The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that on any given day in 2016, an estimated 3.6 million men, women and chidlren were living in modern slavery in Europe and Central Asia (GSI 2018). People are subjected to exploitation in forced labour, debt bondage and forced sexual exploitation. Government response in Europe is particularly strong with a number of regional bodies holding them account and monitoring responses, and while countries in Central Asia have taken steps to tack modern slavery, more needs to be done. Mark was unemployed and looking for work when he was offered a job and a place to stay. However, he soon found himself trafficked into forced labour. He worked long hours doing laborious work and was not paid. He was trafficked in the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Despite having the lowest regional prevalence of modern slavery in the world, Europe remains a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source region for the exploitation of men, women and children in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. According to the most recent Eurostat findings, European Union (EU) citizens account for 65 percent of identified trafficked victims within Europe. These individuals mostly originate from Eastern Europe, including Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia. Mark Ovenden is a survivor of modern slavery. In an interview with the BBC, he recounts how he was offered accommodation and employment just outside his hometown in Southern England. At the time – Sept. 2009 – he had no job and was eating out of soup kitchens, so he jumped at the chance to earn some money. But things did not turn out as Ovenden expected. Between Sept. 2009 and April 2010, he moved with the family to different areas in the U.K., Holland and Sweden where he was forced to work for either no money or minimal pay. The work – taking up and laying driveways – was physical, repetitive and generally involved labouring for long hours. Ovenden, who said he had no support network of friends or family at the time, soon became completely dependent on his bosses.
The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children. Migrant workers in the UK are subjected to forced labour in agriculture, cannabis cultivation, construction, food processing, factories, domestic service, nail salons, food services, car washes, and on fishing boats. In Northern Ireland, migrants from Albania and Romania are particularly vulnerable to forced labour, including in agricultural work. Mark was forced to work under conditions of slavery in the UK, the Netherlands, and Sweden. He was rescued by the Swedish police.