Shelters for victims of domestic violence in the UK are in a unique position to identify victims of modern slavery, reports the Evening Standard. Those working at these shelters say they have discovered a nexus between victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking.
Sandra Horley CBE, CEO of Refuge shelters, recalled the experience of their staff:
“We really do have a major problem with identifying victims, and there is this nexus between domestic violence and modern slavery. Many of our clients come to us as domestic violence victims and once we gain their trust they disclose that they have actually been trafficked and are victims of modern slavery,” she added.
“One woman was forced into domestic servitude in London. She was trapped for five years and every day she wrote on a piece of newspaper, ‘Help me,’ and threw little bits of paper outside the bedroom window,” she said.
Refuge began in 1971 and now operates 40 safehouses across the country. Unfortunately, campaigners and activists have pointed to a funding crisis in recent years. London’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that local authorities across England cut their spending on domestic violence shelters by nearly a quarter in the last seven years.
Horely wants those in the UK to understand the extent of human trafficking. “You can be trafficked within Britain – it is not an immigration issue. This is serious organized crime. It’s a multi-million pound global business,” she said.