Slavery in the 21st Century
by Heather Harvey
Campaign Manager- Stop Violence Against Women Campaign
As we are all celebrating the 200 year anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in
Some people believe that trafficking is the same as illegal immigration or people smuggling. It is not – in both illegal immigration and people smuggling, once the people arrive at their destination country they are free to go and take their chances. Trafficked people, firstly are not always here illegally but secondly are both tricked or forced into their situation for the express intention of exploiting them. The Convention defines trafficking “the movement of people, using violence, coercion or deception, in order to exploit their labour or services” The UN definition makes it clear that trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation but also encompasses domestic servitude, forced marriage and labour exploitation. The UN also makes clear that trafficking is a contemporary form of slavery. Of course this does not mean it is the same as the transatlantic slave trade. The attention on trafficking is not intended to be at the expense of recognising the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade and the lasting poverty and inequality that it caused and which continues today.
Nonetheless it is estimated that some 12 million men, women and children are living in slavery today. In 2003 Home office figures estimated some 4000 men, women and children were trafficked to the
“Maryam”, a 13 year old girl with a twin sister from
It this sort of repeat victimisation and criminalisation by the state that implementing the convention would address – within the terms of the convention the first priority would be identifying and meeting the needs of the victim.