The National Crime Agency of the UK reports revealed that a subtle form of slavery is rampant across the country even today, and is ‘far more prevalent than thought earlier’. Recent data reveals almost 300 policing operations currently, with almost every major town and city affected, and almost tens of thousands of victims.
The depth of the crimes was found due to this year's intensive efforts to break up gangs operating in slavery, but every positive lead only triggered further investigations. The growth in international slavery, it was found, was being driven because stakeholders realized that more money could be made controlling people within a huge range of economic sectors, instead of plain underworld business dealings. Key sectors for slavery include food processing, fishing, agriculture, construction, brothel work, and domestic workers.
Will Kerr, the NCA's vulnerabilities director expressed his apprehension. "The more we look, the more we find" he said. And how- previous estimates of 10,000-13,000 victims is just the tip of the iceberg. The current numbers suggest that ordinary people unwittingly come in contact with victims on a regular basis.
The NCA is hence attempting to spread awareness among the public, to help recognize victims who might have been exploited. Experts say that most modern slaves tend to be victims of abuse as well, and the following signs may be evidence that they are being controlled or coerced into work:
- their manner of dress
- visible signs of injuries and stress
- the manner in which they came to work in a particular area.
There is no typical victim- men, women and children, all of them get captured into a cesspool of slavery. Traffickers have updated their methods- they use the internet to lure victims in with hollow promises of money, education or even love, preying artfully on those that are most vulnerable, the minorities and the socially excluded. Several of them fall for their ruse, believing they are escaping poverty, war, or limited opportunities and unstable political conditions; instead, they get caught up by gangs, and get moved around as commodities. Without any papers or documents on their self, and no ways of escaping, the victims often resign themselves to their fate.
A majority of victims come from countries with strife- Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania, and Poland being most likely countries, but several victims are being sourced from other European nations and, increasingly, the UK as well. They are brought to developed nations, and get caught up in the slave trade, unable to escape. The most common form of modern slavery is sexual exploitation, followed by forced labor, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude.
A Modern Slavery Law was introduced in 2015, but critics say that it was late in coming. Discussion on slavery has become rather like that on child abuse earlier, a response to a widespread hidden problem. However, prompt action and public awareness on a large scale is sure to contribute to a swift and effective resolution.