Who says the Conservatives are heartless?
MP Peter Bone (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire) has proposed a new anti-slavery bill to address the pervasive problem of human trafficking in Britain, involving exploiters and victims from all over the world.
a more determined approach to the criminal industry to be adopted by the government …
Trafficking takes on several forms including forced labour (for example in the fishing industry, fast food production, agriculture and car washes), sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Bonded labour happens when the victim is forced to take out a ‘loan’ from those exploiting them supposedly covering ‘administration fees’ and travel costs. Such victims are told they will not be free until this is paid off; the reality being they will never be free.
Much of the news we receive about this involves women enslaved as servants or prostitutes.
The London segment of Sunday Politics (BBC) on October 13, 2013, opened with an interview of an African woman who went to the police saying that her employer had taken her passport, beat her and forced her to work as a servant all hours of the day. The police told her it was nothing to do with them, she said — it was an ‘employment’ issue. Eventually, the woman got help and her freedom from a local organisation, although she was interviewed in silhouette.
The Mail, among other papers, recently reported on the shadowy background of some high street nail bars. Vietnamese girls work as nail technicians during the day and as prostitutes or cannabis growers at night.
Incidentally, if you wonder about the connection between the Vietnamese and nail bars, the Mail says that actress Tippi Hedren (The Birds) visited a Vietnamese refugee camp in the United States decades ago. The ladies admired her beautiful nails, so she arranged for her manicurist to train them. From there, nail bars began to spring up in California then around the country as well as Vietnam — and the world.
However, trafficking also affects male victims. The London edition of Sunday Politics featured Andrew Boff, a Conservative GLA member, who has helped to investigate the trafficking situation in London. He said that he was amazed to find so many boys and young men among the victims. He said that he was also shocked to find that they were eager to make the most money in the shortest amount of time which, according to Boff, involved ‘opportunism’ and a high degree of ‘risk’.
Boff didn’t elaborate on what exactly they do, but France has had problems with theft committed by trafficked boys from Eastern Europe who work for a local gangmaster. He, in turn, receives instructions from a Mr Big back in his home country.
In response to Boff’s ‘A Report on Human Trafficking in closed networks in London’, co-authored by other GLA Tories, the Metropolitan Police say they have been actively investigating and prosecuting traffickers thanks to their Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) launched in 2010.
Human trafficking is not just a London problem. In 2011, The Guardian, among other media outlets, reported on a case involving men in Birmingham and Luton. Megan Stewart, who runs Thames Reach, an organisation which attempts to free victims of trafficking and return them to their home countries told the paper:
In March we helped two Czech men who had been held against their will in a flat in Birmingham for two years. They were taken every day to a factory in Luton and had to work from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. If they argued with their captors, they endured horrendous beatings. One of them was handcuffed to a radiator; another was burnt with a pipe on his torso when he asked to send some money home.
Most recently, on October 15, 2013, Yahoo UK carried a Sky News report about a raid on nine brothels in Birmingham. Five ‘sex slaves’ were freed as a result.
Some of the comments following that article mentioned car washes and the men working there. Readers ask that they, too, be investigated. Here’s one:
Ok, that’s the brothels done, now the car washes. There are a heap of them around our way and not a British worker in any of them. In fact every tongue you would expect beyond the former Iron Curtain and all lashed into obedience by gangmasters, that would not have looked out of place in the Treblinka concentration camp and not one of them paying a morsel of tax or on the minimum wage, or on Theresa May’s radar either I would have thought. Good[,] start now [--] the car washes!
It is thought that Britain is fruitful for traffickers because we are seen to be lenient in that regard.
Let’s hope that Peter Bone’s bill becomes legislation and that continued raids result in prison sentences and deportation (if that’s possible) for the perpetrators.