Human trafficking in the UK is a growing issue affecting every large town and city in the country. According to Independent (2017) “The enormous scale of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK has been revealed in a major official report, with hundreds cases affecting “every large town and city in the country”.
Independent (2017) reported that there are currently “300 live police operations targeting modern slavery in the UK, with alleged victims as young as 12 being sold to families in the UK from Europe”.
A Guardian article by Jamie Grierson (2017) reported that victims of trafficking are predominantly from Eastern Europe, Vietnam and Nigeria, with a roughly equal balance between men and women. The article reported that in May and June 2017, there were 111 arrests in the UK related to 130 victims regarding an operation led by the Nation Crime Agency to tackle human trafficking.
Why is human trafficking a growing business within the United Kingdom and why are many victims from Black and Minority Ethnic countries?
Poverty. Many migrants from BME countries are living in poverty and often assume that the opportunities western countries can provide a better quality of life. For this reason an opportunity to live in a the UK often sounds like a dream come true.
Subsequently, this dream of having a better quality of life is shuttered when individuals are trafficked through lies and led to believe that, they are being brought to the United Kingdom to seek out opportunities that will provide income to support themselves and their families back home.
Individuals are trafficked into slavery, sex, forced labour etc. Sex trafficking is a growing business that generates a lot of income for pimps. “Sex trafficking occurs when someone uses force, fraud coercion to cause a commercial sex act within an adult or causes a minor to commit a sexual act” (sharedhope.org) A commercial sex act includes prostitution, pornography and others forms of sexual related acts in exchange for money, shelter, food or clothes.
Sex trafficking is a growing business in the United Kingdom because there is a demand for it. A buyer fuels the market with money in exchange for a victim who is exploited by pimps to earn revenue from buyers.
Often, traffickers control victims and keep them oppressed by threating to expose their acts to family /harm their family. At times, victims are told that, “they’ll be free after they pay their debt”. The “debt” is supposedly incurred from the victims’ recruitment, transportation, upkeep or even their crude “sale.” Thus, sex trafficking may occur within debt bondage/bonded labour- End Slavery Now (2018).
Victims of sex trafficking may be forced into performing other functions such as forced labour, slavery, recruitment and transportation of other victims which fuels the cycle and the sex trafficking business.
Within the UK, Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) “provide a central point of expertise, support and coordination for the UK’s response to modern slavery and the trafficking of human beings”. This organisation is a multi-agency organisation led by the National Crime Agency to tackle human trafficking. The role of this organisation is to protect the public and safeguard victims of such organised crimes in the UK.
The RA trust is an organisation that works with people most at risk of STI and other related illness through face-to-face interaction, as well as education and awareness via the internet, printed media, social media and advertising.
RA Trust is working with more than 5,000 sex workers across London and maintains a desire to be helpful everywhere, no matter what someone’s problem is or where they are. RA Trust has specialists in each area of STI and HIV prevention, standing alone as a non-profit charity.
Other organisations available to support victims in the UK include Unseen (08000 121 700), Human Trafficking Helpline (0300 303 8151) or NSPCC’s helpline on (0808 8005 000) if you think a child is in danger of trafficking.
If you’d prefer to stay anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. If you don’t want to call the police, you can talk to a charity anonymously. In cases of emergency call 999 or 101 if it’s not an emergency.
References and Further Reading