The act of slavery is one which has been banned all over the world, and under international law it is deemed illegal for an individual to make another human being their slave. However, despite global opposition towards slavery it remains prevalent within today’s society with human trafficking constituting one of the most rapidly growing forms of this illicit trade. The United Nations have reported a known 127 victims of slavery who have been exploited in at least 137 different countries, further emphasising the point that trafficking is a worldwide issue which requires global attention.
Human trafficking basically refers to the forceful movement of individuals with the primary aim of exploitation. Fraud and deception are a common means of entrapping individuals into moving to another country, with many victims lured by adverts in their home countries for jobs such as restaurant staff, cleaners or au pairs.
In reality these individuals are stripped of their most basic human rights and enslaved in domestic labour roles. The sex trade is one area where those trafficked commonly end up with an estimated 85% of women working in brothels in the UK having come from overseas. It’s been over two hundred years since the abolition of the slave trade in Britain, yet it remains a major European destination for trafficked women who are brought into the country and forced into prostitution.
Living and working conditions for women coerced to work in brothels are generally poor with little regard for their health or wellbeing. Victims of trafficking often feel stuck; they do not want to contact the authorities as they may be living in the country illegally and they cannot escape their captors, thus the circle of servility continues.
It also appears it is not only immigrants who are entwined in sex slavery in 21st Century Britain. There have been several cases of British women from impoverished backgrounds being sold from town to town and forced to work as prostitutes.
On a worldwide basis it is estimated that over 2 million people are trafficked every year. Females are involved in 77% of trafficking cases, with sexual exploitation a factor in 87% of these. Trafficking for sexual exploitation does not just affect women as children are also trafficked and in some instances a few generations of the same family fall victim to the same fate.
The exact scale of the human trafficking problem is unknown; this is very much a secret and underground crime that provides a lucrative – but illegal – trade for those involved. Estimated to generate an annual worldwide income upward of £6 billion this is a very profitable crime that strips men, women and children of their civil liberties in order to line the pockets of those in control.
Although condemned under the hand of the law, it will take much more than legislation to stamp out the occurrence of human trafficking.