Today, on international Human Rights Day, the world is home to some of the most harrowing abuses of human rights ever seen.
Slavery was banned in most countries by the advent of the 20th century, but it did not go away, it simply went underground.
40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery around the world in 2016, with a quarter of them children, according to a 2017 report by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Walk Free Foundation.
Here is a UNILAD documentary on the story of a modern day slave:
Modern day slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, and human trafficking.
Slavery impacts people in every single country and due to advances in technology and methods used, it has become a more hidden crime that is often difficult to expose.
Neil Wain, programme director at anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice, spoke about Human Rights Day:
Human trafficking is an evil activity, profiting from human misery and taking people’s freedom in degrading and often barbaric ways. It is by nature a hidden crime – people would be shocked if they knew what was going on behind locked doors in their own communities, including here in the UK.
Today, Human Rights Day, is a good time to reflect on the shocking fact that so many millions around the world are trapped in modern slavery: forced to work, kept locked indoors as domestic servants, or coerced into the sex trade.
Modern day slavery is about people whose lives are controlled by their exploiters; whether that be women forced into prostitution, men forced to work in agriculture and construction, children forced to work in sweatshops, or girls forced marry older men.
Of the 40.3 million estimated to be victims, approximately 10 million are children, 24.9 million are in forced labour, 15.4 million are in forced marriages, and 4.8 million are in forced sexual exploitation.
Ninety-nine per cent of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls, according to the ILO.
It is a myth that slavery is only a problem overseas. Tens of thousands of victims have been identified in the UK, as reported by the government’s National Crime Agency.
Neil, who was formerly the Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, explained the methods used by modern day traffickers:
Victims are kept under control through threats and violence against themselves or their families; through psychological manipulation; debt bondage; the use of fear and shame as weapons; or through addiction and financial desperation.
Most traffickers take possession of their victims’ ID documents under the guise of ‘helping’ them, and in the developed world often set up bank accounts in their victims’ names that are under the complete control of organised crime.
The victims might not all look like slaves or be wearing physical chains but they do often suffer brutal physical and emotional abuse, social isolation, and extreme financial deprivation, feeling trapped with nowhere to turn.
Human Rights Day is held every year on December 10, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
The declaration’s article three states: ‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.’
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the declaration which applies to all human beings, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Human Rights Day is a time for everyone to act. Whether it be by pressuring political representatives for tougher enforcement, by urging the brands we buy to protect their supply chains from modern slavery, or supporting the charities who are on the frontline supporting victims.
If you would like to report modern day slavery or seek advice, contact the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700 or visit their website. You can visit Unseen for more information on modern slavery and to donate.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]