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Every day, NHS staff come into contact with people from across the globe. With more than one million people accessing NHS funded services every 36 hours, the 1.5million staff who work in our NHS, not just in hospitals, but in places where people live their lives, will come into contact with modern slaves.
When we hear the word slavery, we often think of something overseas. But here are the facts; we know that there are 13,000 modern slaves in the UK. They are often hidden in domestic service, in our high streets working in nail bars, food outlets car washes, factories, fields and our shorelines where the fishing industry is active.
Slavery is all around us, but we simply don’t recognise the signs. It is in our hands, and yet we can be indecisive about whether or not to get involved. To change that, we do not face a problem of ignorance but of awareness.
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Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to harm people in every country in the world.
Whether they are women forced into prostitution, men forced to work in agriculture or construction, children in sweatshops or girls forced to marry older men, their lives are controlled by their exploiters, they no longer have a free choice and they have to do as they’re told. They are in slavery.
There are estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world.
Today slavery is less about people literally owning other people – although that still exists – but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.
Someone is in slavery if they are:
Modern slavery can affect people of any age, gender or race. However, most commonly, slavery affects people and communities who are vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
It can be someone living in poverty and having no real prospects for a decent job, who will accept a good sounding offer of a job abroad that turns out something else that what was promised.
It can be someone from a community heavily discriminated against, such as Dalits in India, who will have to borrow money for a medical treatment from a wealthy farmer, and will fall into debt bondage for decades with no hope of help from corrupted authorities.
Or it might be a young girl who happens to live in a society where early marriage is completely acceptable, who will have no choice over marrying an older man.
Or it might be someone who happens to be born to a mother coming from a ‘slave’ cast, literally owned by their masters from the day they are born.
Slavery is also more likely to occur where the rule of law is weaker and corruption is rife. It can also happen to groups of people who are not protected by the law, for example migrants whose visa status is irregular are easy to blackmail with deportation.
Many people think that slavery happens only overseas, in developing countries. In fact, no country is free from modern slavery, even Britain. The Government estimates that there are tens of thousands people in modern slavery in the UK.
Visit the website for more information Modern Day Slavery