Today is Anti-Slavery Day and this is very important. Why? Because it’s a day that raises much-needed awareness for one of society’s biggest (and often hidden) problems: modern-day slavery. It is a day that governments, local authorities, high-profile companies and individuals across the globe are invited to reflect upon what they can do to help stem the problem.
How did it come about? It was first introduced in 2010 as a Private Members Bill called the Anti-Slavery Day Act. Anthony Steen CBE was behind it, he is now Chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation. Every year the day gains increased momentum as more and more charities, police forces, government representatives, journalists and police forces join the battle with the overall aim of abolishing modern-day slavery once and for all.
Anti-Slavery Day is celebrated in many different ways; for one, the Human Trafficking Foundation hosts the Anti-Slavery Day Awards, which is designed to recognise the filmmakers and journalists who have run exposes on modern-day slavery and to “celebrate organisations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against modern slavery”.
According to a report by an independent anti-trafficking commissioner, Kevin Hyland, the number of people in the UK who are modern-day slaves is likely to be more than the current estimate of 13,000. He believes that the “true number is in the tens of thousands”.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “The 13,000 figure is based on old intelligence and we’ve come a long way since then in terms of our understanding of the real scale of the problem we’re facing.”
He added: “We know now that slavery here in the UK is far more prevalent than we have ever realised, and building a better response needs to be an absolute priority both domestically and globally.”
Last year, research published by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), concluded that almost three quarters of migrants attempting to gain access to the UK have experienced exploitation and human trafficking. That, I’m sure you will agree, is a pretty staggering statistic.
At the time, Dipti Pardeshi, chief of mission for IOM UK, said Anti-Slavery Day was “a poignant time to examine the widespread issue and look at what can be done”. We’re sure you will agree, which is why we strongly implore you to get involved in today’s activities.