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7th October 2020

What is Modern Slavery?

Our current theme Refuge & Freedom is all about combatting modern slavery. But what do we mean by ‘modern slavery?’ The Medaille Trust state that:

Modern slavery is a crime that reaches into every community. It includes all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation. 

At its core is deception. Victims are often vulnerable, coming from areas where there is little work. They are offered a great deal – a guaranteed job, a good wage and the chance to build a new life. 

It sounds too good to be true. And it is. 

The promised job is a lie. Instead, they are forced to work long hours in hard and degrading conditions with little or no pay. The threat of violence – to themselves or their families – traps them further. 

How widespread is modern slavery?

136,000 people are estimated to be victims of this kind of modern slavery in the UK. You can pop into Peace Hub to read personal stories from some of those who have become survivors, and get tips on how to spot the signs and play your part in eradicating modern slavery.

Is Modern Slavery different to Historic Slavery?

Between the 17th and 19th Centuries, over 12 million people were enslaved, and taken from Africa to work in the Americas under brutal conditions. UK law allowed and supported this appalling system until 1830.  When slavery was formally abolished, compensation was given to former slavers, and not the people they had enslaved.

The legacy of this is seen in systemic racism that we must continue to resist.

Today, slavery doesn’t look like people bound in chains. It looks like domestic and construction workers. It looks like nail bars and brothels. It looks like car washes and fruit pickers.

But people’s fundamental rights to freedom, dignity and safety remain the same.  UK and international law now prohibit slavery, but our economic system continues to facilitate it, and systemic racism remains a barrier to tackling it. Freedom United explore these connections in more detail.

Check out our theme Refuge & Freedom online, or get in touch to learn more, and get involved.

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