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Modern day slavery in Britain must be dealt with

ByLucy Shiels

Mar 17, 2015

Modern day slavery is a scourge on modern day Britain that needs to be stamped out immediately. Immigration is a hot topic at the moment with politicians left, right and centre taking a harsh stance and promising to impose restrictions. However, politicians are largely silent on the issue of slavery, which is unfortunately still a reality for many in Britain today. There are currently around 13,000 indentured labourers and slaves present in Britain, living in ghastly conditions and earning less than £1 a week. It is simply shocking that the country of William Wilberforce and the abolitionist movement in the 21st century is still confronted with a slavery problem.

Shockingly, most of those held in slavery today are actually documented migrants who have come from Eastern Europe. Traffickers lure them to this country with the promise of legal documentation, a decent job and a living wage. Of course, there is a price to be paid for such ‘generosity’, but it is highly doubtable that these people think that that price will be their freedom. These migrants then arrive in Britain, are sent to work doing hard agricultural labour, unaware of their rights and in debt to their traffickers. Thus, their already meagre wage is cut up into even smaller chunks and their legal documents held. There is no real way of escape for most of these slaves.

If the condition of these migrants is not enough to make Mr Wilberforce turn in his grave, then the meagre provisions Britain has imposed against slavery definitely are. A recent report revealed that the police force are largely reluctant to tackle trafficking cases because they are deemed ‘unsexy’ and they believe they will not be regarded as ‘heroes’ for liberating slaves, but deplored for opening up what are deemed ‘highly complex cases’. Unfortunately, many victims of slavery suffer from mental ill-health and their liberation is not a simple rehabilitation process, but one that needs more dedicated resources and time. Nevertheless, this seems like a small price to pay for Britain’s poorly enforced anti-slavery laws.

Of course, it must be recognised that the Fiona Cunningham Report released late last year highlighted the problems this evil institution is presenting in Britain, and there currently is a Modern Day Slavery Bill going through Parliament which seeks to enact harsher punishments for those who have been found to be keeping people in slavery. However, it will not offer any compensation to those victims it will release. It seems that the lessons from the American Civil War and Reconstruction with regards to the rehabilitation of freed-people have not been taken into account. You simply cannot cast unstable, vulnerable victims of slavery back into the world without giving them a significant amount of assistance.

Taking tough action on immigration to win over voters during a general election campaign is one thing, but doing so in the face of preventing the abolition of slavery once and for all is another. In the 21st century, looking back over the long history of slavery and the abolition movement, it is extremely depressing to think that we have not eradicated this evil institution once and for all. It is despicable and abhorrent that there are thousands of workers in Britain who are unwillingly tied to their employer and left extremely vulnerable to exploitation. The new Modern Day Slavery Bill needs to offer freedom and proper rehabilitation efforts as well as sufficient checks and balances to ensure that slavery never darkens Britain’s door ever again.

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