Today to mark Anti-Slavery Day in the UK, leading activists spoke to the Standard about the work they are doing.
It is estimated that in the UK there are at least 13,000 men, women, and children trapped in forced labor, sexual exploitation, or servitude.
Frank Field MP, who chaired the evidence review for 2015’s Modern Slavery Act, explained to the Standard: “[Human trafficking] is the most important trade, after drugs – in the world economy.”
The Act raised awareness and now many are familiar with the term “modern slavery.” Efforts across the UK are being initiated to help victims and crack down on perpetrators.
“The Salvation Army holds the Government’s contract for adult victim support services and has rapidly increased its provisions. ‘Six years after first getting the contract we have over 40 safe houses all over England and Wales,’ said Major Anne Read, anti-trafficking response coordinator at the charity.”
Other organisations like the Pacific Links Foundation aim to prevent people being trafficked in Vietnam, which is a country of origin for many victims of slavery in the UK. Mimi Vu, director of advocacy and partnerships at the NGO, told the Standard about how they work on prevention: “We look at what are the vulnerabilities – what makes somebody vulnerable to being a trafficking victim?”
The public can also take tangible actions to fight modern slavery. Joanna Ewart James, Freedom United’s executive director, explained that awareness of the issue is just the first step. “We give people an opportunity to do something once they’ve got that knowledge – how to convert that knowledge and anger into action that’s actually helpful.”
NOTE: Freedom United has created a special action hub for the Evening Standard where readers can find out more and join the urgent call to end modern day slavery.