Society is now at least aware of modern slavery as an issue affecting people, but often myths and misconceptions can take away from the true, harrowing reality. Here are some of these misconceptions debunked:

'Women are the Only Ones Affected by Modern Slavery'

In the UK 51% of modern slavery victims are female and 48% are male. When focusing in on London itself, the percentage changes to 81% female and 18% male. This is due to the fact that the city of London has a higher rate of sex trafficking (61%), in comparison to the national average (38%).

'Only Young People are Victims'

There is no single age range that pertains to victims of modern slavery. Hestia clients range in age from 18 years old to 71 years old. Twenty-seven years of age is the most common age of victims of domestic servitude and forced labor. As the National Crime Agency (NCA) states, “there is no typical victim”.

'It Doesn’t Happen in my Neighbourhood'

Victims of modern slavery can be hiding in plain sight, and may not be necessarily visible to you, but it's happening all around us - including in your town and on your street.

'Modern Slavery Is Only An Issue in London'

Modern day slavery is an issue across the United Kingdom. The NCA estimates that there are between 10,000-13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. The number of referrals in 2018 alone has increased by 2% from April-June 2018.

'Sexual Exploitation is the Only Form of Modern Slavery'

Forced labor is one of the main forms of exploitation involved in modern slavery, along with domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation is more prominent among female victims, while forced labor is more closely associated with male victims of modern slavery.

'People Smuggling and Trafficking are the Same'

There is a difference between smuggling migrants into the country illegally and trafficking, and this involves the level of exploitation. According to the NCA, individuals typically give consent when being illegally smuggled into the country, while trafficking victims have not given any level of consent, or have been deceived. The purpose of their journey and deception is to be exploited for the sake of the trafficker, making up for the debt and traveling costs that may pursue.

'Physical Health is the Main Concern'

Mental Health is of equal concern when it comes to victims of modern slavery. 91% of Hestia clients present mental health issues, with only 70% admitting to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, due to the associated stigma and lack of trust with professionals.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40885353

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/crime-threats/human-trafficking/common-myths-about-human-trafficking (#6)

Hestia Underground Lives: The Reality of Modern Slavery in London (Nov. 2017) (#1, #2, #5, #7)

http://iascresearch.nottingham.ac.uk/ResearchingModernSlaveryintheUK.pdf

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43535492

http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2018-nrm-statistics/947-modern-slavery-and-human-trafficking-national-referral-mechanism-statistics-april-to-june-2018/file (#4)


What we are doing?

Our modern slavery service has been active since 2011 and we’ve supported over 2,500 victims since then. We provide pan-London outreach support as well as 5 safe houses in London and Kent.

Our Phoenix Project provides volunteer-led, long-term support to victims of modern slavery in partnership with the British Red Cross. Read more about our services here.

We’re also asking you to dig deep in the back of your drawers for your old smart phones. Whether it’s through being able to find their way around London, learn English or just take photos of their children growing up, your unused phone could truly change the life of a victim of modern slavery. Here’s how you can send yours in to us.

From 16-20 October 2018, marking Anti-Slavery Day, we’re hosting #ArtIsFreedom, an art exhibition at the Anise Gallery in Central London celebrating artwork by victims of modern slavery. Pop by for free!