Misery of Slavery Is Long Way from Being Eradicated, Even in Britain; YOU Might Have Thought It Disappeared Two Centuries Ago with Plantations, Leg-Irons and Chains When Transatlantic Slavery Was Abolished. but as South Wales Police Investigate a Suspected Slave Gang, UK Experts Say the Trade in Humans Remains the Huge Global Business It Ever Was. Darren Devine Reports
THEY no longer arrive chained in the hull of disease-ridden ships after being rounded up at gun-point on the shores of West Africa.
And they are no longer the legal property of their owners. But that''s about all that's changed in the slave trade.
Anti-Slavery International (ASI) suggest that globally today the world has a minimum of 21million slaves.
The 21 million is a minimum because it doesn't include women and children in forced marriages - any figure that also took in these factors would markedly inflate the estimate, ASI suggest.
The 4,000 or so slaves thought to be living in the UK, including those currently at the centre of a South Wales Police probe, represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Women compelled to service up to 30 clients per day in brothels or migrant workers trapped in bonded or "indentured labour" represent the contemporary face of slavery in Wales and the UK.
Typically, those in indentured labour can end up in food processing factories or the hospitality industry. They are brought here on the promise of a job, often entirely legally, and set up in sub-standard accommodation before being told to settle a host of debts associated with the move.
ASI director Aidan McQuade said globally the worst affected parts of the world are South and South East Asia, Africa and South America.
But he added: "In truth, every country of the world and every region of the world is affected by slavery to a lesser or greater extent."
And slavery survives not only in the form of enforced prostitution or bonded labour, but in the very ugliest of guises that immediately springs to mind when the term is used.
That's right - even transatlantic chattel-style slavery endures in West Africa, says Mr McQuade.
Slavery is defined by three major international conventions that took place in 1926, 1930 and 1956.
The best working definition comes from the 1930 Forced Labour convention which described slavery as "all work or service extracted from a person under menace for which the person would not otherwise offer themselves voluntarily".
Mr McQuade says this definition needs to be slightly more nuanced with the rider that it should include "people being treated as property".
Until around 2010 there was a presumption that in western Europe those trapped in forced labour tended to be migrant workers from central Europe, South-East Asia and Africa.
But in 2010 ASI pointed to a gap in the law whereby forced labour had never been criminalised in the UK.
The Government then made forced labour a standalone criminal offence without any need for an association with human trafficking. …