‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms’. – 1948, Article Four, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Slavery isn’t just something that happens in faraway sweatshops and on fishing boats, modern slavery is a present problem in the UK and exists in many forms – including forced labour, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
The Home Office have estimated that today there are as many as 13,000 people in the UK living in modern slavery and the Prime Minister, Theresa May, recently described modern slavery as “the great human rights issue of our time”.
Slavery is illegal everywhere yet there are more people in slavery now than at any other point in human history. That, at last count, was around 45.8m men, women and children. 26% of those enslaved are under the age of 18.
In 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was passed. The Act included assured protection for victims and the establishment of the UK’s first ever Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. As a result of the Act, the number of identified victims has risen by 40% and there have been more prosecutions for slavery offences. However, there exists ongoing gaps in legislation and service provision.
The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland in his annual report stated that there are “too many gaps in the system for victims to fall through” and victim identification and care is currently his first priority.
Continued efforts to end modern slavery are vital and we must work to increase awareness of these issues. You can find out more about what’s going on this week by following the hashtag #AntiSlaveryDay
On 10th December, René Cassin is running Human Rights Shabbat. This year we are focusing on the theme of modern day slavery. So far over 30 different communities, schools, youth movements and synagogues are getting involved.