Modern Slavery


What is Modern Slavery?

 The United Nations defines Modern Slavery as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons by improper means (such as force, abduction, fraud, or coercion) for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation. It takes on many forms today.

Different Forms of modern slavery

Here are the most common forms of modern slavery.
Forced Labour – any work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of some form of punishment.

Bonded Labour (also known as Debt Bondage) – the world’s most widespread form of slavery, when people borrow money they cannot repay and are required to work to pay off the debt, then losing control over the conditions of both their employment and the debt.

Human trafficking– involves transporting, recruiting or harbouring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.

Descent-based slavery – where people are born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved; they remain in slavery by descent.

Child slavery – many people often confuse child slavery with child labour, but it is much worse. Whilst child labour is harmful for children and hinders their education and development, child slavery occurs when a child is exploited for someone else’s gain. It can include child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery.

Forced and early marriage – when someone is married against their will and cannot leave the marriage. Most child marriages can be considered slavery

Modern slavery in numbers

  • 40.3 million People are in modern slavery across the world

  • 10 million children are in slavery across the world

  • 30.4 million People are in slavery in the Asia-Pacific region, mostly in bonded labour

  • 9.1 million People are in slavery in Africa

  • 2.1 million People are in slavery in The Americas

  • 1.5 million People are in slavery in developed economies

  • 16 million slavery victims are exploited in economic activities

  • 4.8 million People are in forced into sexual exploitation

  • 99% of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls

  • 4.1 million People in slavery are exploited by governments

Here are some indicators that may suggest someone is a victim of modern slavery


Physical Appearance - show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn and neglected. They may have untreated injuries.

Poor living conditions - Be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address.

Restricted freedom of movement - Have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work. Have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports.

Isolation - Rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.

Unusual travel times - Be dropped off / collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night.

Reluctant to seek help - Avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.

What should I do if I suspect someone is being kept as a slave?

Obviously if you think someone is in immediate danger you should call 999 to report it. If there is no immediate threat then you can call the Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.