At our October meeting members of SI Perth were educated by Avril Duncan, a Soroptimist and a Trustee of the Free to Live Trust, when she spoke of modern slavery and human trafficking.
We were reminded that the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act was introduced to do what it says, abolish slavery for good but in 2018, although slavery is illegal in every single country in the world, there are more people enslaved now than at any other time in history. Estimated at 45.8 million, globally. And modern slaves can be found in every country in the world, including Scotland.The reasons for this? Human trafficking is a low risk, high profit crime! It’s the 2nd most lucrative organised crime in the world, second only to illegal drug trafficking.
We learned that in Glasgow and many more of our larger cities, nail bar slaves have been found; trained manicurists from Asia lured to the UK with promises of good jobs but in reality, kept in Debt Bondage, some forced at night to work as prostitutes, to pay money to their traffickers.
Cannabis Factories – 50% of UK cannabis is now home grown and some is actually exported to meet demand from abroad. So young people and children are targeted mainly in Vietnam, trafficked and forced to work in the UK, growing and harvesting cannabis crops.
In 2017, over a 9 month period, Scottish Border Police rescued around 100 people, mainly women, at Glasgow airport, victims of Human Trafficking, who police believe were destined for the Scottish sex industry.
In 2015 a highland hotel owner was jailed for three years for trafficking three Bangladesh men to work in his hotel. In April 2018 the hotelier was ordered to pay back £93k to the men as compensation. Modern slavery is happening even in quiet parts of Scotland.
But Scotland is fighting back
In 2015 the Scottish Government produced a new Bill to combat Modern Slavery which is highly regarded around the world. Soroptimists attend the Human Trafficking Cross Party Groups Conferences at the Scottish Parliament. The Free to Live Trust is also represented at the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Sexual Exploitation.
When asked what we should do to end human trafficking and moderns slavery, we were given the following advice:
If you have any concerns about anything in your area, contact Police Scotland on Tel. No. 101. If you see someone in a nail bar, car wash, in the Supermarket, anywhere, and you have any suspicions about them being enslaved – contact Crime Stoppers, either online or by using a freephone number in the Phone Book – look under Helplines, and you’ll find a Modern Slavery Helpline number to phone. And raise awareness of modern slavery with your colleagues, family & friends. Good advice for us all.