CHILDREN AND MODERN SLAVERY
Children due to their vulnerability and need for care and protection are at great risk from traffickers, especially when support and care is lacking. Children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by individual opportunists, traffickers, organised crime groups or people who should protect them.
In 2021, of the 12,727 potential victims of Modern Slavery identified, 43% (5,468) claimed exploitation as children. A large proportion (75%; 2,981) of UK nationals were child potential victims. Albanian and Vietnamese nationals were the second and third most common nationalities represented.
Criminal exploitation was the most frequent form of Modern Slavery experienced by children in the UK in 2021, (49%; 2,689). Children can be subjected to any of the exploitative conditions outlined. The International Labour Organisation estimates that worldwide more girls under the age of 16 work in domestic service than in any other category of child labour.
Exploiters prey on people’s vulnerability. A person may come from a situation of poverty and lack of opportunity receives an offer of an apparently good job. ‘Push’ factors such as poverty or lack of education, result in them accepting am an attractive job, and ‘pulling’ them into exploitation. This could be a person from abroad being offered a job in the UK, or a UK national being offered employment. Some individuals are more vulnerable to exploitation than others. This can be for different reasons include external and internal risk factors.
External Risk factors include:
Lack of Education
Lack of support networks from family and friends
Unstable social and political conditions
War and Conflict
Lack of local language or knowledge
Internal risk factors may include
Poor Mental Health
These ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors, combined with an individual’s vulnerabilities, for example, poverty, addictions or poor mental health, highlight how Modern Slavery occurs. These vulnerabilities are exploited further once the individual is manipulated or deceived. For example, in accepting a job in a different location, the victim may need to take a loan from an agent to pay for the recruitment fees, the journey to the place of transportation, or the accommodation they receive. When the person arrives at the place of employment, the job and the conditions they were promised are completely different. Their passport and identification is taken away, and they’re told they need to pay off the debt before they can leave. Violence or threats are common practice, both against the victim as well as their family back home. The UN states that:
those who fall prey to traffickers, are often forced to use their bodies for sex, pornography, labour, begging, forced marriage, or organ donation against their will. They may also be frightened into handing over money or personal documents and unable or too afraid to ask for help. They may not trust, or know how to access, health or police services. Some may have been economic migrants or illegal immigrants in the first place, believing that their captors will help them travel to another country or get them jobs.
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking now ranks as the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise after the illegal arms trade. Modern slavery is a low risk and high reward crime. Individuals can be exploited many times over resulting in great financial gain for their captor. The United Nations states that those who fall prey to traffickers are often forced to use their bodies for sex, pornography, labour, begging, forced marriage, or organ donation against their will. Victims may be frightened into handing over money or personal documents and are unable or too afraid to ask for help. They may not trust, or know how to access, health or police services. Some may economic migrants or illegal immigrants in the first place, believing that their captors will help them travel to another country or get them jobs.
Due to the hidden nature of the crimes it is often difficult to find victims and catch perpetrators. Many victims don’t identify themselves as victims due to being manipulated and developing attachment to their captor. Others live in fear of their captors. Without a victim coming forward to give evidence, it is difficult to catch and prosecute perpetrators. People who come from contexts of poverty, with limited opportunities or other vulnerabilities are often prayed upon by exploiters. MSHT is therefore attractive to criminals due to the low risk of prosecution.
http://www.osce.org/odihr/19223 United Nations’ Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons
http://www.osce.org/odihr/19223 United Nations’ Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons (2000)