When UK citizens go to the polls on July 4, Labour is widely expected to win by a landslide, which will mean changes are anticipated in many sectors. What has Labour pledged to do about tackling the issue of modern slavery and supply chains?

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is the term used to describe some of the world’s worst forms of exploitation, including human trafficking, domestic servitude, child labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and more. It is estimated that as many as 40 million people are now trapped in modern slavery worldwide, more than at the peak of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1800s.  

A number of countries have enacted tough legislation to combat modern slavery in the corporate world by increasing transparency in companies’ supply chains.

Modern slavery acts in the UK, EU, US, and other countries around the world require large companies to publicly disclose information about their efforts to eradicate human trafficking and slavery within their supply chains. These statements must include a report of the steps taken during the past financial year to ensure that these human rights violations are not taking place in any part of the business or its trading partners. It is expected that a growing number of countries will adopt similar legislation in the future. 

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Modern slavery in supply chains is an ongoing concern for many businesses, but key industries and jurisdictions present a much higher risk of modern slavery than others.

A recent UK government review of modern slavery and human trafficking in the supply chain for the NHS has revealed that 21% of NHS suppliers are at high risk for modern slavery in their supply chain. Additionally, the top imported products at risk for modern slavery are critical PPE items, including surgical instruments, gloves, gowns, uniforms and face masks. 

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Newspapers constantly brandish headlines concerning modern slavery discoveries in multinational companies’ supply chains. Certain industries are more at risk than others, namely the consumer sector and construction industries. Modern slavery is the exploitation of people and can be differentiated into a number of categories. Labour exploitation is a form of modern slavery that infiltrates supply chains around the world. It is where workers are forced to work for little or no money. Some of these workers will previously have been trafficked. Human trafficking involves the threatening, coercion and tricking of people into situations where they can be exploited. This allows them to be traded for financial gain of the perpetrators.
Modern Slavery in Supply Chains
Modern slavery in supply chains has been highlighted in recent years through introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Section 54 of the act calls for transparency in companies’ supply chains and demands that organisations that produce goods/services and have an annual turnover of £36 million, or more, publish a modern slavery transparency statement each year. It is estimated that there are in excess of 40 million people living in slavery worldwide. A great proportion of these people work in the supply chains of large multinational companies. Generally the more complex and the more international a supply chain, the greater risk there is of discovering modern slavery in it.

The Consumer Sector
The consumer sector refers to companies where stocks are purchased by consumers rather than by manufacturers and industries. The consumer sector is highly vulnerable to modern slavery as a large proportion of manufacturing is outsourced, often internationally. Particularly high risk goods include: rice, spices, tea, coffee, cocoa and cotton. Food and tobacco companies are vulnerable to modern slavery infiltration since a large proportion of produce is sourced internationally from high risk countries. Similarly, clothing firms are at risk when sourcing cotton, leather and any ready-made garments. The Thai fishing industry has been the subject of recent debate. Thailand’s billion-dollar seafood industry, exporting fish around the globe, is littered with human rights abuses. Widespread reports of forced labour and human trafficking within the industry have shocked consumers. Whilst many major retailers have come under attack for sourcing fish from Thailand.
Construction Industries
Forced labour is alarmingly prevalent within the construction industry. There are even allegations that forced labour is being used to build the World Cup 2022 stadium in Qatar. Especially amongst migrant workers who are promised jobs in other countries, only to arrive and find that things aren’t as expected. Forced labourers within the construction industry are at an increased risk of physical abuse and can incur profound injuries consequently. Examples of ways that labourers are frequently exploited within the construction sector are:

  • Employers withholding wages or paying rates lower than previously agreed.
  • Foreign workers having their passports confiscated by employers.
  • Unsafe working conditions and unsatisfactory personal protective equipment (PPE) which can result in serious injuries or even fatalities.

Why is it Important to Identify Modern Slavery in Industry?
Eradicating modern slavery is critically important as the human rights abuses and deprivation of workers’ rights will no longer be tolerated. The discovery of modern slavery within a company’s supply chain can be extremely damaging. It can lead to reputational damage, loss of market share and legal sanctions (including unlimited fines). On the other hand, compliance to the Modern Slavery Act 2015, especially section 54, can increase consumer confidence, improve employee morale and avoid legal prosecution. In order to begin recognising and addressing modern slavery, we must first cultivate a culture of knowledge and understanding. Regular modern slavery training facilitates development of the necessary skills to address this atrocity.

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Slavery was abolished in 1833 across the British Empire, however it is far from eradicated. In fact, it is estimated that 13,000 people in the UK alone are living in modern slavery. Modern slavery involves the exploitation of people and can come in a variety of different forms, including: human trafficking, labour exploitation, domestic servitude and forced marriages. The current governing legislation within the UK is the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on Thursday 26th March 2015. The act featured a push on transparency, urging businesses to acknowledge and address issues within their own supply chains.

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery includes: defining a person as owned/controlled by another; treating someone as a commodity or as property; dehumanising a person; restricting someone’s freedom of movement; forcing a person to work against their will. It can be broadly divided into ten types, though they frequently overlap and co-exist:

  • Human trafficking
  • Labour exploitation
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Financial exploitation
  • Forced organ harvesting
  • Forced criminality
  • Forced, early or sham marriages
  • EU status exploitation
  • Descent based or hereditary
  • Domestic servitude

Slavery goes largely unrecognised within the UK and consequently the scale of the crime is not truly appreciated. Modern slavery training can help to educate you on the types and signs of modern slavery, allowing you to recognise them.

Key Features of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Modern Slavery Act serves to simplify and consolidate existing modern slavery offences into a singular act. The act drastically increased the maximum sentence available for serious offenders from fourteen years to life imprisonment and also toughened up the asset confiscation scheme. The act sought to close loopholes by strengthening law enforcement powers at sea. Part 2 of the act featured two new civil orders: Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders (STPOs) and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs). These acts allow courts to restrict the behaviour and activities of a person who poses a risk of committing slavery or trafficking offences. The act established the first ever anti-slavery commissioner, dedicated to outlawing the practice of slavery. Vitally, the act has strengthened modern slavery victims’ protection and support, in the following ways:

  • By creating a statutory defence to ensure they are not inappropriately criminalised.
  • Giving the courts more powers to enforce Reparation Orders to be paid by perpetrators to their victims.
  • Providing child advocates in cases of child slavery.
  • Creating special measures to support victims of modern slavery through the criminal justice process.
  • Providing statutory guidance regarding victim identification and victim services.
  • Introducing protections to cover victims of abuse who are on an overseas worker visa.

Modern Slavery Transparency Statements

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 outlines the need for commercial organisations to publish slavery transparency statements. This encourages businesses to investigate and report on any possible slavery in their supply chain. Organisations are required to publish a slavery transparency statement if they supply foods or goods and have an annual turnover equal to or exceeding the limit set by the Secretary of State, currently £36 million. The statement must include where the business and supply chain operates, who is responsible for anti-slavery alongside any relevant policies. Failure to comply could result in reputational damage, loss of business and negative impact on shareholders’ opinions of the business.

Why is the Modern Slavery Act Important?

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was introduced to address the role that modern slavery and human trafficking sadly plays in our 21st century society. In a push to consign slavery to history books, modern slavery has been brought to the forefront of our minds. Compliance with section 54 of the act is vital for businesses that supply goods and services, thus they should familiarise themselves with the requirements. It is the responsibility of everyone to stay vigilant for signs of modern slavery, be that in supply chains or in our local communities. You can learn more about the Modern Slavery Act and how to be compliant by undertaking regular modern slavery training courses.


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Slavery is not a thing of the past, it is estimated that 40 million people around the world are trapped in modern slavery. Acts such as human trafficking and labour exploitation, both of which are forms of modern slavery, have infiltrated supply chains across the UK and the rest of the world. Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act was devised to encourage organisations to investigate and report on their own supply chains. It requires certain organisations to publish modern slavery transparency statements. These should provide an overview of the organisation’s structure and supply chain. The statement must include where the business and supply chain operates, who is responsible for anti-slavery and any relevant slavery and trafficking policies. Failure to comply could result in irreversible damage to an organisation’s reputation, legal prosecution and an unlimited fine.
Does Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act Apply to Me?
Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act applies to all commercial organisations that supply goods/services and have a total turnover equal to or exceeding an amount set by the secretary of state, currently £36 million. It requires them to publish a transparency statement annually, within six months of the end of the organisation’s financial year.

Requirement of the Act
The statement should include any international supply and trade routes as well as the areas or regions where your organisation operates. In some larger organisations it will be necessary to list the specific areas for different types of trading activity. You should highlight the areas of your business and sections of your supply chain that are at risk of modern slavery. Furthermore, the statement should outline who is responsible for anti-slavery initiatives within your organisation, including any relevant policies. The statement must include: your due diligence process for tackling modern slavery; the performance indicators you use to assess effectiveness and measure risk; staff modern slavery training requirements and any other initiatives you are implementing to combat modern slavery.
The act must be signed by an executive of the organisation, e.g. a director or partner. It must also be published on your organisation’s website accompanied by a prominent link on the homepage. The statement should be clear and written in simple English. Additionally, if your organisation regularly trades with non-English speaking countries then the statement should be readily available in the respective languages.
The act does not strictly require you to implement a strategy to prevent slavery within your supply chain, but simply to investigate and report on it. Organisations are therefore within their rights to publically state that they are doing nothing to combat slavery within their supply chain. However, the inevitable shift in public perception through this demonstration of disregard is worth considering.
Why is Supply Chain Transparency Important?
The logic behind section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act is that the transparency statement will encourage organisations to take proactive steps to eradicate modern slavery from their supply chains. Greater supply chain transparency allows companies to identify and better manage areas of risk. The birth of social media means that brands are more exposed than ever to public critique and the potential accompanying loss of reputation. Additionally, non-compliance could result in a loss of business and damage to shareholder opinions. Furthermore, compliance is important since it is a legal obligation. Education is key in maintaining vital compliance. Regular modern slavery training can help ensure your knowledge is kept up to date and that you are fully equipped to address the risks within your supply chain.

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Forced organ harvesting is a form of modern slavery where an individual’s organs are surgically removed for sale on the black market. Organ transplants are becoming increasingly commonplace. This is due to a multitude of advances: better seatbelts meaning less young road traffic deaths; safer transplant procedures; better post-transplant management. However, this increasing demand is not matched by a similar surge in supply. Consequently, through desperation, many sick individuals are turning to the black market to source their organs, facilitating a hotbed of criminal activity. Forced organ harvesting is a dangerous and illegal practice.

The Risks of Organ Harvesting

Surgically extracting an organ involves major surgery and accordingly, there are major risks involved. Whilst the extraction of some organs (frequently kidneys) is performed on living donors, it poses a substantial risk to life and subsequent quality of life. For example, risks of kidney donation from a living donor include:

  • Severe pain
  • Blood clots
  • Incisional herniation
  • Serious infection
  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung collapse
  • Psychological symptoms
  • Death

As well as the standard risks of major surgery, the status of this practice as illegal means that protocol and hygiene appreciation may be questionable. This increases the risk of infection and endangers victims.

Victims of Organ Harvesting

Some people voluntarily sell their organs to traffickers on the black market in exchange for money. It is a lucrative business and kidneys, for example, are bought for an average of $150,000. In theory, healthy individuals with two fully functioning kidneys and can continue to live healthily when one is removed, however this is not always the case. There is only one country in which it is legal to buy and sell kidneys: Iran. Elsewhere you can altruistically donate some of your organs (including kidneys) but not for monetary gain. People most often donate kidneys to their loved ones and family, but it is also legal to donate your organs to strangers as an act of compassion. There is no exchange of money and this should not be confused with forced organ harvesting.

Contrastingly, some victims have their organs forcefully removed. For example:

  • Victims may be kidnapped and have an organ forcefully removed.
  • Some victims are tricked into believing they require an operation and whilst under anaesthetic they will have an organ removed, without their knowledge or consent.
  • In light of the influx of political refugees arriving in Europe, numerous individuals have been offered assurance of safe passage to Europe in return for an organ.
  • Many victims of forced organ harvesting have previously been human trafficked, another form of modern slavery.
  • Other victims are murdered on demand and have their organs removed to fulfil an order.

Organ Harvesting in China

Organ harvesting is practiced throughout the world, including within the UK. However, it is extremely prevalent in China. Traditionally, China has met its demand for organ transplantation through harvesting executed prisoner’s organs. Many of the affected were prisoners of conscience (e.g. Falun Gong, a Buddhism-based spiritual practice), these are individuals with political or religious views that are not tolerated in China. This practice was supposedly abolished in 2014, however multiple investigations have demonstrated that it is still in practice. In February 2017, a top Chinese transplant official stated that they had stopped using executed prisoners’ organs, however the figures given by multiple government officials do not match up. Coupled with organ wait times of a couple of weeks for a kidney transplant in China (compared to years in the UK and the rest of the world) it is clear unlawful organ sources are being utilised. Falun Gong have reportedly been kept in concentration camps until an order comes in for an organ that matches their tissue type. Upon demand the victim will then have surgery to remove their organ, or be killed and their vital organs extracted.

The Scale of the Crime

Due to the aforementioned factors, the incidence of forced organ harvesting is rising worldwide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that more than one illegal organ transaction is made every hour worldwide. There is an increasing demand for kidney transplants, in part due to the rising level of diabetes worldwide. Consequently, it is estimated that 5-10% of all kidney transplants worldwide rely upon the black market sale of organs. Increasing awareness of and remaining vigilant to modern slavery, such as organ harvesting, helps to facilitate outlaw of the inhumane practices. One way to achieve such recognition is through regular modern slavery training courses.

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Whilst the word slavery conjures images of 18th century American plantations, it is critical we recognise that slavery still exists around the world. Whilst slavery was abolished in 1833 and 1865 in the UK and USA respectively, it was not abolished in the last country until 1981. However, abolition has not stopped slavery. Perpetrators have instead become more devious and inventive. Modern slavery involves the exploitation of people and can come in a variety of different forms. It includes: forcing a person to work against their will; enforcing restrictions on their freedom of movement; dehumanising a person; treating someone as a commodity or property and defining a person as owned/controlled by another. Nearly two centuries after its abolition, a huge 13,000 people are believed to be living in modern slavery within the UK. This statistic alone should be a call to arms, we all have a responsibility to combat this inhumane practice.

Types of Modern Slavery

Modern slavery can present in a variety of forms, often interlinking and co-existent. Human trafficking is the act of tricking, threatening or coercing people into situations in which they are exploited. The victims are then traded for financial gain. Contrary to popular belief, trafficking can occur within a victim’s own country and doesn’t always involve crossing borders. Human trafficking is the gateway to many other forms of modern slavery.

Labour exploitation is when people are forced to work for nothing, or their income goes straight to their “owner”. Similarly, sexual exploitation is when people are forced to work in the sex industry. Financial exploitation is where vulnerable people are targeted by trusted individuals to obtain their money or take out loans in their name. Domestic servitude is a type of labour exploitation that involves being forced into housework, often alongside confinement, and can be accompanied by physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Young, female workers typically fall prey to this type of slavery under the illusion that working for their employer will gain them a visa allowing them to study in the country.

Forced, early or sham marriages also constitute modern slavery. Being forced or coerced into marriage against your wishes (e.g. an arranged marriage that is not willingly consented to) falls into this category. This type of slavery largely links with EU status exploitation, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. EU status exploitation is the targeting of European Union (EU) citizens for their citizenship. They are forced or coerced into sham marriages, allowing their partner freedom of movement within the EU.

Organ harvesting is the illegal practice of removing someone’s organs or eggs for sale on the black market. This can either be voluntary, through desperation for money, or forced. Forced criminality is where people are coerced into taking part in criminal activities (e.g. begging, prostitution, theft and cannabis cultivation). This type of slavery is largely linked with sexual exploitation as well as labour exploitation and human trafficking. Descent based, or hereditary, slavery is specific to some countries (e.g. Mali) that have strict caste systems defining a sector of the population slaves from birth. Slavery is deeply ingrained in culture is this practice and can be difficult to eradicate.

Who is Vulnerable to Slavery?

Everyone. Modern slavery is indiscriminate of age, race and gender. However, whilst we are all potential victims, some groups of people are more at risk than others. For example, migrants are particularly vulnerable to labour exploitation. They can be promised jobs in foreign countries but be tricked into owing their recruiters travel costs when they arrive. Similarly, those who fall into debt can be coerced into slavery to pay it off and subjected to an interest rate so high they will never pay it in full. Labour exploitation can occur in any industry. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of your suppliers’ actions and ensure they are not exploiting labourers. Vulnerable adults (e.g. elderly, physically handicapped or cognitively impaired individuals) can fall victim to financial exploitation. These adults must be properly safeguarded to ensure that a trusted individual is not taking advantage of them.

Recognising Modern Slavery

Slavery can see families torn apart and vulnerable individuals deprived of their liberties. It is a violation of basic human rights. We all have a responsibility to be vigilant for signs of modern slavery and speak up if ever we suspect it. As well as the devastating effects that slavery has on its victims, your organisation too will feel the repercussions if it is to be discovered to be linked to slavery, albeit inadvertently. The main types of slavery that could present in your supply chain are: human trafficking and labour exploitation. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Supplier location –India, China, Thailand and Bangladesh have an increased risk of labour exploitation
  • Labour hire practices e.g. excessive recruitment fees, unnecessary wage deductions, passport confiscation, inhumane treatment, etc.
  • Industry sector
  • Prior public concerns regarding labour standards

You should collate all of the information above and combine it to calculate how high risk your suppliers are. The world’s largest foodmaker and household name Nestlé has come under scrutiny in recent years regarding modern slavery. The company was accused of utilising child slaves in their supply chain. This news led to uproar and a negative shift in public perception of the brand. However, some of this disgust was offset by admiration for an open admission that they had subsequently found labour exploitation in their Thai seafood suppliers. The transparency in this disclosure was widely praised and has demonstrated the necessity of being open in recognising and addressing these issues.

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Labour exploitation is a form of modern slavery and is thus covered by the Modern Slavery Act within the UK. Victims of labour exploitation are forced to work for nothing, low wages or a wage that is kept by their “owner”. Victims of labour exploitation can be any age, gender and race, but more often than not they are male. However, these profiles differ dependant on industry. Labour exploitation can and does occur in businesses of any size and in any country, including the UK. In fact the National Crime Agency found that labour exploitation is the most common form of slavery in the UK and is increasing in prevalence. Regular modern slavery training enables you to stay vigilant for signs of labour exploitation within your community.
Recognising Labour Exploitation
The first step towards combatting modern slavery and labour exploitation is identifying it. You can observe the ways in which workers are treated and keep your eyes peeled for the following signs:

  • Squalid, overcrowded, unsanitary accommodation.
  • Workers being constantly moved between jobs.
  • Employees that are forced to work long hours or double shifts.
  • Daily threatening of workers, both verbally and physically.
  • Regular violations of theirs basic human rights and workers’ rights.

It is also important to observe the labour practices of businesses, especially those in your supply chain. The prevalence of modern slavery varies around the world, thus supplier location can help inform the level of modern slavery risk. The Global Slavery Index can be consulted to indicate relative risk around the world. Supplier labour hire practices can also tell you a lot about the values of your suppliers. For example, practices such as charging excessive recruitment fees, underpaying workers, confiscating passports and abusing workers are indicative of labour exploitation. Modern slavery is more common in some industry sectors, e.g. agriculture, clothing manufacture and construction. These industries tend to be surrounded by minimal labour laws or are seasonal in nature. You should also remain vigilant for any publicised concerns regarding suppliers’ labour standards.
Who is Vulnerable to Labour Exploitation?
Labour exploitation is indiscriminate of age, race and gender. However, some groups of people are more vulnerable than others. Migrants are common targets for labour exploitation perpetrators. Migrant workers are offered jobs working in a foreign county. However, when they arrive they find that the conditions are not as expected and that they owe their travel costs to their recruiters. Other victims are those in financial hardship who take out loans and become debt bonded to pay it off. Interest rates will be set so high that they are unable to pay it off and the victim (and possibly their family) will be demanded to work to repay the debt. Alternatively, victims may previously have been human trafficked. Human trafficking is where people are threatened, coerced or tricked into situations that allow them to be exploited. They are then traded, in this case to labour exploiters, for financial gain. Human trafficking can occur in a victim’s own country or involve being shipped across borders.
Sexual Exploitation
Sexual exploitation is a type of labour exploitation specific to work within the sex industry. This can include: online sites, brothels, pole dancing clubs, the adult entertainment industry and working on the streets. It is important to remember that victims of sexual exploitation can be any gender, age and race. However, females fall victim to this type of exploitation more often than males.
The Effects of Labour Exploitation in the Supply Chain
Modern slavery is surprisingly common and is frequently discovered within the supply chains of large, well-regarded organisations around the world, such as household name Nestlé. Reams of negative consequences unveil themselves in the light of a modern slavery discovery. The reputational blow taken by associated companies can be crippling. Modern slavery can be hard to detect within your supply chain, but it is imperative that you do so, to protect not only innocent victims from slavery but also your business. Thorough modern slavery training and regular refreshers can facilitate its identification.

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Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery which frequently acts as a gateway to subsequent exploitation. It involves the threatening, coercion or tricking of people into situations that facilitate their exploitation, all for the financial gain of perpetrators. Victims are sold into illegal practices against their will, sentenced to continual exploitation and slavery. Human trafficking can happen domestically, i.e. within the country, so does not always involve crossing borders. In fact the UN reported that 43% of victims are trafficked within national borders.

What is the Purpose of Human Trafficking?

Victims of human trafficking are sold into virtually any practice that will earn their traffickers money. They can be trafficked for a variety of purposes, including, but not restricted to: labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced criminality, organ removal, domestic servitude and forced marriage. We will explore the nature of each of these crimes.

The majority of people who are victims of human trafficking are trafficked for labour exploitation. In labour exploitation, victims are forced to work for no money or any money they earn is seized by their “owner”. Whilst victims of labour exploitation can be of any profile, they are more often male. Sexual exploitation is a type of labour exploitation in which workers are forced to work in the sex industry. Work can range from pole dancing clubs and brothels to online sites and street prostitution. Sexual exploitation is more common in women and children than men.

Forced organ removal is a barbaric and dangerous practice where victims have their organs surgically removed for sale on the black market. Organ removal is a lucrative practice; in theory, harvesting every organ and chemical within a single living body could generate in excess of $45 million, however in practice not all elements can be utilised. The scale of this crime is astounding. For example, thousands of Falun Gong (a modern Chinese spiritual practice) supporters in China have had their organs forcibly removed for sale to rich recipients in need of a transplant. Supposedly, victims are tissue typed and kept in concentration camps until their organs are required. Upon finding a match, organs are either removed from living victims (e.g. cornea) or they are killed to remove their vital organs (e.g. heart).

Domestic servitude and forced marriages often go hand in hand. Women and children can be sold as wives, forced into marriages against their will and made to serve their “owner”. Essentially, domestic servitude is when people are forced to perform household chores and often confined to their owner’s residence. Sadly, this type of slavery is often accompanied by sexual exploitation.

Some victims of trafficking are forced to perform criminal activities such as theft, prostitution, cannabis cultivation and begging. This form of slavery is termed forced criminality.

Who is Targeted?

Victims of trafficking can be of any age, gender, race, educational level and wealth, however, certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others. The UN found that 51% of trafficking victims are women, 28% children and 21% men. These figures differ according to type of exploitation, for example 72% of sexually exploited people are female.

People living in poverty are often targeted by traffickers. The perpetrators tap into this financial desire and offer victims work abroad or in another region. They often loan them money for travel and relocation costs. However, when the workers arrive they find that the job does not exist or the conditions are drastically different to their expectations. Debt repayment rates will be set so high that victims are unable to repay them and are therefore debt bonded to their employer.

Another target of human trafficking perpetrators is the homeless youth population. Their poverty, isolation and lack of support make them easy targets. Simply put, no one will know they are gone. Perpetrators often trick victims into thinking they are in a relationship with them. With a lack of other emotional affection, homeless youngsters can be all too willing to buy into this manipulation.

Similarly, individuals who have previously experienced violence and trauma are particularly vulnerable to further exploitation. The long-lasting psychological impact of abuse means that these individuals are easy targets for perpetrators. Past experiences may include: domestic violence, sexual assault, war and social discrimination. These experiences cultivate a normalised acceptance of abuse and feelings of uselessness and shame, all of which facilitate exploitation.

Why is Human Trafficking an Important Issue?

Victims of human trafficking are stripped of their rights and freedoms. With no means to assert their liberties, it is important that the rest of us are activists on their behalf. Knowledge is a critical tool in combating modern slavery and human trafficking. We can help by familiarising ourselves with the signs of human trafficking and remaining vigilant. Undertaking regular modern slavery training courses help to keep this knowledge up to date.

Child labour exploitation is the employment of children in a form that deprives them of their childhood. The nature of this work can be damaging to a child’s safety, physical health, and mental health along with hindering their moral development. It occurs in many different forms and can often go unnoticed by authorities. 16 out of every 100 children worldwide are in child labour exploitation. Three quarters of whom work in dangerous environments, like mines and factories, or with hazardous substances. However, some of the poorest families throughout the world depend on their children working to boost their family income. Thus it has become a widely accepted practice in some cultures.
The Different Types of Child Labour Exploitation
A common route into labour exploitation is through human trafficking, this is where the children are sold to “owners” and forced to work. This can occur within the child’s own country or involve them being smuggled across borders. Debt bondage, on the other hand, is a form of child labour exploitation where children are demanded to work to pay off a debt. This debt is often incurred by their family and the child is sent off to work for years in repayment.
Some children are threatened or coerced into committing crimes, often by criminal gangs, for others’ gain. They are forced into activities such as: drug trafficking, begging and theft. Children can be pushed into this form of exploitation through threats of violence or family demands for money. Children who traffic drugs are at an increased risk of physical abuse and often become addicted to drugs at a very young age.
One specific form of labour exploitation is sexual exploitation. This involves prostitution, pornography and pornographic performances. Boys and girls around the world are exploited for adults’ personal gain and profit. Some are sold into forced marriages, some are made to entertain adults and others are kidnapped and trafficked to become child prostitutes.

How can you Recognise Child Labour Exploitation?
Child labour exploitation can be incredibly difficult to recognise, especially in children who are serving as domestic workers. Within the realms of a home, these children (typically girls) can be hidden from the authorities and exploited. Some children themselves will try to conceal the nature of their treatment, so you must observe both their physical state and their behaviour for indicators. Physical factors such as: injuries, abnormal development and poor hygiene can all be red flags for child labour exploitation. Similarly, school drop-out, mental illness, aggression and nervousness can all be considered psycho-behavioural indicators of labour exploitation in children. To assess whether a child is being exploited you can also consider whether the hours that they are working are excessive for their age. Additionally, you must consider whether, in the case of manual labour, children are being asked to lift objects that exceed what is considered acceptable for their age. One criteria alone does not guarantee child labour exploitation, but it highlights the vulnerable children who require your attention and investigation.
What are the Impacts of Child Labour Exploitation?
Child labour exploitation can have detrimental impacts on not only a person’s childhood, but also on the rest of their life. Many children in child labour exploitation are denied education, health, proper nutrition and security. Denial of such basic grounding sets an unstable foundation for the child’s future.
The health and safety risks of children working in dangerous environments are extensive. Children working in mines can fall victim to tunnel collapses, accidental explosions and rock falls. Whilst those in contact with hazardous substances could suffer inhalational injuries and burns. Repeated exposure to hazardous substances can cause long-term health conditions such as asbestosis and silicosis (both serious lung diseases). Children are often utilised in industry as their small bodies can enter spaces unreachable to adults. However, crawling into small spaces or repeatedly being bent over can cause disfigurement, spinal injuries and difficulty walking straight.
Children who are being sexually exploited are incredibly vulnerable to physical abuse, malnutrition and sexually transmitted diseases. Whilst arguably the most important factor of all is the psychological scars left by this horrendous form of exploitation.
Why is Child Labour Exploitation an Important Issue?
Children are a body of our society who are highly vulnerable to exploitation. An astonishing proportion of children across the world are being put in danger and deprived of their childhood by child labour exploiters. In order to address this injustice, we must first work at identifying it. Modern slavery training can help equip you with the skills to identify these situations and the knowledge to begin rectifying them. Education has been recognised as a key factor in preventing child labour exploitation. Not only do children in education have less chance of suffering labour exploitation, but also children already within labour exploitation who are offered education have a greater chance of escaping it.