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Non-English speakers need not apply

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sumner from the London Metropolitan Police spoke recently at a Home Office conference on labour exploitation and UK industry about a case in which he had achieved a recent prosecution. A Romanian man with mental health issues ended up in hospital as a result of the abuse suffered during his exploitation. However, the circumstances regarding his abusive treatment were not revealed to the medical professionals treating him as his exploiters accompanied him to hospital and were acting as his interpreters. When he was eventually found by a police officer, sometime later, wandering the streets after escaping the house where he was kept, she was unable to communicate with him. It was only upon contact with the Romanian embassy that the full extent of his experience became clearer. Worryingly, it was only at this point that the police became aware that a young girl was still in the house and had been horrifically exploited for several years. This scenario serves as an example in which language functions as an inhibitor to ‘rescue’ and perpetuated a method of control over victims. (more…)

Hell bent on “abolition”

Abolitionist rhetoric is widely used within the anti-trafficking movement to call individuals to action – to be part of a movement to end modern-day slavery. These days, becoming an abolitionist seems fairly straightforward. One can influence change by taking part in education, outreach or advocacy efforts. Abolitionism itself has become a raison d’être with which to engage the public, spread awareness and create support for the issue. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen elsewhere in the anti-trafficking field, where language intends to evoke an emotional call to action – and does so successfully – its influence is seldom questioned. (more…)

Meet the face of human trafficking

She’s the image you’ve seen in media and advocacy campaigns: small, doe-eyed, scared – perhaps illuminated under a red light clutching a teddy bear. She’s been kidnapped, lured by or fallen prey to sex traffickers, or sold by her family into commercial sexual exploitation and/or prostitution. She needs your help. She needs to be rescued, saved…freed.

Meet the perfect human trafficking victim.  (more…)