It is estimated that over 40 million people, slavery is their reality. These victims are spread across the globe, today. Out of those 40 million victims, 25 million are in forced labour and 5 million are subject to sexual exploitation.
The issue of modern slavery affects every area of the globe. It is far from being a problem that only affects other countries, there are tens of thousands of slavery victims hidden in plain sight right here in the UK. For example, in 2017, garment workers in a Leicester factory were found to be working in “sweatshop conditions” for significantly less than the minimum wage. Almost daily there are new reports of slavery within car washes and nail salons across the country.
If you own a smartphone, an item of cotton clothing, and eat food, you probably have in the region of 40 to 60 slaves who work or have worked for you
Awareness & Understanding
If there is one abuse that offends our conscience in every way, it is the enslavement of a human being… No child should be born without hope; no person should live without freedom.
Emeritus Desmond Tutu
We first need to understand what to look for; Unseen, a UK charity, have identified a number of signs that you can look out for in order to identify a victim of slavery:
- Individuals forced to work through mental or physical threat.
- Owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse.
- Dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’.
- Physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom.
The Modern Slavery Act
The Modern Slavery Act of 2015 was designed to raise awareness and improve the rate of prosecution for modern day slavery in the UK. The following definitions are encompassed within the term 'modern slavery' for the purposes of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, these are:
- 'Slavery' is where ownership is exercised over a person.
- 'Servitude' involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion.
- 'Forced or Compulsory Labour' involves work or service extracted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily.
- 'Human Trafficking' concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them.
A review to mark the first anniversary of the legislation discovered a 40% rise in the number of identified victims of slavery, with 289 prosecutions for slavery offences during 2016.
Unseen is a charity which has been at the forefront of tackling Modern Slavery in the UK and the wider world for many years. Andrew Wallis OBE, Unseen’s CEO and his team were also instrumental in bringing the Modern Slavery Act 2015 into being. They worked tirelessly to ensure section 54 “Transparency in Supply Chains etc” of the act was adopted and it is this portion of the act in which Segura has such a big impact.
By locking down supply chains, ensuring no unaudited rogue sources can be used by manufacturers, retailers can be confident that their finished goods have not been made by the hands of children or slaves.
Slavery in supply chains
Forced labour alone within the private economy is estimated to generate $150 billion in illegal profits each year – putting it in the top three most profitable illegal trades in the world. The introduction of modern slavery legislation made businesses responsible for slavery in their supply chain, regardless of where in the supply chain it occurs.
Slavery exists across all industries and sectors and is equally a problem for all businesses and corporates. The harsh reality is every supply chain will be affected in some way, at some time. Therefore, it is essential to be proactive about address and managing the risk of slavery within your supply chain. It is fantastic to see some big corporates adopting better processes on this, helping to create a culture where we recognise that the problem does exist and validate efforts to address it. However, there is still a long way to go – and a lot more work to be done.
Understanding and Collaboration
Within business, it is critical to remove the stigma and fear of proactively tackling slavery. It is only through active discovery that the true measure of the issue can be determined. Only then can a business really start to combat any issues uncovered.
However, responsibility for identifying and tackling modern slavery lies not only with businesses, but with everyone. The government, businesses, consultants, suppliers, NGOs and the public all have an active part to play. Through collaboration, sharing information and the ability to honestly and openly discuss findings, we can start truly adopting the process of eradication.
Unseen is a natural partnership for us and I am really excited to be working more closely with Andrew, Stuart and the rest of the team.
We have decided to partner with Unseen in the UK – a natural partnership for both parties. Together, we aim to do what we can to address the issue of slavery, and slavery in supply chains on a larger scale. By increasing the awareness of modern slavery and praising those who are not afraid to shout about their efforts to reduce the level of exploitation that exists in their supply chain, we hope to take one step closer to creating a slave-free world.
With over 40 million slaves in the world today, Unseen is obviously not going to end slavery alone, and collaboration is at the heart of how we work. Even so, it’s not often we find a company that is so closely aligned with our vision as Segura. It’s a natural partnership, and we’re thrilled to be embarking on it.
Unseen operate the Modern Slavery Helpline, where you can receive help, advice or information about slavery 24/7.
If you have any concerns about your own situation or something you have witnessed, call the Modern Slavery Helpline – it’s free, confidential and independent, and calls can be taken in over 70 languages.