Different countries use different legal terminologies, but “modern slavery” includes the crimes of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced or servile marriage, the sale and exploitation of children, and debt bondage.
Although that still exists, modern slavery is less about people owning other people but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave:
- Forced labour– any work or services which people are forced to do against their will or through coercion, or under the threat of some form of punishment (mental or physical)
- Debt bondage or bonded labour – this is the world’s most widespread form of slavery, when people borrow money they cannot repay and are required to work to pay off the debt, then losing control over the conditions of both their employment and the debt.
- Human trafficking– involves transporting, recruiting or harbouring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.
- Descent-based slavery– where people are born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved; they remain in slavery by descent.
- Child slavery– many people often confuse child slavery with child labour, but it is much worse. Whilst child labour is harmful for children and hinders their education and development, child slavery occurs when a child is exploited for someone else’s gain. It can include child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery.
- Forced and early marriage– when someone is married against their will and cannot leave the marriage. Most child marriages can be considered slavery.
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 than 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 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 of people in modern slavery in the UK.
If an individual is informed by a child or vulnerable adult about possible abuse or receives a disclosure of issues that indicated potential abuse, they should:
- Listen carefully and stay calm
- Not interview the child or adult, but question normally and without pressure, in order to be sure that they understand what the child or vulnerable adult is telling them;
- Not put words into the child’s or adult’s mouth;
- Reassure the child or adult that by telling them they have done the right thing;
- Inform the child or adult that they must pass the information on, but that only those that need to know about it will be told;
- Inform them of to whom they will report the matter;
- Note the main points carefully;
- Make a detailed note of the date, time, place, what they said, did, and their questions
A designated member of staff will then contact the relevant authorities to establish whether the case requires further investigation and at what level.
All individuals covered by this policy must be mindful, and remain mindful, of the importance of ensuring that confidentiality is, where possible, maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.