There are an estimated 136,000 people living on conditions of modern slavery in the United Kingdom (Global Slavery Index 2018). According to the 2017 annual figures provided by the National Crime Agency, 5, 145 potential victims of modern slavery were referred through the National Referral Mechanism in 2017, of whom 2,454 were female, 2688 were male and 3 were transgender, with 41% of all referrals being children at the time of exploitation. People are subjected to slavery in the UK in the form of domestic servitude, labour exploitation, organ harvesting and sexual exploitation, with the largest number of potential victims originating from Albania, China, Vietnam and Nigeria. This data however does not consider the unknown numbers of victims that are not reported. Awais Raza was taken to a children’s home after his mother and father were killed. He describes this home as more like a prison. An older Afghan man helped him escape the abusive and exploitative children’s home and brought him to the UK. Upon arrival he was housed by an Afghan man in Luton and was given a passport. After two years of helping with cooking and cleaning in people’s homes, he sought out an education. At age 20 he was invited to a Home Office interview where he was forced to recount experience he had buried. After hours of questions, he was detained for 13 days before his solicitor could refer him to the National Referral Mechanism. Overall it took five years for Awais to be granted asylum in the UK.
India has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, there are still at least 270 million people living on less than US$1.90 per day. While laws, systems and attitudes regarding key 'fault lines' such as the caste system, gender and feudalism are rapidly changing, social change of this depth and scale necessarily takes time. In this context, it is perhaps unsurprising that existing research suggests that all forms of modern slavery continue to exist in India, including intergenerational bonded labour, forced child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, forced begging, forced recruitment into nonstate armed groups and forced marriage. While bonded labour has been outlawed for decades, survey data and pre-existing research confirms that this practice still persists. Bonded labour is not only illegal, research confirms that it has serious negative health impacts for those affected, who typically work in unsanitary and dangerous working conditions with no access to health care. Adhi joined a working scheme at a mill in order to save money for her wedding. While there Adhi was forced to work long hours with little sleep and received limited food and water.