the agency, “far more prevalent than previously thought”, with previous estimates of 10,000 to 13,000 victims now considered to be the tip of the iceberg. Hardened police officers have been shocked by the scale of it – and have warned that ordinary people might not have to look too far to find it themselves.

The criminal gangs, exploiting globalisation to generate massive profits internationally, have widened their areas of economic activity beyond drugs and prostitution. While the most common malpractices remain sexual exploitation, criminal activity and domestic servitude, the NCA has also highlighted other sectors such as food processing, fishing, agriculture, construction, care work, car washes, and nail bars.

These are areas with which we might come into contact in our everyday lives, and the NCA has called for vigilance and the reporting of anything suspicious to the authorities. Obviously, this has to be kept in perspective, as there are many legitimate foreign workers in these sectors. But suspicious signs outlined by the NCA include visible signs of injuries, a distressed appearance and unusual methods of transportation to the workplace.

Victims of traffickers may have been lured into effective bondage by hollow promises of jobs, education or marriage. The worst affected live truly hellish lives. Not feeling in control is said to be the root of all stress. Usually, in our literature, it refers to short-term problems with the office, relationship or mortgage. But the loss of control occasioned by trafficking causes life-long trauma.

Cherie Blair, in her capacity as human rights barrister and anti-slavery campaigner, has said of trafficking that “rather like child abuse in the past, it’s always been there but people were not aware of it”. Well, they are now.

As indeed is the UK Government. Theresa May, as Home Secretary, promised a crackdown. That was four years ago. The problem has got worse. Amnesty International has described the Government’s approach as “not fit for purpose”. But it’s not just up to government. It is a problem for all of us.

In some quarters, it is not unheard of to muddy the waters, with talk of contracts between trafficker and trafficked. Such debt bondage is supposedly at the more benign end of the scale. But it will not do. Human trafficking is not acceptable on any level. It must be stamped out. And, while it may seem a million miles away from our comparatively comfortable lives, it may be closer to home than we think.  http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/15466679.Herald_View__Why_we_must_all_be_vigilant_in_the_fight_to_end_slavery/

Tens of thousands of modern slaves in Britain

10 Aug 2017

THERE are tens of thousands of people in Britain living in slavery, according to the National Crime Agency.

The UK-wide serious crime unit said there were human beings treated as commodities, and forced to work for little or nothing in “every large town and city in the country”.

NCA operatives are currently assisting on 300 live police operations targeting modern slavery, with alleged victims as young as 12 being sold to families in the UK from Europe.

Will Kerr, NCA director of vulnerabilities, said: “The more that we look for modern slavery, the more we find evidence of the widespread abuse of the vulnerable.

“The growing body of evidence we are collecting points to the scale being far larger than anyone previously thought.

“This should not be acceptable in any way, shape or form.”

Kerr’s comments come as the NCA launched an advertising campaign raising awareness of the signs of modern slavery in everyday life.

He said there were “lots of different outlets” for people trafficked into the UK to be working illegally and against their will, with many affecting people in everyday life.

Kerr said examples included those working at car washes and in construction as well as in agriculture and food processing — often receiving very little pay and forced to put up with poor living conditions.

He said the most common nationality of victims brought into the UK were people from Eastern Europe, Vietnam and Nigeria.

But he also cited one example of a 12-year-old Roma girl being stopped at border control, bound for a life as a domestic slave.

He said it underlined the sheer scale of the problem authorities were facing, further complicated by the fact some people do not realise they are a victim of slavery. He added: “People are being exploited on an hourly and daily basis.

“The full scale and extent of it, we don’t know. But what we have found is that in every medium-to-large town and every city in the UK, we have found evidence of vulnerable people being exploited.

“We can’t put a figure on it but we can say there are tens of thousands of victims across the UK.”

Earlier this year, the NCA released figures which showed the number of suspected victims of slavery and human trafficking had more than doubled in three years.

There were 3805 people reported as potential victims in 2016, an increase from 1,745 in 2013, according to NCA statistics.

A recent BBC documentary suggested Eastern European crime gangs were repeatedly forcing trafficked women into sexual exploitation and sham marriages in Glasgow.

The women, who are EU citizens were lured to the UK with false promises, leaving poverty and deprivation in countries such as Romania and Slovakia with the prospect of a well-paid job in Scotland.

Europol say the gangsters work with Asia gangs and force the women to marry men to give them residency.

Angelika Molnar from Europol’s Human Trafficking unit said people were now the second most lucrative criminal commodity in Scotland after drugs.

Last month the Scottish Government unveiled plans to give the police and courts greater powers to target human traffickers.

The Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Orders allow courts to stop people convicted of slavery offences recruiting staff, working with children and vulnerable people or travelling to certain countries for a minimum of five years.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said Scotland should be a “hostile place” for modern slavers.


2 thoughts on “Why we must all be vigilant in the fight to end slavery

  1. Slavery has many forms. If a government extracts huge amounts of money from tax payers, without the taxpayers consent, then it is by force and that is slavery. And if that is not enough, the money is used to destroy any last remaining political power the native citizens might have left but importing Immigrants/enemies/competition, to further weaken the natives. All of us are now slaves. We can still choose which TV shows we watch or products we buy, but we can not oppose or refuse our masters/employers/leaders. We are slaves, 100%. that said, the exploitation of those without any power such as children, the elderly, the very poor, these are the greatest evils in our society. But to some degree, we, the unimpowered to various degrees, all feel the pain of having no real rights.
    In this respect, I consider the Biblical example of God to be rather remarkable since God, all powerful and our creator, as the story goes, would be entitled to be obeyed, He has sought for over 6000 years now, to show in example and in explanation why we should do so, by logic and be right and that it would serve us better as well. 6000 years is good evidence that God is not a bully, and is very patient. the same can not be said for humans with power. But all the same, if all this misery is to be stopped, God will have to finally bring down the hammer and make us choose, permanently, whether to obey or be destroyed for continuing to support the evil world.
    I am sick of what I see going on in the world. How do you get evil people who abuse power over others, to stop? I say, Either they stop, or they should die. It just so happens that God says the same. The days are drawing to a close. The choice will soon be put before us all. And then all will have to choose, so that God can finally bring a stop to all this mess. Sorry, but I had to say it. We do not have the power to stop evil. But God does. Thanks for tolerating me!

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