Sunday, 12 January 2014

Strengthening Anti-Slavery Laws in the United Kingdom

An exciting new law has been proposed in the United Kingdom which would increase penalties for slaveholders.

Before continuing, a note about modern slavery. While slavery falls within the milieu of labour rights abuses, it is not the same thing as the situation endured by, for example, Walmart workers. The authors of Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery stated it very succinctly: "They are not simply underage workers or sweatshop workers. They are forced to work for no pay under the threat of violence."

In addition, Kevin Bales offers a very clear definition of modern slavery which clearly distinguishes it from capitalistic labour rights abuses. The following is from his Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide.

About the UK Law
From the BBC:
The Modern Slavery Bill aims to consolidate the offences used to prosecute those who enslave others into a single act. The draft Modern Slavery Bill aims to increase the maximum custodial sentence for offenders from 14 years to life. The new bill would also provide for automatic life sentences for offenders with prior convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences. ("Life sentences planned for slavery offenders," BBC News, 16 December 2013, at
Distinction Between Slavery and Trafficking
Another news article describes the measure as an anti-trafficking bill. It is important to note that some anti-slavery activists, including Kevin Bales, distinguish between slavery and trafficking.

("Trafficking in Persons in the United States")

Legal Recommendations
The BBC news article goes on to explain a potential limitation of this news law in terms of its reach:
The bill - which the Home Office says will be the first of its kind in Europe - will only apply specifically to England and Wales but ministers said they wanted it to have the 'broadest UK-wide effect.' A consultation will be held in Northern Ireland on the way forward while the UK and Scottish governments have agreed to work together while ensuring Scotland's 'distinctive approach' to the issue is maintained.
In this regard, Kevin Bales's organisation has already made it clear how important it is to co-ordinate among federal, regional, and urban authorities in order to combat slavery, stating that the US President should "work with state and local law enforcement associations to mobilize state and local law enforcement attention on anti-trafficking measures" (Recommendations for Fighting Human Trafficking in the United States and Abroad).

Take Action
Learn more. Sign petitions. Donate. Volunteer. Follow the links below.

Petition: "Support Scotland Proposal For Model Anti-Slavery Law"

Who is "Walk Free": "Gates Helps Australia's Richest Man in Bid to End Slavery," Elisabeth Behrmann, Bloomberg, 14 April 2013

What Walk Free has done: "India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria on Slavery's List of Shame, Says Report," Tim Hume, CNN, 17 October 2013

book: Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide, Kevin Bales

anti-slavery organisation: Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking

anti-slavery organisation: Tahirih Justice Center

Underground Railroad, in Saginaw, MI - an anti-domestic violence organisation which also assists survivors of slavery and trafficking

United Methodist Women

Presbyterian Women


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