Cliff Grieve is a Rotarian at RC Ashford and also a member of and ambassador for the Rotary Group Against Human Slaver (RAGAS). The purpose of RAGAS is to drive awareness of the issue, empower member involvement and enable the community to take action to eradicate all forms of modern slavery and human trafficking. Cliff gave a hard hitting presentation on human slavery in today’s world, a massive world-wide problem affecting up to 50million people. Modern slavery is a severe exploitation of others for personal or commercial gain. It is often linked to human and sex trafficking and to land and labour slavery, where a person is forced to work entrapped and controlled against their free will – either physically, financially or psychologically. Many fall into this oppressive trap because they are trying to escape poverty or insecurity, improve their lives and support their families. Awareness of modern slavery first surfaced in 2002 but it was not until 2015 that legislation was introduced. At present, it is estimated that hat 1.8 people in every 1000 in the UK and 6.4 per 1000 worldwide are victims of Modern Slavery. 25% of victims worldwide are children.
Modern slavery takes many forms: human trafficking, forced labour, criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation, organ trafficking, forced and early marriage or domestic servitude. Sadly, it is all around us hidden in plain sight in such jobs as beauty, car wash, hospitality, construction, domestic and agricultural industry as well as criminal activities such as the sex trade, organ trafficking and drugs.
It can have a considerable social impact with victims finding difficulties in relating to others, having a lack of trust, becoming dependent on their “hosts”, feeling isolated, losing their support networks and finding difficulties in seeking help.
County Lines is a particular type of criminal slavery in which children and young people are coerced into selling drugs on behalf of gangs. The victims may be groomed by offer of gifts such as a phone or new clothing. Once tricked into participating in the drug trade, the young people are forced to continue by intimidation or violence. Nowadays children caught up in County Lines activities are treated as victims and not criminals.
Such is the scale of human trafficking and slavery that it is reckoned that by 2025 it will be the biggest earner for gangs.
What are the signs of potential trafficking and County Lines? Some signs are physical; they may look anxious, dishevelled, or malnourished or may have untreated injuries. Other signs are less obvious; someone paying for their travel, someone speaking for them, being picked up and dropped off from work at unusual times and particularly for County Lines victims, having quantities of cash, new clothing or a new mobile phone.
If you suspect modern slavery, report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the police on 101. In an emergency always call 999. Don't leave it to someone else.
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