MODERN-DAY SLAVE TRADE; Comment&Analysis Politics, Comment and Analysis Edited by David James

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), November 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

MODERN-DAY SLAVE TRADE; Comment&Analysis Politics, Comment and Analysis Edited by David James


Byline: David James

Is the woman at the local nail bar a modern-day slave or are the workers at the farm around the corner living like prisoners? The illegal trade in people is now nearly as big as drug trafficking.

Political editor DAVID WILLIAMSON reports on the race to get a new law designed to shut the loopholes and convict criminals in place before the next election Q: Is it not an exaggeration to claim that people are living in "slavery" more than two centuries after the abolition of the slave trade? A: We might not see slave ships arriving at Welsh ports or slave markets in town centres but there is an obscene and rapidly expanding trade in human beings going on.

Unicef estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year in what the International Labour Organisation has calculated is a PS29bn trade. To put that in perspective, that's around double the entire budget of the Welsh Government.

At least 20.9 million people around the world are victims of forced labour, but it's not just a case of people from poor countries being brought into richer ones. Vulnerable people in Britain are also forced into a life of de facto slavery.

According to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), 42% of the UK citizens who were victims were girls trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Q: Have I come face to face with a modern-day slave? A: Very possibly. The Welsh Stop Human Trafficking campaign reports "SOCA operations in rural West Wales revealed the emergence of trafficking gangs moving women from Ireland to West Wales for the purposes of sexual exploitation".

But people aren't just traf-ficked for prostitution, and all of us may pass these terrified individuals on the street.

The Welsh Government has published guidance to help people identify victims.

It suggests you may come into contact with such a person in a host of places, including on a farm or in a factory; in a sauna, massage parlour or nail bar; in a food outlet or a hotel.

A trafficked person may have injuries or signs of physical abuse, appear malnourished or disorientated, be unfamiliar with their neighbourhood and always wear the same clothes. They may avoid eye contact and be fearful of the police.

It's possible they will have been threatened that if they tell anyone, they or their families will be hurt. They may be embarrassed or humiliated, or addicted to drugs or in debt to their traf-fickers.

Last year, of the 34 cases of human trafficking identified in Wales, 21 were female and 13 were male. The majority came from Poland, Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK.

Q: How bad is the suffering? A: The Welsh Government is concerned about the horrors of "organ harvesting", stating on its website: "The illegal trade is dominated by kidneys, which are in the greatest demand and are the only major organs that can be wholly transplanted with relatively few risks to the life of the donor."

Violence is thought to be rife against those forced into prostitution.

Those in domestic servitude and forced labour have been deprived of their liberty and often robbed of their passports, and there are cases of people have to take turns to sleep in filthy beds. …

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