Gary Craig reveals how slavery is all around us before a screening of four award-winning films in York
Friday, October 18 is antislavery day in the UK.
Although for many people, slavery is seen either as a thing of the past, associated with the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, or else prevalent only in poor countries with bad human rights records, in reality slavery – in a number of modern forms – is found throughout the UK now.
Thousands of young women (and some young men and boys) are trafficked unknowingly into the UK, from countries such as Poland, Rumania, China and Nigeria and end up as sex slaves, compelled by violent gangs to have sex with hundreds of men.
Every city in the UK has brothels “staffed” by these trafficked women and some have been identified in this area. Boys are frequently trafficked within the UK from one area to another.
Thousands of men are also working in the UK in situations of forced labour: here criminal gangmasters and exploitative employers use illegal tactics such as withholding passports, reducing wages, the use of violence, virtual imprisonment, and the threat of deportation, to ensure compliance with their demands.
Many women, on the other hand, are working in situations of domestic servitude, trapped in private households by a combination of abusive and exploitative employers (such as diplomats) and deeply unhelpful legislation.
Often these domestic workers are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, sleep on the floor and are expected to provide sexual services for their employer. Those who complain or try to change employers are deported.
Hundreds of children have been smuggled into the UK for the purposes of cannabis farming (one such farm was recently raided in Elvington) or brought to the UK to engage in forced begging. Many of these can be seen on the streets of major cities. And most recently, the appalling practice of trafficking for organ removal has begun to appear.
All over the country, groups will be organising events to highlight these issues around October 18.
York’s contribution is to organise a film show and debate with experts – including researchers and those who run services for people freed from modern slavery – on October 17 at City Screen, starting at 6.30.
This is the chance for people in York to see some excellent short educational films on the subject and engage in debate with experts about what can be done to stop modern day slavery. Tickets from City Screen; they are going fast.
- Gary Craig is the forced labour and trafficking researcher at the Wilberforce Institute. You can email him here
- Traffik Free Zone: Combatting Modern Day Slavery In The UK is a series of four short films about modern day slavery showing at City Screen on Thursday, October 17
- For more details, see the City Screen website or read more on the site of anti-trafficking charity Unchosen