There are more people enslaved worldwide today than there were 200 years ago in the lead up to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Human trafficking, the modern day slave trade, is the fastest growing form of international crime with an estimated 600,000 – 800,000 people trafficked across international borders each year. The number of people trafficked internally is currently unknown.
People are bought and sold into the sex industry, forced labour, domestic servitude and forced organ donation.
Every year men, women and children are bought and sold. Often traffickers will use threats, manipulation and debt bondage to ensure that their victims do not escape. CARE is focussing on the plight of women, children and men trafficked into prostitution in the UK and across the world. Many are kept in appalling conditions and are forced to see dozens of clients a day. Research shows that those who are rescued often share similar symptoms with survivors of torture.
Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is currently a high profit, low risk venture for those who trade in people. It has been reported that some drug trafficking gangs have switched to people trafficking as there is more money to be made and less risk of being caught. The number of British people buying sexual services has more than doubled in a recent ten year period, fuelling demand for prostitution. There is a ready made market for pimps, gangs and traffickers to exploit and make high levels of profit.
Although Kerb crawling in England and Wales has been an offence since 1985, at present there is no deterrent in the law to deal with demand in an off-street context. Until the root cause is addressed, a significant reduction in sex trafficking and other forms of prostitution will not be realised.
In order to reduce trafficking in the UK it is vital that people are aware that it is happening and know how to spot the signs. Police, BIA staff, social workers, teachers and healthcare staff may come across victims of trafficking. However, it is not just members of the above professions who may come into contact with trafficking situations. People are trafficked into towns and cities all over the UK. There may be trafficked people being held on your street!