The Truth About Modern Slavery
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The Truth About Modern Slavery

The Truth About Modern Slavery Emily Kenway

First published 2021 by Pluto Press 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA www.plutobooks.com Copyright © Emily Kenway 2021 The right of Emily Kenway to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN ISBN ISBN ISBN ISBN

978 0 7453 4121 7 978 0 7453 4122 4 978 1 7868 0729 8 978 1 7868 0731 1 978 1 7868 0730 4

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For all those who should have better options.

Contents Acknowledgementsviii Introduction1 1 The Rise of the New Abolitionists

2 At the Borders of Humanity

3 Sex, Slavery and Women Divided

4 Behind the Brands

5 Spotting the Signs

11

39

67

103

139

Conclusion172

Notes188 Index216

Acknowledgements

This book would not have been possible without the immense and fascinating scholarship of the numerous thinkers contained within. They are cited where their work is used, but what’s missing in the text is my excitement and intrigue as I came upon each of their papers, reports, books and blogs. I extend my thanks to each and every one of them for this enlightenment. I am hugely grateful to Pluto, and in particular Neda Tehrani. I have been for many years that most secretive entity; the unpublished author. I am indebted to them for changing this. I also extend heartfelt thanks to friends and family members for their faith and cheerleading as they encouraged me over the years to believe in my writing. In particular, my mother, Sophie Hughes, Susie Bennett, Amy Briggs and Oli Harris. In addition, my thanks to Mathew Lawrence for originally encouraging me to pitch this book on the spot in a pub! And to Matthew Turner for his kindly given advice. It was a pleasure to receive messages of support from my father, an author of many books himself, through the period of writing. Of course, immense gratitude also to all those I interviewed for this book whose insights were invaluable, especially Klara Skrivankova, Phil Brewer, Rachel Mullan-Feroze and Elaine Mitchel-Hill, and also to the team at Beyond Trafficking and Slavery who produce vital work on this issue and have been very influential on my thinking. I hope I’ve done you all proud. The pitch for this book occurred at a very dark moment in my life in winter 2018. It was an attempt to reach for something I’d always wanted and to see if the reaching might get me through another month. It did, and the months followed until now I sit here, writing the acknowledgements for my first book. So, I’m viii

Acknowledgements

grateful for that difficult period of life and for your hands holding its fruits. Finally, to the man who somehow managed to want to be my partner while I worked seven days a week to write this around my job and who has shown me the most beautiful shades of love; Rich, thank you.

ix

Introduction Just as it was Britain that took an historic stand to ban slavery two centuries ago, so Britain will once again lead the way in defeating modern slavery and preserving the freedoms and values that have defined our country for generations. Former Home Secretary Theresa May1 The people who get to impose their metaphors on the culture get to define what we consider to be true. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson2 There are more slaves in the world now than ever before. Or at least that’s what we’re told. A former British prime minister called modern slavery the ‘greatest human rights issue of our time’, the US president described it as an ‘outrage’ and the Pope has spoken out about this ‘crime against humanity’. Business leaders are signing pledges, joining anti-slavery coalitions and hiring investigators to root it out of their supply chains. Celebrities aren’t to be left out of the picture: from Emma Thompson to Princess Eugenie, everyone’s trying to fight modern slavery. We are under siege, it seems, from a new and horrific phenomenon against which the great and the good are fighting heroically. We – the public – can participate too, through marches, petitions, donations, shopping habits and apps. But is all this really what it seems? This book will suggest that the answer is no. Modern slavery isn’t what you think it is. It isn’t what governments or corporations say it is. And it’s certainly not what most of the media portrays it to be. This is a book about what today’s modern slavery story is telling us, what’s wrong with it and why. 1

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We’ll find out what we need to ‘unknow’ in order to understand it, and why its mistaken identity means we’re failing to address the genuine exploitation that lies beneath. The phrase ‘modern slavery’ has grown in popularity over the past ten years, though its roots stretch further back, as Chapter 1 will explain. According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), ‘modern slavery’ refers to ‘situations of exploitation in which a person cannot refuse or leave an exploitative situation due to threats, violence, coercion, deception or abuse of power’.3 This is useful, but it also shows us something important about the phrase: its enormous breadth. It’s an incredibly wide term encapsulating a huge range of circumstances around the world, as we’ll see. In law, ‘modern slavery’ doesn’t actually mean anything; it’s an umbrella term housing several other types of exploitation, each with their own separate definition and including forced labour, human trafficking, servitude and slavery. These terms each have instances where they apply very clearly because specific criteria are met and the individual experiencing the harm considers themselves to be a victim of it, but they also have instances where they seem to be misapplied, and instances where they should be applied but are not. In terms of misapplication, we’ll see this in Chapters 3 and 5 when we learn of people being told they’re victims who consider themselves not to be, and instead view themselves as pursuing rational livelihood strategies. In these instances, it’s often distinctly unhelpful to ‘rescue’ them. On cases where such terms ought to be applied but are not, we’ll see this in Chapter 4 on big brands which finds that the parameters around what is and is not ‘forced labour’ are drawn tightly in order to avoid critique of commonplace business practices. In general, it’ll become obvious that ‘modern slavery’ is an overcrowded house, jammed to the roof with different types of experiences and circumstances. For the most part, this isn’t something I’ll explore; others have already done this work, many of whom are cited in this book, and they have done it far better than 2

Introduction

I could. Rather than interrogating the specific meanings of these terms, the terrain we’ll be covering is different; we will be exploring the application of modern slavery to the world, understanding it as a ‘frame’. According to the influential American cognitive linguist George Lakoff, frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world … You can’t see or hear frames. They are part of what cognitive scientists call the ‘cognitive unconscious’ – structures in our brains that we cannot consciously access, but know by their consequences: the way we reason and what counts as common sense. We also know frames through language. All words are defined relative to conceptual frames. When you hear a word, its frame … is activated in your brain.4 In this way, words aren’t just words. They’re like a fly landing on a spider’s web; they set off a chain reaction of vibrations, impulses, rationales, decisions and actions that determine what happens next. They tell us how we should connect different pieces of information, what is right and wrong and, as a result, what will make sense in terms of solutions. When we learn new information, like facts or case studies, our frames shape how we receive and understand it. You may not have thought of modern slavery in this way, but there are many frames with which you’ll be familiar. For example, the idea of the ‘nanny state’ is a commonly held frame in the UK. We know, seemingly instinctively, what it means: an overbearing and overprotective government, trying to limit and curtail choices that should ‘rightly’ remain personal. We also know it’s a pejorative term, commonly applied to things like taxes on plastic bags or sugary foods and drinks. Or consider the ‘bedroom tax’. This was the label applied to a UK government policy introduced in 2013 that changed housing benefit entitlements such that people got less benefit if they lived in a council property that had one or more 3

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spare rooms. The government itself didn’t call it the bedroom tax, but rather the ‘spare room subsidy’. Their phrase focused on the idea that housing benefits were subsidising extra space, activating a political frame made up of ideas around unfairness and what the state should and shouldn’t be, including superfluous generosity and ‘scroungers’, that is, people perceived to be taking too much from the state. The reframing of the policy as a ‘bedroom tax’ was genius, refocusing our understanding on ideas around the burden of tax and the necessity of bedrooms, so that rather than removing something unnecessary, the government now seemed to be imposing something unfairly. The same policy, totally different values and opinions activated through the clever deployment of a phrase that triggers a totally different frame. Or we can consider how we think about the economy as a whole. According to the Public Interest Research Centre, the New Economy Organisers Network and their partners, the ‘economy as a container’ is a frame that’s common in the UK when considering the economy. People who hold this frame see it ‘as functioning like a national pot, with people putting in (contributing) or taking out (draining)’. Within this frame are lots of ways of thinking about wider socio-economic issues. For example, if you think the economy is a pot with set limits that can be emptied, then ‘being a responsible member of society means not taking out more than you put in’, which restricts people’s willingness to support policies like welfare.5 In contrast, how would we think about the economy if we saw it as more like a plant; able to grow or retract, able to extend in different directions, and capable of springing new shoots to support new needs? With regard to modern slavery, the frame operates as a specific conceptualisation of diverse patterns of severe exploitation – as wide-ranging as forced marriage in Chad to farm-working in Italy or housekeeping in England. Once we see the frame, we have to ask what’s inside it – what are the constituent parts of that story? What assumptions? What meanings? And what’s outside it – what are we leaving out, not seeing, forgetting? And we need to 4

Introduction

assess what this might mean about how we’re thinking about the topic. Lakoff says frames tell us about what counts as common sense on a particular issue, so what counts as common sense when it comes to modern slavery? And, crucially, to whose benefit? It’s vital we get this right because if we don’t, we’ll be choosing the wrong solutions perpetually. And that’s exactly what’s happening with modern slavery at the moment. Before we delve into what’s happening now, we need to look to the past. The phrase ‘modern slavery’ piggybacks on understandings of the historical transatlantic slave trade to draw a connection between the two, so that we sit up and pay attention. It triggers a range of associated meanings in our minds, such as shackles, boats, racial oppression, lack of freedom, beatings, cruelty and so on. Constructing the idea of ‘modern slavery’ is to tap into all those associations in order to link current circumstances to well-known past ones, and to conjure the associated outrage and sense of potent heroism. This is made evident by direct references to historical slavery in speeches by politicians and others who form part of the new ‘modern slavery’ movement. Indeed, the UK’s former and first independent anti-slavery commissioner, for whom I used to work, made many speeches and presentations peppered with references to William Wilberforce. But how relevant is this allusion to historical slavery? And what might it be achieving? Wilberforce is usually understood as the leader of the abolition of the slave trade and pitched as its hero in history books. It is doubtless that without his work the 1807 and 1833 Acts that abolished the slave trade may never have happened, although as with all heroes his actions were enabled, informed and encouraged by the work of many others. Some of those ‘others’ were not white Christian reformers but were actual slaves themselves, such as those who participated in the massive slave revolt in the late eighteenth century that spurred Haiti’s independence from colonial rule and the emancipation of its slaves.6 But there is a larger problem with this allusion to the transatlantic slave trade than the lauding of 5

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Wilberforce alone and its erasure of the role of the enslaved in their freedom. Abolition overturned a legal trade in human beings and the right to own someone else by law.* It did not abolish ‘situations of exploitation in which a person cannot refuse or leave an exploitative situation due to threats, violence, coercion, deception or abuse of power’ which is modern slavery, according to the IOM. In fact, it did precisely the opposite: it actually generated this kind of circumstance. Abolition left colonial powers with a problem: how to fill their need for a cheap workforce. This was solved by various mechanisms of exploitation, many of which would fit neatly into the ‘modern slavery’ idea used today. The British introduced a system of indentured labour primarily from India and China – that is, workers who were contractually bound rather than legally owned – which was termed pejoratively the ‘coolie trade’. Deception about the location and nature of the work were common and conditions on the ships that transported them are described as similar to those on slave ships, with many deaths. On arrival, things did not improve: working conditions were harsh with long hours, corporal punishment was used and workers were described as being abused and beaten. If workers escaped and were recaptured, they could have their initial contract term doubled from five years to ten. Over the course of around a hundred years after abolition, more than 30 million people are estimated to have left India as indentured workers.7 In the Caribbean, a different technique was used: emancipated slaves were redesignated as forced apprentices. They weren’t allowed to be bought or sold like property, but *  Arguably, this reading of history excludes the ‘herstory’ of ‘coverture’, a system by which married women’s legal existence as an individual was suspended under ‘marital unity’, with the husband and wife considered a single entity: the husband. While subsuming one individual into the other is perhaps distinct from ownership, these concepts certainly have a lot in common. Coverture continued in law until the mid to late nineteenth century. 6

Introduction

they did have to work without payment for between four and six years.8 The result of nineteenth-century abolitionism was to spur precisely the kinds of exploitation the modern slavery movement now attempts to tackle, all the while harking back to Wilberforce et al. for inspiration. This is contrary to the idea many of us hold about the abolition of slavery and the situations it’s supposed to have ended. This is partly because of a key misconception about the white abolitionists’ aims: rather than aiming to end slavery because of anti-racism, principles of equality or commitments to universal human dignity, leading anti-slavery scholar Joel Quirk and others have found that the legal abolition of slavery ‘had more to do with questions of collective honour and identity … the status of slavery and the slave trade would come to be construed as a key determinant of “civilised” status and national virtue (or vice)’.9 Abolition symbolised being a civilised nation; it was not driven by an idea of those formerly enslaved as being human equals to the enslavers. This helps to explain why leading figures such as William Wilberforce and Granville Sharp were, by twenty-first-century standards, racist, yet also abolitionists. For example, Wilberforce described his ambition as ‘stopping the influx of uninstructed savages, to advance slowly towards a period when these unhappy things might exchange their degraded state of slavery for that of free and industrious peasantry’.10Additionally, and equally often overlooked, the nineteenth-century abolition movement did not listen to the needs of those who were enslaved but simply removed the laws. It was the slave owners, rather than the enslaved, who were paid compensation for the ‘loss’ of their ‘property’. For this reason, we shouldn’t expect the outcome of legal abolition to be the provision of markedly better conditions for workers at the bottom of the colonial system because this was never its motive or process. So, if we are talking about legal ownership of another human being as if they are a piece of property, then yes, slavery by and 7

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large was ended in the nineteenth century. But if we are talking about exploitation in terms of being ‘modern slavery’, there is nothing ‘modern’ about it per se: it is simply the continuation of exploitation by subtler means than legal ownership. And it has also never been something with which nation-states and global powers have a problem; rather, it has been something they have created and perpetuated actively because it brings profit. Yet today, world leaders can’t tell us enough how much they want to ‘eradicate’ this ‘scourge’. What on earth is going on? As we’ll see through the course of this book, the modern slavery story uses the tale of nineteenth-century abolition and its heroic figures to make us think that today’s forms of severe exploitation are just like historical slavery in a specific and important aspect: they are immoral aberrations that we are all on the same side against, and that we can overthrow and then carry on in a more humane manner. This way of portraying exploitation tells us that it’s not a ‘political’ issue, that is, something relating to our social and economic structures; after all, abolishing traditional slavery didn’t overthrow our entire system nor undo the racism that still pervades the world today. The particular legal status of ‘slave’ was merely skimmed off the top of what else existed. In a kindred manner, modern slavery is meant to be understood as a humanitarian or public health problem. This means we can ‘eradicate’ it without questioning the principles of our societies. We might harness governments or businesses to tackle this ‘scourge’, but we don’t need to change them fundamentally. In this way, it’s pitched as an abnormality that is separate from, and anomalous to, how we’re running things. It is ‘a ‘wasting moral disease’11 that has inveigled its way into our communities. We’re told that, like other diseases, it can be eradicated; indeed, one of the foremost new abolitionists, Professor Kevin Bales, has written that ‘like a smallpox vaccination, once inoculated against slavery, villages almost never go back’.12 Power-holders like governments and businesses are trying hard to eradicate this stain on civilisation, they tell us. 8

Introduction

You, the public, can also help to eradicate it by learning to ‘spot the signs’ of this abnormality and alerting law enforcement. And because it’s separate from the fundamental systems of our societies, once we’ve rescued a person from this contaminant they’ll be free and live a better life. In a post-truth world, where global leaders routinely peddle lies and half-truths, we should be familiar with the idea that everything might not be what it seems. And yet, when it comes to modern slavery it’s almost impossible to get people to interrogate this story. No one wants to seem as if they’re denigrating a tale about human pain. And no one is. But if we really want to get closer to a world with less of it, we need to get real about what’s happening. Rather than being accurate, this story is ignorance cloaked as knowledge. That is, it purports to tell us something, to give us vital information about the world in which we live, and how and why human harm is occurring. But in telling us this information it’s often doing the opposite to informing us. Robert N. Proctor, professor of the history of science at Stanford University, has created the idea of ‘agnotology’, meaning the study of ignorance production. He notes that we tend to think of ignorance as a void, and something from which knowledge grows ‘as a flower from honest soil’.13 Instead, he says, we need to see ignorance as something in its own right, which can be ‘deliberately engineered’ and is part of a strategy to produce a particular way of seeing.14 Modern slavery as a metaphor for severe exploitation and as a political frame constructs a way of seeing that makes us blind to things we need to know. By characterising severe exploitation as exceptional and making it into its own category, with its own heroes and villains, its ideal victim types and its solutions, the modern slavery frame hides crucial information. It hides realities about history, as we’ve seen. It also hides how the present global economy constructs harm, how immigration policies are creating exploitation, the reality of what our role is or can be, and what 9

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freedom means. And it doesn’t only hide; it also produces. The modern slavery story is adept at providing moral legitimacy for the very policies that enable severe exploitation in the first place. We’ll explore all these facets but, for now, here are some brief explanations of what this book will and won’t cover. I haven’t worked on child trafficking or forced marriage and consider them distinct issues for many reasons; as such, this book covers neither, except briefly in passing where relevant. Modern slavery is such a broad concept that it covers an incredibly diverse range of circumstances, experiences and crimes, from organ harvesting to forced benefit fraud, from the exploitation of young girls under the ‘sumangali’ scheme in India to forced begging on the streets of Western capitals. There is also much that could be said about geopolitics, war and insurgency and how these generate severe exploitation, such as Boko Haram’s exploitation of girls or the ways in which their actions drive vulnerable migration.15 This book does not cover many of these circumstances. Its focus is also almost entirely on the UK except for instances where overseas examples can illuminate or explain UK phenomena. However, it will explore several of the key themes you need to know in order to understand the modern slavery story and how it operates, and it’ll give you clear ideas on the real solutions to exploitation. Academics Bridget Anderson and Rutvica Andrijasevic have suggested that writing critically about this topic is ‘akin to saying that one … is against motherhood and apple pie’.16 At no point should the critiques in this book be taken to devalue or denigrate the true lived experiences of people in exploitation or on its brink. Rather, its aim is to disabuse us of misinformed notions and myths. These are allowing the systems that produce exploitation to continue and to keep people entrapped. Without rewriting the modern slavery story in this way, we cannot solve the serious exploitation taking place around the world today.

10

1

The Rise of the New Abolitionists A way of seeing is also a way of not seeing.

Kenneth Burke1

Two events occurred in the 1990s of critical importance to the development of the ‘modern slavery’ frame: an American sociologist found a leaflet and the Cold War ended. The chain of events set off by these occurrences would converge in the 2000s into a powerful and problematic ‘new abolitionist’ movement against ‘modern slavery’. In 1993, an American academic named Kevin Bales was attending an event in London when he picked up a leaflet that read ‘There are Millions of Slaves in the World Today’. On perusing the stories inside, he decided he needed to learn more. He began to investigate, reading 3,000 articles, travelling around the world to meet ‘slaves’ and ‘slave-holders’,2 channelling an urgent need to find out the truth about whether slavery still existed. In later writing about this period of time, he portrays a kind of hero’s journey: a clear and virtuous goal, hampered by obstacles such as fellow academics thinking he was a ‘crank’, all of which he eventually overcame to bring the concept of modern slavery to a wide global audience. By the time he had finished writing his first book on the issue, Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, he had become evangelical about it, writing that ‘ending slavery is really about saving our own souls’.3 And it turns out that evangelism sells: Disposable People took off, even garnering a New York Times op-ed, and the seed of ‘modern 11

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slavery’ was sown. But what exactly was Bales talking about? In the book – his first of many – Bales described two categories of slavery: old and new. Old slavery is characterised, he says, by legal ownership, the high cost of slaves and the longevity of ownership. New slavery does not involve legal ownership, instead trading in cheaply buyable people who are kept on a short-term basis and discarded once their utility has run out. These are his ‘disposable people’. Bales later distanced himself from the dichotomy of old versus new slavery, writing in the preface to a later edition that ‘the more I learned, the more I realised that slavery always lives along a continuum, that it reflects each culture and society where it exists, and that trying to corral it into two conceptual categories just doesn’t do it justice. But like a lot of simple ideas, the notion of ‘old’ and ‘new’ slavery became very popular with journalists.’4 So popular that he became a key figure in the popularisation of the modern slavery frame. By the time of the 2004 reissue of Disposable People, Bales was ‘amazed and humbled by the hundreds of people who after reading this book declared themselves new abolitionists and dedicated themselves to work against modern slavery’.5 He’d even set up a new organisation, called Free the Slaves, to take his mission forward. The new abolitionist movement was beginning. MILLIONS, BILLIONS AND PIG’S EARS In the book, Bales said that there were an estimated 27 million people enslaved in the world at that point in time. It’s an eye-catching number and one from which Bales would later distance himself, describing it as ‘a rough and flawed estimate’.6 Nonetheless, that didn’t stop major media and politicians repeating it as fact. As he also noted, despite its roughness, ‘this estimate soon entered the public discourse and took on a life of its own’. And this wouldn’t be the end of new abolitionists harnessing the 12

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power of big numbers to capture headlines, hearts and lawmakers’ ambitions. Enter Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, nicknamed ‘Twiggy’ and once dubbed Australia’s richest man. Forrest is described as silver-tongued; ‘he could sell ice to Eskimos’, says one of his former business partners.7 In the mid-2010s, he would turn this sales ability to the concept of modern slavery. Spurred to investigate his business after learning about the exploitation of children in Nepal, Forrest found that several of his subcontractors seemed to be using forced labour. His mission as a new abolitionist had begun and, like Bales, he felt the need for his own organisation. In 2012, he launched the Walk Free Foundation with Myanmar’s first open-air mass concert. His organisation’s aim was typically heroic for the new abolitionist approach: to end modern slavery in his lifetime.8 The next year, Walk Free published the first Global Slavery Index which provided ‘an estimate, country by country, of the number of people living in modern slavery today’.9 The index was a tactical move. It had been suggested by another billionaire, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates,10 who advised Forrest that without a number acting as a clear and striking way to communicate the problem to the world, people wouldn’t care. This first index in 2013 said there were 29.8 million people in modern slavery globally. By 2016, when the third iteration of the index was launched at an event hosted by Australian actor Russell Crowe with video messages of support from Tony Blair, Bono, Richard Branson and supermodel Karlie Kloss, this number had risen to 45.8 million.11 Yet everything was not what it seemed. As scholar Anne Gallagher describes it, this was actually an exercise in making ‘a silk purse out of a very tattered sow’s ear: to harness the power of statistics and numbers to create an illusion of concreteness that masks the slipperiness of what we are counting’.12 She criticises it as having ‘a mysterious, inconsist13

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ently applied methodology, a raft of unverified assumptions and multiple, critical errors of fact and logic’.13 Other academics called the index ‘terribly flawed’14 and containing ‘critical weaknesses’.15 And they were right; even to someone who’s not a professional statistician, it’s evident that the methods underlying these big shiny numbers were at best too simplistic to be taken seriously, and at worst misleading. For example, the 2014 and 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates were based on the results of surveys in up to 25 countries at most, and these results were then extrapolated to countries considered to have an equivalent risk profile.16 Somewhat mind-blowingly, according to Gallagher, the 2014 index made assertions such as calculating the number of slaves in South Africa on the basis that it’s a country 70 per cent like western Europe because ‘historically, South Africa has been culturally similar to western, democratic nations’ and is also 30 per cent ‘like Africa’.17 This isn’t the only problem: the perception that modern slavery is getting worse over time as the numbers get higher is based on the understandable assumption that the same things are being measured each time. But they’re not: the phenomena being counted have been expanded and amended. Walk Free has acknowledged this; for example, in the introduction to its 2014 Global Slavery Index it said: The estimated prevalence of people in modern slavery has increased from 2013. It is important to note that we are not asserting that there has been an increase in modern slavery around the world over the last year. We believe that the majority of this increase is due to the improved accuracy and precision of our measures, and that we are uncovering modern slavery where it was not found before.18 In 2018, it clarified that ‘the national prevalence estimates are not comparable with previous editions of the Global Slavery Index’.19 14

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But caveats to statistics are rarely reported alongside them, and instead we have media and politicians quoting these figures alongside statements like ‘there are more people enslaved today than at any other point in history’.20 Methodology isn’t the only problem with quantifications of modern slavery. At a star-studded 2008 conference on human trafficking (a type of exploitation we’ll define shortly) hosted by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, its then director Antonio Maria Costa exhorted the audience to use the term ‘modern slavery’. He explained that: in order to fight this monster, we must know more about it. Lack of information, statistical and otherwise, have left us looking at footprints of a creature whose shape, size and ferocity we can only guess. It lurks in the shadows … The monster takes different shapes, depending on the culture, time and the context, in collusion with other unlawful undertakings: illegal migration, forced labour, paedophilia, child exploitation, civil conflicts and coerced prostitution. This monster is hard to detect because it defies categorization.21 Costa thinks he is hammering home his point about the need to generate statistics, but he is actually undermining the idea that what’s being counted is sensibly quantifiable. It ‘defies categorisation’, so how can we count it? Does ‘it’ exist? After all, we are talking about something that has been ‘identified’ in brick kilns in India, in quarries in Vietnam, on street corners in Italy, in factories in Bangladesh, on construction sites in England, in fisheries in Thailand. It concerns every country and gender, and every age group. It includes forced marriage, domestic servitude and criminal activities like cannabis cultivation. It encompasses systems that are deeply embedded in specific cultures and caste systems such as Sumangali, a specific form of bonded labour of young women in the textile industry of Tamil Nadu, India, and 15

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fairly random opportunistic decisions to make money off the back of another person. Everything that involves one human being severely exploiting another, essentially. Does it seem logical to group them together into one thing? Do they seem like they’ll require the same solutions and preventive measures? Phil Brewer is the former head of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit, now retired from the force. I met him in a café in the quiet commuter town where he lives to understand more from his perspective about the modern slavery idea and how it plays out on the ground in the UK. He explained his concerns to me over a sausage sandwich: Modern slavery is not one thing. I don’t necessarily agree with the term. I mean, what is modern slavery? It’s about exploitation of people, to a lesser or greater degree, but the term means we’re trying to put so many different things into one category, and we’ve also got a load of exploitation that doesn’t fit the slavery profile and just gets overlooked. We need to have a serious conversation about this. It’s a problem. When we think about modern slavery not as a single and neat idea, but instead as diverse and varied patterns of severe exploitation, we can see how odd it is to attempt quantifying ‘it’ on a global scale, rather than measuring regionally and culturally specific instances. Klara Skrivankova is a UK-based anti-trafficking expert who has spent nearly 20 years working on the topic, first in the Czech Republic for the La Strada network, then in the UK for the respected non-governmental organisation (NGO) Anti-Slavery International and as an adviser to a number of international organisations. ‘It’s fascinating’, she says, when I ask her about these numbers. ‘There’s always been an obsession with numbers in this area. I don’t know if there’s any other issue on which people have spent so much money on trying to quantify it. Andrew Forrest’s argument is if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. But this comes 16

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from Gates on vaccination which is a totally different case; you can reasonably quantify it. You can’t with social issues that are also political.’ Professor Joel Quirk of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, has suggested that measuring enabling causes like poverty, inequality and education levels should be considered,22 but this wouldn’t create the big eye-catching figures or the sense of a caped crusade beloved by new abolitionist campaigners and journalists. As we’ll see in Chapter 3 when we look at trafficking for sexual exploitation, this isn’t the last time we’ll encounter the dodgy use of numbers in the modern slavery story. Despite the shaky empirical foundations of this new movement, by the mid-2010s it had taken firm hold in the UK. This was not solely due to the work of Bales and Forrest. While the new abolitionist movement had been gathering steam, a twin development had been occurring with which it would soon converge. INVASION FROM THE EAST In the late 1990s, Western governments grew increasingly concerned that the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain would lead to mass ex-Soviet migration, bringing corruption, crime and exploitation with it. In particular, there was concern about eastern European women being moved to western Europe for sexual exploitation. This process – movement, or arrangement of movement, in order to exploit someone – is known as ‘human trafficking’, a crime we’ll look at in more detail shortly. According to Skrivankova, the concern was legitimate to some extent: there were problems with ‘opportunists’ seeking to exploit people and make money from the newly opened situation. But it wasn’t necessarily at the scale portrayed and it also wasn’t just from the east to the west; she says there were also issues with trafficking within the east, from one country to another, but these were never picked up and talked about in the same way as east–west trafficking. This signifies two important things about anti-trafficking 17

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and narratives around modern slavery in general: it is both true that people are experiencing these horrific abuses and that political concern about them is not solely focused on addressing human harm, but instead is guided by other interests. To see what those are, we can look at the 2000 UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. This was the outcome of these 1990s concerns and contained within it a protocol on human trafficking, alongside one on ‘migrant smuggling’ and a third on the movement of firearms. The UN describes the convention as ‘the main international instrument in the fight against transnational crime’23 and it defines human trafficking as: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. This was in contrast to ‘migrant smuggling’, defined as procuring the illegal entry of someone into a country. Chapter 2 will explain why this dichotomy between trafficking and smuggling is flawed, but for now our focus is on the trafficking element. Before we find out about those other interests underlying the protocol, let’s take a closer look at what the UN definition means in practice. It says human trafficking has three elements: • the act (recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt); 18

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• the means (threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability etc);* and • the purpose, which is exploitation. It doesn’t define ‘exploitation’ itself, and in fact there is no internationally agreed definition, but it gives examples of what exploitation might look like: ‘the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs’. It is interesting to note here that trafficking and slavery are clearly not the same thing: trafficking is something that may lead to slavery, or to forced labour, servitude, etc. So trafficking is best understood as a process and slavery, forced labour, servitude, etc. as possible outcomes, though those things might also happen without trafficking first occurring. Most of the terms and phrases in the protocol are fairly straightforward, but one is worth particular attention and keeping in mind as we go through this book: ‘abuse of a position of vulnerability’. This means: ‘a situation in which the person concerned has no real or acceptable alternative but to submit to the abuse involved’.24 Someone can be considered to be in a position of vulnerability if they are, for example, homeless, alcohol or drug dependent, or learning impaired. Many who work in this field also recognise insecure immigration status as a position of vulnerability in countries where immigration laws prevent undocumented** people from accessing basic services, support and justice. The protocol requires states to address the *  The means does not need to be present in the case of children; only the act and purpose are required to meet the threshold of child trafficking. **  I use the term ‘undocumented’ to mean migrants that are not considered as legally allowed to be in the country. This is preferable to ‘illegal’ which is considered by migrants’ rights groups to be dehumanising, undermining of social cohesion and fair debate, and in some contexts incorrect, as being undocumented does not always equate with illegality. 19

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driving causes of such vulnerabilities. It says: ‘States Parties shall take or strengthen measures, including through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity.’25 It’s there, in black and white, in the United Nations Convention Protocol: we are exhorted to take steps that tackle factors which make people vulnerable to trafficking, and therefore to exploitation. As you’ll see in the coming chapters, all too often we’re actually doing the exact opposite. It would be rational to assume that a UN instrument addressing human trafficking would have a humanitarian focus but, as we saw, the protocol is part of an international crime control instrument, the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. As Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson puts it, ‘despite all the cant about trafficking in human beings as a human rights violation, states have defined it as, first and foremost, a security and criminal justice issue’.26 Looking at the rest of the content of the protocol shows us this, revealing two interests that are much stronger than human rights: crime control and immigration control. For example, it’s strong on the criminal justice component, requiring states to adopt laws to make trafficking a criminal offence, but it’s remarkably softer on the protection of victims, providing heavily caveated wording such as, ‘in appropriate cases and to the extent possible under its domestic law’. In terms of ‘physical, psychological and social recovery of victims’, which might constitute housing, counselling, medical assistance and so on, it only requires states to ‘consider implementing’ such measures. On immigration control, it says that repatriation – returning victims to the country of which they are a national or in which they have right of permanent residence – should ‘preferably be voluntary’ but therefore may be forcible. Indeed, ‘border measures’ have their own entire section, committing states to ‘strengthen, to the extent possible, such border controls as may be necessary to prevent and detect 20

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trafficking in persons’. Focusing on trafficking in this way – as a problem of crime and migration – puts it firmly within the ‘contaminant’ idea I described in the Introduction and of which we see the beginnings here. A contaminant literally means a polluting or poisonous substance that makes something impure. A crime is this kind of pollutant or poison – an immoral aberration that threatens to make society impure. Relatedly, a migrant can be constructed as an interloper – something that should not be present – particularly low-paid migrants from racialised countries. Viewing trafficking in this way stops us asking deeper questions about socio-economic structures and how they might be generating exploitation. Instead, our focus is on the aberrations only. We simply need to arrest, deport and eradicate. This underlying focus on immigration was evident five years later when the UK government did its utmost to avoid signing up to the new Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. Article 12 requires countries to adopt standards of support for victims to enable their recovery, like access to emergency medical treatment, translation and interpretation services, counselling and ‘secure accommodation, psychological and material assistance’.27 This was a step too far for government which considered such provisions risky on the unfounded grounds that they would lead to false claims and act as a ‘pull factor’ to migrants wanting to come to the UK. When questioned repeatedly in parliament about why they had not signed up, ministers stated they were ‘examining how the Convention’s approach could best be harmonised with effective immigration controls’.28 Civil society organisations mounted the pressure, as did selected parliamentarians, including MP Anthony Steen who established a parliamentary group on human trafficking and modern slavery to spur action at Westminster.29 Representations on the issue in parliament drew parallels between the idea of trafficking and that of the transatlantic slave trade, such as Conservative MP Peter Bone, speaking on 21 November 2006: 21

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Two hundred years ago, a Bill was about to be introduced to the House of Lords to abolish slavery. Today at Heathrow airport, a person can buy a young woman for between £4,000 and £5,000 to act as their sex slave … Is it not time for the Government to sign the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking to help put to an end this evil trade in human beings?30 They won in the end. The government seemed to forget its own foot-dragging in honour of a perfect PR moment: on 23 March 2007, the bicentenary of the 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the home secretary signed the convention at William Wilberforce’s own desk.31 A debate in parliament was held and here we see the phrase ‘modern slavery’ being repeatedly deployed in grandiose speeches portraying a new mission for modern times, ‘a parallel challenge’ to that of the nineteenth century.32 The Bales estimate was also referenced, with Liberal Democrat Vince Cable stating, ‘there are probably about 27 million people who are directly involved in slavery in quite a narrowly defined sense’. That same year, the government published its first UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking. The home secretary and the Scottish executive minister for justice described it as modernday slavery in their joint preface. Like the 2000 UN Protocol, its underlying theme of immigration control couldn’t be clearer: Dealing effectively with human trafficking will be an integral part of the new Border and Immigration Agency’s business, delivering the Agency’s objectives to strengthen our borders and ensure and enforce compliance with immigration laws … [we will] increase our knowledge and control over those who enter the UK. A number of improvements to our border control function such as the use of biometric identifiers and the development of e-borders will make it harder for traffickers to bring victims to the UK to be exploited. 22

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The modern slavery story was now really beginning. In 2010, Steen succeeded in having an ‘Anti-Slavery Day Bill’ passed which he promoted by harking back to nineteenth-century abolition: ‘I hope that we can complete the work that William Wilberforce rose in this very building to begin more than 200 years ago.’33 The new Act required government to specify a date for awareness-raising of the issue, which duly became the 18th of October. THE RIGHT MESSENGERS AND THE RACIST VANS A year later, EU requirements and broader UK political concerns created the perfect seedbed for the new abolitionist movement to finally bear substantive fruit. The EU passed a directive on ‘preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims’ and the UK had two years to transpose it into law.34 The modern slavery baton was now picked up by the Conservative-allied think tank, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). The report it published in March 2013, It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to Fight Modern Slavery, would be hugely influential in shaping the UK’s eventual Modern Slavery Act and where we are today. Its work wasn’t actually new per se: research programmes and reports on exploitation relating to trafficking and forced labour had been undertaken by other organisations, like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Trust for London, in preceding years. But, as Klara Skrivankova explained to me, it was less what the report said and more who was saying it. The CSJ was founded by Conservative politician Iain Duncan Smith who was, at the time, the secretary of state for work and pensions. The launch event – a video of which remains on YouTube – is an almost perfect microcosm of the modern slavery frame I described in the Introduction. The managing director of the CSJ, Christian Guy, opens the event and makes clear from the outset the parameters of the frame. The launch is, he says, ‘a rallying call’, but it is ‘not about 23

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pointing the finger at government … it’s about saying as a nation, we all need to stand up and take it seriously and fight it because it is not good enough that in modern Britain, we see people enslaved’. When he introduces Labour Party MP Frank Field to speak, he says, ‘There should be no hint of partisan party politics whatsoever when it comes to modern slavery’. ‘Party politics’ exists because of opposing views on how power should be distributed, and therefore what is a just and good way to organise a society. For example, should wage levels be set at a rate that means people can afford to live, or should they be set at a rate that means businesses can be more profitable? Should moving to a foreign country be legal if you have enough money, but illegal if you’re poor? And so on. The idea that patterns of migration and exploitation can be separated from ‘party politics’ is key to the modern slavery frame. By suggesting that modern slavery is somehow ‘above’ them, with connotations of pettiness and factionalism, exploitation is depoliticised. It’s ring-fenced against deeper questions regarding the kinds of systems and policies that may be producing it, many of which we’ll see in the course of this book. It’s supposed to be a unifying and apolitical issue that we do not question and must eradicate, much like a disease. This is why, as I said in the Introduction, academics have suggested that writing critically about this topic is ‘akin to saying that one … is against motherhood and apple pie’. In his speech, panellist Fraser Nelson, the editor of the right-aligned Spectator magazine, develops the frame further by deploying the ‘contaminant’ idea of modern slavery: ‘we can’t quite bring ourselves to believe that we’ve allowed this virulent new strain of an ancient evil to come back’, he says. So, for Nelson this ‘thing’ about which we’re talking had gone away at some point, has now returned and is like a virus, diseasing a system that is otherwise in good working order. Indeed, this is precisely what he goes on to say: ‘I actually think here that brands and global capitalism are the answer to this and not the problem.’ 24

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Bales himself also spoke and the contaminant idea runs through his words too: he tells the audience that new abolitionism is ‘the movement to end slavery forever. It’s the movement to eradicate slavery from the planet.’ In this way, we’re asked to imagine something kindred to a virus, much like smallpox or HIV, and therefore fundamentally eradicable. Interestingly, he notes that the current era of abolitionism differs from past campaigns, such as that which ended the transatlantic slave trade, because those movements began from the grassroots and pushed politicians to act. This time it’s the other way around, because it began in the 1990s when politicians became aware of human trafficking and began to legislate against it. He was sort of right, but also sort of wrong. He was right because governments did indeed lead on getting the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime in place from a top-down perspective. He was wrong because NGOs had been working on tackling severe forms of exploitation for many years, fighting to gain more recognition and better support for survivors. As Skrivankova told me, ‘There weren’t that many organisations working on the issue back then, but those that were made a concerted effort. That’s how anything that changed was won. We were doing public campaigning, building evidence, holding meetings behind the scenes.’ The truth is not so much that ‘this time’ concern about severe exploitation is top-down, but that ‘this time’ the top decided to pay attention because it fit well with other political interests, namely border concerns. The crucial role of immigration anxiety in the surge of political interest in modern slavery is omitted from this new abolitionist version. This omission of, or blindness to, questions around wider injustices related to race, ethnicity and so on is a trope of the modern slavery story. For example, in Disposable People Bales writes: ‘The common denominator [of victims of modern slavery] is poverty, not color. Behind every assertion of ethnic difference is the reality of economic disparity. If all left-handed people in the world became destitute tomorrow, there would soon 25

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be slaveholders taking advantage of them.’35 He reiterates the point in 2007, saying: ‘Though race, caste, tribe and religion do initially look like markers of slavery, in fact differences just make people vulnerable and slave traders prey on the vulnerable’.36 This separation of identity characteristics from vulnerability is perhaps only an assumption that could be made by a white man. Identity characteristics are what prejudice and power use to construct and institutionalise vulnerability. Poverty is not separable from race in a world with a hugely racist history, not least that very thing of which Bales speaks often, the slave trade. We cannot understand the disproportionate exploitation of certain races, castes, tribes, religions, immigration statuses, or indeed that of women for sexual purposes, without interrogating the structural prejudices that dispossess those identities of power. Bales is not the only one in the new abolitionist pantheon who has selective understandings when it comes to wider justice issues. Andrew Forrest has come under fire for his attitude towards Australia’s indigenous people. His recommendation that cashless welfare cards with restrictions on usage be introduced to those communities has met with accusations that it would be a ‘massive social experiment’ on vulnerable people that fails to address deeper issues.37 More directly, his business Fortescue Metals Group has spent over a decade undermining a native title claim by the Yindjibarndi people over an area where the company extracts billions of dollars’ worth of iron ore annually. The company rejected the Yindjibarndi request for royalties on the grounds that this would clash with its ambition to ‘be the lowest-cost iron ore producer’ and Forrest himself dismissed the idea of compensation as being kindred to giving them a handout.38 It’s not chance that the modern slavery frame leaves race and forms of intersectional justice out of the picture; it’s because of those who have painted it. Back in the UK, lobbying continued after the CSJ launch: on 22 April 2013, a special exhibition39 titled ‘Modern Day Slavery: The Hidden Agenda’ opened in the Upper Waiting Hall of the 26

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House of Commons. Three MA students at Central St Martins40 were commissioned by Steen’s parliamentary group to design the exhibition. They created an eye-catching product. Large installations with the words, ‘trapped’, ‘invisible’ and ‘human cargo’ stamped on the sides41 evoked shipping containers. Attendees had to pull back curtains, lift lids, open doors and drawers to find photos and information, emphasising the hidden nature of the problem and the invisibility of victims. Its aim was clear – as one exhibition board said: ‘it’s time to put slavery at the top of the political agenda’. It exhorted MPs to wake up: ‘slavery isn’t history – it’s alive and working in your constituency’. And that wasn’t its only aim: in an article on his website about the exhibition, Frank Field MP – then vice chair of the parliamentary group – said he had been working for months ‘to secure an agreement for the government to officially use the term “modern slavery” rather than just “human trafficking”’.42 This isn’t important because of a shift in language per se; it matters because, as explained in the Introduction, language evokes concepts, meanings, metaphors and ideas. It constructs pathways of possibilities by making us think about something in a particular way. As thinker Walter Lippmann put it in his 1922 book, Public Opinion, ‘The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.’43 Field and his allies were not just aiming to shift language but also the conceptual territory, and therefore what actually happens in terms of law, policy and practice. It was working: Prime Minister David Cameron attended the exhibition’s opening and in his speech said, ‘Modern day slavery comes in many forms, in many ways, and we have to have a really concerted approach to crush it, to stamp it out and to make sure that we look at the rights of those who are affected and take a criminal approach to those who are the traffickers and above all call it what it is: slavery.’44 This directly echoed a shift already made in the United States where, eight months earlier, President Obama had told the Clinton Global Initiative in a 27

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speech, ‘I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name – modern slavery.’45 But despite this success in shifting political understandings towards the wider slavery idea, the government stuck to its guns on not needing a special new law specifically focused on this new concept. That was until mid-2013, when other political pressures swung it in the new abolitionists’ favour. By 2013, the UK Cameron/Clegg coalition government was in a tricky spot on immigration. The popularity of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) was rising. In the 2009 European Parliament elections 13 UKIP MEPs had been elected, and by late 2012 it was polling at 14 per cent.46 Its emphasis on lowering and controlling immigration put pressure on the government to deliver their commitment to cutting net immigration to the tens of thousands. But in summer 2013, the government found its heavy-handed tactics under attack. Immigration spot checks at railway stations were examined by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over suspicions they were based on racial profiling and in breach of the public sector equality duty.47 In July, Operation Vaken began, a pilot of mobile billboards on vans bearing the phrase: ‘In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest’, with a text number ‘for free advice and help with travel documents’ aimed at getting undocumented migrants to arrange their own deportations. Legal challenges were mounted and complaints to the advertising watchdog filed against what Twitter users dubbed #racistvan, alongside accusations of hate crimes and xenophobia. All of this soon saw the government back down, at first agreeing to consult with communities before running it again and subsequently confirming that the pilot would not be extended. This was not without damage to the coalition government. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told the press that not a single Liberal Democrat had known about the launch of Vaken and senior Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable described it as ‘stupid and offensive’.48 28

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It’s in this political crucible that the conditions became ideal for new abolitionism. The influence of Home Secretary Theresa May’s adviser, Fiona Hill, is key here. A former journalist, Hill had developed a keen interest in modern slavery. Her passion for the topic is doubtless genuine; her personal Twitter feed is dominated by it and in a brief stint not working for May in 2015, she authored a report for the CSJ itself focused on the law enforcement response to modern slavery. The first recommendation in the report is that ‘modern slavery’ should replace ‘human trafficking’ as a Europe-wide term. ‘I suspect she was the mastermind of this being an issue for Theresa May’, Skrivankova tells me. It’s clear that Hill’s commitment to the topic is not cynical, but it’s also true that advisers don’t recommend policy proposals from sheer altruism. As a media expert, it may well be that she saw in ‘modern slavery’ the opportunity to quell accusations of hate and xenophobia while standing on the comfortably Tory territory of crime and immigration control. On the 25 August 2013, Home Secretary Theresa May announced the introduction of a Modern Slavery Bill in the Sunday Times in a piece entitled ‘Modern Slave Drivers, I’ll End Your Evil Trade’.49 ‘Suddenly’, Skrivankova tells me, ‘everyone wanted to be an adviser on the bill. It was the race to be the next Wilberforce.’ The political role of modern slavery for May et al. is evident in her subsequent autumn conference speech.50 She focuses on immigration and crime, trailing the forthcoming Immigration Bill, talking about how migrants effectively undercut British people, describing how the government is cutting immigration and how it will be tough on crime. After this, she comes to modern slavery. It’s her final key policy point of the speech, providing a moral foil to all that’s come before. On terminology, she repeats what we’ve heard already from others, ‘we should call it what it is: modern slavery’. She promotes the Modern Slavery Bill and how it will ‘lock up slave drivers’. Her next line after the modern slavery section is this: ‘You can only trust the Conservatives to be 29

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fair.’ And this is precisely the purpose modern slavery serves for her and her team. I’m sure they are personally appalled by stories of severe exploitation, but in politics everything must be useful. Modern slavery provided a sense of balance to policies otherwise focused on kowtowing to UKIP’s anti-migrant base. In 2015, the UK passed its Modern Slavery Act into law. It’s had some positive effects, not least making the law around forms of exploitation more coherent instead of the fragmentary piecemeal legislation that existed before. In our interview, Phil Brewer told me he thinks the Act was useful in some ways. ‘I think it changed people’s perception, though not overnight. Some of those offences [in the Modern Slavery Act] were under immigration law before, so they weren’t seen as a serious crime really. The most important thing for police was that the Act reinforced what should be treated as a serious crime.’ Interestingly though, and this is a theme that will run through the course of this book, he sees issues with the phrase ‘modern slavery’. ‘General exploitation is far bigger than modern slavery’, he tells me, ‘so modern slavery makes us focus on just a part of things, but what about the rest? And how do you draw the line?’ As we’ll see, he’s far from alone in having the opinion that drawing the line isn’t really possible. Despite problems with the phrase and the story it represents, by 2015 the new abolitionist movement was firmly rooted. It continued to flourish in the following years. Theresa May made her commitment to ending modern slavery a key part of her campaign to become prime minister and a lynchpin of her premiership. An opinion piece on the topic in the Daily Telegraph was one of her first moves as prime minister, titled ‘My Government Will Lead the Way in Defeating Modern Slavery’. She described it as ‘the greatest human rights issue of our time’ and committed £33.5 million to create an international fund focused on countries from where high numbers of victims to the UK originate.51 By December 2017, the amount spent on addressing modern slavery by the government was estimated by the National Audit Office to be in excess 30

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of £100 million. Several new abolitionist NGOs were founded and the Modern Slavery Helpline was launched by the organisation Unseen. In September 2017, May continued to position herself as a global leader on modern slavery by launching a call to action to ‘eliminate the scourge of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking’52 at the UN General Assembly. She announced that the UK would double its aid spending on modern slavery, including contributing £20 million in seed funding to a new Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, founded by ex-vice president of ExxonMobil, Jean Baderschneider. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association began a programme of encouraging legislators in commonwealth territories to adopt legislation modelled on the Modern Slavery Act and, in early 2019, Australia became the second country to bring such an act into force. It is doubtless that the Act itself and many of the activities it spurred have benefited individuals who have experienced exploitation. Safe houses and support workers around the country do incredible work to enable victims to transition into better lives. Likewise, the Act brought clarity for law enforcement, undoing the fragmentary nature of former legislation which had previously criminalised trafficking for sexual exploitation and trafficking for other forms of exploitation in separate laws, among other issues. It’s also entirely possible that the raised public awareness of modern slavery since 2015 has benefited some people, as explored in Chapter 5. But the impacts and outcomes of the reinvigoration of anti-trafficking, and its subsequent broadening and rebrand as modern slavery, are not solely positive – in fact, far from it. THE PARADOX OF HOW SLAVERY PREVENTS JUSTICE In the potted history just given we see the roots of the modern slavery story: concern about illegal forms of migration spurs more interest in trafficking; trafficking becomes lumped together with 31

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a wide range of other types of exploitative circumstances that all together start being understood as ‘modern slavery’; the new abolitionist crusade to ‘free the slaves’ begins. By the second half of the 2010s we had a clear modern slavery frame, one that depicts a uniquely horrible and singular crime instead of the reality of diverse and highly variable patterns of exploitation; that portrays this crime as an exceptional occurrence and an abnormality which, like a bodily virus, can and must be eradicated. A ‘non-political’ law enforcement response is pitched as the solution, a prescription of raid and rescue with a smattering of support programmes and awareness-raising initiatives. But is anything wrong with this? Surely if exploitation is being addressed – regardless of what it’s called or how the frame operates – it’s a good thing? But something is wrong, and it affects how well we tackle the very sorts of harms we’re supposed to be fighting. The depoliticisation inherent in the modern slavery idea is a lie. In fact, depoliticising it is, itself, a political choice and part of a harmful political strategy. It puts blinkers on our understanding of exploitation, actively producing ignorance even where it says it informs, and propping up the very policies and power imbalances that cause and facilitate harm in the first place. We’ll learn more about many of these facets in coming chapters, but first let’s see how the modern slavery idea can prevent justice from being served in the courts. REAL SLAVES OR EXPLOITED WORKERS? In law, terms need to have clear definitions so that whether crimes have been committed and of what nature can be properly and fairly determined. This affects whether victims win justice and offenders are held to account. When meanings become blurred, what happens in court may be affected too. A salient example comes from Manolada in Greece, involving 42 undocumented Bangladeshi workers.53 They had been recruited in 2012 and 2013 to pick strawberries and were promised a wage of 22 euros for 32

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seven hours’ work and three euros for each hour of overtime. This is a classic trafficking case: people want to migrate to earn, they’re promised terms that seem palatable in comparison to what’s feasible in their home country, and when they arrive they find that they have been deceived. They worked twelve-hour days under the supervision of armed guards, with their employers warning that they’d only receive their wages if they continued to work. Their accommodation consisted of makeshift shacks without toilets or running water. Despite their continued work, their wages were not paid, so during February, March and April 2013 the workers went on strike to demand payment. In mid-April the employers recruited some new Bangladeshi migrants and the original workers became very concerned they’d never be paid. The original workers began to move, physically, towards the two employers in order to demand their wages. One of the armed guards opened fire and injured 30 workers. As a result, the guard who’d shot the workers, another armed guard and two employers were arrested and tried for crimes, including human trafficking. The Greek court acquitted them of trafficking, though it did convict the armed guard and one employer of grievous bodily harm and unlawful use of firearms. They weren’t required to serve prison time and instead were ordered to pay only 1,500 euros each to the workers. Thankfully, the workers didn’t give up their fight for justice. They took their case to the European Court of Human Rights which found that the Greek courts had interpreted the concept of trafficking in a very restrictive manner, kindred to slavery. Because the workers were seasonal (strawberry picking not being required all year round) it was clear their situation would change, and they were also able to leave the farm when they weren’t at work. These two elements made it seem to the Greek courts that this couldn’t possibly be trafficking, because to them trafficking was slavery, and slavery was an extreme nineteenth-century idea. But of course, as we’ve seen, trafficking isn’t defined in that way. Greece was required to pay each of the people who brought the case between 33

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12,000 and 16,000 euros in damages, and an additional 4,363.64 euros to all the applicants jointly to cover costs and expenses. This case shows the harm caused by the ‘everything is slavery’ approach. Professor Janie Chuang calls this ‘slavery creep’, whereby trafficking and related types of exploitation are equated with slavery. This might work well for PR and media coverage, but in court it’s another matter. As Professor Chuang explains, ‘One might be inclined to dismiss such discursive moves as political posturing with little actual consequence on the ground … [but instead it] has had broad-reaching and significant impacts.’54 MODERN ORACLES AND ANXIETY MANAGEMENT You may have noticed that many of the actors driving the new abolitionist movement aren’t your usual characters in a story of underdogs, of power imbalances and of total disregard for human and labour rights. Why? Because ‘modern slavery’ is a politically useful concept to those in power, at the helm of governments and corporations alike. In her excellent book, The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World, sociologist Professor Linsey McGoey uses the term ‘useful unknowns’ to describe gaps in understandings that provide clear benefits for particular individuals or groups. Those benefiting from the ‘unknowns’ may not have knowingly manufactured them, but they benefit nonetheless. She says that this form of ignorance often requires insider will to change, but as they have little to gain from that change it remains entrenched.55 When we view exploitation through the modern slavery frame, a plethora of useful unknowns are created. This is because of the strong focus the frame puts on modern slavery as an exceptional and anomalous occurrence, like a bad apple in an otherwise healthy barrel. It understands exploitation predominantly as a crime, rather than something socially produced, and so law enforcement seems to be the solution. Here’s then Home Secretary Theresa May writing in Metro in October 2013: ‘of 34

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course the best way to reduce the number of victims is to disrupt, convict and imprison the criminals involved’.56 Her newly introduced National Crime Agency had modern slavery as one of its key priorities and, she determined, would be ‘critical to stopping this horrific trade in human beings’.57 The influential CSJ report describes a similar emphasis: The investigation, prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators of human trafficking and modern slavery are crucial elements in the fight against this crime. This is because bringing perpetrators to account changes the equation of fear and power; when would-be traffickers are afraid of the consequences of their actions, potential victims start to become less vulnerable. But do they? Is it only the individual offenders who make people vulnerable to exploitation, or are there some ‘useful unknowns’ being hidden from view? When we’re staring at the rotten apple, what are we missing about the barrel? McGoey also talks about ‘oracular power’, ‘the ability to shape social consensus about where the boundary between ignorance and knowledge lies’.58 People invested with authority in our society have this power; they are our modern oracles, entrusted with negotiating what is known and unknown for our benefit, thereby shaping our understanding. Of course, this power doesn’t mean that the social consensus they shape is ‘true’ – this isn’t a question so much of truth or falsity, but of how that shaping power is deployed. The authoritative entities we’ve seen shaping the modern slavery idea – politicians, think tanks, academics, billionaires – have oracular power, and by using it they’ve created a web of useful unknowns around exploitation. Subsequent chapters will expose many of these unknowns. We’ll see how the modern slavery frame not only redacts certain things from view, but also produces legitimising rationales for policies that are not only harmful to migrants or would-be migrants but also directly cause victimisation. 35

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As a concept, then, modern slavery comes into view as a deflection tactic, forcing our attention elsewhere so that we don’t see how the barrel itself – the economic and social system we live within – is really the problem. It is, in Professor Elizabeth Bernstein’s words, an approach that ‘locates social problems in deviant individuals rather than mainstream institutions, that seeks social remedies through criminal justice interventions rather than through a redistributive welfare state, and that advocates for the beneficence of the privileged rather than the empowerment of the oppressed’.59 Why have we fallen for it? Psychology can help us to answer this question. Safety-seeking behaviours are methods by which people cope with anxiety – they make them feel safe in the anxiety-inducing situation or moment. Examples include avoiding eye contact to cope with social anxiety or avoiding meals with others to cope with food-related anxieties. These tactics relieve us from anxiety because they’re within our control and because they seem, in the moment, to reduce the threat of the thing provoking our anxiety. Returning to exploitation, it would be entirely rational to feel anxious about it if we allowed ourselves to understand its full harm, its full scope and the ways in which the structures of our economies and societies, both local and global, are causing it to occur. We’d be left questioning everything upon which we rely, and we’d lack the certain and neat ending provided by the modern slavery story, that of ‘eradication’. This story also gives us a very simple and straightforward place in which to locate blame: the ‘slaver’. There is an individual villain (or perhaps ‘gang’ of individuals); we can conceive of successfully ending modern slavery because we can conceive of apprehending a series of anomalous criminals. This neatness enables the quantification we discussed earlier because it provides allegedly clear parameters for measurement. As Skrivankova noted to me, ‘the victim/criminal frame justifies increased funding and captures people’s attention. If we talked about enabling causes, these are much more complex and political issues. The general public gets the former, but the latter 36

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is no longer a story once we’ve talked about the horrible criminals.’ So in this way, statements about the scale of modern slavery aren’t just providing us with (dodgy) information; they are also producing ignorance about what’s outside the modern slavery frame – those ‘more complex and political issues’. The very definition of anxiety is ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain ending’.60 It’s perfectly rational that the tidy tale told by the new abolitionists is one that we might appreciate, rather than the more complex and messy reality. But this doesn’t mean it’s true. It also doesn’t mean it’s helpful for ending exploitation: safety-seeking behaviours have been found to be counterproductive by preventing their users from developing other ways of thinking about the anxiety-inducing situation.61 These methods may provide short-term relief, but they won’t solve the problem in the long term, and in fact they seem more likely to reinforce it. The same is true here. Suddenly, instead of doing something that should feel and be good, we’re propping up the very system causing the problem. It becomes less surprising that some of the biggest proponents of ‘tackling modern slavery’ are billionaires and leaders of ‘free market’ governments. It’s palatable to those interests. In the words of British businessman David Arkless, ‘When you get involved in something like this your employees will love it, the public will love it and your shareholders will love it.’62 None of this is chance. Mike Dottridge, formerly the director of Anti-Slavery International, has written that, when governments that are committed ideologically to reducing the level of regulation of business, which dislike trade unions, and whose rhetoric is routinely hostile to migrant workers, using the term ‘slavery’ has a certain attraction. The term enables politicians to invoke the saintly memory of 19th Century abolitionists while doing little to enable the workers 37

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who are most in danger of extreme forms of exploitation to exercise their human rights.63 And giving it a new name, ‘modern slavery’, is a crucial part of this manoeuvre. As Skrivankova explained, ‘It’s a rebranding exercise; you rebrand an issue that others have done a lot of work on in order to say, actually now we’re doing something. It’s like year zero, even though work has happened before. It’s dramatic and it resonates.’ We’ve been bought by a clever campaign slogan, one with huge popular appeal, which erases the political choices that have created and continue to spur severe exploitation today. It’s time we exposed this. The threat isn’t at our borders. It isn’t a virus treatable with a prescription of raids and rescues. It’s much closer to home. It’s the very blood of our society and economy and how we treat the rest of the world. If we ignore that, we allow severe human harm to perpetuate.

38

2

At the Borders of Humanity

People move.

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. George Orwell1 On the morning of 23 October 2019, news broke that a lorry containing 39 dead people had been found at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex. The BBC started an online live feed of the incident as it unfolded. Aerial shots showed a large white container lorry with a red driver’s cab, the door still open. Dark green privacy screens protected the dignity of the dead while crime scene officers moved around in white overalls. Swiftly, journalists and producers from major news outlets began calling me for comments. At first I wasn’t sure why they were calling me, an adviser on human trafficking, rather than someone who worked directly on migration issues. After all, as we know from Chapter 1, human trafficking requires exploitation. It’s not just about movement, however horrific the conditions. Without evidence of exploitation or its intent, which was unlikely to have been gathered so quickly, there was no way anyone could know that this was a trafficking case. At this stage they didn’t even know the victims’ nationality – it was reported for the first day or 39

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so that the victims were Chinese, but they would later turn out to be Vietnamese. Then I realised what was happening: the media were taking their lead from politicians. The member of parliament for the constituency in which the incident occurred had tweeted at 10.07 a.m. saying, ‘Sickening news of 39 people found dead in a container in Grays. People trafficking is a vile and dangerous business.’2 Three hours later, Home Secretary Priti Patel made a statement3 to the House of Commons in which she described the incident as ‘tragic’ and ‘truly shocking’, continuing by saying that law enforcement agencies ‘work tirelessly to secure our borders against a wide range of threats, including people trafficking’. Note that she didn’t actually state that this was definitely a case of trafficking. She was cleverer than that; she alluded to it, lodging it in our minds that this was an incident to file under that category and feeding journalists the frame through which to report the tragedy. After Patel made her statement, parliamentarians responded with speeches and questions; trafficking recurred throughout. Given that none of them knew whether this was trafficking or not, why were they so quick to ascribe it to the incident? And how come, a month after the Grays tragedy, ten men were found struggling to breathe in the back of a lorry, again in Essex, but these men were labelled ‘suspected migrants’ in the press and were all arrested on suspicion of immigration offences?4 At the moment of being found and reported by the media, the only difference between these ten people and the 39 at Grays was life and death respectively, yet the former were considered criminals and the latter were given warm speeches about tragedy and shock. Why? Part of the answer is the crude distinction between human trafficking and ‘migrant smuggling’. As mentioned in Chapter 1, the UN convention that created the internationally accepted definition of human trafficking also included a protocol on migrant smuggling. It defines migrant smuggling as ‘the procurement, in 40

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order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident’. There are some key differences between trafficking and smuggling: trafficking doesn’t require someone to enter a country illegally, but smuggling does; trafficking can happen within a country whereas smuggling must involve crossing borders; and the trafficker profits from exploitation, whereas the smuggler profits from fees for movement services. But this neat categorisation often blurs irreparably if we look too closely at migratory pathways. As the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women explains, ‘a person’s migration story can include both smuggling and trafficking, experienced at the same time or at different times’.5 A person can initially have paid to be smuggled, then find themselves deceived or coerced into exploitation; where the authorities stop them in their journey can determine into which category they fall. And yet, this can’t fully explain to us what happened in the two Essex cases and why the initial reaction to one was to point to trafficking but the other was to infer smuggling. Exploitation was undetermined in both instances upon actually finding the migrants themselves. To understand why the 39 were so speedily labelled as trafficking victims we need to look deeper at how the public understands this crime and why that might make it politically useful. A POLITICALLY PROBLEMATIC TRUTH: PEOPLE WANT TO MOVE In the public imagination, the trafficking victim is unwilling to have moved. We can see this in popular depictions of trafficking incidents, such as the film Taken. It’s also lurking in the language used by journalists to report on these cases: victims have usually been ‘lured’. To lure someone is a particular kind of act. Inherent in it is the idea that the agency of the person being lured has 41

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somehow been co-opted by the person doing the luring. It’s about persuasion, enticement, seduction. Indeed, the word ‘lure’ was used in the fifteenth century as a collective noun for a group of young women for this very reason. When we read that victims have been ‘lured’ to the UK or ‘duped into moving’, we’re not necessarily reading facts. We’re reading an opinion about the wishes of that individual and why they migrated. This unwilling migrant is the ‘ideal victim’, one who didn’t want to break our laws and did so against their will. This allows them to be deserving of our state support and public concern. It’s this kind of approach that enables sentiments like those held by Irish politician Declan Breathnach, who has written, ‘People who are trafficked are not immigrants and are not asylum seekers. They are victims of serious crime’.6 For Breathnach, the implicit fact of the modern slavery story is that a victim must be innocent, and an immigrant or asylum seeker cannot be that. This facet is one of the major problems with the idea of modern slavery: it draws on our understanding of historical slavery as forcible, which it was, and ports that over to current events, which is misleading. It’s true that many people who fall prey to severe exploitation have been approached by recruiters in their home country with deceptive job offers; it’s also true that they themselves want to move, for the chance of a better life and better earning potential. The majority of migrant victims of human trafficking in the UK wanted to migrate in the first place and some have proactively sought out those who would later become their traffickers. There are documented cases of kidnap, but they’re uncommon. This doesn’t mean the exploitation is any less cruel, but it does mean we need to think differently about the solutions. So, rather than thinking of trafficking as a crime of abduction or unwilling movement, it’s more accurate to think of it as migration gone wrong. This reveals something that we might be ignoring when we are busy pointing the finger solely at the villainous trafficker: the role of the state. 42

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EXPOSING THE STATE: CREATING VICTIMS First, and often overlooked, we need to consider the ways in which British policies and practices, both past and present, might be drivers of migration. It’s not good enough to take responsibility for those exploited here in the UK if the reasons they needed to migrate under harsh circumstances in the first place are partially our own creation. Interestingly, this kind of selective knowledge has a history in abolitionism and is part of the rationale that enabled nineteenth-century abolitionists to overlook the exploitative ‘coolie’ system that replaced traditional slavery. As academic Nandita Sharma explains, ‘While alluding to the “helplessness” of the labourers caused by poverty, [nineteenth-century anti-slavery] campaigners avoided discussion over the  source  of their impoverishment. In particular, the vast majority of anti-slavery campaigners paid scant attention to existing imperialist conditions, precisely the conditions that might make moving preferable to staying.’7 For former colonies like Nigeria, which is the eighth most prevalent nationality of potential victims of trafficking identified in the UK, the legacy of colonialism has been to leave underdeveloped indigenous industries due to the prioritisation of exports and the manipulation of trade in favour of colonising interests.8 In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the pursuit of specific kinds of economic reforms by many governments and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have negatively ‘impacted the options available to people for economic survival, especially in the developing world’.9 The UK has certainly been a driver of this process. Corporate practices are relevant too and frequently left out of migration discussions: major UK companies use countries in the Global South, like Vietnam, to produce their wares. The migration of people for economic reasons shouldn’t be separated from wages and conditions in brands’ supply chains, as will be explored in Chapter 4. Drapers Online, a fashion industry trade site, describes Vietnam 43

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as ‘evolving as an attractive sourcing destination’ in comparison with China, which apparently ‘is still the most established market for UK clothing … [but] is cooling as labour and operating costs rise’.10 Labour costs rising? This is business-speak for Chinese minimum wage rates rising,11 meaning that Vietnam is pitched as more attractive because people are paid less. We are glad to buy cheap products thanks to companies paying Vietnamese people poverty wages; we shouldn’t be surprised when they want to migrate to earn more. With the understanding that some people want or need to migrate, we ought to turn our attention towards the options available for doing so. If you’re an EU national, evidently you have a huge amount of privilege regarding where you can travel legally. If you’re non-EU but wealthy, you’re likely to find borders open to you. But if you’re neither of these things you’ll find a paucity of safe and legal options. The failure of states to provide more options creates the market for both smuggling and trafficking. Because what will you do when you intend to migrate but can’t do so legally? You’ll pay someone to move you illegally. This is smuggling. In the case of Vietnamese people, research has found that a ‘premium’ service – taking a route as direct as possible with minimal risk – can cost up to £33,000, and ‘economy’ services around half that.12 Social anthropologist Nicolas Lainez has explored how Vietnamese migrants might pay for passage and tells the story of Phong, 27, an undocumented Vietnamese man living in Paris.13 Phong saw the substantial amounts of money his cousins were sending home from France and decided he should go there too. Over four years he saved money and ‘secured a patchwork of loans’. These included a 1,000 euro loan from his uncle and a further 6,000 euros from his local parish, which the priest loaned him from the church’s renovation fund because Phong’s father had worked for him. The smuggler Phong found would charge him 21,000 euros overall. It’s evident that Phong sought out the smuggler because it was his only realistic way to migrate to 44

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France. He then worked six days a week in a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris to repay his debt. Phong’s story could certainly have turned out worse and does for many; for example, he could have found himself forced to do illegal work like cannabis cultivation and not been paid at all. In the real outcome, he’s most likely to be treated as a smuggled migrant, depending on the workplace conditions; in the hypothetical one, he’d be more likely seen as a trafficking victim. But the root causes are the same in both: the lack of legal and safe migration pathways creates a market for smuggling and so provides prey for traffickers. Logically, then, anti-trafficking policies should be directed at creating more safe migration pathways. But actually, politicians cynically deploy trafficking rhetoric to legitimise harder borders, thereby creating more trafficking. We saw this in the speeches and questions posed by politicians after Patel made her statement in parliament: Conservative MPs said Border Force must take more action at ports where ‘this disgusting trade could clearly take place’ and asked how many checks were made on lorries that day at the port where the lorry had arrived in the UK.14 And it has frequently been used in discussions of undocumented migration from France to the UK. Here’s Conservative MP Philip Hollobone speaking in June 2019 in a parliamentary debate on ‘illegal seaborne migration’: The way to solve the problem is not to throw money at the French, but simply to take these people back to France when they are intercepted at sea. That will stop them attempting the crossing in the first place. If they know that they cannot come here and that they will be taken back to French ports, it will put an end to the horrible trade of human trafficking, which is driving this illegal activity. This is a typical example of how trafficking is used disingenuously to provide a moral cloak for anti-migrant attitudes. Hollobone’s 45

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solution to this ‘horrible trade’ is to stop receiving migrants from France. This is strange: if they’re victims of trafficking, surely they ought to be treated accordingly, with support and services? If they’re smuggled migrants, then why are they being described as victims of trafficking? Are they ‘attempting to cross’ or are they being ‘traded’? Is it human trafficking ‘driving this illegal activity’ or is it the lack of alternative options? Hollobone is far from alone in this strategically deployed confusion. Here’s former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi writing for the New York Times in 2015: The Mediterranean Sea, cradle of our civilization, is becoming a deathbed for thousands of nameless, desperate men, women and children. These people had lives full of pain, despair and hope, which led them to become victims of human trafficking … European Union naval operations in the Horn of Africa have successfully fought piracy – and a similar initiative must be developed to effectively fight against human trafficking in the Mediterranean. Trafficking vessels should be put out of operation. Human traffickers are the slave traders of the 21st century, and they should be brought to justice.15 We’ve moved seas but the cynical use of trafficking rhetoric remains unchanged. Renzi suggests targeting boats of people – whom he has himself characterised as ‘victims’ – with a naval operation kindred to those used to tackle piracy. Piracy doesn’t involve boatloads of victims. It involves criminals, and tactics used against pirate ships include helicopter sniper fire. Is this what Renzi thinks should happen to trafficking victims? He’s right that people migrating have hope; however, it isn’t traffickers who are first to dash that hope, but politicians like himself. Bales has also recommended ‘intercepting slaves’ at sea.16 While this may have made some sense for traditional slavery, which involved people moved against their will and therefore who would have wanted 46

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very much to be removed from that situation, the fact that many people who end up trafficked today originally wanted to move – rather than having been abducted or kidnapped – means that ‘intercepting’ their mode of transport is actually only serving to cage them in the place they’re trying to leave.17 Perhaps the most famous use of trafficking in this way comes to us from the emperor of misinformation, US President Donald Trump, with regard to the Mexico-US border: This really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers. These are people that are horrible people bringing in women mostly, but bringing in women and children into our country. Human trafficking, and we’re going to have a strong border. And the only way you have a strong border is you need a physical barrier. You need a wall.18 Trump has told this tale repeatedly, embellishing it with details about women ‘thrown into a van with no windows, with no form of air’ with electrical tape over their mouths. ‘They tape their face, their hair, their hands behind their back, their legs’,19 he’s said, clearly enjoying his momentary role as an author of fiction. Because in Trump’s case it most certainly is fiction. Numerous media outlets and fact checkers have sought to establish the veracity of these statements and all have come up short.20 ‘Either he’s watching action films or he’s watching some other type of movie that involves handcuffs and tape over people’s mouths. But in neither case is it based in any reality of what individuals helping trafficking victims see’, Lori Cohen, director of the AntiTrafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families, New York, has said.21 Vox reports that ‘Border experts have told the Post and other reporters that they’ve never heard of anything like what Trump is talking about.’22 Of course, once we realise that new abolitionism for politicians is as much about immigration control as anything else, this makes sense: the trafficking victim/villain 47

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idea provides a moral rationale for Trump’s border plans, racistly portraying Mexicans as criminal at the same time. Aside from the use of trafficking to legitimise harmful policies, all this political posturing also ignores the fact that repeated research has shown that harder borders don’t reduce the number of irregular entries.23 Instead, they push people to take riskier routes, leading to the kind of tragic outcome we saw on 23 October 2019. A salient example of this type of failure comes from Spain. It spent 150 million euros between 1994 and 2005 on a high-tech border control system called the Integrated System of External Vigilance.24 A complex system of sensors and interception units was meant to apprehend boats bringing African migrants to the coasts of Andalucía and the Canary Islands. It didn’t work. The boats simply went faster or rerouted, only meaning that the journey was more dangerous for migrants. Recent research from the United Nations Development Programme exploring irregular migration from Africa to Europe found that although 93 per cent of the migrants surveyed experienced danger on their journey, only 2 per cent said that greater awareness of these risks would have discouraged them from leaving home.25 IRONY AND TRAGEDY: CRIMINALISING MIGRANTS The evocation of trafficking to provide moral rationales for precisely the kinds of policies that drive it isn’t only found regarding borders, but also in relation to internally focused immigration policy. Since the 1990s, the UK has introduced increasingly restrictive policies regarding migrants already in the UK. These have directly enabled severe exploitation. Before we see how, it’s crucial to understand that migrants are not automatically more susceptible to exploitation. Immigration policy makes some migrants susceptible. This becomes obvious when we consider that we all know examples of people who’ve moved countries and 48

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not automatically ended up in harm’s way. For example, many of the UK’s banks, corporations and architecture firms are staffed by people just like this. But for people who move countries and are not wealthy or able to transition into well-paid jobs in their destination country, susceptibility to exploitation is high because in-country immigration policy criminalises them and curtails their ability to access basic support services. The great irony – and tragedy – of the modern slavery frame is how it’s deployed to legitimise these very policies. A good example is the almost Orwellian key message used by government to legitimise the Immigration Act 2016. The Act introduced new sanctions for workers who are undocumented and increased punishments for those employing them. ‘Using illegal labour exploits workers’ was the amazingly deceptive line repeated over and over again. It was said in a speech by Immigration Minister James Brokenshire, repeated in government webpage text, by a ‘Home Office spokesman’ to the BBC and found its way into the eventual Act’s government factsheet, to name just a few appearances. Does ‘using illegal labour exploit workers’? No, it’s not ‘using illegal labour’ that exploits people, but creating the category of ‘illegal labour’ itself because by criminalising undocumented people, we push them into the informal parts of our economy, where regulations don’t reach and abuses aren’t remedied, creating a recipe for exploitation. Undocumented people also work in sectors often considered ‘formal’ but that lack the enforcement of basic labour laws, like cleaning and construction. The under-enforcement of labour laws means they can work without fear of detection but are also far more susceptible to abuse.26 The Immigration Act 2016, and its sister law in 2014 which introduced new measures to force landlords, banks and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to act as border agents, epitomise Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ towards undocumented migrants. This policy approach was designed to make it so difficult to live and access services in the UK as an undocumented 49

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person that it would encourage undocumented people to leave the country voluntarily and would strongly discourage further undocumented migrants from entering. Sandwiched between those two acts came the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, yet the policies they introduce utterly undermine its aims. HOW IMMIGRATION POLICY MAKES ‘EASY PREY’ This ‘hostile environment’ not only pushes undocumented people into riskier parts of our economy but also prevents them from seeking help safely when they experience exploitation. In theory, for a crime to occur there needs to be three elements present: a motivated offender, a vulnerable victim and the absence of a capable guardian or protector. The capable guardian in the case of exploitation is either labour inspection agencies for legal workplaces or the police. Unfortunately, both are prevented from performing this role for undocumented people. This is partly due to the ‘illegal working’ offence described above that means they’ll be put in the category of criminal by enforcement officers. It’s also partly due to the relationship these bodies maintain with Home Office immigration enforcement. They take immigration enforcement officers with them on raids that are supposed to look for both ‘victims of slavery’ and ‘illegal workers’, and share personal data which will be used to detain and deport people too. This has real and harmful consequences, including victims finding themselves arrested on immigration charges. For example, Operation Magnify, launched by the Home Office in 2015, aimed to identify businesses in the construction sector employing and exploiting undocumented workers.27 According to research carried out by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), between 2015 and 2018 all 85 construction workers who were later referred to our national framework for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery (the National Referral Mechanism) had been arrested for 50

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immigration offences first.28 In Chapter 3 we’ll see more instances of anti-exploitation operations masking ulterior motives obtained via freedom of information (FoI) requests for this book, this time relating to sex work. The practice of involving immigration enforcement in labour inspection and policing does something else too: it hands offenders a ready-made tool with which to coerce and control victims because victims are too afraid to seek help in case they’re passed over to immigration forces. Numerous reports by academics and respected institutions have proven this, including a 2012 research report examining the criminalisation of migrant women by Cambridge University academics. They interviewed migrant women in prison or immigration removal centres in the UK and found that, of the women they interviewed, ‘being handed over to the police or immigration was a common threat used by those who had held them’.29 And that’s in 2012, before the introduction of the hostile environment. The threat of immigration enforcement works well because many people who end up as victims of severe exploitation originally wanted to migrate, as explained earlier. They don’t want to go home, because to be deported is to fail. It’s a logical fear if we think back to Phong – if he’d been deported, he would never have been able to repay his loans to his community. For others who have borrowed from hostile moneylenders or who have put their home or land up as collateral, this is not only about failure but also danger or destitution. It’s imperative for many people to avoid this possibility. And so they’re left with three choices: remain in exploitation, become destitute by running away, or go to the authorities and risk criminalisation and deportation. Which would you choose? Anti-Trafficking Officer Alex Walsh from the British Red Cross has described the choices she’s seen: In many of our cases with non-EEA nationals, fear of prosecution due to being in the UK without the legal right to live and 51

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work was a consistent fear which made them wary of speaking with police forces and accessing forms of support which might bring them to the attention of the Home Office. We have had cases where this fear was so severe that they preferred to remain in the situation of exploitation than come to the attention of the authorities.30 The inability of undocumented workers to seek help makes it all too easy for employers to force bad working conditions upon them, including the most severe forms of exploitation. For example, FLEX describes the case of Renata, an undocumented woman who’d worked in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work. ‘At one point she was made to work for 14 hours in one day and was only paid £2.70/hour, well below the national minimum wage of £8.21. When asked why she did not report her employers, she said: “if you are illegal [sic] here, we have no rights to complain or report”.’31 FLEX has also documented workers being preferentially chosen by employers if they’re undocumented precisely because they’re perceived as having no rights.32 Carolina Gottardo, formerly director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, has put it bluntly: ‘When women are undocumented and employers know about it, they are very easy prey’.33 There’s a clear solution: immigration enforcement can be separated from labour inspection and policing. This should be common sense; people can leave exploitation safely and perpetrators can be held to account. FLEX reports that in Belgium, workers can report employment rights violations without their immigration status being used against them. In Amsterdam, if an undocumented person reports a crime to the police their personal information isn’t shared with immigration enforcement.34 Without taking steps like these, the UK simply cannot say that it’s trying to tackle the kinds of exploitation contained under the Modern Slavery Act. It’s not: it’s creating it. 52

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LEGALLY SANCTIONED HARM: THE CASE OF MIGRANT DOMESTIC WORKERS So far, this chapter has largely focused on undocumented migrants, but those legally allowed to be here are also put at risk by immigration policy. Around five years ago, a friend invited me to an event of an organisation called Justice for Domestic Workers ( J4DW, now renamed The Voice of Domestic Workers). The meeting venue was packed with women, all chatting and laughing loudly in a diverse mixture of languages. The event got started, and as women read poems they’d written, sang songs and danced in their national styles, I started to realise what I was hearing. These women were migrant domestic workers employed in private households across wealthier neighbourhoods in London. Their performances told stories of appalling abuse at the hands of their employers. I would become familiar with such cases on the board of J4DW for the next couple of years. I’d hear about a domestic worker beaten so badly that she had a stroke and was left at A&E by her employer who pretended to have found her in the street, and the woman who asked to be paid and was told ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ by her wealthy employer, and another woman who’d asked the same, then been duly marched to the cash machine each month to withdraw her pay and hand it back to her boss. I’d learn what an incredible feat its founder and organiser, Marissa Begonia, had pulled off by creating a space of solidarity for the women, herself a domestic worker. I’d also come to understand how it is that people legally in the UK can be pushed into exploitation by cruelly designed visa schemes. J4DW’s main campaign ask was for the ‘Overseas Domestic Worker’ visa to be amended. In 2012, UK immigration rules were changed to make this visa more restrictive than the previous system, limiting these migrant workers to six months’ stay in the UK with no option to renew their visa. 35 Crucially, it also stopped them from changing employers. This is known as a ‘tied 53

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visa’. It meant that if they wanted – or needed – to leave their employer, they’d be violating the terms of their visa and become undocumented, unable to work legally and could be detained and deported. Because of this, tied visas essentially entrap migrant workers in jobs even if abuse is taking place. Employers know that workers can’t leave them, so this system creates a massive power imbalance in which employers can set unfair and abusive conditions for domestic workers without the workers being able to fight back. In domestic work, the impacts of this kind of power imbalance are arguably even worse than in other labour sectors because domestic workers live where they work. This means it’s not just things like overtime, underpayment or other abusive characteristics of the actual work that happen, but also abuse around their living conditions, like being made to sleep on the floor, given only leftovers to eat, not having privacy and so on. We have the term ‘domestic servitude’ especially for circumstances like these. It means an obligation into which you’ve been coerced to provide services and live on another person’s property.36 It’s easy to imagine how vulnerable we’d all be in that kind of situation; reliant on an employer for our job, our shelter, our food and our right not to be treated as a criminal by immigration enforcement. From 2012, evidence began accruing of the harm to workers caused by this system. The 2014 Human Rights Watch report, Hidden Away,37 told harrowing stories: Ira,* a nanny for her employer’s baby from the Philippines, was deprived of food and toiletries and had to make sanitary towels from babies’ nappies; Zahia describes getting only one or two hours allotted for sleep and being shouted at; Andrea worked 15-hour days, seven days a week, was locked in the house and sometimes not fed; Ana slept on the floor and worked 13-hour days. These stories weren’t anomalies: a caseworker from migrant domestic worker support charity Kalayaan told the researchers that she’d seen around 35 *  None of the first names in this paragraph are their real names. 54

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migrant domestic workers who’d come to the UK on the new tied visa and all reported some kind of confinement: ‘I haven’t seen anyone on the new visa who can go out freely’, she said.38 It was clear from the evidence of Human Rights Watch and others that these workers were at huge risk of abuse and that the tied visa was making it worse. The Modern Slavery Bill presented a perfect and obvious opportunity to rectify this. The parliamentary committee on the draft bill specifically noted that the visa changes had ‘unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery. The moral case for revisiting this issue is urgent and overwhelming.’39 Parliamentarians provided cross-party backing for Lord Hylton’s Amendment 90 which sought to undo the tie, enabling the workers to change employer.40 It also put forward the provision for an additional three-month temporary visa that would allow migrant domestic workers to live in the UK in order to seek alternative employment as a domestic worker if there was evidence that they’d been victims of severe exploitation. He read out testimony from a Filipina domestic worker working in London: ‘It’s worse than Saudi Arabia. They treat me like a prisoner. They never even give me a single pound. I’m starting work around 4.30 in the morning, until 1 o’clock in the morning … I’m sleeping only in the kitchen. I’m crying the whole time that I’m sleeping on the floor.’ But the government was intransigent, which is hardly surprising given its obsession with keeping down the numbers of ‘low-skilled’ workers and preventing long-term settlement. But the nature of their response is particularly interesting in relation to the idea of slavery. Lord Bates replied on behalf of government, saying: ‘The notion that the Government are not doing anything in the light of the evidence is simply not the case. We have introduced a new template contract. The contract must stipulate the sleeping arrangements, the minimum wage, the holiday pay and that the employer cannot withhold an individual’s passport.’ This is interesting because, presumably without realising it, Lord Bates is 55

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drawing on a time-honoured method of justification for exploitation. When the transatlantic slave trade was abolished, there was a problem: how would a cheap labour force be secured? The answer came in the form of a system of indentured labour that required people to work for a contracted period of time, often five years, though sometimes more or less. Like the overseas domestic workers on the visa about which Lord Bates was speaking, these indentured labourers weren’t permitted to change employer during their contract. This was known pejoratively as the ‘coolie’ system which, as mentioned in the Introduction, was a system of recruiting and exploiting workers mostly from India and China to live and work in very poor conditions. Nineteenth-century anti-slavery campaigners quickly became concerned that this new system was rather too similar to the slavery that was supposed to have been abolished. Mortality rates on the ships transporting these workers were high and their housing and working conditions were poor, alongside corporal punishment.41 In order to deflect these accusations, each worker was required to sign a state-authorised contract to show they were freely selling their labour power: ‘labour contracts thus provided the documentary proof that the “coolie” system was not a new form of slavery’, despite the reality of the conditions of travel and work.42 In both instances, 200 years apart, pieces of paper are opted for instead of changing the underlying system that exposes people to exploitation and prevents them from having basic rights and protections. Lord Bates continued by saying, ‘I think there is possibly a slight conflation of issues here: the overseas domestic worker visa and the treatment of people in domestic servitude who have been trafficked here from overseas. They are two distinct issues.’43 Of course, they weren’t and aren’t: exploitation like this is a product of bad immigration policy, not a separate phenomenon. This is the same ‘contaminant’ notion described earlier: when Lord Bates characterises trafficked people as something separate to immigration policy, he is implying that the former is an anomaly which can 56

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be removed, and that it is the anomaly that makes the underlying system momentarily problematic, not anything wrong with the system itself. It’s not; the immigration system itself is the problem. Despite government’s obdurate attitude, parliamentarians continued to fight to have the visa untied. In February 2015, Theresa May made a shrewd move to stave them off. 44 She announced an independent review of the visa. This was used to kick the issue into the long grass until the Modern Slavery Bill had passed into law. In the end, both sides won a bit and neither won everything: in 2015 the independent review reported, recommending that the government untie the visa. In the Immigration Act 2016, the government finally did so, enabling domestic workers to change employers. But all was not won: it undid the tie but didn’t allow for the renewal of visas. Would you employ someone to look after your baby who could only stay in the job for a matter of weeks? This means that domestic workers are untied in law but remain tied in practice, because finding new employment within such a short visa time limit is very difficult. At the time of writing, campaigning continues. In fact, temporary work schemes like the Overseas Domestic Worker visa are widely recognised around the world as putting workers at high risk of abuse. This is due to several factors. If you’re a migrant and in a country for a short period of time, you’re unlikely to have or pick up local language skills, knowledge about your rights and where to seek help or about networks for support. All these factors can make you more vulnerable to harm. Migrants on these types of short-term visas also don’t tend to have access to public funds, that is, they can’t get free support from the state if they need it in order to leave a problematic situation. That’s unless their situation reaches the extreme, in which case they can go into our national system for possible victims of modern slavery, but this requires things to escalate from bad to awful before help is received. Migration also costs money, so people moving countries on these types of schemes will often have taken out loans to cover 57

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the costs of visas, travel fees and health surcharges. People may also be charged recruitment or other fees by brokers at some point in their migration path. This can turn into cases of debt bondage, which is when someone is forced to work to pay off personal debt. The kinds of costs low-paid migrants pay to gain access to short-term work schemes can be extortionate: in 2005, the UK Home Office reported that some workers had paid over £10,000 to access our Sectors Based Scheme, which existed until 2013 and brought migrants in to work in hospitality and food processing for up to twelve months.45 In some types of work, like agriculture and domestic work, these vulnerabilities are made far worse by the isolated nature of the work. Despite these known risks, temporary work visas continue to be used by governments as a way to balance competing demands of businesses’ need for workers and perceived public anti-migrant attitudes. Their aim is to use the working ability of these migrants but rid themselves of any responsibility for them as humans with wider needs and rights. Swiss author Max Frisch captured this attitude pithily when he wrote, ‘We wanted workers. We got people instead.’46 IMMIGRATION OBSESSION VERSUS RESCUE: GUESS WHICH WINS? So far we’ve seen how immigration policy makes migrants, whether undocumented or not, vulnerable to severe exploitation. It also undermines the idea that we ‘rescue’ victims. Here we find what sociologist Linsey McGoey calls ‘a strategy of non-disclosure’,47 deployed in this instance to hide how the government’s immigration obsession harms the ‘rescue’ ending of their own modern slavery story. What do you think happens to the people we call victims of modern slavery in the UK once they’ve been ‘rescued’? Probably not what’s really going on. In June 2019, Frank Field MP asked the Home Office how many people held in immigration deten58

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tion centres were recognised, or claimed to be, victims of modern slavery.48 In response, Minister for Immigration Caroline Nokes stated that the government didn’t have a central record of this information and ‘therefore does not collate or publish the data requested’. This wasn’t the first time the question had been asked. In fact, between January 2013 and June 2019 when Field asked it, I’ve counted five additional occasions when parliamentarians asked the Home Office for permutations of these numbers, and each time were told the information wasn’t held centrally nor recorded.49 It’s possible the parliamentarians who stated this on the record simply didn’t know that these data were held and nor did the staff who were tasked with responding to written parliamentary questions. It’s also possible they knew and lied. Either way, in July 2019 and only a month after a minister had said this information wasn’t held, volunteer-led project After Exploitation released a report based on data obtained through FoI requests finding that 507 people thought to be trafficked had been kept in immigration detention.* Organisations including FLEX, Jesuit Refugee Service and Women for Refugee Women have all documented victims of trafficking being held in immigration detention. Clearly, people who’ve experienced severe exploitation will be coping with its effects on their mental and physical health. The Home Office itself has released a report that describes a range of physical harms experienced by people it categorises as *  These individuals had received a ‘Positive Reasonable Grounds’ decision either prior to, or during, their detention. This type of decision is made at the first stage of the National Referral Mechanism which is the UK’s national framework for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking. Positive reasonable grounds means there are reasonable grounds to believe the person has indeed been a victim of the types of severe exploitation that fall under the Modern Slavery Act and will then be entitled to a period of ‘reflection and recovery’ for a minimum of 45 days with (minimal) state support. They will then receive a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision that may be positive or negative, meaning they are officially recognised or not as a victim. 59

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modern slavery victims, including rape, sexual assault and concussion. It also notes a high prevalence of depression and anxiety.50 Locking up people who’ve had these experiences should be considered beyond the pale, yet it’s far too common. The impact on their well-being is likely to be significantly detrimental: studies on immigration detainees have found high rates of suicidal ideation, a higher likelihood of self-harm than is found in prisons, and that people who have previously experienced trauma are at greater risk of developing trauma-related mental health problems while in immigration detention.51 They’re also placed at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, recognition of which led the Spanish government to release all detainees in the first half of 2020.52 Where victims avoid detention, they nonetheless face a hugely uncertain future. This is due to government’s obstinate refusal to provide them the right to stay in the UK after the short-term state support provided for victims. Some people do manage to win the right to stay here, often via separate asylum claims, but these are complex and long-winded and not all succeed. Without the right to stay here, people are deported. And this is all only if they manage to get official government status as a victim in the first place: front-line organisations working with victims frequently tell me that they believe non-EU nationals are less likely to be given this status than EU nationals, even with the same weight of evidence. They believe this is due to discrimination. ‘It’s always seemed that if you were a non-EU national, you were less likely to get recognised as a victim by the government’, Rachel Mullan-Feroze, who until recently worked for a front-line anti-trafficking service, tells me. ‘And some decisions are based massively on perceived wisdom about people from certain places. Like Albanians are liars. Nigerians are liars. It’s like the authorities making the decisions already have their view of people coloured in a racist or discriminatory way, so maybe they look for more indicators, an even higher level of proof [the person is a victim].’ The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, 60

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a coalition of NGOs that monitor the government’s activities on tackling trafficking, has found that if a person from the EU presents themselves to the authorities as a potential survivor of trafficking, then there is a greater than 80 per cent chance that they’ll be recognised as such and offered protection and support. However, if they come from outside the EU there’s less than a 20 per cent chance,53 making them much more likely to be deported. These outcomes – detention, deportation – are hardly what the public imagines when sold the compelling hero-infused rhetoric of modern slavery, and it’s all because of government’s unhealthy obsession with immigration. REIMAGINING HUMANITY AT OUR BORDERS We began this chapter by considering the political response to the tragedy in which 39 Vietnamese people lost their lives in a container lorry. Hopefully it’s now obvious that the knee-jerk reaction to refer to it as ‘trafficking’ wasn’t chance. The modern slavery story is politically useful: it distracts us from the reality that people migrate and that harder borders push them into riskier situations, and sometimes death. By pointing the finger at individual villains, it obscures the ways in which immigration policy, whether targeting undocumented or documented people, constrains their ability to seek help and protect themselves from exploitation. The unhealthy immigration obsession is harming victims’ outcomes, preventing them from getting support, skewing decision-making about their cases, and detaining and deporting them. But even though modern slavery is deployed by politicians to hide and legitimise harmful practices, we do need ways to ensure people are protected from exploitation, both at the border and in-country. How might we do this? A book from 1980 co-authored by George Lakoff, whose work was noted in the Introduction, can point us towards the kind of mindset we must adopt. ‘We act according to the way we conceive 61

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of things’, the authors write in Metaphors We Live By, which seeks to understand and expose the conceptual structures undergirding our everyday language and action. They take the notion of arguing, and point out that in our culture we think of argument as a kind of war. So we say, ‘your points are indefensible’, we ‘demolish’ the other side or we ‘shoot down’ their attempts to ‘win’. We don’t just speak in those terms; the way that we think of arguing shapes our behaviour too. But this is not because ‘argument’ is somehow necessarily about battle; it’s a conceptual metaphor in our culture but it could easily be different. ‘Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance’, they write, ‘the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way.’54 It is this kind of mental creativity we need if we’re to tackle exploitation and how it intersects with borders and immigration. We must challenge ourselves and our governments to construct new metaphors for these things and, in doing so, reshape behaviour. While borders exist, we need to have a way of reimagining their role so that they don’t continue to harm people in the same way. So let’s take border officials. It is already deeply problematic that they are conceptualised as guards against some dangerous ‘other’ but when it comes to the modern slavery idea, this becomes not just morally unacceptable but also incredibly tricky. When faced with a possible victim they’re supposed to suspend this role momentarily and instead act as detectives of human rights abuses. These two roles conflict. People crossing borders are far less likely to alert those whom they perceive as police. If we stop conceiving of them as ‘guards’ and instead reconceptualise border agents as ‘doctors’, we might get somewhere more useful. It’s far from enough, given the harms of border policy more widely, but it might be a step forward. What are doctors? Doctors are people who diagnose, and then treat appropriately in accordance with that diagnosis. They’re interested in the symptoms and the needs being presented. Take that metaphor to the border. Instead of having to switch between 62

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anti-migrant police and human rights detective, the border diagnostician can consider the immediate assistance needs of the human being standing before them, regardless of race, paperwork or the other considerations currently used to profile and harm people moving, and without criminalisation being on the table. As trafficking expert Marika McAdam has written, it is easier to train border officials to respect inviolable human rights of all people than it is to train them to navigate through onerous considerations in ascribing complex categories to them. Border officials cannot be expected to distinguish between an irregular migrant who is destined towards a reasonable standard of living and one who may end up in a situation of exploitation.55 This approach would ensure that people have their immediate assistance needs met before expert support providers attempt to understand the nature of their journey and experience, and the most reasonable next steps to support them. Solving the problems borders and current policies relating to them create is a far bigger task than this, of course, and requires massive legislative and cultural change, but while we wait for that, such an approach might help those arriving now and in the near term. This isn’t just about undocumented people; those coming to the UK with the ‘right’ paperwork may need support too. The experience of Abul Kamal Azad is a useful and sad example.56 Azad saw an advert in a newspaper in Dhaka, Bangladesh where he lived, offering work as a chef in the UK. He was struggling to make ends meet for himself, his wife and baby son and so he applied. He was offered the role of tandoori chef for £18,000 a year by a man named Shamsul Arefin who then told him he needed to pay over £15,000 to secure his visa and role. ‘I fell into his big hope trap’, said Azad, describing how the job offer might help him to provide for his family. But it wasn’t to be; Azad spent months working unpaid for up to 22 hours a day, seven days a week, in 63

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a 37-bedroom hotel in Scotland. ‘Nobody would stay and work for this man, but I had no choice. I thought, if I go back to my country, how will I pay my debt?’ Eventually, but only after the situation escalating to physical abuse, Azad escaped from Arefin. We need to be identifying people in circumstances like these so that they avoid the exploitation Azad experienced, and ideally this needs to happen as early as possible to prevent abuse from starting. At the border, the way to do that is by checking job offers and finding out whether people have paid extortionate amounts in recruitment fees. This doesn’t work if it’s done from a stance of attempting to refuse entry if problems are uncovered; that will only create a chilling effect with people hiding their true circumstances. Instead, we need to take the diagnostic approach, working to understand the likelihood that the person’s job offer is genuine and providing them with advice, rights and alternatives, and signposting them to unions and services if there are concerns. Another element of Azad’s story is instructive: deceptive recruitment is a key method by which people end up in exploitation. This isn’t only true across borders but also within countries. More needs to be done on ensuring responsible and legitimate recruitment channels and creating innovative methods for showing that job adverts are legitimate and that overseas roles really do exist and with the terms advertised.57 We have the internet; it shouldn’t be impossible. The notion of cross-border union membership and more coordination between unions in countries of origin and destination would also be helpful. John Miller, former director of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, has said: ‘The underground market in people, termed human trafficking, functions by the benign rules of supply and demand – which makes this market particularly grotesque because the commodity is human life and the exchange results in modern-day slavery.’58 The ‘demand’ to which he refers is that of the exploiters, those who want to use the labour of the victims. This overlooks the 64

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other ‘demand’ – the demand of people to move. The 2015 to 2019 ‘refugee crisis’ has made this unignorable, and climate breakdown will only escalate it. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, 143 million people could be displaced within their countries.59 It should be obvious that no person willingly gets into a container lorry to be moved between countries if they feel they have an alternative and safer option. As has been explained in this chapter, the lack of those options is directly creating the market for smugglers and pushing people into exploitation due to their lack of rights as undocumented people. Sometimes it leads to death. Therefore, if we genuinely want to tackle severe exploitation, we need to create more safe and legal migration pathways that mean people don’t need to take such risky and difficult routes. Organisations like the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants have done excellent work spelling out what this would look like in practice. It includes more and better designed visa options, better family reunification rights, and better methods for enabling humanitarian statuses. And once people are here, we need to make sure they can seek help if they need it by removing the ‘hostile environment’ policies and ensuring everyone in our society can report abuse without fear of negative repercussions. This should be a baseline of a humane society. As Phil Brewer said to me in our interview, ‘The majority of people have come here not to commit crime or cause the UK harm, but to make money. They’re honest people who’ve been criminalised by a law that makes [them being here] an offence … You do start questioning why we even bother criminalising people with questionable immigration status, because what does it even achieve?’ Quite. Similarly, nothing is achieved by failing to provide regularisation opportunities – the ability to legalise one’s status when one is undocumented – for those who are here already. It’s often overlooked that undocumented people are working and that clearly this shows an appetite for their labour that matches their wish to be here. These two 65

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complementary halves should be recognised and brought together legally through amnesties and other forms of regularisation. There are so many policies and practices we must introduce and so many we must overturn if we truly want to reduce exploitation in the UK today. But doing so means recognising that anti-migrant sentiment and policies simply cannot coexist with any meaningful wish to achieve this aim. Until we see this addressed, any politicians’ words about fighting modern slavery should ring hollow.

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3

Sex, Slavery and Women Divided The politics of prostitution should not be a feud between women but a collaboration. Molly Smith and Juno Mac1 ‘More women have been harmed by anti-trafficking initiatives than have been helped’, Niki Adams tells me adamantly at the backstreet Crossroads Women’s Centre where the English Collective of Prostitutes is based. She talks me through the ways in which she’s seen sex-working women become a kind of collateral damage of the new abolitionist movement. And yet, the number of UK adults identified as possible victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation within the UK has hovered at around 1,000 per year for the last four years,2 and rose to 1,534 in 2019.3 While not all these people (the majority of whom are women) will go on to be formally designated as a victim by our national support framework, this does suggest that some women are being forced to sell sex – so surely their identification and extrication from such circumstances must be positive? In the previous chapters we’ve started to see that all isn’t always what it seems in the modern slavery story. The same theme is evident now as we explore the territories of sex work and trafficking for sexual exploitation. Just as new abolitionism is used as a cover for anti-migrant policies and harder borders, we’ll see how it’s often deployed against the interests of the very women whom it’s meant to support. Interrogating the use of the antislavery discourse in order to expose this shouldn’t be confused with 67

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suggesting that support for those who are forced to sell sex, or the prosecution of those forcing them, aren’t necessary; obviously they are. But if we fail to look under the surface of what we’re told and leave common misunderstandings of this topic unexposed, we’ll also fail to identify the best solutions to the real problems. SEX WORK OR RAPE? Before delving into how the modern slavery frame interacts with sex, I need to clarify the language I use, for reasons that will become obvious. I refer to people selling sexual services as ‘sex workers’, and I call the kind of work they do ‘sex work’, unless I’m talking about specific legislation or policy which uses the term ‘prostitution’. I do this for three reasons, and explaining them will also help to demarcate some of the issues in terms of how new abolitionism approaches this topic. First, I know that some sex workers use the term ‘prostitute’ as an act of reclamation, but many of those in the sector prefer ‘sex worker’ to ‘prostitute’. The term ‘sex work’ was coined around 1980 by Carol Leigh, a sex worker herself, when she attended a conference in San Francisco at which a workshop entitled ‘Sex Use Industry’ was planned. ‘The words stuck out and embarrassed me’, she has written since. ‘How could I sit amid other women as a political equal when I was being objectified like that, described only as something used, obscuring my role as actor and agent in the transaction?’4 She recommended it be changed to ‘Sex Work Industry’ in order to shift the focus to the rights of the provider, instead of moralistic, shaming and devaluing language. Second, and relatedly, ‘sex work’ helps us to think about the economic aspects of this topic, recognising sex work as ‘work’ instead of focusing on our level of moral comfort with sex exchanged directly for money. Sex work is done in order to earn, as is all work. This should be evident from more recent ‘exposés’ about the UK sex industry that have found women selling sex due to Universal Credit issues and 68

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students selling sex to pay their way through university. In 2018, the Home Office commissioned new research from Bristol University to assess the nature and prevalence of sex work in England and Wales. The testimonies from respondents to the survey are clear: people are selling sex through choice and in order to earn. The reasons for financial need vary: one female former sex worker entered the trade because of debt; another due to a combination of disability, lack of family support, immigration status issues and consequent near-destitution; a woman webcamming had failed to find other forms of permanent work; another found it the ‘most flexible’ way to support herself and her sick mother; and trans respondents referred to the cost of transition and exclusion from other workplaces. ‘The word “survival” was used frequently’, the report tells us.5 People sell sex to put money in their pocket. Third, and most crucially for this book, I use this term because I draw a distinction between sex workers who have chosen to sell sexual services to some degree, like those described above (whether or not the conditions of that work are good), and those who have been forced into selling sex against their will whom I consider victims of rape and sexual exploitation. This is parallel to other forms of work which people choose to do, and in which they may experience good conditions or abuses that fall under civil law (e.g. underpayment of wages), or which may be coercive and fall under criminal law (e.g. forced labour). I base this distinction on the differing nature of women’s lived experiences, rooted in their testimonies of both kinds of circumstance. This isn’t to say that by conceptualising ‘sex work’ in this way we have to think that anyone not trafficked has chosen this work entirely freely. Few choices in our world are truly made ‘freely’, given the constraints of patriarchy, capitalism, racism, class and the lack of sufficient support for mental health and addiction issues. Rather, we can understand the decision to sell sex as part of a spectrum of choice; at one end you have someone who could have chosen many other options and has elected to sell sexual services. At the other extreme you 69

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have people forced to do this under coercion, threat, intimidation, violence, etc. The case of Eva* from the Glasgow Trafficking Awareness-Raising Alliance is helpful to show this distinction. At 18, Eva was working in a café and studying in her home country when a customer, named Alek, began to show interest in her. Alek wasn’t from Eva’s country but visited it regularly. They embarked on a romantic relationship and Alek is described as treating Eva well. He even met her family back in her hometown. After some months, Alek proposed and suggested Eva move with him to his country. At first Eva’s family was wary but came around to the idea and so, in late spring 2016, Eva and Alek left together. On arrival in Alek’s country, he suddenly told Eva he’d been called away and so she’d have to stay with his friends, but he’d come and get her the next day. He dropped her off at a house and introduced her to the two men staying there. Eva never saw Alek again. The two men told her that she was now expected to sell sex. She refused, and so they kept her in isolation, drugged her and assaulted her until she cracked and decided her best option was to cooperate in order to survive. She was made to sleep with up to ten men a day. After a while, Eva was moved by her captors to a Scottish city to continue being raped for the men’s profit. Sometimes Eva would be given money to pay for takeaway food delivered to the house and she began to hide the change in her room, amounting to around £20 overall. One night, when the men controlling her were drunkenly asleep, Eva took the opportunity: she jumped from a first-floor window. A taxi driver eventually took her to a police station and Eva was referred to support services. Over time she’s been able to regain some sense of normal life.6 Clearly, the experiences recounted earlier from the Home Office-commissioned report and Eva’s are distinct in a number of ways. Eva’s experience is wholly non-consensual and not some*  Not her real name. 70

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thing she chose to do in any conception of the word ‘choice’. It is rape. Rachel Mullan-Feroze has worked in gender-based violence since the early 1990s, including 17 years as a night-time outreach worker for sex workers. She tells me that in her experience, for the non-trafficked women, it was driven by drugs and poverty. Sometimes it was women doing it so that their boyfriends didn’t commit acquisitive crime, because they had to get money one way or another. Whereas with women trafficked into it, I think their situation is different. They have more physical and social isolation and exclusion. They also might not have the right to be in the UK legally which will mean someone has massive control over them. I believe the distinction between sex work and rape is clear but, as we’ll now see, others disagree, and it’s this that’s shaped – and marred – efforts to tackle situations like Eva’s for many years. Nobody thinks any person should be forced to sell sex. Yet today, those seeking to prevent it are divided into two hostile camps. Their battleground has a long history, stretching much further back than the twenty-first-century new abolitionist surge. Let’s go back to 1885. FROM ‘WHITE SLAVES’ TO ‘NATASHAS’ The foreign traffic is the indefinite prolongation of the labyrinth of modern Babylon, with absolute and utter hopelessness of any redemption. When a girl steps over the fatal brink she is at once regarded as fair game for the slave trader who collects his human ‘parcels’ in the great central mart of London for transmission to the uttermost ends of the earth.7 These are the words of William T. Stead writing in the Pall Mall Gazette in July 1885 as part of his four-part series entitled ‘The 71

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Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’. Stead, an investigative journalist who would later drown in the sinking of the Titanic, was very famous in his era and has the dubious honour of helping to invent the modern tabloid.8 His methods were problematic at times; he was actually incarcerated for the tactics he used to produce this particular series. A month after it ran, thousands of people rallied in Hyde Park against the ‘white slave trade’.9 This referred to ‘the supposed traffic in women and girls for the purposes of prostitution … Typical white slavery narratives involved the abduction of European women for prostitution in South America, Africa, or “the Orient” by “foreigners”.’10 Historians have failed to find evidence of such a trade, but as we’ll see during the course of this chapter, evidence frequently falters in the face of powerful myths when it comes to women, sex and exploitation. Consequently, the first international agreements on trafficking arose from this ‘white slavery’ notion. The purpose of the 1904 International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was to provide protection to ‘women of full age who have suffered abuse or compulsion’, therefore seemingly applicable only to those women who had been, in some manner, forced to sell sexual services. Except that it goes on to say the following: The Governments undertake, when the case arises, and within legal limits, to have the declarations taken of women or girls of foreign nationality who are prostitutes, in order to establish their identity and civil status, and to discover who has caused them to leave their country. The information obtained shall be communicated to the authorities of the country of origin of the said women and girls, with a view to their eventual repatriation.11 We can see here the beginning of the conflation of sex work in general – and particularly migratory sex work – with forced sexual 72

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exploitation: is the agreement’s intention to protect women from being compelled against their will to sell sex abroad? Or is it intending to monitor and oppress migrant sex workers? Is it an instrument to ensure women are making choices of their own, or an instrument to legitimise the interrogation of those choices? As we’ll see, 94 years later in Vienna these very questions would haunt the development of the twenty-first-century modern slavery story too. More international instruments followed, and by 1921 the language had shifted from ‘white slavery’ to ‘traffic in women’. Then, in 1933, a new convention answered the questions the 1904 agreement left hanging. It read: Whoever, in order to gratify the passions of another person, has procured, enticed or led away even with her consent, a woman or girl of full age for immoral purposes to be carried out in another country, shall be punished, notwithstanding that the various acts constituting the offence may have been committed in different countries.12 So, even if a woman had consented to be recruited ‘for immoral purposes to be carried out in another country’, this was trafficking. It did away with the idea that in order to be a victim, you must have been forced or compelled against your will. Interestingly, as academic and author Jo Doezema has noted in her forensic exploration of trafficking for sexual exploitation, Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking, the 1933 agreement only discounted consent if the person was being moved internationally; apparently adult women were capable of consent within their own country but not if going abroad. This is probably because it meant states could maintain their own differing national legislation on sex work. However, 16 years later this distinction was overturned: women were no longer deemed capable of consenting to sex work within national borders either. 73

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The next 30 years saw relative silence on this topic, notwithstanding the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women adopted by the UN General Assembly. Then, as Chapter 1 explained, the end of the Cold War in the 1990s spurred a major upsurge in interest in trafficking, with a focus on women from former Soviet countries being moved to western Europe for sexual exploitation. This crystallised as a reversal of the racialisation in the ‘white slave’ idea: what had formally been a fear of the ‘other’ stealing our white virgins became a fear of the ‘other’ infiltrating our borders instead. We can see this latter change in the 1994 UN General Assembly resolution on ‘traffic in women and girls’ which condemned ‘the illicit and clandestine movement of persons across national and international borders, largely from developing countries and some countries with economies in transition’.13 The trope of oppressed and abused eastern European women being forced to come to the UK and other Western countries to sell sex was so well used that it developed the moniker ‘the Natashas’. Klara Skrivankova tells me that there was some truth behind the stereotyping: there were some eastern European women being trafficked for sexual exploitation but, she goes on to say, it was much more complex. When I started working in the UK, there were lots of trafficked women who didn’t fit that ideal pattern. Women who were more combative, trying to talk about injustice and their rights, or just naturally more argumentative and didn’t fit the profile of a battered crime victim in a corner. They’d be treated as deserving of it. I certainly noticed a stark contrast between how Nigerian women and eastern European women were treated. I don’t know if this was racism or that the Nigerian women didn’t fit the idea of a victim because they could speak some English and would voice their opinion. 74

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It’s not just Skrivankova who noticed this discrimination; in 2012, a report published by elected London Assembly member Andrew Boff noted that, West African cases of human trafficking are struggling to be recognised. The Government’s National Referral Mechanism to identify trafficked victims disproportionately rejects Nigerian cases of trafficking. The police also reject Nigerian cases, seeing victims as ‘on the make,’ or claiming that there is too little evidence to charge anyone. Yet one stakeholder working with a Nigerian victim, after being told by police that they couldn’t find any evidence on the trafficker, searched for the trafficker’s name on Google and found him for the police immediately.14 Nonetheless, the trope of the Natashas exists to this day. Adams tells me that the Romanian women in the English Collective of Prostitutes feel targeted by police for so-called ‘welfare’ raids that disrupt their ability to earn much-needed money. Alongside these evolutions in the trafficking space, the 1970s onwards had seen the development of a vocal sex workers’ rights movement. On 2 June 1975, over 100 sex workers occupied Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, remaining there for eight days until they were forcibly removed. They were protesting against police harassment and the failure of the government to listen to their needs. Their action ignited comparable occupations in other French cities and eventually spread even further, sparking an international movement of sex workers unwilling to be silenced. It was this that inspired the formation of the English Collective of Prostitutes itself and similar groups in other countries. This was a new era: instead of the loudest voice shouting about ‘saving’ women from ‘vice’, there were now real sex workers’ voices to be heard, and they were calling for rights and respect. Unsurprisingly, this was not welcomed by many. A powerful alliance arose, combining those whose religion viewed sex work as immoral and 75

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‘radical feminists’ who viewed it as male oppression. Trafficking would be the perfect vehicle for them to make their concerns heard and turned into law. As Professor O’Connell Davidson puts it, ‘Growing political interest in “human trafficking” in the 1990s offered a means through which to mainstream their understanding of sex commerce as fundamentally wrong’.15 In the UK, as anti-trafficking started to become the cause du jour, sex worker organisations began fighting back, picketing the Home Office, providing migrant women for media interviews who explained vehemently they were ‘foreign not forced’, and demonstrating how the idea of trafficking was being used to promote racist and anti-migrant aims. The battle between these two sides would reach a head in Vienna, 1998. THE VIENNESE WAR OVER WORDS By the time of the Viennese negotiations for the future UN Human Trafficking Protocol, which we covered in Chapter 1, two distinct and hostile camps had emerged. The battle between them was crucial: it would determine the language of the protocol and therefore international understandings of what trafficking for sexual exploitation meant, which in turn would shape the laws that individual countries introduced. On one side was the Human Rights Caucus (HRC), composed of sex worker advocates and their allies. Their stance was that trafficking should be considered as a distinct phenomenon to sex work. ‘Obviously, by definition’, they submitted, ‘no one consents to abduction or forced labour, but an adult woman is able to consent to engage in an illicit activity (such as prostitution … ). If no one is forcing her to engage in such an activity, then trafficking does not exist.’16 If there were problems in sex work, the HRC thought they could be dealt with through workers’ rights instead. Therefore, they wanted a definition of trafficking focused 76

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on coercion, without mentioning sex as the specific purpose of that coercion. This was in recognition of the fact that people can be trafficked into many forms of legal and illegal labour, not solely sex work. It was an ambitious aim, not because it’s incorrect but because the history of anti-trafficking had been so deeply rooted in the fear of sex work and female ‘immorality’, as we saw in the ‘white slave’ idea and the 1904 agreement. Against the HRC were the prohibitionists, led by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). CATW rejects the idea that there’s a difference between forced sex work, namely that which is an outcome of trafficking, and sex work in general. There’s no spectrum of choice from their perspective: they and their allies think that choosing or consenting to sell sexual services simply isn’t humanly possible and, instead, all sex exchanged for money is exploitation, regardless of whether women ‘think’ they have consented. (Interestingly, for people who hold this perspective it tends to be applied only to direct monetary or in-kind exchanges by those in need, such as impoverished women, rather than women who marry someone wealthy, remaining in the marriage to maintain a ‘lifestyle’ and expected to provide sex in return.) In CATW’s eyes, a woman selling sex can only be a victim, and never a person purposefully making a choice based on the (possibly limited) range of options available to her. Intensive and strained negotiations could not create consensus and so the final wording of the protocol, and therefore international understandings of trafficking today, was a compromise. The HRC had failed in preventing all mention of sex, but CATW had failed to railroad women’s capacity to consent too: the protocol says that consent is negated when particular methods are used to move and exploit someone, like fraud, deception, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability. If these things have been part of the process of someone moving and being exploited, then their consent to the situation is void. If, by contrast, those methods 77

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aren’t present, then trafficking has not happened. The nature of sex work and how it relates to exploitation is left ambiguous by the following phrase in the protocol: ‘exploitation shall include, at a minimum, exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation’. Six words there – exploitation of the prostitution of others – have unsurprisingly been construed in totally opposing ways by the two warring sides. To those fighting for sex workers’ rights, they consider the phrase to mean practices that exploit those performing sex work, not the sex work itself; for those who believe all sex work is fundamentally exploitative, it has been construed to mean the entire sex sector. This is despite the fact that official records on the protocol state that it should not be interpreted to mean that states are required to adopt legislation that makes sex work in entirety illegal.17 This potted history of the contentious debate around what exactly trafficking for sexual exploitation means is important because if we don’t agree on what we’re trying to tackle, we’re not going to agree on the methods needed nor select the right ones. The two distinct approaches also help to explain why the numbers on how many ‘sex slaves’ there are in the UK differ so wildly. For those who take the view that people can voluntarily choose to do sex work, the people we should be counting as victims are only those who have been forced into doing so. But for prohibitionists, we should be counting all women in sex work, or at least making an assumption that the majority of them, and especially those who are migrants, are victims. It’s this latter approach that has led to hugely inflated estimates of the number of victims in the UK, stirring up public anxiety and conjuring an idea in our collective imagination that the streets are lined with women chained to beds. But in reality, as one journalist has put it, ‘the sex trafficking story is a model of misinformation’.18 I’m going to take you on a brief tour of this misinformation and I promise it will beggar belief. 78

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THE SCALE OF ‘SEX SLAVERY’: A MODEL OF MISINFORMATION In 2000, academics Liz Kelly and Linda Regan published their attempt to estimate how many trafficked women there were in the UK during 1998.19 They surveyed police forces and found 71 definite cases. Given the paucity of concrete information beyond this, they made a series of assumptions: they doubled it on the basis that the number of suspected cases identified outside London was around the 71 confirmed cases, so this brought them to 142. Then, they estimated the number of migrant sex workers in London based on surveying two-thirds of Soho locations and then tripling the number found within that portion of the city. They had been told by London health projects that 5 per cent of migrant sex-working women had been trafficked so they took this and then said that, as not all trafficked women will make contact with health projects, it should probably be 10 per cent, not 5 per cent. Then, for some inexplicable reason, they raised it to 25 per cent instead of the original 5 per cent. Despite having already included suspected cases identified outside London, they continued by taking one confirmed case outside the capital in which twelve victims had been involved and used this to treble their estimate on the basis that ‘it seems unlikely there is only one small town in which a lucrative trade in exploited women has occurred’. Some of these steps are dodgy but fairly understandable; Regan and Kelly were trying to estimate something very difficult to identify and quantify. But what they do next is really pushing the envelope. They decided that, rather than assuming 25 per cent of migrant women in the sex industry have been trafficked (which was already a major increase on what health projects had told them), they suggested it might in fact be 50 per cent. Just like that. Added to this, they assumed that a newspaper report of ‘hundreds’ of women from Albania and Kosovo as being trafficking victims was accurate. They also extended their assumptions 79

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to include mail order brides, saying about the websites on which potential wives were advertised that, ‘The content of these sites suggests that this can be a method of trafficking, women are presented as commodities to be purchased.’ This is almost amusing, given that a lot of history entails women being treated as commodities and dispossessing them of rights once married.20 Our rights as wives to property, assets and not to be raped are new in the span of humanity. A glance at the less benign aspects of the dowry system,21 which continues today, and its pricing approach to women’s worth should leave us with no doubts that the problem of treating women as objects is not about trafficking, but about patriarchy. From 71 definite cases, the researchers reported that there could be between 142 and 1,420 cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK. ‘We were just totally perplexed’, Adams told me when I interviewed her. ‘They hardly found any cases, hardly interviewed anyone. Under any other circumstance, that would completely discredit your research.’ To be fair to Regan and Kelly, they did note that this was a ‘problematic’ exercise, one that reflected ‘the poverty of information in this area’. But their caveats would go unheeded by those with other interests. An influential umbrella religious group called Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe began using the highest-end guesstimate of 1,420. It should be noted that this group operated under the acronym CHASTE. The dictionary definition of ‘chaste’ is ‘refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion; virtuous’. It comes from the Latin ‘castus’, meaning ‘clean, pure, morally pure’. Here we can see the confused interests that frequently underlie seemingly well-meaning anti-trafficking activism with regard to sex work. If an organisation purporting to want to tackle trafficking is really interested in eradicating sex work in general, it has every reason to use the most extreme trafficking estimations to paint the entire sex sector as one constituted by that crime. Why? Because this will mean the government and 80

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law enforcement develop tools that tackle the sector as a whole, instead of differentiating between those forced into it and those that are not. The 1,420 figure was picked up in the media and repeated in parliament with MPs describing it as an ‘underestimate’22 and ‘based solely on reported cases’, which is only true if this means it was based on 71 cases which were then extrapolated using extreme gymnastics.23 The problem didn’t stop there: in 2003, the Home Office commissioned new research to create another estimate. According to journalist Nick Davies, this new estimate was based on the idea that every migrant woman in the ‘walk-up’ flats in Soho (meaning a flat on the upper floors of buildings, accessible by a staircase from a door on the street) had been trafficked and that the same thing would be true of 75 per cent of migrant women in other flats around the UK plus 10 per cent of migrant women who worked for escort agencies. This is completely at odds with the on-the-ground evidence from sex worker organisations and various academics.24 Based on this highly dubious method, the new researchers estimated 3,812 women were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK. Enter the Earl of Sandwich, speaking in the House of Lords in 2006: ‘unpublished government research … shows that there were an estimated 4,000 victims of trafficking for prostitution in the UK during any one time – a huge increase from the previous estimate in 1998 of 1,420’.25 Suddenly, we have an explosion in ‘sex trafficking’, the previous highest-end and unreliable estimate used as the baseline to show how this equally dodgy new statistic shows a shocking rise. This is all despite the researchers’ own warnings that the estimate was ‘subject to a very large margin of error’ and ‘should be treated with great caution’.26 In March 2007, the UK’s first Action Plan on Human Trafficking was published. It stated that ‘in 2003, there were up to 4,000 women in the UK that had been trafficked for sexual exploitation’27 without any of the caveats of the researchers. It gets worse. 81

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Denis MacShane would later turn out to be an altogether disreputable character by being convicted and incarcerated for false accounting. But in 2007 MacShane was still a member of parliament when he said in the House of Commons: ‘There are 25,000 sex slaves operating in Britain.’28 Aside from the bizarre phrasing that implies ‘slaves’ have agency and can ‘operate’, there was no sound basis for this figure. When later challenged, he admitted that he’d based it on a Daily Mirror headline and said that, because he was once a Daily Mirror reporter, he’d trusted the report.29 If that’s what a law-breaking politician says, perhaps the police have a history of better accuracy? In 2008, the chief constable of Gloucester, Tim Brain, stated that there were 18,000 victims in the UK. ‘None of us knew where that came from’, Davies reports a senior figure saying. ‘It wasn’t in his pre-brief. It wasn’t in anything … Tim may have meant to say 1,800 and just got his figures mixed up.’30 While this is so absurd it’s almost funny, we must recognise that every time a fabricated, inflated or misinformed estimate is publicised, there is real harm caused to sex-working women, particularly migrants. Sex workers, both individually and collectively, have been routinely abused, attacked and insulted for speaking up for their rights and dignity, tarred with being apologists for trafficking or part of a ‘pimp lobby’ which appears to be some sort of secret and wealthy society that could rival the Illuminati in its particular combination of pervasiveness and non-existence. The ability many of us have today to stand up for a more reasonable approach than insulting sex-working women or being too afraid to come out in support of them is built on the bravery of those sex workers who fought back, at great personal cost. The problem of mythical scale continues to the present day. The police predicted an increase of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the five host boroughs of the 2012 London Olympics; no evidence of such a rise was found.31 According to the report, Shadow City: Exposing Human Trafficking in Everyday London, the Metropolitan Police received half a million pounds to tackle it and 82

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‘used the majority of their resources to target the brothel industry’. One source told the report’s author that ‘they had been told by a senior police officer that the police intended to use the Olympics trafficking scare as an excuse to bear down on brothels’.32 This particular problem – the assumption that sports events cause a spike in trafficking for sexual exploitation – is not limited to the UK; like all great myths, it traverses cultures with ease. Other examples include the US Super Bowl and the World Cup in Germany. The sensationalism around the latter was so extreme that a Swedish member of parliament even called on their national team to boycott the World Cup while the Washington Post reported that ‘more than 40,000 women and children will be imported to Germany during the month-long competition to provide commercial sex’.33 A detailed study by the IOM also found no evidence of any increase in either prostitution or trafficking, calling the estimate of 40,000 women expected to be trafficked ‘unfounded and unrealistic’.34 Most recently, the rise of a new tabloid concept – ‘pop-up brothels’ – has created a novel category for such proclamations. In 2018, the prohibitionist All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade published a report called Behind Closed Doors: Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales. It sought to investigate these pop-up brothels; that is, the use of short-term lets on platforms like AirBnB or temporary flats to sell sex, because ‘the internet is changing the way that sex is sold, leading to fresh models of exploitation.’35 They begin the report by listing the number of brothels visited by Leicestershire, Northumbria, Greater Manchester and Bristol police. This is meant to prove to the reader that there’s endemic trafficking for sexual exploitation. They note the proportions of women identified in these brothels who were migrants, as if this de facto means they were trafficking victims. It’s a classic example of using trafficking panic to open the door to the oppression of all sex workers. Such an approach is deeply dangerous because if we 83

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allow such inflations and conflations our understanding of exactly what happens in the sex sector will be completely skewed. For example, in contrast to the picture painted by the APPG report of thousands of temporary brothels exploiting women as a new and malevolent business model, Niki Adams says some temporary brothels are a result of police activities. Tactics changed in the mid-2010s, she told me, which saw an increase in police shutting down long-term brothels. So loads of brothels that were long term and had really good security systems, regular clientele, were expert at dealing with troublesome clients and so on, suddenly they were bust up, so they moved to new premises and didn’t feel secure, and then the police would come and make them move on. Women in Holborn had to move six times in six months because police would come again and again and make them move on. It was the crusade that caused pop-up brothels. No doubt there are also temporary properties used for exploitation, but when the new abolitionist drive ignores lived experiences like those that Adams describes, the wrong kinds of tools are selected to tackle actual trafficking because they’re distracted instead by targeting the sex sector overall. This is the ‘contaminant’ approach rearing its head again but this time in a slightly different way to what we’ve already seen and what we’ll see in coming chapters. Usually the modern slavery story pitches society and the economy as fine and dandy, and picks out instances of severe exploitation as surprising anomalies that it must eradicate. As I’ve already described, this is wrong: severe exploitation is a product of underlying structures and practices. In the case of sex, the contaminant location shifts. Instead of the underlying sector being fine (so, for example, there’s nothing wrong with conditions around domestic work per se, just the odd occasional infection of trafficking), here the entire sector is characterised as the con84

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taminant. As Dr Sharron A. Fitzgerald puts it, this means the new abolitionist movement lays ‘the groundwork for the government to normalise a variety of regulatory interventions’.36 These interventions are frequently harmful to sex workers and counterproductive for tackling actual sexual exploitation. VICTIM OR CRIMINAL? THE TRUTH ABOUT ANTI-SLAVERY SEX RAIDS Nowhere is this more obvious than regarding police raids publicised as being ‘anti-trafficking’ or ‘fighting modern slavery’. The 2005 raid on Cuddles ‘massage parlour’ in the West Midlands is regarded by sex worker activists and academics as pivotal, marking the start of a distortion in media coverage regarding sex work and a shift from tolerant to interventionist policing, all legitimised under the banner of anti-trafficking. Women found inside the brothel were marched out in front of the media, their faces exposed in the press in what has been likened to an American ‘perp-walk’, despite the fact that these were supposedly victims.37 The media were shown the women’s passports in a safe and told that this was evidence of imprisonment, but three of the women working at Cuddles were part of the English Collective of Prostitutes and said that they’d asked for their passports to be kept in the safe to secure them from robberies. In the aftermath, a BBC article reported, ‘Thirteen of the women freed from Cuddles on Thursday night were released without charge by police’. The language chosen betrays the conflation at the heart of the incident – they have been ‘freed’, suggesting they had been imprisoned at the brothel and that the police have acted as the liberating heroes, but they were also subject to criminalisation, as suggested by the implied potential to charge them.38 Not all the women were so lucky; six were detained under immigration powers and scheduled for deportation.39 Yet press billed the raid as an anti-trafficking intervention that saw ‘sex slaves freed’.40 85

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The Cuddles raid would be the first of many problematic interventions. On 20 October 2016, the Metropolitan Police ran an operation targeting massage parlours in Soho and Chinatown. I sent a FoI request to the Met requesting to know the number of victim referrals made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM, the UK’s system for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking) as a result of this operational activity. The response I received states ‘a number of females were taken to reception centres however none consented to entering into the NRM’. This means no women decided to go into victim support as a result of the raid. Soho raids are nothing new: infamous raids took place in December 2013 when hundreds of police and immigration enforcement entered several brothels, taking media along with them who then photographed many of the women. The photos are still online on news sites such as the Daily Mail, with women holding garments in front of their faces to protect their identities. Newspapers billed the raids as tackling human trafficking and Westminster Police’s Commander Alison Newcomb stated, ‘We do know a lot of the women are trafficked or are vulnerable so this is about taking the danger out of Soho.’41 Yet, as sex worker Molly Smith later wrote in the Guardian, ‘If this was about protecting the vulnerable, why did police invite numerous press outlets along? If the cops truly believed they were kicking down the doors on victims of coercion, they surely would not bring photographers with them, because to do so would be obscene.’42 Many of the women involved in these particular raids were active in the English Collective of Prostitutes. Adams tells me they found it infuriating and preposterous that they were characterised as trafficking victims. ‘A crowd of women in a café in Soho strategising about how to defend themselves in court, that was what was really going on. How is that the behaviour of trafficked victims?’ This theme of all not being what it seems is repeated with regard to pop-up brothels. One might think that even if the aforementioned APPG’s report is too flawed to rely upon, the plethora 86

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of news articles reporting on the rise of this phenomenon must mean there’s a major problem. Let’s take one particular town and investigate: according to the press, there is a ‘sex den epidemic’ in the popular seaside destination of Newquay, Cornwall.43 Articles about this began appearing from around 2016 onwards, describing how the town was ‘plagued by pop-up brothels’44 with the sex workers ‘being trafficked by international gangs’.45 An article on Cornwall Live from 5 December 2017 states that ‘dozens of [pop-up brothels] have been found in the county since July 2016’, noting that ‘hundreds of women are being forced to work as sex slaves in these pop-up set-ups’, above a photo of a woman in an orange mini dress half hidden behind a sumptuous curtain.46 If this is true, there ought to be evidence of significant numbers of women being referred to the NRM from the area during 2016 and 2017. However, a FoI request made for this book found that only two referrals for sexual exploitation were made per year by the Devon and Cornwall Police, under whose remit Newquay falls. It’s possible that other organisations made referrals from the area, but further examples suggest the issue may well be inflated to create salacious stories and act as a more palatable way of discussing migrant sex work. For example, on 18 October 2019 media reported that ‘police rescue 15 women from pop-up brothels during Redbridge raids’.47 Five addresses in Redbridge, London were raided and 15 women were taken to a ‘welfare centre’. The public, reading such stories, would be rational in thinking that 15 victims had been identified, and yet in response to my FoI request regarding this operation I learned that no referrals were made to the NRM. Not only that, but there were also no ‘Duty to Notify’ submissions made; this is the form police must submit if they believe someone to be a victim but that person declines to enter the NRM. The story repeats itself with regard to raids undertaken by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate in May 2018. Seven addresses were raided on 30 May ‘after receiving information women were being sexually exploited by members of 87

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an organised criminal network’ and seven women were taken to ‘places of safety’.48 Yet FoIs again reveal that ‘none of the females made any allegations of crime against any person connected to the investigation; equally they were all offered NRM but declined’. It’s possible that all these women were victims and were too terrified to say so. If this is the case, serious questions need to be asked about policing and support approaches. Adams described a typical raid experience to me: ‘Ten police officers come in with immigration enforcement, split the women up, put them in separate rooms, ask questions, like how many clients do you see, how much do you charge, who pays the rent, who pays for the advertising, where’s your passport. The women are rigid with fear, crying on the floor, it’s so frightening.’ Whether, as Adams believes, anti-trafficking and ‘welfare’ raids are purely cloaks for anti-sex work oppression, or whether they’re ill-advised attempts to rescue women, we can certainly conclude that something isn’t working. SEEKING SOLUTIONS IN THE WRONG PLACES We know so far that trafficking for sexual exploitation does happen and that it’s awful. We also know that it’s conflated with self-determined sex work by prohibitionists, and also probably by some people who are confused about the issues. This legitimises attempts to eradicate sex work in general and policing activities that are ostensibly targeted at trafficking but seem in practice to find few victims. But despite all these issues, we still need to do everything we can to stop the actual trafficking for sexual exploitation that really does take place. So how do we do this? Two types of legislation have been heavily touted as the solutions. One is called the ‘sex buyer law’ or ‘Nordic Model’, and it criminalises the clients of sex workers, while in theory decriminalising women working in that sector. The other is laws against online platforms that advertise sexual services. We’ll look at each in turn. As with much in this book, we find that what’s lauded as 88

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a silver bullet is far from it, and in this case is rather more like a grenade causing huge damage. The Zombie Policy of Sweden In 1999, Sweden made a move that would shape decades of debate on laws around sex work and trafficking: it introduced the ‘Nordic Model’ or ‘sex buyer law’, criminalising those purchasing sex and – allegedly – decriminalising those selling it.* Since then, versions of the same law have been introduced in Norway and Iceland (2009), Canada (2014), Northern Ireland (2015), France (2016), the Republic of Ireland (2017) and Israel (2018). Its proponents say it will help to end trafficking for sexual exploitation. The rationale is that by making clients afraid of buying sex, you reduce the demand for this service and thereby reduce the market for it overall. This, in turn, will reduce the supply, that is, the number of women selling sex, including trafficked women. In this approach the eradication of trafficking is inextricably bound up with the wholesale eradication of the sex sector, and for this reason it’s heavily promoted by prohibitionist groups. I think it feels instinctively correct to many people on first impressions. But instinct is not a good basis for making laws. In order to work out whether it’s an effective tool for tackling trafficking, we need to ask four questions: Does it reduce the demand for paid sex? Does it reduce the supply of sex workers? Within that, does it reduce trafficking itself ? And finally, does it create any additional vulnerabilities or *  This legislative approach is described by proponents as having these elements: the decriminalisation of those selling sex, the criminalisation of buying sex and exit services (i.e. programmes to get people out of the sex industry). Sometimes they also include campaigns around poverty. This book won’t explain why the ‘exit services’ are so problematic and also somewhat mythical, but interested readers may wish to read Chapter 6 of Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights’ by Juno Mac and Molly Smith to learn more. 89

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harms that could inadvertently increase exploitation, including the kinds of harms that it’s allegedly attempting to tackle? In answer to the first question of whether this law reduces demand for paid sex, it appears that yes, it does, to a small extent and with the caveat that the research is very limited. In 2019, four years after Northern Ireland introduced this law, researchers commissioned by the Department of Justice published their impact assessment. In line with findings in other contexts, including France and Oslo, the Northern Ireland report found a decrease in clients, albeit a small one. The majority of clients said that the law had made no difference to how frequently they purchased sexual services, and a further 27.1 per cent said they would continue but slightly less frequently. Only 11.6 per cent said they had either stopped or that the law made them likely to do so.49 There’s also concern that it’s the most law-abiding clients who disappear and the ones who remain are those most willing to bear legal risk, and therefore more likely to mistreat sex workers. It’s interesting to note here that the consumer in the case of sex is cast in a very different role to the consumer in the case of non-sexual products that involve severe exploitation. Under the Nordic Model, the consumer is the offender. This is because the entire sector is characterised as the contaminant, rather than just the exploitative practices within it. As we see in Chapter 4, when it comes to buying other kinds of products or services, we as consumers are cast as potential heroes if we only shop more responsibly. This mirrors the underlying moral assumptions of our culture: buying sex = bad; buying goods made by exploited workers and shipped across the world contributing to climate chaos emissions and therefore contributing to the ongoing consumer capitalist regime = good. So, demand is reduced but only to small degree. If the sex buyer law rationale is to hold tight, we now need to prove that this model reduces the supply of sex workers overall. But it doesn’t. Returning to Northern Ireland, the researchers found that there had actually 90

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been an increase, not a decrease, in the ‘supply’ of sex workers since the introduction of the law. This is logical if we consider the reasons most people sell sex – to earn money to survive. The sex buyer law is often referred to as the ‘end demand’ approach, but I think its proponents have forgotten that the desire of men to buy sex isn’t the only demand; those selling sexual services have a demand too – the demand for a livelihood. As Mullan-Feroze said to me, ‘You can’t end demand without addressing those issues that disenfranchise women so much they have no other option [but to sell sex].’ Removing a small portion of their clients does nothing but make them poorer. In Sweden it’s reported that visible (i.e. street) prostitution overall has reduced, but this seems to be because Swedish police specifically targeted it after the introduction of the law. However, online advertising has gone up,50 as have massage parlours, which may or may not be providing sexual services. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare stresses that ‘it is … difficult to discern any clear trend of development: has the extent of prostitution increased or decreased? We cannot give any unambiguous answer to that question.’51 But perhaps the sex buyer law reduces trafficking for sexual exploitation, even if it doesn’t reduce the overall supply of sex workers or seem to contract the sex sector much? There is no conclusive evidence that it reduces trafficking. In Northern Ireland the aim of introducing this law was explicitly to reduce trafficking. Unfortunately for its proponents, including Christian charity CARE which also opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, the Northern Ireland research found that referrals of victims for sexual exploitation had ‘remained fairly constant’ before and after the law’s introduction. In Norway the number of reported cases of trafficking for sex remained stable between 2006 and 2014 (the sex buyer law was introduced in 2009). Finally, on Sweden the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe states that ‘there is no empirical evidence to date that this legal measure has reduced human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the country’.52 91

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But are there at least meaningful variations between countries with and without the sex buyer law? No. Sweden and Denmark have similar socio-economic conditions and geographical proximity but different laws on sex work; Sweden, as explained, has the sex buyer law, whereas Denmark allows individual self-employed sex work while prohibiting brothel-keeping, so has a form of legalisation. A comparative analysis of the two found that ‘the share of trafficked individuals among all prostitutes is fairly similar in the two countries’.53 The sex buyer law is a zombie policy, by which I mean a policy that evidence should have killed off long ago, but that just keeps on coming. Even the two research papers most cited by its advocates are not nearly as conclusive as they claim. One, which analysed 150 countries, finds there may be some effect but also states ‘there is no “smoking gun”’ proving that trafficking rises under laws that permit the purchase and sale of sex.54 The other, from the European Parliament, finds that rates of trafficking for sexual exploitation may be unrelated to whatever laws are in place at all!55 Instead, it suggests that we may be seeing spurious correlations resulting from some countries having better data on numbers of victims, and/or because economically affluent countries are more attractive destinations, regardless of legislation. These countries also see higher rates of general labour trafficking, for example into factories, farms and domestic work. The sex buyer law does not appear to reduce trafficking nor the overall size of the sex sector to any meaningful degree. Now we need to ask our final question: Does it create any additional vulnerabilities or harms that could lead to exploitation? Resoundingly, yes. Under the sex buyer law, it’s conclusively found that:56 • Power relations shift towards the buyer as they’re taking the criminal risk in the transaction; they make more demands of sex workers, such as requesting acts and lower prices which sex workers don’t wish to provide. 92

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• There’s decreased condom use because clients demand sex without them, raising the risk of sexually transmitted infections and HIV. A survey of sex workers in France since the introduction of this law found that 38 per cent found it increasingly hard to demand condom use by clients.57 • Sex workers’ earnings decrease, due to price pressure and the small decrease in clients, thereby creating more poverty – poverty makes people vulnerable to exploitation. • Violence against sex workers increases as they’re increasingly obliged to accept clients they’d previously have turned down and because they have less time to vet clients as the transaction time is shortened due to client fear of the law. Much of this should not be surprising. Criminalising clients pushes sex work further into the shadows. Silvia, a migrant sex worker in Norway, makes the impact plain: ‘Before we did not go far with the customer: we would go to a car park nearby. But now the customer wants to go somewhere isolated because they are afraid … I don’t like it. There is more risk that something bad happens.’58 Finally, it’s important to disabuse the notion that the sex buyer law only criminalises the purchasers, rather than the sellers. In reality, women remain criminalised as it’s often introduced alongside other already existent laws. For example, in June 2019 two migrant sex workers in Ireland, which has the sex buyer law, were charged with brothel-keeping and jailed for nine months. One of the women was pregnant at the time.59 Aside from such direct criminalisation, Molly Smith and Juno Mac write that: ‘Police operating under Nordic-model legislation view disrupting commercial sex as good in itself and frequently deploy “cruel to be kind” strategies against sex workers.’60 This includes criminalising landlords who allow sex workers to rent property and watching sex workers’ premises in order to catch clients.61 Activities like these don’t directly arrest and charge sex workers but obviously curtail their ability to live and work, operating to oppress them 93

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even without ‘criminalising’ them per se. In fact, the strategy of watching sex worker premises in order to catch clients makes sex workers less likely to report crimes against them, including by exploitative third parties, because they’re aware that police will then watch their working premises to arrest their clients whose money they need. In sum, this legislative model provides no concrete evidence of combating trafficking but does provide conclusive evidence of creating vulnerabilities which may lead, at best, to more poverty, more abuse, riskier working conditions and, at worst, to severe exploitation itself. Shutting Down the Net In April 2018, the US introduced a new law, FOSTA-SESTA, standing for ‘Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act’ (FOSTA) and ‘Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act’ (SESTA). It enabled enforcement against online platforms if they (inadvertently) allow advertising of people trafficked for sexual exploitation, which essentially meant the closure of adult services websites in general because of the risk of liability they now faced. Proponents assumed that banning these websites would reduce trafficking because it removes an easy method of advertisement, so making the act of sexually exploiting someone potentially less profitable. On the other hand, sex workers’ rights groups are vehemently against these laws because many sex workers use these websites to advertise. Removing this marketing channel drives them into exploitative situations, such as going to brothels or managers who can provide clients but exert exploitative control,62 which seems an ironic outcome of legislation intended to prevent exploitation. Websites are also a vital protective mechanism by which sex workers can vet clients before meeting with them. One of the key US politicians that drove FOSTA-SESTA has claimed it led to a mass reduction in online trafficking adverts: 94

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‘we have shut down nearly 90 per cent of the online sex trafficking business and ads’. In fact, this figure related to all sex workrelated advertising.63 The biggest proportion of that drop actually occurred before FOSTA-SESTA when the Department of Justice shut down one of the key websites, Backpage.com. After the law was introduced, ads rebounded with new sites springing up very much like the old ones. By 11 August 2018, the daily volume of ads had climbed steadily and was already back to about 75 per cent of pre-law levels. In the UK there have been calls to introduce a comparable law but so far this has been avoided. Overall, then, it appears that the commonly touted solutions for tackling severe exploitation in the sex industry are ineffective at best and harmful at worst. So, what should we be doing? REAL SEX WORK, REAL TRAFFICKING, REAL ANSWERS The idea of modern slavery has been deployed by those who want to eradicate sex work in its entirety and are willing to harm sex-working women in order to achieve that goal. They portray sex work as an aberration that should be removed, overlooking the spectrum of choice and the fact that many sex workers are in the trade because our economic system has prevented them from earning in other ways. Writer Emma Goldman described it less flatteringly in a 1910 essay: Exploitation, of course: the merciless Moloch of capitalism that fattens on underpaid labor, thus driving thousands of women and girls into prostitution. With Mrs. Warren these girls feel, ‘Why waste your life working for a few shillings a week in a scullery, eighteen hours a day?’ Naturally our reformers say nothing about this cause. They know it well enough, but it doesn’t pay to say anything about it. It is much more profitable 95

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to play the Pharisee, to pretend an outraged morality, than to go to the bottom of things.64 This has generated blinkered, ineffective and counterproductive ‘solutions’ to the problem of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Instead, we need to recognise that both self-determined sex work and forced sexual exploitation exist, just as voluntary labour and forced labour exist in other sectors. And in no other sector do we suggest that criminalising its entirety is the answer. Take agriculture. No one assumes we need to end demand for agricultural products in order to stop exploitation in farming. No one thinks we should criminalise you for buying tomatoes even though evidence shows they may have been picked under horrendous conditions, including rape, sexual demands from employers, beatings and underpayment.65 No one assumes farmworkers are doing that work because they were directly forced into it by anything other than economic necessity. Everyone understands that a small portion of farmworkers may be under duress and that those people need supporting, while overall conditions in the sector need improving. Farm work is, of course, not an illicit activity whereas the sale of sex often is, but even if we take another illicit example, cannabis farming, no one is suggesting that criminalising buying cannabis has ever, or would ever, solve trafficking for tending the plants. It plainly doesn’t because buying cannabis has been criminalised in the UK for many years yet trafficking for its cultivation still exists. For some people, sex work simply cannot exist in the same bracket as other work because of the types of physical contact it requires. I understand this sentiment, but I suggest that we consider the point I made earlier in this chapter: sex work happens. If you want it to stop entirely, then address the deep socio-economic reasons for it instead of making those who do it more impoverished, endangered and stigmatised. In the meantime, let’s accept that it happens and get on with the true task: reducing 96

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harm, including the kinds of exploitation now housed under the ‘modern slavery’ moniker. Why would we do anything else? Ending Exploitation By Introducing Rights The best way to protect workers in any sector from exploitation is by giving them rights and by ensuring they have access to help if those rights are infringed upon. Exploitation of all kinds thrives in darkness: when we criminalise, wholly or partially, the sex sector, we turn out the lights and create a lawless space in which harm will occur. As we saw in Chapter 2 on borders, criminalising people – or simply making them fear criminalisation – directly hands exploiters a tool for coercion. We saw it then with regard to undocumented people, and we see it now with sex workers. We must not create categories of people in our society who are too stigmatised, criminalised and rights-deprived to seek redress for abuse and safety from harm. The answer, then, is to decriminalise the sex sector. This would bring the sex sector into the light, ensuring those within it have, and can enforce, basic rights. Decriminalisation* has long been called for by sex worker-led organisations. In 1985, the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights (ICPR) launched the World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights which called for the decriminalisation ‘of all aspects of adult prostitution resulting from individual decision’.66 They also called for criminal laws against *  Decriminalisation is not the same as legalisation. Legalisation means introducing laws and regulations to control sex work, such as registering with a local authority as a sex worker, planning laws that restrict sex work businesses or mandatory health checks. Sex worker collectives view legalisation models as problematic because they require heavy involvement of policing to ensure regulations are met, leading to increased surveillance and raids, and also because it leads to a two-tiered system of legal versus illegal sex workers, with the illegal workers subject to exploitation. By contrast, decriminalisation simply means removing criminal offences relating to the consensual sale of or payment for sex. 97

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fraud, coercion, violence, child sexual abuse, child labour, rape and racism to be enforced. The ICPR recognised the need for some actions to be against the law, while seeking to ensure the sector in which they work had the best possible conditions. In their excellent book, Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights, authors Molly Smith and Juno Mac describe decriminalisation like this: Decriminalising prostitution is a process of overturning criminal laws (for example, soliciting) and administrative or civil orders (for example, ASBOs) that punitively target street work, collective work [i.e. sex workers sharing the same premises], employed work, advertising, and so on. These are the laws designed to punish workers and eradicate workplaces. In a decriminalised system, the sale, purchase, and facilitation of commercial sex has largely been shifted out of the realm of criminal law and into the framework of commercial and labour law. The purchase and facilitation of sexual services remain subject to the same reasonable laws on coercion, exploitation, bullying, assault and rape that apply in other contexts.67 New Zealand decriminalised sex work in 2003, though sadly not for migrant sex workers which is a glaring omission. For this reason, the New Zealand model can’t be seen as the gold standard, but rather a starting point from which to build to a fully robust approach. However, it has yielded some relevant results. First, the number of sex workers in New Zealand has remained stable, countering fearmongering that decriminalisation would lead to an explosion in ‘supply’.68 Ninety per cent of street-based sex workers interviewed in a review of the law by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice felt the law meant they had employment rights and 96 per cent felt they now had legal rights.69 In 2014, a landmark case saw a sex worker winning on sexual harassment grounds against the manager of her brothel. She was awarded NZ$25,000 com98

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pensation, with the ruling stating that ‘sex workers have the same human rights as other workers’.70 As Mac and Smith note, this is unthinkable elsewhere because ‘there is no labour law in a criminalised workplace’.71 Catherine Healy of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective says that since decriminalisation ‘there’s an expectation that things can be put right and that means that you tend to get people who blow the whistle. You know “who can I tell?” is the first response instead of what we used to hear [before decriminalisation], like well “there’s nothing we can do about it”.’72 Alongside decriminalisation, New Zealand maintains comprehensive laws to address trafficking. This creates a context in which sex workers have enforceable rights and can act collectively, and trafficking can also be tackled; taken together, both make the sector less porous to exploiters. Other places are following suit: in 2019, Mexico City announced it would be decriminalising sex work and directly linked that to the attempt to reduce trafficking for sex, and moves are happening in New York and other US states to do the same. Decriminalisation will also enable sex workers themselves to be part of tackling exploitation in their industry. In countries where sex work is criminalised in some way, either directly or by proxy, sex workers are alienated from the solution, despite their proximity to possible victims. For example, the Women’s Legal Centre in South Africa tries to support sex workers in making reports but says that informants ‘often fail to follow through with the process because they fear being arrested for sex work’.73 This is despite clear evidence of sex worker organisations being well placed to identify victims, as proven by the experience of Sisonke, a sex worker-led organisation doing outreach in Durban. Thulisile Khoza, one of their peer educators, explained: So we could see these young girls around the streets, and then when we were trying to talk to them they were shaky, and you could see they are scared to talk … we saw that they were scared 99

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we said, ‘Okay fine, we’re only going to give you the condoms. Then we’ll take our pamphlets and write the numbers on the pamphlet, and then we’ll take the pamphlet and throw it in the dustbin’. When we did that apparently the girl – because she really wanted to be helped – whilst her pimps were not looking, she went to the dustbin and took out the pamphlet with the numbers and then she actually called … the Sisonke helpline.74 Thirty-eight girls and women who’d been trafficked and forced to sell sex were protected thanks to Sisonke’s work. The same rationale needs to be applied to customers. It should be obvious that under the sex buyer law men buying sex are not going to alert the police if they think someone is being forced. Sure, some customers might not care about the situation the women are in, but some definitely do. Under decriminalisation they can play a role: the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective receives calls from clients who are concerned about particular sex workers and the possibility that they may be forced.75 In the UK, conversations on customer forums show customers warning each other off using adult services website Vivastreet because they believe many women on there to be trafficked.76 Adams tells me that clients do sometimes help women but they don’t involve the police for fear of repercussions against themselves. This means traffickers can operate with relative impunity. Much of the focus around this topic is on countries of origin and discouraging women from migrating in the first place to stop them ending up trafficked. But rather than focusing on telling people not to move, we need to consider our immigration policies and how they might exacerbate sexual exploitation. Firstly, we can remember the points made in Chapter 2 regarding the need for more safe and legal migration pathways; pushing women into risky illegal routes will only make them more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. If you deny people a legal migration opportunity, they will take on debt to be moved illegally, and sex work is the quickest 100

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way to pay off that debt. Professor O’Connell Davidson questions the characterisation of trafficking in this regard, pointing to Nigerian women sex working in Italy in order to work off migration-related debt. She notes that ‘violence – sometimes extreme – can feature in their experience, but it is not a consistent or universal element of relations between Nigerian debtor-migrants and their creditors (known as sponsors or Madams), and the powers that Madams exercise over the migrant are typically surrendered once the debt has been worked off, which generally takes between one and three years’.77 The lack of migration opportunities is creating a flow of undocumented, debt-bound migrant sex workers. Addressing ‘male demand’ does not solve this. But some victims, like Eva, are moved legally, so we need a different approach to the identification of potential victims at the border. In a world that criminalises and stigmatises sex work, women cannot self-identify at the border as migrant sex workers as they can be refused entry. Decriminalising – and the harder task of destigmatising – sex work would bring clarity, helping to identify where to put time and resources at border entry points in order to determine not the moral character of a woman, but instead rather more important questions: Does she know where she’s going? Does she know what she’s going to do when she gets there? Does she have information about local diaspora groups or types of support services? If she is a sex worker, does she know her rights as a sex worker and about sex worker-led organisations that can support her? This matters because, while some women who are exploited in the sex sector are like Eva and never had any intention or knowledge that they would be pushed into it, others differ. Mullan-Feroze explained to me that, in her experience supporting survivors of exploitation, there’s a complete mix of people who knew what they were coming here to do and the risks and people who didn’t. It’s really hard for women to acknowledge that they thought they would 101

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be or might end up in [the sex industry] but did it anyway, because of the risk of being judged for it. I actually know lots of women who knew that they were coming to work in prostitution, but the reality of that work was very different to what they expected. They deserve better options as much as anyone. The approach of destigmatising and providing information about rights and services would radically shift the situation from one that pushes women to lie and evade to one that provides support, information and, above all, respect. The tale of how new abolitionism has been used against sex-working women is perhaps the most depressing element of the whole modern slavery story. The examples in this chapter are mainly UK based, but a distressing number of accounts of comparable and worse harms exist from other countries. It’s a sad fact that moral outrage has overridden common sense, and it’s this unhelpful approach that endangers more women, prevents us using crucial solutions to trafficking and leaves the systems that produce women’s vulnerability unchallenged. The ‘radical feminists’ and religious interests that promote models which harm women want us to think we have to take a side; against sex work entirely and therefore exploitation, or for it entirely and therefore comfortable with exploitation. This is totally untrue. In fact, we can be against exploitation and support those in sex work, recognising sex work as work and recognising trafficking for sexual exploitation as abhorrent and wrong. We all want an end to harm to women, whether caused by an individual perpetrator or by a perpetrating state. Decriminalisation is a major leap forward on the journey to that goal. It won’t solve trafficking in and of itself, but it will make the sector less attractive to would-be perpetrators while building resilience and rights into its heart. It won’t stop women from selling sex along the remainder of the continuum either, but it will make them safer in the process. There really is no other option if women’s safety and rights are our aims. 102

4

Behind the Brands

Any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations1 ‘You were a pillar of the community. You are a fallen man who has lost it all. You must now lose your liberty.’ These are the words of Judge Christopher Batty, speaking at Leeds Crown Court in February 2016 as he jailed Mohammed Rafiq for 27 months. Rafiq’s 42 Hungarian victims had been making beds for his companies Kozee Sleep and Layzee Sleep in West Yorkshire. These factories are reported to have supplied major high-street brands like John Lewis, Next and Dunelm Mill.2 Described as a ‘slave workforce’, the men had been made to live in dirty and cramped accommodation and to work between ten and 16 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. In general, they received around £10 to £20 a week in ‘pay’. The way the men were trafficked is a fairly classic case: they were promised better working conditions and pay in the UK than they could get at home, but this was deceptive. Once here, with their identity documents and other crucial life103

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lines like bank cards taken from them, very little money, hungry and without a support network to help them, they were stuck. Rafiq didn’t directly bring the men to the UK himself; they were recruited in Hungary by two other men, Hungarians Janos Orsos and Ferenc Illes, but Rafiq was found to have been fully aware of what was happening and, as Prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC stated, ‘went along with their exploitation’. Indeed, several victims had asked Rafiq to pay their wages directly to them rather than to Orsos, because Orsos wasn’t distributing the money. Rafiq told them to take it up with Orsos instead. This case isn’t the only instance of severe exploitation happening right here in the UK which has involved the supply chains of our major brands. Prior to the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, McDonald’s, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Marks and Spencer found themselves in the spotlight when chicken farms were found to be using forced labour.3 The workers were being exploited through a control mechanism called ‘debt bondage’ which, as I explained in Chapter 2, is when a person is forced to work to pay off debt, with that debt usually being artificially inflated and extreme control exerted over the individual. In this case, a middle man named Edikas Mankevicius was alleged to have recruited more than 30 Lithuanian workers for a chickencatching business that then posted the workers to chicken farms. He’d promised them good conditions just like in the Kozee Sleep case.4 On arrival, they were told they had to pay £350 as a ‘work-finding fee’ in addition to rent money and their bus fare from Lithuania, and that all this would be taken from their wages. This was an artificially constructed circumstance that meant the workers would not be paid for weeks, so would be working for free. Even after that period, pay was often withheld arbitrarily, for example as punishment for leaving a dirty coffee cup in the sink. The workers were also beaten, refused medical attention when needed, deprived of sleep, starved and threatened with fighting 104

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dogs which were also allowed to defecate on their beds.5 All this to put chicken on our tables. And of course, this problem isn’t only close to home. In fact, it’s more commonly understood as a problem of the Global South, linked to our familiar brands by their web of globalised supply chains. From Thai prawns at Tesco,6 to granite in Habitat7 and tinned tomatoes on any corner shop shelves,8 cases like these abound. Why this is the case, what’s being done, how it’s failing and what we should be doing instead are the topics of this chapter. SUNLIGHT DISINFECTS: THE TRANSPARENCY ATTEMPT The Modern Slavery Act didn’t leave these stark facts out of its equation. It has a specific clause to ensure companies take action to prevent the kinds of cases I’ve described. Section 54, often called the ‘transparency in supply chains’ clause, requires large companies providing goods or services in the UK to ‘prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation’. This means that, in theory, it gets companies to produce annual information about their operations and also their supply chains, that is, all the stages that their products have been through – from raw material to packaging – before they end up with us, and also information on all the other kinds of suppliers and contractors they have, from the cleaners of their headquarters to the factories that made the laptops used by their executives. This information is meant to demonstrate how they’re taking responsibility for the conditions of the workers who aren’t directly employed by them but who help them to make profit. Three things are required for these statements to comply with the law: they must be signed by a director, approved by the board and linked from the company homepage. There isn’t anything detailed companies have to say in these statements and the quality of them varies wildly, from a couple of paragraphs pulled largely 105

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from Wikipedia to lengthy reports breaking down the locations of factories and all the steps being taken to try to ensure ethical conditions. While NGOs have produced rankings of the statements to try to improve the quality, there’s no actual sanction for a badly done, uninformative statement. This is obviously extremely lightweight legislation. However, according to some, Section 54 has had some positive impacts. According to research published a year after the Modern Slavery Act’s introduction, twice as many senior executives had become ‘actively involved in addressing modern slavery’ and ethical trade managers were being increasingly asked to report to boards, instead of being relegated to less senior decision-makers.9 Skrivankova, who has worked extensively with businesses on exploitation issues, tells me that she’s come across ‘quite a few businesses that have moved from box-ticking with no real interest to preferring to know what’s going on and starting to manage it. It’s made them see the issue more as a business risk.’ Perhaps most importantly, Section 54 has led to some companies disclosing factory lists. This matters because supply chains nowadays stretch all around the world, in countries with widely differing labour rights and conditions. If we don’t know anything about where our products have been made or their ingredients sourced, we can’t know whether they were made by exploited workers. Factory lists undo this opacity and they also signal that a company is willing to be responsible: when they publish factory lists, companies know that people (like journalists or NGO workers) might investigate the conditions at those factories and there will be a reputational cost if problems are found. So by making their factories public, they’re telling us they have nothing to hide and are willing to take responsibility for their business practices. As an example, ASOS, the fashion e-tailer, publishes a list of all its factories around the world, updating it regularly. The list provides the name of the factory, the address, the number of workers and a gender breakdown. Anyone can find it online. In 106

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January 2020, the list was around 1,000 long, stretching from Hertfordshire in the UK to include Sri Lanka, India, Turkey, Romania, China, Cambodia and more. This isn’t a silver bullet – transparency is supposed to be a means, not an end, a fact often forgotten. Listing factory names isn’t the same as ensuring conditions that those factories are decent. But sunlight disinfects; transparency can shine light into dark places and help to push out abuse. Other companies, like Marshalls, which is the UK’s leading hard-landscaping manufacturer and supplier of natural stone to the construction sector, have purposefully traced their high-risk supply chains all the way back to the raw material source – in this case, quarries in India and Vietnam. Because the Modern Slavery Act doesn’t make companies actually do anything, good practice like this is often due to specific executives caring about making a positive difference. In the case of Marshalls, their leadership is largely due to the hard work and passion of their business and human rights lead, Elaine Mitchel-Hill. When I interviewed her for this book, Mitchel-Hill explained to me how her determination to ensure business has a positive impact was shaped in part by her mentor, Dame Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, a leading voice of business ethics. ‘I read Roddick’s book, Body and Soul, when I was a young teenager, and it made me realise you could be in business and create a positive future for everyone, and everyone means everyone, not just people drinking Chardonnay on their Indian sandstone patios, but people pulling raw materials out of the ground too.’ Unfortunately, these kinds of views and practices are outliers. Despite the low bar set for meeting the terms of the law, company compliance with Section 54 has been shockingly poor. In 2017, 43 per cent of the FTSE 100 (the largest 100 companies listed in the UK) didn’t comply,10 and in 2019 a third of the statements of central government’s top 100 suppliers also failed.11 To be clear, that means lots of the biggest companies in the country and lots of companies which are being paid millions by our government 107

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have flouted the law. This is particularly frustrating for companies that are doing their utmost to fulfil this obligation and that have to watch as government rewards bad behaviour by handing out millions to those who aren’t bothering. ‘How is it that the government expects us to do this, but then doesn’t pay any attention to its own role?’ asks Mitchel-Hill. At the time of writing, no sanctions have ever been imposed on a business for flouting the transparency requirement of the Modern Slavery Act, unlike other company requirements such as filing accounts late. This doesn’t just show corporate arrogance and lack of political will or let down those in need of better working conditions; it also harms businesses. Those companies going further, like Marshalls or ASOS, can be undercut by competitors who aren’t bothering to lift a finger. THE DRUGS DON’T WORK: CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND SHAREHOLDER PRIMACY This lightweight transparency requirement is a classic example of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) turned into legislation. CSR, the practice of companies taking voluntary action to ameliorate negative social and environmental impacts, took hold in the very same decades that a new ideology restructured our economy. This new approach was championed by thinkers through the 1970s and became globally dominant under the leadership terms of UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. On the surface it entailed the promotion of a ‘small state’, the idea that the ‘market knows best’ and that it should be allowed to operate free of ‘burdensome’ regulations on businesses or interventions meant to redistribute resources and ensure fair provision. But this was only on the surface. Beneath the speechifying about the evils of the state intervening in the hallowed market, these governments were actually using their power as states to assist the 108

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extension of the market to new spheres. For example, in the UK we saw a massive programme of privatisation of formerly nationalised utilities. On a global level, new rules were foisted upon poorer countries to make them ‘open up’ industries to the market and remove or reduce regulations designed to protect people and the planet. This programme is known as ‘neoliberalism’, a form of capitalist governance that has ‘entailed dramatic changes in approaches to economic regulation, including the … removal of barriers to competition, and the expansion and deepening of markets and competitive pressures in many states’.12 It has also led to a sharp power asymmetry between capital and business on the one hand, and workers on the other, with states bolstering the former. CSR acts as a kind of balm, attempting to soothe the pains of the neoliberal form of global economy. But it doesn’t work very well. This is because of the shareholder primacy idea, a kind of holy corporate mantra in which shareholder interests take priority over the interests of any other groups affected by a company’s actions, for example, workers, local communities or the environment. In this context, the company is expected to do what will bring it the most profit and therefore the most money for its shareholders, and any negative impacts are, at best, secondary, and at worst disregarded. Like a weak analgesic, CSR typically only takes the edge off negative impacts so that business can carry on as usual, with the core problems untouched. In this way, rather than an antagonist to companies’ activities, it too often acts as their partner, providing legitimacy and ethical clothing for harmful practices. As Ireland and Pillay have put it, ‘CSR is a way of trying to temper the effects of the increasingly ruthless corporate pursuit of “shareholder value” without challenging the seemingly inviolable and common-sense principle of shareholder primacy and the political consensus of which it is part’.13 In essence, then, CSR is not supposed to do what it says on the tin. This isn’t to say that the individuals employed in corporate CSR roles aren’t 109

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trying to do good. It’s rather like they are painting a wall, and they’re painting it diligently and in good faith, but the wall has damp in its bricks and so no matter their best intentions, they’re simply covering it up. Too few are prepared to go as deep into the structures as Mitchel-Hill, or they’re blocked from doing so by backwards-thinking superiors. CSR is generally characterised by voluntary action on the part of companies, self-regulation and non-binding ‘soft law’. We can see all this in Section 54. The actual actions companies must take, and then describe in their statements, are entirely voluntary and self-defined. It makes perfect sense that a CSR approach to exploitation has taken hold when we consider the ways in which the modern slavery story operates. As explained, it doesn’t challenge the fundamental structures and beliefs of our politics and economy. Recall Fraser Nelson at the launch of the CSJ’s influential modern slavery report from Chapter 1: ‘I actually think here that brands and global capitalism are the answer to this and not the problem.’ To believe this, Nelson must think that exploitation is an anomaly, a contaminant that needs to be identified and extricated, not something intrinsic to the way in which business and our global economy is designed, because if he did think it was intrinsic those brands and global capitalism would need to be undone in order to solve the problem. Mitchel-Hill tells me that she believes ‘business can be a force for good’, but, as she went on to say, ‘that involves tough decision-making’. As we’ll see, the current decisions taken are too often the easy way out, shirking meaningful responsibility and avoiding the power shifts so desperately needed. SLAVE-FREE SUPERMARKETS: THE MYTH OF CONSUMER POWER Perhaps if company actions aren’t working well enough, consumers can shift things at the checkout? Government certainly thinks 110

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so, and has repeatedly pointed to our shopping habits as a solution. Here is former Prime Minister Theresa May making a speech in June 2019 to the International Labour Organization (ILO): However, the most powerful voice of all belongs not to business or government, but to the consumer. It is customers who ultimately decide whether a business succeeds or fails – and if enough of us turn our backs on companies that exploit forced labour, modern slavery will cease to be commercially viable … Buying something from a company that uses slave labour should not be any less socially unacceptable than using a disposable coffee cup. So as well as talking to governments, multilaterals and NGOs, today I want to call on ordinary shoppers the world over to vote with their wallets. To shun those companies that do not make the ethical grade. And instead support their rivals who take an active role in fighting modern slavery.14 May is suggesting that you and I can stamp out modern slavery by carefully selecting what we buy. This is symptomatic of the neoliberal affliction which seeks to avoid state regulation of businesses and replace it with ineffective proxies. May made her wish to avoid meaningful laws clear after she announced the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill by explaining, ‘We want the private sector to play its part. … I would also like companies to take the initiative themselves … I do not think any of us want to rely on legislation.’15 By focusing on consumers as the answer, the modern slavery story avoids the role of states in shaping what companies can and can’t do, what kinds of working conditions are allowed to thrive and the things that make people more or less vulnerable to exploitation. But using consumers to solve exploitation won’t work. Exploitation isn’t comparable to disposable plastic coffee cups. It’s obvious to you and me if we’re holding a disposable cup, but how can you tell if what you’re buying has exploited workers in its supply chain? Given that this exists in the supply chains of 111

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such diverse products as T-shirts, sweets, chocolate, fruit, meat, fish, mobile phones and make-up sparkles, this might be a bit of a tall order. Interestingly, it’s not the first time disposable products have been used as a comparator in the modern slavery discourse: in his 2007 book, Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, Kevin Bales writes, ‘Like plastic pens or paper cups, slaves and potential slaves are so numerous that they can simply be used up and thrown away.’16 Both May and Bales appear to have overlooked something rather crucial when selecting these turns of phrase to make their points; we have the proliferation of disposable products because of the economic system in which we live and the priorities that arise from it, at the expense of the needs of people and planet. Even if we selected only a handful of products on which to focus, we’d then have to look up each company responsible for selling us that product and read their modern slavery statement. Would you look up the shop you bought it from? Or the brand under which it’s sold? Perhaps instead the manufacturer? Modern slavery statements are often written artfully to show the company in the best possible light. They also tend to reference policies. Lots of policies. Sainsbury’s, for example, mentions a human rights policy, a supplier code of conduct, an ‘overarching sustainability standard’, individual standards being trialled for prawns, tea, sugar cane and flowers, a supplier policy for ethical trade, an ethical trade manual and a sustainable sourcing policy, and they say they also require suppliers to have ‘their own codes of conduct, along with policies and systems to manage ethical trade in their own supply chains’.17 That’s a lot of pieces of paper. Are you going to read them all? How would you know whether what you’re reading translates into meaningful action on the ground? I don’t mean how do you know whether they’re lying or not – of course, they may be – but more important is whether the things they say they’re doing are having a useful impact. You simply can’t. 112

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If using modern slavery statements isn’t an efficient or realistic way for consumers to end exploitation, we could look to other methods. Ethical certification schemes, like Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance, are one way in which consumers proactively seek to support better working conditions in supply chains. But these don’t cut the mustard either. In research carried out on tea plantations – a high-risk and highly certified sector – Professor Genevieve LeBaron found that ethical certification programs are largely ineffective in combating labour exploitation and forced labour in tea supply chains … Overall, we found that certification has little to no impact on labour standards within the tea industry. Certified plantations fared worse against some indicators of living standards, and some of the most severe cases of abuse and exploitation documented within our research occurred on certified plantations.18 Workers reported similar patterns of underpayment of wages and unfair wage deductions on both certified and non-certified plantations. Abuse, coercion, intimidation and violation of certification schemes’ standards on workers’ rights were all identified. The Thomson Reuters Foundation has uncovered similar certification failures on coffee plantations in Brazil.19 For sure, some people’s work and life quality will have been improved by certification schemes, but at best it’s a dent in the surface rather than a change to the core. Even with all these problems, there remains the fact that most people simply don’t shop on the basis of ethics. They may say they will when polled, but at the checkout the majority make choices based on price and quality.20 The idea we can address problems not by ‘not buying’ but by ‘buying better’ is a ploy to keep us shopping, or as Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson puts it, ‘a form of moral agency that can be encouraged by, and exercised in alliance with, capitalist enterprises’.21 By being told we can shop our ethical 113

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ways out of the situation of extreme and entrenched exploitation throughout global supply chains, we’re being treated as consumerist sheep, told to keep shopping and not look too deeply into what lies beneath the products in our hands. FROM CONTAMINANT TO CONTINUUM You might be wondering why much of this matters, because this is meant to be a book about ‘modern slavery’, not general crappy working conditions and the cruelties of our global economic system. This is exactly what the modern slavery story wants you to think. It’s absolutely core to the new abolitionist frame that ‘modern slavery’ is seen as an exceptional phenomenon, separate from general labour conditions, and that speaking about the overall system and how it produces harm is irrelevant. As explained in Chapter 1, the new abolitionists typically conceive of modern slavery – that is, severe and varied forms of exploitation – as something anomalous. Instances of it are appalling and surprising occasional occurrences, caused by an individual villain (or gang of villains). We saw in Chapter 1 how it was characterised as a ‘virulent new strain of an ancient evil’. Dr Ilse A. Ras and Dr Christiana Gregoriou have analysed the language used in corporate modern slavery statements, that is, those produced under the transparency requirement of the Modern Slavery Act. They draw on the principle that ‘the people who get to impose their metaphors on the culture get to define what we consider to be true’.22 Their analysis found that one common way these statements described modern slavery was as a contaminant, using language that evoked that idea. They found that companies tended to cast themselves as the protagonists – those able to take an active role in removing the contaminant – while workers were portrayed as lacking agency and as something to be ‘acted upon’. This built on their previous research that found newspapers commonly use metaphors relating to trafficking as ‘a spreading [an] unwanted substance’, among 114

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others.23 The same notion is present in the language of some anti-slavery NGOs about the issues, such as International Justice Mission: ‘No one should question the responsibility of importers and retailers to do their utmost to identify and scrub their supply chains for slave-produced goods’24 (italics added for emphasis). This contaminant idea makes us think of modern slavery as something alien that has infiltrated a space where it does not belong; a spot of ink in an otherwise crystalline pool. But actually, ‘modern slavery’ is not a separate phenomenon from general working conditions. ‘Modern slavery’ is simply a phrase used for a wide variety of exploitative conditions and, rather than being an anomaly, cases of exploitation that would fall under the Modern Slavery Act are at the sharp end of a continuum of working conditions25 with no clear dividing line between what is being called modern slavery and what isn’t. This continuum stretches from decent work at one end, through the middle where we start to see abuses like no holiday pay, underpayment of wages, discrimination, etc., to the other end, where we find exploitation, including the kinds of circumstances we now call ‘modern slavery’. This continuum idea is helpful because it shows us that people can move between different points along it and that those points are linked. So, abuses can accumulate and compound over time until someone has moved along into a situation of severe exploitation. For example, a migrant domestic worker may come to the UK with a family to work as a nanny or housekeeper. Initially, she may be paid weekly and given a day off a week. After a month, she isn’t paid one week and when she asks why not, her employers tell her she must work harder, with no day off that week, and they’ll pay her the following week. But they don’t, and after a few weeks of this abuse, the worker considers trying to leave but realises she gave her passport to the employers at the start of the job for ‘safe keeping’, or so they said, but now when she asks for her conditions to improve they threaten her with keeping hold of it and kicking her out, putting her at risk of immigration enforcement. 115

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This has escalated from abuse to severe exploitation. As Professor Conny Rijken puts it, ‘Decent work can turn into bad labour and bad labour can degenerate into labour exploitation. A situation of labour exploitation is not static, nor are bad labour and decent work.’26 A general failure to ensure decent working standards in an economy – that is, a high prevalence of violations in the middle section of the continuum – will make it more likely that more instances of severe exploitation occur too. Yet the modern slavery idea pulls our focus and resources to the most extreme cases, leaving those not deemed severe enough to continue and sometimes escalate. When we met for our interview, Phil Brewer drew on years of experience dealing with human trafficking cases to point this out, saying, ‘We need to look at it as exploitation rather than modern slavery and within that, look at attacking exploitation at lower levels to prevent it from escalating. We’re not doing the basics.’ The continuum speaks to one of the major problems with the modern slavery idea: where do we draw the line between ‘slave’ and ‘not slave’? As an example, let’s take ‘forced labour’, which is one of the offences under the Modern Slavery Act. Forced labour was defined by the ILO in 1930 as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily’. The ‘threat of a penalty’ doesn’t only mean physical violence; psychological forms of threat are recognised as valid too and it can also be understood to include some economic concerns as explained in 2007 when the ILO noted that, although workers may in theory be able to refuse to work beyond normal working hours, their vulnerability means that in practice they may have no choice and are obliged to do so in order to earn the minimum wage or keep their jobs, or both … in cases in which work or service is imposed by exploiting the worker’s vulnerability, under the menace of a penalty, 116

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dismissal or payment of wages below the minimum level, such exploitation ceases to be merely a matter of poor conditions of employment and becomes one of imposing work under the menace of a penalty and calls for the protection of the [Forced Labour] Convention.27 The ILO is saying here that even if workers can refuse overtime work in theory, if in practice they can’t because doing so would mean they earn too little for survival or they lose their jobs, this amounts to forced labour. This has interesting implications. Think how many workers that might apply to: workers on zero hours contracts who have their hours cut if they turn down shifts, pushing them into poverty, or workers who are threatened with dismissal if they complain about the overtime required. These situations exist in the UK economy. Or we could go broader – if we’re including overtime, what about work intensification? This means increasing workers’ workloads within the same time frame, or shortening the amount of time they have to complete the same number of tasks. Basically, work gets harder and faster, sometimes to an impossible degree, but you’re not paid more. In today’s economy, where profit is prioritised over worker well-being, it’s common for companies to try to do this, for example cleaning companies telling cleaners they have to clean more rooms within the same amount of time or they’ll lose their jobs. You can probably think of many other examples where workers are under ‘threat of a penalty’ because of the combination of their economic precarity and the power held over them by their employer. Because historical slavery had a very clear meaning – the legal ownership of one person by another – we’re inclined to think that modern slavery must be the same. It’s not. Instead, modern slavery is a term applied to specific parts of a continuum of working conditions. Those parts aren’t easy to separate from the rest of the continuum and the lines between what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ the right kind of exploitation to be termed ‘modern slavery’ are hugely blurred as 117

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a consequence. And even when someone appears to meet all the required criteria to fall into the modern slave category, Chapter 2 on immigration showed how they’re less likely to be officially recognised as victims if they’re of the ‘wrong’ nationalities, or even recognised as victims but kept in immigration detention, which is surely a rather odd way to treat people who’ve experienced trauma and abuse. The clever thing about the modern slavery idea is that it tells us that certain cases of exploitation are a separable kind of evil and have nothing to do with the overall system. In reality though, it’s all interlinked and the system that produces precarious workers, a lack of rights protections, relative impunity for employers and brands and so on, is the same system that produces the really awful cases our headlines report as slavery. It isn’t coincidence that it was Sports Direct that had three separate modern slavery cases in court in 2016 relating to its Shirebrook warehouse. This company is notorious for problematic working practices; the continuum means that we shouldn’t be surprised by instances of harm all the way along it. Or take the situation in Leicester. It has a large garment production sector with high levels of abuse. These became the subject of media furore during the COVID-19 pandemic when reports surfaced of workers being paid as little as £2 an hour, forced to work through lockdown and made to come to work even when unwell with symptoms of the virus.28 This built on a 2019 parliamentary inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry which reported29 that the majority of workers were paid below the minimum wage, didn’t have employment contracts and were subject to excessive working hours and poor health and safety conditions. It also reported that Leicester was a known hotbed of human trafficking. When we allow abuse to become endemic, we foster the conditions for the most severe exploitation to thrive too. The two are inextricably related. Attempting to portion off one segment arbitrarily is not only difficult definitionally but also unhelpful. Instead of looking at the most extreme cases and directing resources solely in that 118

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direction, we should be addressing the deep structures of our economy. And these are highly problematic. It’s not just the damp in the walls that’s the problem; they’ve got holes smashed through them too, making the whole structure porous to abuse and exploitation all the way along the continuum. Let’s find out why. SNAPSHOTS OF POWER When the Kozee Sleep case went to court, it wasn’t only the appalling behaviour of Rafiq that caught the media’s attention. Journalists also reported that major high-street furniture retailers had conducted ‘ethical audits’ on the factory before May 2014 but ‘nothing untoward had been uncovered’.30 Audits are privately conducted inspections of workplaces which examine things like health and safety, environmental compliance or workers’ conditions. They are distinctly unsexy sounding, but they are also important. This is because they are signifiers of power: how it’s distributed and where it’s assumed it should lie within the economy. Auditing is a booming industry, estimated by the Ethical Trade Initiative to be worth around $50 billion.31 In 2013, the New York Times reported that the share prices of the three largest publicly traded monitoring companies that provide these kinds of monitoring services to companies had increased by approximately 50 per cent in the two previous years.32 Of the top ten UK retailers by sales amount in 2018/19, all referred to using ethical audits as part of how they tackle modern slavery. Yet clearly in the case of Kozee Sleep, the audits didn’t work. In fact they don’t really work in general, but businesses love them. There are a few superficial reasons why audits often don’t work well. They can be purposefully obstructed by the business being audited, for example by only providing workers for interview who have been coached by management. Also, auditors don’t have any legal powers of inspection so they can’t force businesses to show them evidence of payments or other practices. And perhaps most 119

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concerningly, the auditors are paid by the very companies whose supply chains they’re supposed to be scrutinising. As author Upton Sinclair once wrote: ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.’33 Audits are now also being joined by apps as a monitoring method, such as Sainsbury’s Everyone’s Business app that its commercial teams have used to spot ethical risks at supplier sites. So, audits are all the rage, but they don’t appear to work very well. What’s going on? We can find out by considering power. The research analysing the language in corporate modern slavery statements mentioned earlier also found that the statements described workers as a ‘substance’ rather than a group of people. Statements detail activities that ‘act upon’ the workers, as if workers are devoid of agency. This aligns with the contaminant idea of modern slavery – as if it’s an aberration, like egg shell that must be picked out of a cracked egg – and avoids the idea that workers themselves might logically be part of the solution. So we have the fashion for audits, which are ‘done to’ workers, or apps that observe them, and so on, as companies seek ways to identify the slavery that might have ‘infiltrated’ their supply chains. Recall McGoey’s concept of ‘useful unknowns’ from Chapter 1. This was a form of ignorance constituted by gaps in understandings that provide clear benefits for specific people. Here we find another example: despite the billions going into ethical auditing and fancy apps, there’s actually a tried-and-tested way of learning workers’ concerns about their rights and conditions. It’s one that has been largely left out of the modern slavery story as if it was never known about in the first place. I’m talking about unions. Unions are independent groups of workers who organise themselves together to protect their rights. ‘It’s so odd’, Skrivankova explains in our interview, ‘that nobody is making a big point about the fact that labour exploitation might be such a big issue in the UK because the narrative around trade unions is so negative. It’s like, do you not see the connection?’ The connection must be made. 120

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Unions act as an ongoing monitoring mechanism of conditions in a workplace or sector, with workers themselves empowered as the defenders of their own rights. Because workers are always present and auditors are only occasionally at a workplace, we can think of unions as providing ongoing footage of what’s occurring, whereas audits can only ever be snapshots. Yet, in the modern slavery statements of the top ten retailers in the UK, half do not mention unions at all.* Three mention them but only as one of many kinds of stakeholders with which they engage, not as part of the solution. Only two go further, with one describing ‘working with suppliers to deliver training to workers and factory managers on setting up worker representative committees or unions on site so that workers can have a say’ in Turkey, and the other including the presence of unions on its interactive supply chain map.34 Contrast this with the prominence of audits as a solution and the problem is apparent. I’ve raised the need to have unions considered part of the solution in meetings and been told by large retailers that this is ‘mission creep’, that is, an unwarranted expansion away from the real purpose. Of course, this is true in the contaminant frame. Unions would be nonsense. Why would general worker organising and power prevent a virus from spreading? This is the genius of the modern slavery story. As former CEO of Anti-Slavery International Mike Dottridge says, The prime problem is that the term [modern slavery] implies a degree of exploitation that is so extreme as to fall outside the ordinary world of work. It also implies that such exploitation cannot be solved by any of the techniques that have been traditionally used to combat workplace abuse, such as regulation, *  Amazon is counted as one of these. Its statement does refer to ‘works councils and statutory employee representation obligations’ but does not refer to any independent trade unions. It has been widely reported that Amazon proactively prevents workers from joining independent trade unions. 121

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workplace inspections and the formation by workers of associations to defend themselves against abuse (and trade unions).35 But as we know from the explanation of the continuum, this is incorrect. In fact, unions are vital. They can address abuses before they compound and worsen over time. By ensuring people know their rights and can seek support if violations occur, and by working collectively to improve conditions, they act to brick up some of the holes in the walls, making sectors less porous to exploitative bosses and practices. They also overcome a key problem with the modern slavery story: when people are ‘rescued’ from such situations, they are often extricated from work despite needing to earn. They are highly likely to return to very poorly paid and abusive work in future. We look at this more in Chapter 5, but for now the point is that unions enable negotiation to improve conditions in situ which, for some people’s circumstances, is a preferable option to extrication. Unions also do something else: they challenge the prevailing power imbalance between business and worker. And this is not welcomed by corporate powers and neoliberal governments. So, we see laws like the Trade Union Act 2016 in the UK that made it harder for unions to operate and was passed only a year after the Modern Slavery Act. In 1979 trade union membership was 13 million; in 2016 it had plummeted to 6.2 million. As the government’s own ex-director of labour market enforcement has noted, ‘It is very noticeable that the decline of unions has gone hand-in-hand with concern about lack of enforcement of labour standards.’36 In many countries in the Global South, where our brands have extensive webs of suppliers, independent unionising can be dangerous and illegal. This is encouraged by powerful institutions like the World Bank which regularly publishes a report, Doing Business, that ‘provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies’.37 This report is meant to guide investors and companies on where it’s ‘best’ to 122

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do business. We can understand what ‘best’ means by looking at its views on labour laws and protections: it exhorts countries to assess ‘impacts’ on businesses before introducing labour laws, warns them that ‘when faced with rigid employment protection laws, firms lose the freedom to conduct business efficiently’38 and, like UK politicians, is very keen to protect businesses from ‘burdensome regulation’. Interestingly, new abolitionists do recognise the role of the World Bank in tackling exploitation: in his book, Ending Slavery, which sets out Bales’ key ideas for tackling the problem, he suggests that the World Bank could embed anti-slavery requirements into loans for countries. He says, ‘Conditionalities for governments might include the formation of anti-slavery task forces, provision of grants to freed slaves to help them begin their new lives, and even the appointment of an ombudsman for freed slaves.’39 This is a classic case of the modern slavery frame: there is nothing wrong with what he’s saying and it would certainly be good if there were grants for people to build better lives than exploitative work allows, but it sidesteps the real problem. Having the World Bank embed positive requirements into loan conditionalities would no doubt be sensible on many issues; however, doing that to encourage and commend the watering down of, or failure to introduce, labour protections is like setting fire to a house and then coming along and tossing a thimble of water on the flames. Instead we should be challenging the assumptions, priorities and models underpinning the global economy that have created a twenty-first century in which we’re so reliant on exploited workers. This issue with the World Bank is analogous to what we’ve seen so far regarding audits and how they act as add-ons, overlooking the structural issues, and assuming and perpetuating the powerlessness of workers. There’s a second power dynamic at play in auditing too: this time, between brands and their supplier companies, e.g. the label in your top and the factory that actually made it. To see how this works, let’s go back to central London a handful of summers ago. I attended a conference about exploitation in 123

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the fishing industry. At the conference we received a presentation from the Consumer Goods Forum, a global industry body, about their three ‘Priority Industry Principles’. These Principles aim to ‘eliminate forced labour’.40 They are: 1. Every worker should have freedom of movement. 2. No worker should pay for a job. 3. No worker should be indebted or coerced to work. They look good on the surface but let’s see how power plays out in them. There are lots of principles like these in the corporate space, where trade bodies, consultancies, NGOs or other kinds of institutions have created voluntary charters and suchlike to which companies then commit. Some companies won’t do anything at all after committing to this sort of thing, except write about it in shiny reports or mention it at drinks receptions. Others will probably take one of two approaches: they might develop a programme that trains their suppliers in best practice, or they’ll set out expectations of companies supplying them and then use auditing to check up on what’s actually happening. If the supplier companies are found to be failing, the brand will generally ask them to make improvements. They may make a ‘corrective action plan’ with the supplier and then monitor them over time to ensure they meet its requirements. It’s clear how power is distributed in this scenario: it’s in the hands of the brand which is imposing requirements on the supplier and assessing whether they’re being met via audits. The supplier is cast as the potential culprit, the brand as the moral saviour come to show the supplier how to do things ethically. But is this the right casting? It may be that the supplier has cultivated harsh working conditions, or even been using forced labour, purely out of malice for the human race or greed for extreme profit. More likely, however, is that the supplier is struggling to make any profit at all and, given that the costs of materials remain largely the same and can’t 124

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be reduced, is squeezing the only thing she can – the labour cost, namely by paying low wages, requiring unpaid overtime, not providing sick pay, or indeed not paying people at all. At the event I asked the speaker presenting these principles what was expected of the brands themselves, rather than the expectations they were pushing down onto their suppliers. The answer was both unmemorable and non-committal. In the break afterwards, a man tapped me on the shoulder. He worked for a large, well-known fish supplier. Unless you’re vegetarian, you’ve definitely bought and eaten the fish products his business sells to our large supermarkets. He told me that he’d appreciated my point. All these initiatives, he said, were well and good but if the brands didn’t change the prices and timelines they expect from the suppliers, they were always going to be using exploited workers. He spoke quietly to me, conscious that there were brand buyers of his very nearby. He pointed subtly at a representative from one major UK supermarket and said, ‘Like them. They talk a lot about how they’re doing so much to stop slavery. But they know, with the prices they pay, we have to source from places where there are problems.’ This is part of what academic Mark Anner calls the ‘sourcing squeeze’, whereby brands pressure their suppliers to produce for low prices and/or with increasingly fast turnaround times.41 It’s especially an issue in garment production, where the ‘fast fashion’ trend has made order turnaround times extremely fast. The practices used by businesses to buy products or services are called ‘purchasing practices’. Human Rights Watch research has shown how brands’ purchasing practices directly fuel abuses in supply chains.42 An ILO study found that 81 per cent of suppliers in textile, clothing, leather and footwear have sold at below cost price (i.e. the amount it actually costs them to make them), primarily to secure future orders.43 Oxfam GB researched food supply chains to understand how UK supermarkets were shaping conditions in their globalised suppliers and found that less than 6 per cent of the consumer price was reaching small-scale farmers and workers, 125

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while input costs had risen by around 67 per cent since the late 1990s.44 In this hugely unequal global context, with brands driving down prices and accelerating order time frames, it’s logical that workers will be exploited and that some of that exploitation will be extreme. And it’s a purposeful business strategy to locate production in countries with low worker protections where exploitation is more likely to happen. The trade liberalisation that’s part of the neoliberal mode of governance – whereby restrictions and barriers on private sector trade are removed or reduced – has given businesses the opportunity to select where to site their production on the basis of the lowest costs, which means low wages and poor protections for workers. This has created competition between countries vying to be supplier hubs for our brands, with international bodies like the World Bank encouraging this approach. But while corporate capital has been allowed to spread unfettered across the globe, labour rights have not been afforded the same opportunity. This leads us to an important point: exploitation of the sort conceptualised in the modern slavery story is far from an aberration; it is a design feature. ‘THEY SQUEEZE US FOR PENNIES’ This isn’t just a problem affecting workers in the Global South. Returning to the conditions in the garment industry in Leicester, here’s what factory owner and chairman of the Textile Manufacturer Association of Leicestershire, Saeed Khliji, told the parliamentary inquiry into the topic: None of the retailers are giving us an ethical price. An extra £2 or £2.50 on a garment would sort everything out. Instead they squeeze us for pennies. If they don’t sell everything, they send it back and charge us for the carriage. If we are an hour or 30 minutes late with delivery they fine us £500. I have been told of one retailer who is making £2 million a year from fines.45 126

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The inquiry reported that ‘We heard that the buying practices of some online fashion retailers may be putting UK clothing manufacturers in the position where they can only afford to pay garment workers illegally low wages.’ Brands will then require suppliers to improve working and health and safety conditions, all the while putting them under extreme financial pressure. They also don’t pay suppliers more so that they can make the required improvements. This does happen in very occasional and relatively new schemes, such as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, and a special scheme starting to take hold in some sectors such as dairy and tomato growing called ‘worker-driven social responsibility’,46 but it’s rare. Yet we know the supplier has been squeezing labour costs for financial reasons, so it’s logical to think that a financial solution is needed. If the brands don’t directly pay for the changes they’re requiring, perhaps they change how much they’re paying suppliers for the products, to ‘price in’ decent working conditions? Rarely. Most brands continue with business as usual, requiring products at low cost, with short order time frames, and then periodically send in their auditors, all the while casting themselves as heroes in the modern slavery story. Phil Brewer explained the problem well: ‘There’s no real black market in materials, so the only real way you’re going to increase your profit factor is by paying people less. And there’s no chance of getting caught because there are hardly any inspections, so then you get bosses thinking, well, why not inflict a bit more exploitation on people? And so the cycle continues.’ Interestingly, the sourcing squeeze serves to undermine even good intentions. We saw earlier the way that companies tend to view workers as a substance, not a group of people, and so their activities seek to ‘act upon’ workers rather than assist them as people with agency, such as via trade unions. Well, in some countries independent unions are illegal or very difficult to form. In lieu of this possibility, the ILO created a special programme 127

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called the Better Work Initiative which set up Worker Participation Committees as a way to make sure workers’ voices are heard and beneficial changes can be made. But Mark Anner’s research has found that the sourcing squeeze undermines the good intentions of the programme because management simply can’t make the changes workers request, as there isn’t the money or room for manoeuvre. So, when we hear about companies supporting committees like these, we need to ask what they’re doing beyond lip service. PIGS IN BLANKETS AND CORPORATE IMPUNITY One of the most memorable conversations I’ve had in my time working on this topic was with a large and reputable meat-processing company. It elucidates another impact of these harmful brand practices. One of their executives explained to me how they were ensuring their business – and therefore the meat supply chain of supermarkets we’ve all shopped in – was free from trafficked workers. Like Elaine from Marshalls, this woman was impressively committed to the mission and her work showed it. They’d hired an ex-labour inspector to do deep investigations into their workforce, interviewing workers off-site and checking their accommodation was good enough. Suddenly, the executive exclaimed, ‘But pigs in blankets!’ I thought I’d misheard. Then she explained: every year they make them for supermarkets in the run-up to Christmas. But that year they’d suddenly had an enormous order months earlier than expected. It meant they needed lots more workers at almost no notice. They had a choice: did they take the lucrative order, or did they say no? On business terms, they needed to say yes or risk losing future orders from that supermarket. But to fulfil the order they’d need to source more workers rapidly which would make it very tricky to vet the workers properly in order to make sure they weren’t inadvertently using forced labour. They might also have 128

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had to seek out additional labour-providing companies than the ones they knew and trusted in order to get enough workers so quickly. This is the kind of dilemma created by our brands and our consumerist system, and it matters because labour-providing companies are one of the main channels through which exploited workers enter supply chains. We’ve seen this in some of the cases mentioned earlier in this chapter: the three Sports Direct modern slavery cases in 2016 all involved labour agencies,47 and the chicken-catching company DJ Houghton was itself an agency placing exploited workers in companies that supplied major supermarkets. It was also true in Operation Fort, a 2019 case documented by BBC’s Panorama that involved a trafficking gang thought to have exploited over 300 victims, some of whom had been funnelled through an employment agency into work with suppliers of major supermarkets. Using agencies to get workers suits businesses because it’s ‘flexible’, which means they can meet fluctuating demand and their costs are therefore lower because they aren’t employing people when there’s little work. Agencies supplying workers is not new, but it has seen an increase since the 1980s.48 This has come hand in hand with the trend towards ‘outsourcing’. This is the practice of companies whittling down their functions to the core, and finding outside sources to provide the other functions that might have previously been done by direct employees. For example, a hospital might have historically hired its hospital cleaners as employees; now, they’re highly likely to be employed by a separate company that has a contract with the hospital. Or if you go to any large offices nowadays you’ll probably find that the people cleaning it, the people working as security guards or reception staff and the caterers all work for different external companies. Some companies go even further and have very few directly employed staff even for their core functions, such as construction companies that hardly employ any actual construction site workers and instead rely on outsourcing from labour providers. 129

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An additional element of complexity comes in the form of subcontracting. This is when a company hires another company to do work as part of a larger project or contract. For example, a construction company might outsource construction site workers to a second company, and then that second company might hire another smaller company to provide specialists, like decorators, that they don’t have on their own books. Sometimes this subcontracting is above board, but sometimes it’s done secretly. The sourcing squeeze has been found to incentivise factories to subcontract to unauthorised suppliers so that they can fulfil orders in the time or at the cost allotted.49 These are often smaller underregulated entities, sometimes called ‘shadow factories’. They aren’t picked up in audits or even known about by brands, and exploitation is rife within them. An auditor in China estimates that 99 per cent of factories have a shadow to help them meet retailers’ demands.50 The combination of outsourcing and subcontracting, with an increasing number of agency workers in the mix, means instead of a ‘supply chain’ with clear steps from the product down through a series of stages to the raw materials, we have something more like a very complex, dense and opaque web, branching off in all sorts of directions. This obscures brands’ responsibility for working conditions: how can a brand be responsible for the working conditions all the way into the hidden and dense depths of that complex web? Legal distance is created between the brand and the workers making the products, even though those products are what generates the brand’s profit. Overall, we have a picture of fragmentation and complexity, with a vacuum of rights and responsibilities at its heart. Professor Genevieve LeBaron has pointed this out when she says we must start interrogating practices like this. The prevailing corporate narrative is that the extreme length and complexity of supply chains make it nigh on impossible for brands to know everything that’s going on and ensure decency. LeBaron says we 130

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must stop taking this at face value: instead, we need to start asking why supply chains have become so long and complex. Rather than ‘an automatic or spontaneous process’, this increasing complexity and length of supply chains is a ‘business strategy’ designed to avoid the responsibilities and risks that come with having a low-cost, high-volume production model.51 She continues, ‘The key point is that in spite of its depiction as a relatively technical or neutral business practice designed to maximise efficiency and flexibility for firms, subcontracting is in fact also a business strategy to push unethical practices further down the supply chain.’52 Without tackling the responsibility vacuum this creates, we can’t tackle exploitation. And it is doable. Mitchel-Hill’s work is evidence of this: she has literally travelled the length of Marshall’s stone supply chains, ‘picking up on those things that only actually being somewhere can tell you. The expressions on people’s faces, the non-verbal signals, the feel of the workplace.’ ABSENTEE GUARDIANS: THE ROLE OF THE STATE As we’ve seen, the activities of smaller companies – the suppliers of our big brands – is where most new abolitionist energy is directed in the private sector. In one sense, this makes sense as the majority of exploitative practices will be found within supply chains, not within the shiny walls of a corporate HQ. But it’s also problematic. That’s because, as we’ve also seen, supply chains may be the physical locus of most harm, but the causal locus is frequently the company at the top of the chain and the terms it dictates to those below it. If we only focus on the former, we’ll always be addressing the symptoms, not the cause. This is where we need to look to governments. Companies may be perpetrating the harmful practices, but governments are supposed to have responsibility for regulating companies. Sure, some companies are now taking action, but unless this action is legally required and failure to comply leads to meaningful 131

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consequences, it won’t last. ‘Even for the most forward-looking businesses’, says Skrivankova, ‘it’s still “nice to have”. If profits go down, these things are going to be the first to go.’ For most businesses, work on preventing exploitation is an add-on. It’s not what Mitchel-Hill thinks it needs to be, which is part of a company’s DNA: To do it properly, you have to put the victims or people who might become victims at the heart of what it is you do. They should be a forethought, not an afterthought. Your strategy as a business should emanate from them, preventing them from being exploited, instead of creating your strategy and then working out how to mitigate the harm it causes. As I’ve said, this approach is rare so it’s crucial that government makes it obligatory for other companies to step up. But, by and large, the neoliberal turn that began in the 1970s means our governments are absentee guardians. Yet we need them because voluntary corporate initiatives don’t work well enough. As Human Rights Watch puts it, ‘voluntary initiatives all face the same limitations: they are only as strong as their corporate members choose to make them, and they don’t apply to companies that don’t want to join’.53 In fact, voluntary solutions – like codes, audits and so on – are worse than ineffective. They are a tactic to stave off the laws and regulations we need. Rather than shirking their duty, governments should be acting as repairmen. They have the power to brick up the holes and block out the damp, stopping harm occurring in our workplaces. There are four very clear solutions government could introduce that would change everything radically for the better even within the capitalist system. These solutions would have wide-ranging effects along the full span of the continuum. This is important because, as we’ve seen, the severe exploitation at the sharp end is a design feature of our current system, not an anomalous exception. 132

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First, government should be funding labour inspection properly, requiring labour agencies to be licensed and ensuring that regular, proactive spot checks are carried out on businesses. Exploitative bosses and traffickers tend not to be ‘specialists’ but rather are ‘generalists’, as in they want to make money and they will find a viable way to do so. We saw in Chapter 3 that the failure to decriminalise the sex work sector makes it a very attractive industry for those wanting to make illicit profits. Likewise, the lack of labour inspection and enforcement of labour laws makes mainstream labour sectors more palatable too. This characteristic has been identified by academics Ella Cockbain and Helen Brayley-Morris who examined exploitation in the UK casual construction industry. Their empirical study used data from three major police operations on trafficking in the sector and they found that: Not only did a high proportion of the offenders have previous criminal convictions but their conviction histories indicated that they were criminal generalists rather than committed specialists. These results add to a small but growing body of evidence showing that even serious and organized criminals tend towards generalism, indicating that the crimes they commit are influenced by the different situations they encounter and the various offending opportunities contained within them.54 Phil Brewer says this matches what he’s seen in policing: I totally agree that they’re more generalists than specialists. This is all about money. Even if there are particular groups that focus on trafficking instead of totally different crime types, there’ll still be a range of exploitation types; sexual, forced labour, benefit fraud. The common factor is getting money, that’s the driver, so they’ll do whatever works, go through whichever door will open. 133

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Labour inspectorates are meant to identify abuse in the workplace, yet in the UK today they are woefully underfunded. The average employer can expect an inspection from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ wage unit once every 500 years.55 The Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate had 13 staff in 2019 to cover around 18,000 employment agencies and 1.1 million workers.56 This is madness if we supposedly want to ‘end modern slavery’, that is, reduce exploitation. The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is meant to deal with labour abuse and exploitation – including Modern Slavery Act offences – across the entire labour market in England and Wales and has, at the time of writing, 101 staff.57 To put this into perspective, the Office for National Statistics estimates that for May to July 2019, 32.78 million people aged 16 and over were in employment within the UK; even with the proportions of this which pertain to Scotland and Northern Ireland, this seems a rather large task for so few staff. The UK government is currently planning to amalgamate our core labour inspectorates into a ‘single enforcement body’ and may well be far along this road by the time you read this book, but there are no indications this will come with a meaningful increase in funding and staff so these problems will remain. How can we expect to have a workforce free from harm if we don’t enforce our labour laws? Second, if we want brands to take responsibility for their own impacts, we need to legislate to make them. This means introducing something called mandatory human rights due diligence, which would mean companies actually have to perform extensive investigations into their supply chains to ensure there aren’t adverse human rights impacts, and to address them when they find them. This is the mature version of transparency reporting of the sort we saw at the start of this chapter with the Modern Slavery Act’s ‘transparency in supply chains’ clause. And third, we must introduce a joint liability law which would make brands legally liable for exploitation in their suppliers if they couldn’t prove they’d taken meaningful steps to prevent it. The new abolition134

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ists aren’t completely blind to this need, but their exceptionalising frame makes them misapply it: in Disposable People, Kevin Bales says that ‘The laws themselves will have to be rewritten to extend responsibility and culpability … The physical distance between slave and master is increasing, so laws must be crafted to guarantee that increased distance doesn’t mean decreased responsibility.’ But this focuses on the most extreme cases, as if they can be plucked from the system and then the system can continue as usual. This is impossible because, as we’ve seen, it’s the system that produces the problem. Fourth, we need to limit the number of tiers there can be in a supply chain and restrict the percentage of a company’s core business purpose that can be outsourced. This would unpick the dense web of the supply chain, bringing clarity to responsibility and rights. TAKING BACK THE POWER Meanwhile, workers themselves have some opportunities. As Mark Anner has pointed out, the way in which brands’ profitability is now reliant on super-fast turnaround times provides huge potential for workers to disrupt supply chains and win improved wages and conditions. He’s found that some strikes in the Vietnamese apparel industry have been very successful, sometimes winning demands after striking for only a couple of hours because the time pressures on businesses are so intense, making them cave in to demands quickly. This uses the absurdity of the global production system against itself. Unions also need to step up: we live in a world where workers migrate, but union membership doesn’t. New approaches need to be developed that reflect this reality, such as cross-border union membership that transfers to the relevant national union, and more cooperation between unions in origin and destination countries. There are unions already doing good things to tackle severe exploitation. The launch of a union for Thai fishers in May 2018 is one example, seeking to bring solidarity and 135

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rights to some of the most abused workers in our global economy. In Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar, trade unions are running trainings on safe migration, and in one case workers who’d been charged inflated fees by a recruitment agency were supported to win a refund by the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar. Without this intervention, this would probably have turned into a case of debt bondage.58 Many unions have made declarations, published reports or set up projects on severe forms of exploitation but much more needs to be done to join this with the rest of the continuum and to create innovative interventions that are relevant to today’s world. And for those businesses that want to do better, there are some clear ways forward even without government stepping up and playing its part. The conditions for workers, such as wage rates, should be specified and obligatory in contracts with suppliers. This would be much more meaningful than merely making suppliers sign up to codes of conduct that prohibit slavery and which do nothing to improve the actual lot of the workers. Proactively encouraging freedom of association and unionisation in suppliers is key. Rather than periodic audits, and particularly for country contexts in which unionisation is dangerous or illegal, they can also look to the example of Marshalls. In India, they’ve long had a social manager on their books. ‘Their job is to go to any of the suppliers on a daily basis’, Mitchel-Hill tells me, ‘to check out the right standards are being observed. The social manager is an Indian national, speaks the relevant languages and we’ve trained them over a period of time. It means he fully understands the context and so when he flags something to us, it enables us to respond appropriately and be culturally aware.’ Alongside this, Marshalls also hired an independent undercover human rights observer to report back to them about conditions at quarries. Only two staff within the company knew it was happening. ‘It allowed us to get a third-party view’, she continues, ‘what we were seeing, being told – did it tally up? It’s hard graft to find the minutiae, the 136

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places where it’s a bit dark. This has helped us to do that.’ These kinds of culturally responsive investments are wise, but rare. And when businesses do find problems in suppliers, whether via audits or social managers and so on, they need to start financially supporting the changes they require. This could be by paying better prices in the first place or by providing direct financial support for those changes. MAN MADE, MAN CHANGED: A NEW WAY TO DO BUSINESS ‘We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.’ These are the words of the wonderful author Ursula K. Le Guin.59 The great coup of neoliberalism since the 1970s has been to make us feel as if the way the economy works now is natural and unchangeable. Things are problematic, but we feel that’s ‘just how it is’. But of course, the economy is not some God-given thing. It’s a system devised, amended, maintained, tinkered with and changed by fallible human beings, just like you and me. Viewing it as something human-designed and changeable helps to question the ethics of current practices. The possibility of changing our economic policies was made obvious as the COVID-19 pandemic hit: policies previously considered outrageously radical by many in power were introduced, from the UK’s billions in income support schemes to Spain’s release of migrant detainees. Just as the pandemic suddenly revealed that, with political will, anything is possible, the same holds with the issues we’ve examined in the course of this chapter. It’s not objectively true that subcontracting, lack of labour law enforcement or underunionisation to the extent now happening is somehow necessary for the functioning of the economy, locally or globally. It may well be necessary for it to function as it is right now, but 137

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what’s happening right now is hugely harmful to many workers, communities and environments around the world. All the changes described above would lead to long-term, sustainable improvements along the continuum and make our workforces more protected from severe exploitation. Yet instead of these options, we’re choosing superficial tools that do little more than provide symptom control. We have what Mitchel-Hill calls ‘snail’s pace progress’, something she finds hugely frustrating when she knows how much more is possible. How can that be, when we have governments, companies and international bodies so committed to Wilberforce 2.0? Because these things would target the power asymmetries that work in their favour. They would require legislation and regulation, which is anathema to the neoliberal ideology. They would require us to think that humans are as important as numbers in bank accounts. Voluntarism and soft laws keep power structures intact. They have created a corporate anti-slavery sector from which auditing firms and consultancies profit. They avoid meaningful responsibilities and ignore the voices of those actually affected. They tell us we should make the difference by changing what goes in our shopping basket. But, as I hope this chapter has shown, the thing we really need to stop buying is the bullshit.

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5

Spotting the Signs Join us for the largest rally against slavery in the world today. For one day that will change history. For freedom. A21 Billboards. Posters. Photography exhibitions. TV shows. Temporary tattoos. Websites. Apps. Light shows. Dance performances. Films. Wristbands. Marches. Leaflets. There’s even an opera. Anything you can think of has been used to get your attention about modern slavery. In fact, some things you probably haven’t thought about too: British schoolteacher Ben Hammond has spent some of his summer holidays progressively dancing across the USA in a yellow tutu to raise money and awareness for modern slavery1 and sustainability consultant Gordon Miller announced in early 2020 that he intended to cycle 1,000 miles in order to make ‘the largest GPS drawing by bicycle’, spelling out the words ‘end modern slavery’.2 Awareness-raising of the public is a dominant tactic of the new abolitionist movement. In 2015, the EU Commission found that 85 per cent of the anti-trafficking projects they assessed were information or awareness-raising campaigns.3 Media coverage of modern slavery amplifies these campaigns, providing another route to educate us in the form of seemingly factual reports. This should be a chapter about awareness creation, but it won’t be. Instead of finding that we know more thanks to all these campaigns and interventions, what we’ll really uncover is a story of 139

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ignorance production. We’ve already seen some of the role of ignorance in the modern slavery discourse in Chapter 4 and the ways in which knowledge is inconvenient for businesses because of the liability it entails. Now we’ll see how the very practices meant to inform us about exploitation are actually doing the opposite. AWARENESS-RAISING, THEN AND NOW Awareness-raising campaigns, whether from arts groups, civil society organisations or government, are all attempts to do one thing: tell us about a problem and tell us what’s needed to address it. We’re familiar with this on many topics, from how much fruit and veg we should eat to the destruction of the climate. Anti-slavery awareness-raising is no different. In fact, you may recall that it was precisely because of an awareness-raising tool – a leaflet – that Kevin Bales, champion of new abolitionism, first became aware of the problem on which he would go on to build his career. This focus draws on a well-established precedent from their supposed historical forebears. In the late eighteenth century, two men who had formerly been slaves published their stories and views to great effect. Quobna Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species was published in 1787 and was reprinted twice that year alone due to popularity. Cugoano had been kidnapped in Africa aged 13 and enslaved there before being brought to England where he worked as a domestic servant. Two years later, Olaudah Equiano published his autobiography that told how he was kidnapped in Nigeria at around eleven years old and sold to slave traders. By earning money through trading, he bought his freedom and became a key figure in the British abolition movement.4 Equiano spent five years promoting his abolitionist message and his eloquent demeanour was highly effective in countering pro-slavery lobbyists’ racist characterisations of slaves as lesser beings.5 The abolitionist movement also developed its 140

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own recognisable logo: in the same year as Cugoano’s book was published, famed potter Josiah Wedgwood produced a seal for the campaign bearing the image of a man of colour kneeling with chained hands raised above the question, ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother?’ Wearing the image became a fashion statement, making abolition a popular cause.6 The role of former slaves in the abolitionist movement helped to make their voices heard and their experiences understood, rather than campaigns solely being constructed ‘for’ them and risking misrepresentation and disempowering approaches. The contemporary anti-slavery movement has frequently suffered from these issues. In the very early days of the 1990s anti-trafficking movement, the imagery used ‘tended to show half-naked women in a dark tunnel’, Skrivankova tells me. Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson notes that campaign materials have emphasised ‘the reduction of victims to objects of trade. They abound with visual imagery of women and girls as slabs of meat, or packed in jam jars or sardine tins, or with bodies barcoded and ready for sale, or as inanimate objects such as puppets, or as decapitated heads packaged as sex toys.’7 Thankfully, while bad examples still exist, recent years have seen a reduction in the overemphasis of white female victims, fewer erroneous handcuffs and a general toning down of the uncomfortably evident prurience of the past. The UK government’s first anti-trafficking action plan in 2007 was followed by the launch of the Human Trafficking Centre’s Blue Blindfold campaign which cost £1.6 million8 and sought to raise public awareness. Posters were produced, for example showing a map of the British Isles and the message: ‘Women and children are being trafficked in the UK and forced into the sex industry. It could be in your town. On your street. In your community. In your workplace. Don’t close your eyes. Look around you.’ The poster encouraged people to call Crimestoppers if they spotted signs of victimisation.9 As suggested by this message, the campaign originally focused on 141

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sex-related exploitation ‘because it was very easy to understand that those traded were the victims of a crime’,10 though it later broadened out. In 2014, the Home Office riffed on a similar idea with a campaign called ‘Modern Slavery is Closer Than You Think’.11 More recent examples abound: if you happened to be in the right place at the right time in 2018, you might have stumbled upon a collection of large boxes, each with a photograph upon it. Four men harvesting crops in dirty clothing. A woman curled foetally on a messy mattress, her legs naked and toilet roll nearby. A man splattered with blood from a carcass he’s processing. Three people hunched and exhausted in a metal container, one of them washing meagrely from a plastic tub. ‘Invisible People’ was a touring photography exhibition created by the National Crime Agency that appeared in several cities including Bristol, Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff. In London, it was set up in front of the prestigious Westminster Abbey.12 Or perhaps later that year, on Anti-Slavery Day, you saw iconic landmarks, including 10 Downing Street, Edinburgh Castle, the Home Office and the Marble Arch lit up red,13 something that cost the Cabinet Office £12,000 to achieve at a time when victim support services were desperately in need of more funding and the Home Office’s own policies were keeping people trapped in exploitation.14 If you missed both of these events, then I bet you’ve seen media articles about slavery in hand car washes and nail bars, often exhorting you to learn to ‘spot the signs’ of modern slavery in order to report concerns. You could even have one of the multiple apps now in existence to aid you in this endeavour. If you’re a school kid, anti-slavery awareness might have come to you in the classroom, thanks to organisations that teach special classes on the subject in schools. While the nature of these activities has largely shifted away from the former obsession with semi-naked women, problematic messages encoded in anti-slavery awareness-raising remain. 142

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We need to consider the materials’ subtle messages and how this might affect what we understand. Because when it comes to issues that feel immediately political, like how much tax we should pay or whether our utilities should be nationalised, it’s instinctive to interrogate the politics of those creating the awareness-raising materials to assess whether we should believe them. We question what we’re shown, asking about the ideological position of those behind it and how this might affect what we’re told, and these sorts of queries help us to decide whether to believe the information. Would you believe a cigarette company’s messages about smoking safety? Would you nod along to oil company executives’ opinions on climate breakdown? Does a communist telling you nationalising everything is great make you want to reach for counterfactuals? But when it comes to issues that seem humanitarian, those sorts of questions are often left aside because of the idea that these are ‘non-political’, separable from the social and economic structures within which we live. But they’re not. The way in which a problem is presented to us is always an exercise of power, whether that problem is cancer, climate, nationalisation or modern slavery. THE COMFORT OF FALSE CERTAINTY The human mind has a basic need for certainty. Academics have analysed our urge for ‘cognitive closure’ and how it affects our responses to extreme and destabilising events, such as terrorist attacks. They found that people who were shown images of terrorism, like videos of 9/11, displayed a heightened need for certainty and resolution compared to people who weren’t.15 This is unsurprising; the use of war to distract citizenries from issues at home and create national cohesion is as old as politics. With regard to our topic, we can see a similar approach, whereby complex exploitation is simplified into the neat narrative of modern slavery. If we had the genuine situation portrayed to us – the complexity 143

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of types of exploitation around the world, the ways in which it is generated by core social and economic structures, how it is compounded by racism, classism and so on – so much would need to change it would make us dizzy. Instead, modern slavery awareness-raising, whether in publicfacing campaigns or via media articles, tends towards a simplistic tale made up of a triad of ideas: first, a particular type of victim; second, a particular type of offender; and third, the notion of rescue. All three produce forms of ignorance and misinformation, as we’ll see. The London Evening Standard newspaper provides a useful example: it ran a high-profile campaign focused on ‘the scandal of modern slavery here in prosperous London’ in 2017. Victims were described as being kept in ‘sub-human conditions’ by ‘the gangsters’.16 The use of the definite article here – ‘the gangsters’ – is interesting: the specific news piece that uses this phrase is the project’s launch announcement, and this is the first mention of the idea of perpetrators. A definite article in English, when used correctly, implies that the thing to which we are referring has already been mentioned, is common knowledge or will be defined next. But it isn’t defined next and it hasn’t been yet, so implicit in the language use is that we have some kind of shared understanding already of how modern slavery works and by whom it is perpetrated. I would suggest this is a foreign gang in our popular imagination. The construction of the ‘gang’ as the villain has consistently pervaded the modern slavery story in the UK. For example, in October 2013, then Home Secretary Theresa May wrote a piece for Metro entitled ‘The Abhorrent Evil of Human Trafficking Taking Place on London’s Streets’. In it, she said, ‘All around us, hidden from view, people are being used and abused by organised criminal gangs through forced labour, being pushed into crime or sexual exploitation.’17 The purpose of the piece was to welcome a report published by Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly which is the elected body of the Greater 144

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London Authority. Yet a piece run on the same day announcing the report makes the exact opposite point to May, stating, The majority of people trafficked are brought into this country on their own or in groups of two or three and are left open to abuse, according to the study. Those who do summon the courage to seek help from the police or councils find themselves turned away or not believed. The research by London Assembly member Andrew Boff suggested concentrating on organised trafficking gangs allowed many cases to slip through the net.18 A previous report by Boff had also noted that, The emphasis on organised criminality worried the service provider we spoke to as their communication with trafficked victims in their centres suggested that some victims, such as those from Western Africa, who made up the largest group of victims, were not exploited by organised crime networks but by individuals such as boyfriends, family members or family friends.19 While there are indeed some foreign gangs perpetrating harm, this is, as usual, not the whole story and brings with it harmful racial biases and blind spots in policing. The 2017 launch article for the Evening Standard’s modern slavery campaign also taps into problematic ideas of victimhood. The photograph used is of a white woman who appears to be naked and is hunched over, evoking the typical ‘ideal victim’ of the white sexually abused woman, harking back to the white slave trade panic of the early twentieth century as described in Chapter 3. Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the paper, promises his readership that ‘Together we can – and will – help to ensure this scourge is eradicated from a 21st century city in which it has no place’, nicely reinforcing the contaminant idea. It shows all the sweet 145

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spots of the modern slavery story: the gangster-offenders, the extreme nature of the offence, the utter vulnerability and innocence of the victims, and the capacity to end this harm, creating a happily ever after. It’s a very comforting narrative. This may seem counter-intuitive – what could be comforting about stories of horrendous abuse? – but the comfort isn’t in the content of the harm, but rather in the way the story is told. We’re on a crusade together, against something singular and understandable, perpetrated by bad people against good victims, and it’s also something that ‘has no place’ in our society and is therefore not symptomatic of any deep-seated problem with the way we’re running things or living, but simply something we need to wipe out, wiping ourselves clean in the process. It’s a classic tale of atonement, riffing on Kevin Bales in Disposable People: ‘Ending slavery is really about saving our own souls’.20 As you’ve probably guessed by this point in the book, I’m going to say that all is not what it seems. Let’s consider the idea of the victim. We saw in Chapter 2 how immigration policy creates and perpetuates exploitation and curtails people’s ability to gain support in its aftermath. Because we’ve criminalised forms of immigration status, officials are left trying to decipher whether they should treat migrants as victims or criminals. When presented with an undocumented adult who appears to have entered the UK willingly, the legitimacy of their victim status is reduced, and we end up with victims locked up in immigration centres. This confusion around the ‘right type’ of victim is also highly relevant in terms of sex work. The woman considered the legitimate victim of sexual exploitation is not the woman who knew she was migrating to do sex work and yet, in reality, many women do know this but then on arrival find the conditions are appalling and the situation is one of exploitation. When have you ever seen that portrayed in a modern slavery awareness-raising campaign? We can hear this confusion in the words of an Australian law enforcement officer regarding women sex workers: 146

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are they a victim or [not?] … that’s where the water’s really muddy … because they’re sort of in the middle of both worlds … Most of them only really become a victim when things go wrong for them. You know there are very few people who … go to Australia … not knowing that they’re going to be involved in the sex trade [and] … it’s only when that money is not forthcoming that they either decide to make a complaint or … report it to the authorities.21 This has been described as identifying someone as a victim in relation to their social context – were they abducted and unwilling to perform sex work, or did they know and therefore can be judged socially as complicit with their exploitation? Instead, we should be understanding whether someone is a victim based on the harm perpetrated against them. Being complicit in the initial circumstance shouldn’t rob you of the right to assert abuse later on. Those depictions described earlier, such as the white naked cowering woman used by the Evening Standard, overlook these complex realities. There are also categories of people omitted entirely from the modern slavery story because they don’t fit its narrative; they’d require us to drag too much of the deep structures of our societies into the frame. In terms of victims, the new abolitionist treatment of forced labour in prisons and immigration detention centres is noticeably flawed. Bales wrote in 2005 that ‘prison labour is a particularly thorny question’ and that the way to determine whether it might constitute modern slavery was by considering the ‘legitimacy of the government in control and the fairness of its justice system’.22 The idea that the legitimacy of a prison system rests on these factors is to overlook the deep institutional prejudices in law and justice. For example, it is well recognised that the US ‘War on Drugs’ disproportionately incarcerates people of colour. Or we could consider London: how many times do you think a young black man is stopped and searched, and potentially enters into the 147

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justice system, for carrying drugs? How many times do you think a white stock trader in Canary Wharf is patted down for cocaine? White privilege is a highly effective shield from the realities of our systems, as the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests have hopefully now elucidated to many. This deeper issue aside, labour in prisons can certainly meet the threshold of forced labour, as defined by the ILO. Indeed, in 2018 the Global Slavery Index did acknowledge that some US corporations appear to be using forced labour. But this recognition is not yet widespread in the new abolitionist movement and the index’s UK country study makes no mention of this problem, even though we have it here too. In 2017, several people detained in UK immigration centres challenged the Home Office for paying them wages of £1 per hour. The tasks being performed included support work for the centre like kitchen jobs, cleaning bathrooms and picking up litter. The judge ruled against the detainees, saying that the rates were acceptable because no one was compelled to do the work and because the purpose of the jobs was ‘to provide meaningful activity and alleviate boredom’.23 Paid work in detention centres is indeed voluntary, however the jobs being performed are essential to the day-to-day functioning of immigration centres.24 Without detainees doing these tasks, the private companies who now run the majority of UK detention centres would have to pay people minimum wage rates or higher, thus affecting their profit. ‘Exploitation’ means treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work; clearly, that is what’s happening, given that although detainees are housed and fed to a basic degree without working, they consider it necessary to buy essentials such as phone credit and extra food.25 In news reports of this case, the detainees are described as feeling exploited, referring to the pay as ‘slave labour wages’. One former detainee says that ‘in detention I said I would work because I felt I didn’t have a choice’.26 Outside immigration detention, these kinds of circumstances and lived experiences would be considered as constituting victimisation, but because the immigration detainee is the wrong 148

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type of victim and not the ‘innocent’ person whom politicians like Boris Johnson consider to be modern slaves,27 the new abolitionist movement omits them from the picture. Perhaps even more unpalatably for the modern slavery story, some victims of severe exploitation are ex-offenders who are unable to get into mainstream employment due to their criminal records. Unsurprisingly, they don’t feature in awareness-raising campaigns. In this sense, it’s frequently the social context, rather than the actual harm, that defines whether someone is a legitimate victim in the public’s eyes. Some types of offenders also don’t make the cut. Yes, there are certainly trafficking ‘gangs’ or ‘networks’, but a significant proportion is totally different from this idea. Forty per cent of convicted traffickers in Nigeria are women, some of whom have formerly attempted to migrate and been unable to succeed, then turned to working as ‘travel agents’.28 And rather than a well-organised evil ring, much undocumented movement occurs via ‘solo, independent traders’, as a study of the route from the Horn of Africa through Libya to Northern Europe found.29 In this way, those who don’t fit a specific conception of victim or offender are left out of the modern slavery picture. Political theorist Carol Bacchi says that if we want to understand the ways in which a problem is being represented, we need to ask who benefits from this representation, who might be harmed, who’s being held responsible and how that attribution of responsibility affects our perceptions.30 These are crucial questions to ask ourselves about modern slavery. When we allow this story to represent exploitation to us, we benefit current systems of power: if we don’t conceptualise the immigration detainee as a legitimate victim, we won’t question the practice of locking people up; if we don’t learn that ‘gangs’ are sometimes impoverished migrants themselves or that victims have originally sought out the services of smugglers, we won’t question global inequalities and hard borders; if we don’t realise that some victims were originally homeless or ex-cons, we won’t ask questions about social safety nets; and so on. It’s 149

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the most at-risk and marginalised people in our societies whom this harms, while absolving governments and businesses of true responsibility. YOU’RE MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE THAN THEY THINK All this is not to suggest that the public has no role to play and can never be useful. There are instances where an alert public would have enabled someone to escape exploitation. For example, in the experience of Abul Kamal Azad described in Chapter 2, he interacted with hundreds of tourists during the period of his exploitation at the Scottish hotel but none reported any concerns. A local woman who used to drink at the hotel bar is reported as still feeling ‘a deep sense of shame that she didn’t see immediately what was happening’.31 Nottingham University’s Rights Lab collects victims’ testimonies; it’s clear from many of these that an activated public would have been hugely helpful. Edward (not his real name) tells a horrific story of being forced to work for no pay, being beaten and having his identity documents taken to keep him under control.32 ‘I knew I was a slave’, he says. He describes feeling ‘like rubbish on the floor. I wished that I could die, that it could all be behind. I just wanted a painless death.’ Edward was made to work doing odd jobs, such as home repairs and gardening. Clearly, it was possible that one of the customers could have recognised issues with his treatment or appearance and asked some questions and then he might have exited exploitation sooner. Likewise, my point in Chapter 3 that clients of sex workers could help to identify victims falls into the same category. All these examples have one thing in common: they show that public awareness is useful for ending an exploitative situation, not for preventing it in the first place. ‘Spotting the signs’ of a victim is about mopping up what’s already happened. Keeping this in mind helps us to understand what awareness can and can’t achieve. But 150

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even with this narrowed focus, when we start to delve into what the public thinks about modern slavery this safe ground seems to fall away. In 2018, three academics published a report, Consuming Modern Slavery, based on in-depth interviews with members of the public in London, Glasgow and Blackpool to understand what they knew and thought about modern slavery.33 The research made several interesting findings, though I’m going to suggest that these findings have been misinterpreted. First, they found that the public have uncertainty regarding the boundaries between labour exploitation and slavery. The researchers concluded that ‘this uncertainty and blurring of the boundaries between exploitation and slavery highlights the need for informational campaigns that directly target consumer awareness’ and that ‘informational appeals through mass media seem necessary to raise consumer awareness of the scope and nature of modern slavery’.34 The report goes on to say that even if there was a strong moral feeling present in interviewees’ understandings of modern slavery, this ‘rarely translated into action’, with a series of justifications or ‘neutralisations’ of the problem used in order to avoid action. They dub one of these ‘condemning the condemners’, which they describe as ‘a technique whereby consumers deflect personal responsibility or blame by pointing to the inefficiency or hypocrisy of those who would potentially condemn them; most notably, governmental and business actors’. Interviewees are quoted as saying, ‘This is the government’s problem to sort out’, and, ‘Realistically the complexity of modern life means that it’s very difficult for you to make the most ethical choice all of the time, so you have to rely on the government to take away the worst excesses and then you have to hope that the reputation of other companies and their own values would, you know, take away the rest.’ The conclusion the researchers draw from this finding is that ‘there is a need to emphasise governmental and business initiatives in a way that calls the consumer to do their own bit’. They also found that consumers appear to prefer shorter 151

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corporate modern slavery statements and suggest that ‘summary pages or executive abstracts would work better in terms of dissemination to the broader civic/consumer society’. A final interesting finding is that people who claimed they had directly encountered victims were reluctant to report it because they were concerned about the immigration repercussions for the person in question. We didn’t need more reasons to prove that current immigration policy is completely at odds with espoused anti-slavery aims but there we have one. Overall, then, this research concludes that people don’t understand modern slavery properly, aren’t feeling personally responsible for it and aren’t taking appropriate action (shopping choices, reporting) to stop it, so more awareness-raising is needed. Essentially, the public don’t get it. They are ignorant. But are they? This assumption needs further interrogation. Sociologist Professor Linsey McGoey questions the notion that the ‘public’ is ignorant. She writes that we can judge people as being ‘inferior knowers’ and undervalue their ability to understand a given situation.35 If we take this sort of approach to the conclusions of Consuming Modern Slavery, a different distribution of ignorance appears. The first finding noted above was that consumers are uncertain about the boundaries between labour exploitation and slavery and that the researchers thought this meant more awareness-raising is needed. But it’s absolutely right to be confused and to perceive blurred boundaries. Courts have the same problem. Police do too. As Phil Brewer explained, ‘It was evident to me that, for police, sorting out what’s really happened is very tricky. The mores of consent and coercion, the individual relations and what might be right or wrong, and what might be against the law which is often an entirely different question, these things are rarely clear cut.’ In fact, individuals in these circumstances often vary hugely as to whether they conceptualise themselves as in ‘slavery’ because, as 152

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I explained in Chapter 4, ‘modern slavery’ is not a clear-cut category like historical legal slavery. Rather, we have a continuum of exploitation with a variety of stopping points along it, which can and do bleed into one another and shift over time. Rather than undoing ignorance of the public about modern slavery, I suggest that information and awareness campaigns that seek to explain to them what it ‘really’ is can actually create ignorance. They do this by ‘correcting’ the public’s understanding away from the instinctive ideas identified in Consuming Modern Slavery, which appear to be more accurate, and towards a cruder, more simplistic representation of the problem. Why would this be happening? Because, as Robert N. Proctor, the father of the study of ignorance, has written, ignorance is not a void.36 We think of it like this – as a kind of empty space that needs filling with knowledge – but it’s not hollow; it’s productive. It shapes and obscures and deflects. Moving on to the notion of ‘condemning the condemners’, whereby the public allegedly deflected their own responsibility for tackling modern slavery by pointing to business and governmental actors, it should be obvious from previous chapters, particularly regarding corporate practices, under-enforcement or lack of appropriate laws, and harmful immigration policy, that this is, in fact, a very sensible position. We won’t solve exploitation without changing the rules and government are the rule-makers, and yet the researchers draw the conclusion that consumers need to have their responsibility emphasised to them through more information campaigns. Even if this did happen, it should be obvious it wouldn’t work from the report’s own finding that consumers would prefer ‘summary pages or executive abstracts’ about companies’ anti-slavery actions. How can you realistically judge whether a multinational with tentacles all over the world is doing ‘enough’ to tackle severe exploitation from two pages of bullet points? How would you know whether the bullet points themselves create any meaningful impact on the ground? Some of the best companies also don’t publish the riskier parts of their anti-exploitation 153

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work; for example, the undercover human rights observation I described Marshalls undertaking in Chapter 4 would not have been in a statement until it was safely completed. The only thing you could be certain of is that this would increase the salaries of corporate communications teams. Finally, the point that people who thought they’d directly encountered victims didn’t want to report it in case the person was undocumented is very important. In separate research, focus groups with members of the public in the UK’s East Midlands area have also found that the concern most often expressed was that reporting suspicions someone may be a victim ‘could actually make matters worse for the individual’, such as by getting them deported. Rather than being ignorant, misinformed and downright lazy with regard to modern slavery, the public is surprisingly intuitive about the real issues. Simply informing them more isn’t going to address stasis and apathy; at best it may mean that a few more possible victims are reported. But even this may not mean people can move into a better life. The aforementioned Modern Slavery Helpline was launched by NGO Unseen in 2016. Despite not being funded by government money, public agencies such as police forces, the Home Office and the National Crime Agency went on to publicise it aggressively, putting it on websites, pamphlets, posters and so on. It’s certainly become the go-to place to report a potential case and its volume of calls is growing year on year.37 Does this mean awareness-raising is working then? Well, no. FoI requests to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) which, since 2016, has been the forefront agency tackling severe exploitation, reveal a different picture. They show that in 2018 the GLAA received 501 referrals of possible cases from the helpline. Of those 501, only 51 led to investigations. So, only 10 per cent of referrals from the Helpline to the GLAA are turning into actual investigations. Of those 51 investigations, only one person was referred to the NRM. That’s one single person identified as potentially being a victim of modern 154

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slavery, from 501 referrals. It’s possible that the GLAA passed some intelligence to other agencies, but this would need to change the proportions to an enormous and unlikely degree to show any profound utility of awareness-raising. This isn’t a criticism of the GLAA; as we saw earlier, it’s hugely understaffed for the size of its remit. It’s also likely that much of the information they receive via the Helpline isn’t realistically actionable: its director of strategy, Darryl Dixon, told the Guardian in 2018 that, ‘Of the referrals we get to car washes [from the Helpline], 62% are what we would term vague information, such as the workers didn’t look happy.’38 When it comes to the police, many forces aren’t even recording the proportion of helpline referrals that lead to investigations and identification of victims. This means we have a picture that, combined, is one of poor performance and failure to assess impact. Overall, then, we see assumptions being made about the public’s ignorance, even though their opinions are intuitively wise. We see clear obstacles to improving their ability to report even where it would be helpful, and the construction of a mythical solution that isn’t bearing fruit. Academic research also finds that awarenessraising has dubious impact.39 And yet, more awareness-raising is so often touted as the solution needed. In Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World, ‘hypnopaedia’ is the term he gives to the educational snippets poured into the ears of sleeping children so that they’re unknowingly schooled into becoming obedient citizens. ‘Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth’, notes one character, and a contented public is created, all believing the same maxims and propositions despite the fact that these are ‘words without reason’. The only reason the public would need more information campaigns in the current circumstances is if we’re channelling Huxley and more enthusiastic about the public simply learning a formula supportive of the power systems in place, rather than questioning whether its messages are reasonable. One of the major points Huxley makes in the novel is that life in the ‘new world’ is devoid of messiness 155

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or uncertainty. Its inhabitants know their social roles, have clearly proscribed activities and are not bothered by the machinations of existential angst, the requirements of complex art or the trials of long-term relationships. The ‘savage’ who encounters this world is appalled by it. He recognises that what is complex and messy is also so often what is human. This is something the modern slavery story, in its crude neatness, sets aside, and yet it’s the messiness that shows us the real solutions. IGNORANCE ASSUMPTIONS FOR ALL The general public isn’t the only target of awareness-raising campaigns and assumptions of ignorance. Some target people who could become future victims. As Phil Brewer noted to me in our discussion, useful awareness-raising ‘needs to be targeted to specific communities, to be bespoke’. He gives the example of placing information on the social media channels most used by an at-risk community, for example Facebook or Snapchat, then testing to check whether target audiences have seen it. This is, he says, what NGO Stop the Traffik have been doing. There’s definitely merit in this, so long as it’s done in a manner that’s respectful of people’s different options and choices. Sometimes, though, campaigns targeted at potential victims fall foul of the same problem described above: the misplaced presumption of ignorance. In 2017, academic Peter Olayiwola travelled to south-west Nigeria to interview people about child domestic work. He suggests an ‘ignorance explanation’ is often provided to explain as to why parents would send their children from their rural homes to the city to work as domestic workers or why they might believe the promises of those offering such work: it is believed that most parents, when sending their children into domestic service, are simply not aware of the consequences 156

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of their actions and in most cases, children also do not know what awaits them before leaving their parents’ homes … it is also claimed that even in cases of abuse and exploitation, most of them are ignorant of their rights and often do not know where to go to for support.40 Olayiwola wanted to find out if this was true. It wasn’t. Contrary to this ‘ignorance assumption’, he found that most of the parents had fairly good knowledge of modern slavery and/or human trafficking, but because the campaigns didn’t address their lived realities, it was seen as removed from them and irrelevant. Instead, migration for domestic work was ‘a choice often made in consideration of potential benefits and actual costs’. Rather than being ignorant, children and parents are making a choice based on the limited range of options available. A parent with two children in domestic service explained her reasoning: Sometimes, they may not be properly fed; they may be physically assaulted at work, and in some cases, they may not give them what they need in school. So, it is not as if all is perfect where they are, but they know that things are even worse at home in terms of basic provisions, so they’d rather endure whatever ill-treatment they face there, and they don’t even tell me some of these things. A child domestic worker echoes some of these points: ‘I was living with my mum before. But there was no money, no means of sending me to school. If I were staying with them, there is no way I would be going to school.’ And for this former domestic worker, now a trained tailor, it’s clear that this type of circumstance is part of a strategy to improve options over time: I think that kind of job is just a temporary thing – a steppingstone to have something better to do in life … I cannot tell 157

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my younger one for example not to work for money now. He does not have anything to do now, and if he wants to go to school, there is no money for him to go to school … it is only a stepping-stone. So we can see here that movement for the purposes of working as a domestic worker, which may entail exploitation, wasn’t conceptualised by those doing it as ‘human trafficking’, but rather as an education, livelihood and social mobility strategy. Despite this, the officials Olayiwola interviewed were steadfast in their view: ‘Increase in awareness is key. Most parents don’t know … if they know … they wouldn’t fall prey to the antics of traffickers.’ Not only is this contrary to the research findings, which found that parents did know the kinds of conditions their children might end up in but that it was a necessary risk in order to ensure their future, but it’s also problematic because it makes the issue one of personal attitudes and understandings. Rather, as the testimonies from parents and children attest, the issue is economic. Officials reported to Olayiwola that ‘even when potential young migrants had been repeatedly warned against migrating for work, and were subsequently arrested and reunited with their families, they almost always found ways to return to work’.41 Phil Brewer noted a related issue to me; that of ‘rescued victims’ in the UK running away from where authorities were housing them and back to their exploiters in order to continue earning money. Despite this, it seems the Nigerian government spokespeople whom Olayiwola interviewed were unwilling to recognise that economic issues might be the real drivers of migration for work, telling him that poverty ‘is not a matter for immigration’,42 as if people’s lack of resources can be considered separate from their wish to migrate. In testimonies of victims identified in the UK, like Edward’s and Azad’s described earlier, they often say that they’d believed what they were told by the person who later turned out to be deceiving 158

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them. The problem here isn’t so much whether the person knows or doesn’t know about the risk of being deceived. The problem is that the need for options, a better future, overrides this. It’s the same way that all con tricks work. We watch a documentary about a woman being tricked into handing over her savings to someone she thought was her boyfriend and shake our heads wondering how on earth she could have been so naive. We say the man who invested in a Ponzi scheme is gullible; we wouldn’t have been so easy to deceive. But we would, in the right situation. To think otherwise is to be rather arrogant and deny one’s own humanity. Awareness-raising in potential victims fails to acknowledge this, instead ascribing exploitation to the ignorance and attitude of the person who experiences it, rather than the circumstances within which they are making choices. In essence, it shouts louder at people who then continue to search for options once the megaphone has buggered off. There are definitely instances of projects that have helped people to be more aware of the risks of migration and of the kinds of factors in recruitment that might be warning signs of deception. But the prioritisation of this over reform of material conditions is problematic. As we can see from Olayiwola’s important research, sometimes people are fully informed but other motivations and needs still drive them into the arms of deception and harm. It’s not necessarily the education difference between those people and those who are fortunate enough not to become victims; it’s the life circumstances. This is also pertinent with regard to UK-based ‘county lines’. County lines is defined by our National Crime Agency as: a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs. These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as ‘deal lines’, to take orders from drug users … In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to 159

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where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.43 As noted earlier, schoolchildren are having their ‘awareness raised’ about county lines with the aim of preventing them from ending up victimised. Of course, ensuring schoolchildren are well equipped to understand the dangers of our society is a frequently necessary activity and not a new tool, as any woman will know from childhood talks about personal safety. But let’s consider where the burden of responsibility is presumed to lie. In the case of personal safety talks, it was us schoolgirls who were expected to act; stay in lit areas, zigzag repeatedly across roads if we thought a man was following us, hold our keys ready, and so on. It was never suggested that there might be some work to do on men’s attitudes and behaviours. In county lines, we see an analogous misplacement of the burden of responsibility. Research on the issue has found that the children most (not solely, but most) at risk of becoming victimised are those living in poverty, who have been in care and/ or excluded are from mainstream school. They’re attracted by the sense of belonging and structure gangs provide, and obviously the money, which they may or may not end up getting. As the National Crime Agency itself said in its 2018 county lines report, ‘offenders both recruit and control victims with limited economic opportunities’. This has been exacerbated by austerity economics which has removed crucial youth services and slashed benefits. County lines mainly involves children, but we see a similar theme playing out with regard to adult males. Multiple cases of trafficking and forced labour with adult male victims have involved men with some form of extreme vulnerability, for example homelessness, drug or alcohol dependency, or criminal convictions which make getting work difficult. Mark is a British man from southern England. He fell on hard times and was ‘picked up in the street by a gentleman who promised me work, a place to live, you know three meals a day sort of thing’.44 He planned to work 160

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for the man and save in order to get himself back on his feet. ‘Turned out not to be quite as it had been sold to me’, he told a BBC interviewer, in rather an understatement. He was made to work for around 18 hours a day for a little pay at first and later, nothing. He was entirely dependent on the man for money, food and accommodation, and so felt totally unable to leave. He thought no one would believe him if he sought help. His story is sadly not unique. Homeless men have been targeted as easy prey for those looking for cheap and exploitable labour.45 This is likely to worsen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequent rise in economic hardship. In its 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy, the government acknowledged this, writing, ‘Homeless people are especially vulnerable to being targeted by traffickers and slave drivers.’ Their solution? ‘We will work with homelessness charities to raise awareness and ensure staff can spot the signs of modern slavery.’46 This totally overlooks the lack of options available to people experiencing destitution and the government’s own role in creating that dispossession. Mark described the choice he felt was in front of him once he’d realised his predicament: ‘you either stay there and suffer this or you go back out into the world with nothing at all. It’s the lesser of two evils.’ In 2018, the number of rough sleepers in the UK was 165 per cent higher than in 2010,47 and by 2020 the number of households living in temporary accommodation had risen by 79 per cent from 2010.48 Any genuine anti-exploitation strategy would have reducing this at its heart, instead of sidestepping it and putting up posters. PUT DOWN YOUR ASPIRATIONS Of course, there’s a reason why government prefers to focus on awareness-raising rather than changing the structures and cultures driving exploitation. It’s better for them, because running an ad campaign or giving a few hundred thousand to homelessness charities to teach their staff to ‘spot the signs’ is a hell of a lot 161

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cheaper than systemic change. Some of their awareness-raising has another political goal too: discouragement of migration. As the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women notes, ‘antitrafficking prevention programmes around the world have resulted [in] increased … messages to school children and adults that migrating is dangerous, not to mention messages to women that they especially are likely to end up sexually exploited and therefore should not leave their village’. The Department for International Development has been running a programme called Stamping Out Slavery in Nigeria that focuses on ‘discouraging the aspirations of irregular migration trafficking’.49 Its theory of change focuses on changing ‘behaviours, attitudes and social norms’.50 A government document explains this to mean, ‘Reducing the drivers and enablers of trafficking and unsafe migration refers largely to the outflows of typically young adults, planning aspirational, international travel.’51 The document also states that ‘high remittance flows back to Edo State [in Nigeria] … are powerful drivers of aspiration … Those who “succeed” abroad are more visible and vocal than the many who suffer or “fail”.’ Once again, as we’ve seen with Olayiwola’s work, county lines and homelessness, no deep changes are being offered to the economy and society that’s generating these ‘aspirations’. Schemes to encourage entrepreneurship and local economic health do exist, but these tend to be short-term, reliant on grants and focused, once again, on the responsibility of the individual to construct an alternative option, instead of on the system itself to redistribute resources. FAIRY TALES AREN’T TRUE: THE MYTH OF RESCUE Awareness-raising is just as problematic when it comes to the idea of ‘rescue’. Rescue is absolutely key to the story – we aren’t having our awareness raised about some intractable evil that cannot be 162

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solved. We are being told to pay attention because there’s something we can do about it, and invariably that ‘something’ is learning how to identify when someone might be a victim and reporting it. This, we’re told, will save people, freeing them from their terrible circumstances and enabling them to lead a better life. Recall the organisations established by Kevin Bales and Andrew Forrest in Chapter 1, Free the Slaves and Walk Free respectively. They are joined by Freedom United, the Freedom Fund, the annual Walk for Freedom arranged by anti-slavery organisation A21, and the CNN Freedom Project, to name but a few. Deloitte believes it has created a ‘“freedom ecosystem” of stakeholders’52 and charities say they provide freedom to victims or ask people to donate to them to ‘fund freedom’.53 It’s the happily ever after ending we need after being exhorted to take off our blindfolds to the human pain all around us. But fairy tales aren’t true. I’m about to make a statement that’ll be considered unacceptable by many, but it’s necessary: ‘rescue’ is not the best option for some people when there are no better futures for them than the exploitative conditions. It’s right that this fact should make us deeply uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean we can turn away from it. This is the reality beneath the modern slavery story and this is what we must solve. In 2018, the BBC ran a documentary about a UK modern slavery case involving Vietnamese girls working in nail bars. It’s clear in the documentary that the girls had been exploited and that what had happened to them was both illegal and not in line with our social expectations of treatment of young people. But at one point in the film, one of the girls, Ten, said the woman later found guilty of exploiting her had given her clothes, shelter and food, and that she was happy there ‘for the first time’. One of the other girls also said she was happy with the situation as she had no family or other way of supporting herself. She then began to cry and said she was afraid, and that she wanted to learn English and have a good foster family. The BBC’s media centre 163

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description of the show says: ‘The girls found in the nail bars do not see themselves as victims. As illegal immigrants, with no other options, they are happy to be fed and housed and work for free.’54 When confronted with testimonies like these, many people reach for the idea of ‘false consciousness’ – the girls don’t realise that they’ve been exploited. But maybe they do? And maybe the truly shitty fact is that it’s the best option available. It shouldn’t be, but things happen that shouldn’t. The same issue has been identified in relation to hand car washes. In October 2018, the office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner published a report on this sector. It quotes police as saying, Generally we found workers to be very happy to engage with police and tell us how much they were earning, which tended to be around £40–£60 per day, working between 8–10 hours. They were aware of the minimum wage and were content with their conditions. Across our visits there is some commonality in regard to the reduction in pay against minimum wage, offset by accommodation provision. In the majority of cases however the view is that the workers are more than happy with that (usually declared at £5 per hour) – even when minimum wage is discussed there is a clear lack of interest and that generally there is satisfaction with the conditions. They also report workers going back to work for their traffickers in order to earn after being in our victim support system. Phil Brewer explained to me that the public perception is of sad people working in horrendous conditions, all dirty, and recognising that they themselves are being exploited, and that isn’t what it’s about. Everyone’s bar of exploitation is different; we have our UK social bar which is reasonably high, yet our victims tend to set their bar much 164

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lower. If they’re earning three quid an hour, they’re on the up. But then we turn up and say, ‘you’re a victim’. Rachel Mullan-Feroze concurs. ‘Take hand car washes’, she tells me. ‘Somebody might well be making more money there to send back home than they would have made at home. Now, their working conditions might be really bad but, we still need to recognise that they’re adults and, as adults, they’re probably capable of making a choice.’ Klara Skrivankova told me of some Moldovan sex workers she encountered early in her anti-trafficking career. Back home, they were living in ‘middle ages conditions, no running water, no electricity’. In exploitation, they were forced into sex work, ‘but they had their own room, they could shower every day and they had electricity. The traffickers didn’t harm them if they learned the rules – physical violence doesn’t make sense if you want the women to be able to work. They would make money eventually and their life was more comfortable in many ways than where they were before.’ This is a difficult thing to accept because of our privilege: most of us – me writing this, probably you reading it – have a whole range of other options, a lengthy descending list of them before we’d think that such a terrible situation might be considered ‘better’. It’s uncomfortable, horrible and heartbreaking that ‘rescue’ isn’t always rescue. It’s also true. DEPORTED, DETAINED AND PUSHED BACK INTO EXPLOITATION When it comes to non-EU citizens (and after Brexit transition, EU citizens too who don’t have a legal right to be here), rescue is an even more limited reality. This is why the hopes of the Vietnamese girls on the BBC film are so heartbreaking: they are so unlikely to get the future they should have and are highly likely to find themselves deported back to Vietnam with no support systems and at risk of destitution, stigma and retrafficking.55 165

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This is because, despite vociferous campaigns both in and out of Westminster, successive governments have refused to give people who’ve experienced exploitation the right to stay in the UK for a year (or more). In 2018 Iain Duncan Smith MP and Lord McColl introduced a Private Members’ Bill to parliament seeking to rectify this. Duncan Smith explained that, unlike someone granted asylum, someone who is confirmed to be a victim of modern-day slavery has no automatic entitlement to ongoing support and residency. Almost the most important point is that we are therefore not able to check that they are safe. They will not come forward to give evidence, we will not get prosecutions and by not coming forward, they are more likely to slide back into being re-trafficked.56 At the time of writing, campaigning continues to try to win people the right to stay in the UK after experiencing exploitation on our shores. One of the main opposing arguments used by governments has been that provision of the right to stay in the UK for longer will lead to people making false claims in order to stay in the country. But, as award-winning UK anti-trafficking expert Kate Roberts has noted, ‘If there are concerns that the system is wrongly identifying people as trafficked who are not, the logical response is to improve the identification system’. According to Roberts, twelve months’ residency is needed in order to give victims ‘a minimum level of security … to reflect, recover and possibly feel safe enough to disclose some of the more traumatic aspects of what has happened to them, and possibly seek justice’.57 The government doesn’t routinely publish the number of recognised victims who are given leave to remain, that is the right to be here, another example of a ‘useful unknown’ as introduced in Chapter 1. Journalists, however, have done great work in exposing the numbers. Jane Bradley and Emily Dugan of Buzzfeed found that between April 2017 and the end of 2018 the Home Office 166

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rejected 310 applications for discretionary leave to remain* and 65 asylum claims made by child victims of modern slavery. Yes, we refused child victims the right to stay here.58 In 2015, only 12 per cent of all people officially recognised as modern slavery victims were given discretionary leave to remain.59 ‘Immigration status underpins everything’, Mullan-Feroze tells me. It’s really hard when I’m working with clients. It means the focus has to be very much on the here and now only, in order to support someone without harming them by giving them false hope. They are likely to have a future that’s so uncertain. I can’t say to them, moving forward you’ll be able to get a job and go to college etc. I can’t make that promise because I have no power to make that happen; I can try, but it would further harm someone to make those promises about their future immigration status. The government wants to be seen to be doing something about exploitation, but it doesn’t follow through properly. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FREE? Given how much it’s bandied about as a buzzword in modern slavery, it seems fairly important that we have a good idea of what meaningful ‘freedom’ looks like. The new abolitionists’ answer is rather strange. Here’s Kevin Bales speaking in his TED Talk in 2010: ‘freed slaves given opportunities today generate economic growth through a “freedom dividend”’.60 This is curious; why would we care about ‘freed slaves’ being generators of economic growth? Presumably what we want is a better future for them, not their contribution to gross domestic product (GDP)? He expounds a similar point more lengthily in a 2007 document for *  Discretionary leave to remain is a type of right to remain in the UK that is granted on compassionate or exceptional grounds and is for a limited period only. 167

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Free the Slaves: ‘Freed slaves know how to work, and they will quickly begin to build assets … They will also become what they have never been allowed to be – consumers, buying food, clothing and education for their children. In areas with extensive slavery, liberation leads to economic growth.’61 Bales is making a pragmatic point; to governments who don’t feel the moral obligation to tackle exploitation and particularly in countries where there are culturally embedded forms, he’s trying to show that there’s a business case for change. This is highly symptomatic of the neoliberal age; to be of worth, everything must contribute in quantifiable ways. It’s the same rationale that has us quantifying the GDP contribution of forests and oceans and means we must campaign for living wages (literally wages humans can live off) on the grounds of productivity. Time is money, we say, and so it seems is freedom. But is this the kind of rescue you imagined? I doubt it. We can’t equate freedom with economic productivity because those of us lucky enough not to be in severe exploitation do not expect our freedom to rest on the fact that we go to work. We can also be sure that freedom isn’t detention and deportation to a country someone has tried so hard to leave that they’ve travelled in a container lorry. Policies that detain and deport sit uncomfortably with those grand tales of liberation, that zealous overuse of ‘freedom’ in new abolitionist text. So too does the idea that exiting one exploitative situation often simply leads into another, though this is what research finds. Academics Hannah Lewis and Louise Waite sought to understand how people claiming asylum in the UK experience forced labour. They write that, We found that exit from more extreme forms of exploitation in forced labour, in many cases, amounted only to movement away from one instance of severe exploitation into other precarious livelihoods … Unless one or more persistent insecurity is altered or resolved, racialised and gendered migration, work 168

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and welfare regimes and neoliberalism combine to create an ongoing ‘precarity trap’ for migrant forced labourers. For these reasons, a singular focus on ‘rescue’ from any one particular forced labour situation is unlikely to offer a durable solution unless other insecurities contributing to the ‘precarity trap’ are addressed.62 It’s uncomfortable that freedom should matter on account of economic productivity, that it should be characterised by forcible returns to other countries or that it should turn into an inadvertent cul-de-sac of abuse. In fact, Bales has recognised this. In Disposable People, he writes that being free means little if it only leads back into destitution or exploitation; however, he moves from this point to say that ‘Ultimately, slaves have to find their own way into true freedom.’63 Severe abuse does create dependencies and a lack of autonomy, not least because of trauma recovery, but putting the requirement to avoid ending up back in exploitation onto the shoulders of victims seems to be sidestepping the structural changes needed. Many front-line organisations working with victims do incredible work supporting them in moving into new lives, involving education, meaningful work and a restored sense of self. Rachel Mullan-Feroze described this work in our interview when she explained, ‘You have to give them control back ... You want to empower somebody. You can’t just say “poor thing” and give TLC; you have to acknowledge the person has agency.’ But this vital work is, obviously, made harder and at times impossible by the structures beneath individual cases, like immigration policy. The failure to provide the deeper changes needed to ensure better lives for people who’ve left exploitative situations is because of the modern slavery frame itself: when exploitation is cast as a kind of virus, removal of the problem is all that’s needed. This means extricating the person from the exploitative situation and then considering the job largely done. It’s this kind of thinking 169

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that enables Bales to write, ‘Now imagine a world with no slaves, where every person is equal, not in wealth or brains or opportunity, but in dignity.’64 What does it mean to have equality in dignity but not in opportunity? It’s a classical liberal notion of negative freedom, that is, freedom means that you are relieved of constraints. This stands in opposition to positive freedom wherein constraints are likewise removed, but we’re also provided with the opportunities to act, to reach for our ambitions and to stand equal to others. Without durable solutions that enable people to escape the cycle of precarity and exploitation, and additionally to have the right to remain in the UK, ‘rescue can be used as a PR stunt’, as Skrivankova put it to me. This leaves us with little to show for our efforts except for awareness-raising and its false prophecies of liberation. FALSE VISIONS AND TUGGED HEARTSTRINGS In an article for openDemocracy, Marilyn Murray, the creative director of anti-child trafficking NGO Love146, describes public awareness-raising campaigns as a ‘front door’. ‘Their purpose’, she says, ‘is to motivate people to engage in a meaningful way and to cultivate a sense of conviction which encourages action’.65 She goes on to say that complexity and nuance must necessarily be ‘held back’ in order not to obstruct engaging people and that playing into ‘subconscious assumptions’ may be necessary, going so far as to say, ‘Sadly, even racial biases can play a role in how we perceive vulnerability or our predisposition to feel empathy.’ Of course, effective communications require a certain degree of pragmatism and a capacity to be succinct. But the idea that awareness-raising can be a neutral front door is utterly flawed. Doors lead to places. Where is this one going? At the moment, it’s opening onto a future where we spend our time believing in false visions of liberation, overlooking the ways in which immigration policy, poverty, lack of social safety nets, racism and other 170

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core pillars of our societies are spurring exploitation and hampering recovery. We are distracted by the tug of our heartstrings, the sheen of tears on a white woman’s face, the notion that people in Africa appear not to know anything about risk and danger. Meanwhile, those very policies and ways of thinking that are driving exploitation continue unabated.

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Conclusion All around us, the winners in our highly inequitable status quo declare themselves the partisans of change. They know the problem, and they want to be part of the solution. Actually, they want to lead the search for solutions. They believe that their solutions deserve to be at the forefront of social change. They may join or support movements initiated by ordinary people looking to fix aspects of their society. More often, though, these elites start initiatives of their own, taking on social change as though it were just another stock in their portfolio or corporation to restructure. Because they are in charge of these attempts at social change, the attempts naturally reflect their biases. Anand Giridharadas1 Those who profess to favour freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without ploughing up the ground. Frederick Douglass2 Modern slavery is a risky idea to question. It’s such an artfully constructed frame that the very notion seems distasteful. In a preface to a report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, new abolitionist Professor Kevin Bales writes: By my reckoning we are embarked upon the fourth major anti-slavery movement in human history. Each of these movements sought the common goal of liberation for slaves; each of them has been also beset and delayed by fights over numbers, definitions, and the appropriation of slavery as a stalking horse 172

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for other political or ideological goals. Each of these movements has had its energy and resources wasted in schism and duplication, often breaking along the same lines as the previous movement decades before.3 Interrogating the idea of modern slavery is presented as harmful – as wasting energy and resources by creating schisms. Through this lens, by writing this book I’m unnecessarily hampering the righteous fight against abuse. The idea that slavery is ‘appropriated as a stalking horse for other goals’ is a blockade against the general point running through this book that if we want to tackle exploitation, we need to treat the ills of the whole instead of focusing only on the worst part. But abolishing the legal ownership of one person by another, that is, the actions that took place in the nineteenth century and were called ‘the abolition of the slave trade’, was clear cut. Abolishing myriad forms of exploitation all around the world is not doable in the same way. You cannot lead a crusade against something at once so nebulous and so deeply embedded. Yet who would want to sound like they’re going against anti-slavery efforts? This is the genius of the modern slavery idea. ‘I cannot think of any other issue that is so unifying’, Klara Skrivankova said in our interview. ‘You can’t have a strong position against it. Politically, it’s very savvy. And because of this, it lets you get away with a lot of things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get away with.’ She’s absolutely right, and we’ve seen many of the things it enables, from harmful immigration policy to the bolstering of consumer capitalism. Yet infallibility went out of fashion with the divine right of kings: critical thinking is essential to the development of human understanding, to the improvement of our societies and to the nature of our politics. Only the very flimsy need fear criticism. Criticism is, after all, not solely the expression of disapproval, but in its wider meaning – that of art and literary critics, for example – it’s the appraisal of merits and faults. Etymologically, its roots are in the ideas of estimating worth and inquiring into authenticity. 173

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What have we found by such estimations and inquiries of the modern slavery idea? Drawing on the ideas and influence of cognitive linguist George Lakoff, we’ve found a very clever frame, one that barely even appears to us as a frame, continuously fading back into ‘common sense’ and seceding into the depoliticised realm of things that are supposed to be self-evidently righteous. Through it, we view exploitation and the role of the powerful in a skewed manner; extreme exploitation is anomalous and surprising, instead of a design feature of our economic system and institutionalised prejudices, and the powerful are the heroes trying to vanquish it, instead of those who purposefully perpetuate it. This frame stands upon a convenient miscasting of the role of the UK in global history. The UK plays the role of champion against historical slavery, and abolitionist figures like Wilberforce are lauded – referenced so many times in speeches by politicians and dignitaries that a drinking game based on his name’s frequency would hospitalise us swiftly. We omit the fact that much of the UK’s wealth was built on the backs of slaves and that we enslaved huge populations of human beings, brought to our collective conscience only when protestors force it there, such as with the toppling of the statue of eighteenth-century slave trader Edward Colston in June 2020 during Black Lives Matter demonstrations. We avoid the inconvenient truths that we abolished legal ownership of a person only after successive slave revolts, that we compensated the slave owners not the enslaved and, as the Introduction and Chapter 2 explained, replaced slave labour with other means of mass exploitation. It’s on this misinformed history that the UK now trumpets to the world that it’s ‘leading the fight’ against modern slavery.4 The 2019 Conservative Party general election manifesto told us that, ‘From helping to end the slave trade to tackling modern slavery, the UK has long been a beacon of freedom and human rights – and will continue to be so.’5 This should stick in the throat of anyone with even a basic knowledge 174

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of British history. Today, its immigration policies, treatment of sex workers, corporate free-for-all and failure to address the drivers of vulnerability create the perfect conditions for exploitation, both at home and abroad. But in the modern slavery frame, these aspects are obscured. Instead, we are liberators. ‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength’, wrote George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four.6 It’s always struck me as odd that our governments can be so keen to trumpet the massive scale of modern slavery. The ‘millions of modern slaves’ are frequently referenced in parliament, in politicians’ speeches and media opinion pieces. Why would they want to paint the UK as a hotbed of horrific human rights abuses and devastating exploitation? Sure, to some extent it’s to draw attention to the problems, but I suggest it’s not solely this. It’s also because this story is politically convenient and politically useful. The most bizarre aspect of the whole modern slavery idea is that if you listen closely enough to the new abolitionists they acknowledge the role of deep systemic problems in producing exploitation. For example, in his 2010 TED Talk, Kevin Bales describes how people become exploited by explaining that they’re usually desperate for work, were aware the person offering them work might be dodgy, but were driven into it by the need to feed their children, pay medical bills, etc.7 But it’s the modern slavery frame which obscures these deep drivers, like poverty, from view. When it casts exploitation as an ‘ugly crime’, a ‘blood-sucking parasite’ or a disease against which our societies can be ‘inoculated’ as if it’s a kind of social coronavirus, those structural causes and their solutions are obscured from view.8 Exploitation becomes a battle of good against evil, and the status quo – the very structures and people that perpetuate our flawed system – is pitched as firmly in the ‘good’ camp, merely needing the parasite removed, the supply chain ‘cleaned’.9 Only by reconceptualising exploitation in this way can we have new abolitionists making statements such as the organisation A21, which says: ‘Slavery is the fastest growing 175

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organised crime in the world. It’s real, hidden in plain sight, and tearing at the social fabric of every nation and economic structure.’10 We nod along, clicking petitions, choosing products with ethical stamps, shaking our head at news tales of slaves on our streets. We buy the line that the problem is something evil threatening the fabric of our societies and economies, when the problem is actually in the fabric itself. This blinds us to many of the real causes and solutions to exploitation. My hope is that this book brings some of these blind spots back into view. Many have been described through the course of previous chapters. In Chapter 1, we saw how the new abolitionist movement took hold, spurred by the selective histories of the nineteenth century, the ideas of billionaires and dubious statistics. Modern slavery became the phrase du jour for an incredibly diverse array of human circumstances around the globe, many of them appalling and upsetting, but few logically categorised as the same thing. We saw how this creation of a singular and uniquely bad phenomenon, ‘modern slavery’, enabled a particular story of exploitation to unfold; that of the virus contaminating our otherwise acceptable system. It’s not a political issue, we were told. Indeed, the very idea of imposing political views onto it was cast as misguided, even selfish. It’s this lens that enables a supposedly humanitarian agenda to be used against migrants, as we saw in Chapter 2. We were told to harden borders, intercept ships, raid and rescue and, above all, look away while the government detains and deports the people they tell us are victims. This doublethink is nowhere more obvious than in the tales told around sex and trafficking. From imaginary Olympics victims to ‘sex den epidemics’ that upon examination turn out to be more an occasional sneeze than widespread disease, there’s perhaps nothing more offensive than the way the harm done to actual victims of trafficking is turned against their sisters, namely those selling sex through choice and for their own livelihood reasons. As has often been the case in this book, that which is meant to be the saviour turns out 176

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to be the partner in crime. We saw this too in Chapter 4, where CSR initiatives and anti-slavery principles turned out to be little better than decoration on a mouldy backdrop. Like governments, multinational brands have stepped into the modern slavery frame in the guise of heroes, seeking to scrub their businesses clean of impurities, but simultaneously to keep turning a tidy profit on the basis of the very practices that cause exploitation. If we’re fortunate enough to lead a privileged life, we’re exhorted to learn to ‘spot the signs’ of a slave. If we’re not so fortunate and we have the unwelcome idea of ‘aspirational migration’, we’re advised to stay home and shoot a little lower than the stars. It’s a fairy tale being peddled to us. Fairy tales can be great but, as I said in Chapter 5, they’re not real. This book has largely been focused on exposing truths; truths about scale, cases, language use, power imbalances and structural constraints. Much of it has been about shining a light onto ignorance, identifying the ‘useful unknowns’ in the modern slavery story and finding out how today’s political oracles shape our understanding of human harm. It’s probably clear from this book that I have an interest in substantive systemic change. It’s also no doubt clear that I don’t agree with the kind of neoliberal capitalist system under which we live. But it’s not just me and my politics shaping this critique, nor that of the many brilliant minds cited within these pages. In Chapter 1, we saw that the UN recognises that ‘positions of vulnerability’ – that is, those in which someone has no real or acceptable alternative – can drive people into abuse. We also saw how the same UN instrument that recognised this requires states to address the driving causes of vulnerability, so that people have better alternatives and can avoid abuse. And yet, every chapter of this book has shown numerous types and instances of vulnerability, none of which are being tackled effectively because to do so would mean to challenge the power structures and the distribution of wealth and resources currently working so well for those in power. 177

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These have included restrictive immigration statuses, poverty, homelessness and the precarity brought about by combinations of these and the highly pressured working conditions created by corporate practices. When faced with the trafficking of homeless people, the government commits to awareness-raising in hostels while destitution rates rise. When faced with the large and increasing body of research proving that hostile environment immigration policies are making people vulnerable to exploitation, the government turns a blind eye. When faced with evidence that corporate practices are creating endemic precarity in our economy, it refuses to introduce the necessary legislation and regulation. This is even starting to be recognised by police in the UK. When he gave evidence to a UK parliamentary committee in 2019, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for modern slavery, said: ‘It is not just about law enforcement and the Crown ... The demand on modern slavery is driven by an economic contract of the United Kingdom.’11 Ex-Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Phil Brewer echoed this sentiment in our interview, telling me, We need to focus on prevention, rather than solely saving victims and arresting offenders. We have to make it a hostile environment to operate as a dodgy business. If you don’t have proper regulation, it’s very easy for people to pitch up on a building site and put people to work without treating them right. It shouldn’t be that easy. The public thinks if there’s something wrong, the local authority will find it in an inspection, and the reality is that’s not what’s happening. When we have an ‘economic contract’ focused on profit over people, and a political ethos that allows businesses to get away with abuse and fails to protect our working rights, we end up with increased exploitation in our communities and workplaces. 178

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It’s plain for all to see, once we dig a little deeper than the headlines, and yet the changes needed are being wilfully ignored. And it is wilful because there are clear solutions that have been raised time and time again. It’s just that many are unpalatable to the powerful and fly in the face of reigning ideology. Because new abolitionism grew out of this culture of thought, many of these solutions are unpalatable to the modern slavery movement too, though certainly not to all those who work in this field. There are many incredible and thoughtful people trying to prevent exploitation from happening and who recognise its systemic drivers and hidden prejudices. Each chapter has tried to point towards different ways forward. None of them leave the current system intact as it is; instead, they focus on true ‘eradication’, a favourite word of the new abolitionists but one often misapplied. To eradicate means to destroy something completely. But when we search further back in history it turns out to literally mean ‘pull up by the roots’ from the Latin ‘eradicatus’. So, what would it look like if we truly ‘eradicated’ exploitation? It wouldn’t mean a Ghostbusters-style crime-fighting approach that searches for, and removes, the evil contaminant. It also wouldn’t mean equipping the public with magical glasses that enable us to detect ‘slaves’ and report them to the authorities or scan products and buy the one made using the least exploitation. These facets might be part of a better future, but they shouldn’t be misunderstood as actual solutions. Instead of raid and rescue, or public vigilantism and ethical consumerism, real eradication would mean finding the roots of our problems, pulling them up, and replanting something altogether different. It would mean system change, so that we no longer have an economy that privileges profit over people, nor power concentrated in very few hands, nor institutions and cultures that entrench racist and discriminatory practices. Only this would end exploitation, in the same way that only by treating the cause of something can we stop its symptoms occurring. In essence, then, it would mean being 179

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radical – coincidentally another word whose Latin origins come back to the meaning of ‘root’. Many of these root solutions have already been mentioned. In Chapter 2, we saw the desperate need for a new approach to borders, if borders are to continue. We also saw how, in the UK, the repeal of the hostile environment, ensuring secure reporting of abuse with no immigration repercussions and improving the rights on specific visa schemes are vital. Chapter 3 explained why sex work must be decriminalised. Solving the ills caused by globalised consumer capitalism feels almost impossible and so even though some of us might dream of dismantling the system as a whole, on a pragmatic level we must at least know some of the steps needed to move in a better direction: building up worker power, legislating for fairer brand practices and imposing legal responsibility on multinationals were just some of the answers provided in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5, I noted the importance of having proper social safety nets in place to prevent homelessness and poverty, as these are key factors that make people more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. In this vein, some thinkers have suggested universal basic income (UBI) would be a major game-changer. UBI is a cash payment paid to all individually and with no conditions attached. It’s essentially a stipend purely for being human. Seemingly radical before the COVID-19 pandemic, the new world in which we found ourselves by mid-2020 saw Spain introducing a UBI for people in lower-income households12 and the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stating that it’s ‘an idea that’s time has come’.13 According to one of its foremost proponents, academic and author Guy Standing, who has worked extensively on the topic, UBI ‘offers people the power to say “no” as well as “yes” in the labour market’. He believes that ‘if we really want to end “modern slavery”, and indeed if we’re serious about protecting people from all forms of exploitation … then why not simply ensure that everyone always has a minimum amount of money in 180

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their pocket such that they can say no to bad work?’ Ensuring that people aren’t choosing between destitution and bad working conditions is certainly vital for addressing exploitation. This is even more acute under the political yoke of neoliberalism that pitches state regulation of working conditions and worker empowerment as problems, underfunding labour inspectorates, failing to restrain corporate power and undermining unions. For Standing, UBI offers a way to redress the power asymmetry these failures create by providing ‘freedom from the power of unaccountable domination’.14 However, UBI is not without its problems. Questions need to be asked about to whom it would apply. Simon Birnbaum and Jurgen de Wispelaere have countered Standing’s positivity by pointing out that while UBI might enable people to walk away from bad circumstances, it can only achieve this if there are better jobs as options. ‘After all’, they write, ‘meaningful freedom is presumably dependent on having a real choice. There is little point in exercising one’s exit option if the result is ending up in an equally bad job’.15 In today’s economy this is often not the case, certainly for those in the lowest-paid work who are most at risk of exploitation. Many of the cases described throughout this book have shown that a dearth of alternative and better options pushes people into harm’s way. Recall the continuum of working conditions introduced in Chapter 4. It stretches from decent work at one end, through the middle where we start to see abuses like no holiday pay, underpayment of wages, discrimination, etc., to the other end where we find exploitation, including the kinds of circumstances we now call ‘modern slavery’. Too many low-paid work options exist in the middle or at the worse end, and too little in the decent work span. Indeed, it’s a curious fact that working on modern slavery and interacting with businesses on it will rarely bring you into contact with concepts around decent work and labour justice. Curious, but unsurprising, because of course the modern slavery frame leaves those issues out of the picture. 181

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It operates to distract us from them by telling us that exploitation is a unique kind of harm that has nothing to do with the broader spectrum of rights. This is why we can have politicians like Theresa May using modern slavery as her moral calling card while either introducing policies that exacerbate the prevalence of poor work or failing to introduce those that would address current abuses. Instead, as Klara Skrivankova said to me in our interview, ‘it should be about having a decent work strategy. If you use terminology that describes the wrongdoing, you’re playing into the hands of a criminal justice narrative. It makes it seem as if the answer is solely a law enforcement response. But if you talk instead about creating decent and dignified conditions, it paints a totally different picture.’ I hope this book has shown how the idea of modern slavery being some separable form of evil, unrelated to the deep structures and practices in our political economy, is incorrect. Exploitation grows from the soil of that political economy. It’s this we need to address by uprooting and replanting. It’s also presumably the case that no government would introduce UBI as a blanket provision for any human who happened to be within its territory. Chapter 2 demonstrated why immigration rules are so crucial for protecting people from exploitation; assuming that UBI would only be applicable to those with some form of ‘correct’ status, we would risk an even worse stratification of people into the documented and the undocumented than we have today, with those able to ‘walk away’ from poor work and those chained by the risk of destitution. Likewise, it’s unlikely UBI would be set at such a level that absolutely no paid work is necessary for an adequate standard of living, and so it might be that people still need to sell sexual services if other elements of our economy, like flexible working and free childcare, aren’t addressed. Under a system whereby everyone is receiving a small stipend, this could lead to increased stigmatisation of sex workers, undermining much of the good decriminalisation could achieve. An alternative but comparable version of providing basic survival 182

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to people is universal basic services, in which people have unconditional access to a range of free basic public services. But again, this would likely fall foul of many of the same issues as UBI. Nonetheless, identifying the problems with an idea doesn’t have to mean the whole idea itself is a problem. We can throw out the bathwater but keep the baby. UBI’s proponents are not blind to concerns about its applicability and impacts, of course. ‘Nobody should be misled into thinking that what we propose is a panacea’, says Standing. ‘A basic income by itself would not provide total or even adequate freedom … We all also need agency or voice, to combat oppression and exploitation.’ This is, perhaps, the point at the root of everything in this book. As Chapter 5 explained, when we’re greeted with information about something we must ask, ‘Who benefits?’ In the modern slavery story, the answer at a high level is usually the power structures and imbalances already in place. But agency, as the ability to act independently and make our own choices, and voice, as the ability to be heard and to shape our conditions, can change the answer, ensuring those who benefit are those most at risk of harm in our societies or those already experiencing it. Issues covered in this book, including cruel immigration and sex work policies, irresponsible corporate practices and ignorance-producing narratives, cast boundaries around what the individual is able to do and realise, boxing them into a space where they are either turned into easy prey for exploitation or willingly choose exploitation as preferable to a worse alternative. Academic and activist Neil Howard has pointed out the kinds of scenarios in which this becomes apparent. He writes, Take, for example, the mother, who is so poor and so lacking in economic opportunities that she has to accept the proposal of the ‘trafficker’ who promises to feed her children if only she’ll commit to a period of sexual servitude. Who is guilty of coercion here? And where is the line between freedom and force? Or what about the Indian farmer, who is so indebted, as 183

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a result of trying to keep his family afloat, that he too agrees to sell himself into slavery-like debt-bondage in order to pay off what he owes? Is his contract illegitimate simply because we find it morally unpleasant, and even though he has offered his consent?16 If we want to understand the truth about modern slavery, we need to stand as witnesses to these kinds of circumstances. They, and many real-life cases described in earlier chapters, demonstrate that modern slavery does not exist. I don’t mean exploitation doesn’t exist, nor human harm. I don’t even mean that, sometimes, a person is under such control of another that it mimics the enslavement in existence before the nineteenth century. Setting workplaces aside, a feminist lens would plainly tell us that this is the case in far too many homes and marriages. The situations described in Bales’ first and subsequent works and many other reports and books referenced in this book demonstrate the horrific circumstances in which many people exist. Likewise, I have known people experiencing such circumstances myself. But modern slavery, as a specific story of a kind of separable evil from the political economy in which we live, does not. In fact, the ideas this story feeds us are stopping us from addressing the real harms happening. The phrase itself has been important in achieving some successes that have helped people, such as getting (limited) support in place for victims and holding governments to account for practices that further entrench exploitation. But it’s doing us a disservice now by distracting us from the changes we need, and instead fobbing us off with slogans and feel-good interventions that aid us little more than sticking plasters help a wound. Throughout my work on this topic, I’ve often been reminded of a brilliant and famous Indian parable I learned many years ago. I’ll share it with you now. Many, many years ago, six men lived in the same village. All of them had been born blind and, as they had never been able to see, they had developed a powerful capacity to 184

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imagine the world around them which they could feel, taste, smell and hear. Every so often, as was the way in those days, wandering men would come to the village. All the villagers would gather round to hear the wanderers’ tales, for which they would give food and drink in return. The tales were many and varied, describing wonders of the world both small and big. But despite the incredible nature of some of these stories, the tales that always piqued the interest of the blind men the most were those of the elephants. The village itself was not near any of these creatures, but they knew many existed further away. The animals sounded incredible; so large, so heavy, so loud. They also sounded dangerous, yet some travellers had explained that the King allowed his daughter to ride them which didn’t seem to square with their idea of a monstrous beast. The elephant was both mysterious and amazing. The blind men discussed it regularly, arguing about what the elephant must be like in real life. One of them was convinced that it must be powerful and strong but another said no, it was most likely nimble and lithe, even if large, due to the princess preferring it as her mode of travel. A third blind man thought they were all exaggerating. It was probably no more impressive than a large cow, he said. One of them didn’t even think it existed. Over time, their arguing grew so frequent and so acrimonious that the rest of the villagers decided to put a stop to it once and for all. They arranged for the blind men to be taken to the King’s palace where elephants were kept and where the son of a former villager now worked. Once they arrived, the six blind men were guided to a place where one of the King’s elephants stood in the sun. Each man stepped slowly towards the mythical beast and gingerly reached out a hand. One man was beside the flank and ran the palm of his hand across the skin, exclaiming how it was like a solid wall, not animal at all. Another was at the elephant’s face and his hand landed on its trunk. ‘No, it is like a very large snake!’ he retorted. The third blind man had touched the spike of the elephant’s left tusk and yelped, ‘You’re both wrong, it is as deadly as a spear.’ The 185

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fourth man had moved slightly under the elephant and had felt each of its four legs. ‘I was right’, he asserted, ‘it is nothing but a very large cow. How tedious.’ The fifth man was tugging on the elephant’s ear, but luckily it was well trained in royal obedience, so it did not react badly. ‘It’s quite extraordinary’, he said. ‘It’s soft and lithe, like a magic carpet. I can quite see why a princess might choose it as her mode of transport.’ Finally, the sixth blind man had hold of the elephant’s tail. He dropped it disdainfully. ‘It is nothing but old rope. We have been tricked’, he said. The men were led to some shade where they sat down and drank some cool water to refresh themselves. They began to argue about the nature of the elephant, each utterly convinced of his opinion. Their voices raised louder and louder until one of them heard a polite cough nearby. They stopped speaking and the King introduced himself. ‘I couldn’t help but overhear your quarrel’, he said. ‘I have a suggestion.’ The six blind men leaned towards his voice. The King was known to be very wise. ‘Perhaps if you put together all the different parts about which you’re disagreeing, you might learn something about the whole.’ For me, the point of this story is that to learn the truth about something, we must put all the parts together. Nothing exists in isolation. The modern slavery story tells us that exploitation is something separate to the whole, a floating elephant’s ear with no head, a tail with no body. Of course, it isn’t. Exploitation of the kinds described in this book are products of our political economy. They do not spring from thin air, but are manifestations of the underlying system. We need to take responsibility for the whole. Doing that properly involves the second lesson of the story; we need to learn to listen. Mostly, we who are so fortunate as to avoid poor work and harsh choices in order to survive and improve our lives need to listen to those who have no such good options. We need to hear what they have to say about why that’s the case and 186

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what they think should be changed. Then we must act to redistribute power and value in our society, pulling up by the roots the causes of harm and planting decency and equity in their place. In doing so, we would lose our fairy tales, but we would gain a better reality.

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Notes All online references accessed on 7 February 2020 unless otherwise specified.

INTRODUCTION   1. Theresa May (2016) ‘We Will Lead the Way in Defeating Modern Slavery’. The Telegraph. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/30/ we-will-lead-the-way-in-defeating-modern-slavery/.   2. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980) p. 160.   3. Fiona David, Katherine Bryant and Jacqueline Jourdo Lareen (2019) ‘Migrants and their Vulnerability to Human Trafficking, Modern Slavery and Forced Labour’. International Organisation for Migration. p. 8.   4. George Lakoff. Don’t Think of an Elephant (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004) p. xv.  5. NEON, NEF, Frameworks Institute, PIRC (2018) ‘Framing the Economy: How to Win the Case for a Better System’. p. 28.   6. Joel Quirk (2008) ‘Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery’. UNESCO. p. 77.   7. Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 33.  8. Ibid.   9. Joel Quirk (2008) ‘Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery’. UNESCO. p. 89. 10. Michael Jordan. The Great Abolition Sham: The True Story of the End of the British Slave Trade (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2005) pp. 180–1. 11. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) p. 3. 12. Ibid. p. 46. 13. Robert N. Proctor. Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Stanford: Stanford California Press, 2008) p. 4. 188

Notes 14. Ibid. p. 3. 15. Plan International (2019) ‘The Trafficking of Girls and Young Women: Evidence for Prevention and Assistance’. pp. 20 and 24. 16. Bridget Anderson and Rutvica Andrijasevic (2008) ‘Sex, Slaves and Citizens: The Politics of Anti-trafficking’. Soundings (40) p. 135.

CHAPTER 1   1. Kenneth Burke. Permanence and Change (New York: New Republic, 1935) p. 70.  2. Kevin Bales (2010) ‘How to Combat Modern Slavery’. TED; YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUM2rCIUdeI.   3. Kevin Bales. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) preface.  4. Ibid.  5. Ibid.  6. Ibid.  7. Jamie Smyth (2014) ‘Andrew Forrest, the founder of Fortescue Metals Group’. Financial Times. www.ft.com/content/24bae83a17d8-11e4-a82d-00144feabdc0.   8. Janie A. Chuang (2014) ‘Exploitation Creep and the Unmaking of Human Trafficking Law’. The American Journal of International Law 108(4) p. 626.   9. Walk Free Foundation. ‘Global Slavery Index 2013’ (2013) p. 1. 10. Alexandra Wolfe (2016) ‘Andrew Forrest’s Mission to End Modern Slavery’. Wall Street Journal. www.wsj.com/articles/andrewforrests-mission-to-end-modern-slavery-1466800377. 11. Annie Kelly (2016) ’46 Million People Living As Slaves, Latest Global Index Reveals’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/ global-development/2016/jun/01/46-million-people-living-asslaves-latest-global-index-reveals-russell-crowe. 12. Anne Gallagher (2014) ‘The Global Slavery Index Is Based on Flawed Data – Why Does Nobody Say So?’ The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/nov/28/globalslavery-index-walk-free-human-trafficking-anne-gallagher. 13. Ibid. 14. Alexis A. Aronowitz. ‘Human Trafficking: A Reference Handbook’ (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Publishers, 2017) p. 172. 189

The Truth About Modern Slavery 15. Andrew Guth, Robyn Anderson, Kasey Kinnard and Hang Tran. ‘Proper Methodology and Methods of Collecting and Analysing Slavery Data: An Examination of the Global Slavery Index’. Social Inclusion 2(4) abstract. 16. Minderoo Foundation/Walk Free. ‘The Global Slavery Index 2016’. p. 13 and ‘The Global Slavery Index 2014’. p. 12. 17. Anne Gallagher (2014) ‘The Global Slavery Index Is Based on Flawed Data – Why Does Nobody Say So?’ The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/nov/28/globalslavery-index-walk-free-human-trafficking-anne-gallagher. 18. Minderoo Foundation/Walk Free. ‘The Global Slavery Index 2014’. p. 6. 19. Minderoo Foundation/Walk Free. ‘Global Slavery Index 2018: Executive Summary’. p. 4. 20. Kevin Hyland (2016) ‘Eight Priorities in the Fight Against Modern Slavery’. Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. www. antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/news-insights/eight-priorities-inthe-fight-against-modern-slavery/. 21. Antonio Maria Costa (2008) ‘Human Trafficking: A Crime that Shames Us All’. UNODC. www.unodc.org/unodc/en/about-unodc/ speeches/2008-02-13.html. 22. Joel Quirk (2008) ‘Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery’. UNESCO. pp. 45–6. 23. UNODC (2000) ‘United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols Thereto’. 24. European Union (2011) ‘Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April on Preventing and Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting Its Victims, and Replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA’. Article 2(2). 25. United Nations (2000) ‘Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children’. Article 9. 26. Julia O’Connell Davidson (2016) ‘Decanting Trafficking in Human Beings – Re-centering the State’. The International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs 51(1) p. 68. 27. Council of Europe (2005) ‘Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings’. 28. Baroness Scotland of Asthal (2006) ‘People Trafficking’. UK Parliament. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ ldhansrd/text/61204w0004.htm#06120416000244 and Vernon 190

Notes Coaker (2006). ‘Human Trafficking’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061205/ text/61205w0017.htm#06120610004722. 29. Brad Blitz (2018). ‘Tackling Modern Slavery in Modern Business’. British Academy Review 32. www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/tacklingmodern-slavery-modern-business. 30. Peter Bone (2006). ‘Sex Trafficking’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061121/ debtext/61121-0003.htm#06112156000639. 31. ECPAT (undated) ‘Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking’. www.ecpat.org.uk/law-childtrafficking-exploitation-and-slavery-law-policy-and-guidance. 32. William Hague (2007) ‘Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade’. UK Parliament. https://publications.parliament. uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070320/debtext/70320-0006. htm#07032039000461. 33. Anthony Steen (2010) ‘Anti-Slavery Day Bill’. UK Parliament. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/ cm100205/debtext/100205-0007.htm#10020534001139. 34. EUR-Lex (undated). ‘Document 32011L0036’. 35. Kevin Bales. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) p. 11. 36. Zoe Trodd (2007) ‘Peace Profile: Kevin Bales’. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 19(1) p. 130. 37. Bridie Jabour (2014). ‘Andrew Forrest’s Indigenous Job Plans Are a “Massive Social Experiment”’. The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/australia-news/2014/oct/10/andrew-forrests-indigenous-jobplans-are-a-massive-social-experiment. 38. No author given (2017) ‘Andrew Forrest’s Good Intentions’. The Saturday Paper. www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/health/ 2017/10/07/andrew-forrests-good-intentions/15072948005313. 39. Marco Turcich (2013) ‘Modern Slavery: The Hidden Agenda’. https://marcoturcich.co.uk/Exhibitions/Modern-Day-SlaveryThe-Hidden-Agenda. 40. Frank Field (2013) ‘Frank Field Calls on the Government to Focus on Tackling Modern Slavery’. www.frankfield.co.uk/latest-news/ news.aspx?p=102516. 41. Michael Parker (2013) ‘Best Ever Exhibition in Parliament’. Pitchcoach. www.pitchcoach.co.uk/2013/04/best-ever-exhibition-inparliament/. 191

The Truth About Modern Slavery 42. Frank Field (2013) ‘Frank Field Calls on the Government to Focus on Tackling Modern Slavery’. www.frankfield.co.uk/latest-news/ news.aspx?p=102516. 43. Walter Lippmann. Public Opinion (1922). Digital copy last accessed 26 August 2020: https://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/ objects/2429/2487430/pdfs/lippmann.pdf, p. 19. 44. Frank Field (2013) ‘Frank Field Calls on the Government to Focus on Tackling Modern Slavery’. www.frankfield.co.uk/latest-news/ news.aspx?p=102516. 45. Barack Obama (2012) ‘Speech by President of the United States, Barack Obama, Remarks by the President to the Clinton Global Initiative’. White House. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/ the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-clinton-globalinitiative. 46. Toby Helm (2012) ‘UKIP on 14% As Labour Restores Double Digit Lead Over Tories – Poll’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/ politics/2012/dec/15/ukip-labour-tories-poll. 47. No author given (2013) ‘Immigrant Spot Checks: Equality Watchdog Investigates’. BBC News. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23552088. 48. Rowena Mason (2013) ‘Home Office Backs Down Over “Go Home” vans after legal complaint’. The Guardian. www.independent.co.uk/ voices/comment/nick-clegg-not-involved-in-the-the-go-homecampaign-how-the-racist-van-is-a-way-to-win-votes-8738510. html. 49. Theresa May (2013) ‘Modern Slave Drivers, I’ll End Your Evil Trade’.TheTimes.www.thetimes.co.uk/article/modern-slave-driversill-end-your-evil-trade-2k067l8d5vp. 50. Theresa May (2013) ‘Speech at Conservative Party Conference’. UK Pol. www.ukpol.co.uk/theresa-may-2013-speech-to-conservativeparty-conference/. 51. Theresa May (2013) ‘My Government Will the Lead the Way in Defeating Modern Slavery’. The Telegraph. www.telegraph.co.uk/ news/2016/07/30/we-will-lead-the-way-in-defeating-modernslavery/. 52. Theresa May (2017) ‘PM Speech to UNGA on Modern Slavery: “Behind These Numbers Are Real People”’. Gov.uk www.gov.uk/ government/speeches/pm-speech-to-unga-on-modern-slaverybehind-these-numbers-are-real-people. 192

Notes 53. European Commission (2017) ‘Chowdury and others v Greece’. https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/case-law/chowdury-andothers-v-greece-0_en. 54. Janie A. Chuang (2014) ‘Exploitation Creep and the Unmaking of Human Trafficking Law’. The American Journal of International Law; Digital Draft. p. 36. www.iilj.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ ChuangIILJColloq2014.pdf. 55. Linsey McGoey. The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World (London: Zed Books, 2019) pp. 51 and 152. 56. Theresa May (2013) ‘The Abhorrent Evil of Human Trafficking Taking Place on London’s Streets’. Metro. https://metro. co.uk/2013/10/14/theresa-may-the-evil-of-modern-day-slaverytaking-place-on-londons-streets-4144671/?ito=cbshare. 57. Theresa May (2013) ‘Home Secretary Speech on Modern Slavery’. Gov.uk. www.gov.uk/government/speeches/home-secretary-speechon-modern-slavery. 58. Linsey McGoey. The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World (London: Zed Books, 2019) p. 61. 59. Elizabeth Bernstein. Brokered Subjects: Sex, Trafficking and the Politics of Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019) p. 78. 60. Lexico (undated) ‘Anxiety’. www.lexico.com/en/definition/anxiety. 61. Adrian Wells et al. (1995) ‘Social Phobia: The Role of In-situation Safety Behaviours in Maintaining Anxiety and Negative Beliefs’. Behaviour Therapy 26(1) pp. 153–61 and Lynn E. Alden and Peter J.  Bieling (1998) ‘Interpersonal Consequences of the Pursuit of Safety’. Behaviour Research and Therapy 36(1) pp. 53–64. 62. Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 2. 63. Mike Dottridge (2014) ‘Some Implications of Using the Term “Modern Slavery”’. The Trafficking Research Project. https:// thetraffickingresearchproject.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/someimplications-of-using-the-term-modern-slavery/.

CHAPTER 2   1. George Orwell (undated digital version) ‘Politics and the English Language’. George Orwell. www.orwell.ru/library/essays/politics/ english/e_polit.   2. Jackie Doyle-Price MP (2020) Twitter status, 23 October 19. 193

The Truth About Modern Slavery   3. Priti Patel (2019) ‘Major Incident in Essex’. UK Parliament. www. theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2019-10-23c.975.1.  4. Brittany Vonow (2019) ‘Migrant Crisis Laid Bare: Shocking Video of Suspected Migrants “Struggling to Breathe” Rescued from Lorry in Essex’. The Sun. www.thesun.co.uk/news/10411829/ migrants-struggling-breathe-lorry-essex/.  5. GAATW (2011) ‘Smuggling and Trafficking: Rights and Intersections’.  6. Declan Breathnach (2019) ‘Modern Slavery is Going on Right Under Our Noses’. Irish Times. www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ modern-slavery-is-going-on-right-under-our-noses-1.4081743.   7. Nandita Sharma (2017) ‘The New Order of Things: Immobility As Protection in the Regime of Immigration Controls’. Anti-Trafficking Review (9) www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/ article/view/262/251.  8. Adejuwon David Kehinde (2012) ‘The Implications of British Colonial Economic Policies on Nigeria’s Development’. International Journal of Advanced Research in Management and Social Sciences 1(2).   9. Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 139. 10. Pui-Guan Man (2017) ‘Good Sourcing, Vietnam’. Drapers Online. www.drapersonline.com/product-and-trade-shows/good-sourcingvietnam/7026670.article. 11. Alexander Chipman Koty and Qian Zhou (2019) ‘Are China’s Labour Costs Growing Too High After 2019 Minimum Wage Hikes?’ Global Payroll Association. https://globalpayrollassociation. com/blogs/regional-focus/are-chinese-labour-costs-growing-toohigh-after-latest-minimum-wage-hikes. 12. Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (2017) ‘Combating Modern Slavery Experienced by Vietnamese Nationals En Route to, and Within, the UK’. p. 8. 13. Nicolas Lainez (2019) ‘The Debts of Undocumented Vietnamese Migrants in Europe’. Open Democracy: Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. www.opendemocracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/ debts-undocumented-vietnamese-migrants-europe/. 14. Damian Green (2019) ‘Major Incident in Essex’. UK Parliament. www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2019-10-23c.975.0#g978.1. 15. Matteo Renzi (2015) ‘Helping the Migrants is Everyone’s Duty’. New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/opinion/matteorenzi-helping-the-migrants-is-everyones-duty.html. 194

Notes 16. Kevin Bales. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) p. 251. 17. Regarding the statement that most people who become trafficked originally wanted to move, see for example: IOM (2019) ‘Between Two Fires: Understanding Vulnerabilities and the Support Needs of People from Albania, Viet Nam and Nigeria Who Have Experienced Human Trafficking into the UK’. p. 38; Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (2017) ‘Combating Modern Slavery Experienced by Vietnamese Nationals En Route To, and Within, the UK’. p. 8; where the majority of victims were not kidnapped but accepted recruitment offers; GAATW (2011) ‘Smuggling and Trafficking: Rights and Intersections’. 18. Philip Bump (2019) ‘Trump Claims a Wall is Needed to Stop Human Trafficking: Data Don’t Support His Claim’. Washington Post. www. washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/02/04/trump-claims-wall-isneeded-stop-human-trafficking-no-data-back-up-his-claim/. 19. Daniel Dale (2019) ‘Trump’s Tales About Gagged Women Are Misleading Amercians About Human Trafficking, Experts Say’. The Star. www.thestar.com/news/world/us/2019/01/14/trumpstales-about-gagged-women-are-misleading-americans-abouthuman-trafficking-experts-say.html. 20. See for example: Dara Lind (2019) ‘Trump Claimed Women Were Gagged with Tape: Then Border Patrol Tried to Find Some Evidence’. Vox. www.vox.com/2019/1/27/18198729/women-ducttape-trump-truck-border and Philip Bump (2019) ‘Trump Claims a Wall is Needed to Stop Human Trafficking: Data Don’t Support His Claim’. Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com/ politics/2019/02/04/trump-claims-wall-is-needed-stop-humantrafficking-no-data-back-up-his-claim/. 21. Daniel Dale (2019) ‘Trump’s Tales About Gagged Women Are Misleading Americans About Human Trafficking, Experts Say’. The Star. www.thestar.com/news/world/us/2019/01/14/trumps-talesabout-gagged-women-are-misleading-americans-about-humantrafficking-experts-say.html. 22. Dara Lind (2019) ‘Trump Claimed Women Were Gagged with Tape: Then Border Patrol Tried to Find Some Evidence’. Vox. www.vox. com/2019/1/27/18198729/women-duct-tape-trump-truck-border. 23. Ilse Van Liempt and Jeroen Doomernik (2006) ‘Migrants’ Agency in the Smuggling Process’. International Migration 44(4) pp. 165–90. 195

The Truth About Modern Slavery 24. Jørgen Carling (2007) ‘The Merits and Limitations of Spain’s Hightech Border Control’. Migration Policy. www.migrationpolicy.org/ article/merits-and-limitations-spains-high-tech-border-control. 25. UNDP (2019) ‘Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe’. 26. For research exploring how the category of ‘undocumented’ pushes people into exploitation, see for example: Ella Parry-Davies (2020) ‘A Chance to Feel Safe: Precarious Filipino Migrants Amid the UK’s Coronavirus Outbreak.’ Kanlugan Filipino Consortium; Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (2020) ‘Opportunity Knocks: Improving Responses to Labour Exploitation with Secure Reporting’. FLEX. Last accessed 23 June 2020. 27. Home Office and James Brokenshire (2015) ‘Campaign to Tackle Illegal Working in Construction Begins’. Gov.uk. www.gov. uk/government/news/campaign-to-tackle-illegal-workingin-construction-begins. 28. Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (2019) ‘Detaining Victims: Human Trafficking and the UK Immigration Detention System’. FLEX. p. 17. 29. Liz Hales and Loraine Gelsthorpe (2012). ‘The Criminalisation of Migrant Women’. University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology. p. 3. 30. FLEX and the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (2017) ‘Lost in Transition: Brexit and Labour Exploitation’. FLEX. 31. Letícia Ishibashi (2019) ‘Secure Reporting for All: The UK’s Best Strategy to Tackle Modern Slavery’. FLEX. 32. FLEX (2019) ‘FLEX Response to BEIS Single Enforcement Body Consultation’. 33. Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (2016) ‘Labour Compliance to Exploitation and the Abuses Inbetween’. FLEX. p. 5. 34. Letícia Ishibashi (2019) ‘Secure Reporting for All: The UK’s Best Strategy to Tackle Modern Slavery’. FLEX. 35. Home Office (2017) ‘Domestic Workers in Private Households’. Gov.uk. p. 2. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/602790/Domesticworkers-in-private-households-v17_0ext.pdf. 36. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2015) ‘Severe Labour Exploitation: Workers Moving Within or into the European Union: State’s Obligations and Victims’ Rights’. p. 10. 196

Notes 37. Human Rights Watch (2014) ‘Hidden Away: Abuses Against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK’. 38. Ibid. 39. Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill (2014) ‘Draft Modern Slavery Bill’. UK Parliament. 40. Lord Hylton (2015) ‘Amendment 90’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/1502250002.htm. 41. Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 33. 42. Nandita Sharma (2017) ‘The New Order of Things: Immobility As Protection in the Regime of Immigration Controls’. Anti-Trafficking Review 9. www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/ article/view/262/251. 43. Lord Hylton (2015) ‘Amendment 90’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/1502250002.htm. 44. Theresa May (2015) ‘Topical Questions’. UK Parliament. www. theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2015-02-09c.548.7. 45. Meri Åhlberg (2019) ‘The Risks of Exploitation in Temporary Migration Programmes: a FLEX Response to the Immigration White Paper’. FLEX. p. 23. 46. Brian Keeley (2009) ‘International Migration: The Human Face of Globalisation’. OECD. p. 27. 47. Linsey McGoey. The Unknowers: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World (London: Zed Books, 2019) p. 3. 48. Frank Field (2019) ‘Immigrants: Detainees – Written Question 266715’. UK Parliament. www.parliament.uk/business/publications/ written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/ Commons/2019-06-19/266715/. 49. Bridget Phillipson (2013) ‘Asylum’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130122/ text/130122w0001.htm#13012263000882; David Davis (2019) ‘Immigrants: Detainees – Written Question 231363’. UK Parliament. www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questionsanswers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-0312/231363/; Angela Crawley (2019) ‘Immigrants: Detainees – Written Question 221825’. UK Parliament. www.parliament.uk/ business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/ 197

The Truth About Modern Slavery written-question/Commons/2019-02-14/221825/; Kate Osamor (2015) ‘Human Trafficking: Detainees – Written Question 10911’. UK Parliament. www.parliament.uk/business/publications/writtenquestions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/ 2015-10-09/10911/; Louise Haigh (2015) ‘Immigrants: Detainees – Written Question 10189’. UK Parliament. www.parliament.uk/ business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/ written-question/Commons/2015-09-14/10189/. 50. Sasha Reed, Stephen Roe, James Grimshaw and Rhys Oliver (2018) ‘The Economic and Social Costs of Modern Slavery’. Home Office. 51. Letícia Ishibashi (2019) ‘Detaining Victims: Human Trafficking and the UK Immigration Detention System’. FLEX and the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group. p. 44. 52. Magda Majkowska-Tomkin (2020) ‘Countries Are Suspending Immigration Detention Due to Coronavirus: Let’s Keep It That Way’.Euronews.www.Euronews.Com/2020/04/29/Countriessuspending-immigration-detention-due-to-coronavirus-let-s-keepit-that-way-view. Last accessed 11 June 2020. 53. Rachel Annison (2017) ‘Hidden in Plain Sight. Three Years On: Updated Analysis of UK Measures to Protect Trafficked Persons’. Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group. p. 8. 54. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980) p. 5. 55. Marika McAdam (2013) ‘Who’s Who at the Border? a RightsBased Approach to Identifying Human Trafficking at International Borders’. Anti-Trafficking Review 2. www.antitraffickingreview.org/ index.php/atrjournal/article/download/30/50?inline=1. 56. Annie Kelly and Mei-Ling McNamara (2016) ‘A Slave in Scotland: I Fell into a Trap and I Couldn’t Get Out’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/may/28/ slavery-human-trafficking-hotel-workers-bangladesh-scotland. 57. On recruitment issues, see: IOM (2020) ‘The Montreal Recommendations on Recruitment: A Roadmap Towards Better Regulation’. https://eea.iom.int/publications/montreal-recommen dations-recruitment-road-map-towards-better-regulation. Last accessed 23 June 2020. 58. Julia O’Connell Davidson, Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 18. 59. The World Bank (2018) ‘Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration’. 198

Notes

CHAPTER 3   1. Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (London: Verso, 2018) p. 220.   2. National Crime Agency (2018; 2017; 2016) ‘National Referral Mechanism Statistics’.   3. UK Government (2020) ‘National Referral Mechanism Statistics – End of Year Summary 2019 Data Tables’. Table 3.   4. Global Network of Sex Work Projects (undated) ‘Carol Leigh Coins the Term “Sex Work”’. www.nswp.org/timeline/event/ carol-leigh-coins-the-term-sex-work.   5. Professor Marianne Hester, Dr Natasha Mulvihill, Dr Andrea Matolcsi, Dr Alba Lanau Sanchez and Sarah-Jane Walker (2019) ‘The Nature and Prevalence of Prostitution and Sex Work in England and Wales’. University of Bristol. p. 13.   6. Glasgow City Council (undated) ‘TARA Case Studies: Eva’. www. glasgow.gov.uk/article/23787/TARA-Case-Studies.   7. Jo Doezema. Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking (London: Zed Books, 2010) pp. 70–1.  8. British Library (2012) ‘The Newspaper Giant Who Went Down with the Titanic’. www.bl.uk/press-releases/2012/april/ the-newspaper-giant-who-went-down-with-the-titanic-conference-at-the-british-library-to-mark-centen.  9. Laura Lammasniemi (2017) ‘View of Anti-white Slavery Legislation and Its Legacies in England’. Anti-Trafficking Review 9. www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/article/ view/264/253. 10. Jo Doezema. Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking (London: Zed Books, 2010) p. 4. 11. University of Minnesota: Human Rights Library (1904) ‘International Agreement for the Suppression of the “White Slave Traffic”’. 12. ‘International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women of Full Age’ (1933). 13. Marjan Wijers and Lin Lap-Chew (1999) ‘Trafficking in Women: Forced Labour and Slavery-like Practice’. Foundation against Trafficking in Women and Global Alliance against Traffic in Women. p. 27. 14. Tamara Barnett (2014) Shadow City: Exposing Human Trafficking in Every Day London. Andrew Boff; GLA Conservatives. p. 11. 199

The Truth About Modern Slavery 15. Julia O’Connell Davidson, Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 190. 16. Jo Doezema. Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking (London: Zed Books, 2010) p. 167. 17. Ibid. p. 168. 18. Nick Davies (2009) ‘Prostitution and Trafficking: The Anatomy of a Moral Panic’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/ oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated. 19. Liz Kelly and Linda Regan (2000) ‘Stopping Traffic: Exploring the Extent of, and Responses to, Trafficking in Women for Sexual Exploitation in the UK’. Police and Reducing Crime Unit: Police Research Series. Paper 125. pp. 21–2. 20. Cf. Karen Offen (undated) ‘A Brief History of Marriage: Marriage Laws and Women’s Financial Independence’, Economica. http:// exhibitions.globalfundfor women.org/economica/marriageand-money/brief-history-marriage. 21. Cf. Joe McCarthy (2017) ‘9 Reasons Why Dowries Are Horrible for Women’. Global Citizen. www.globalcitizen.org/en/ content/8-reasons-dowries-are-bad-for-women/. 22. Louise Ellman (2004) ‘Struggle Against Slavery’. UK Parliament www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2004-10-14.159.0. 23. Lynne Featherstone (2010) ‘Violence Against Women’. UK Parliament. www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2010-01-21b.159.4. 24. Cf. Nick Mai (2011) ‘Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry: Final Policy-Relevant Report’. London Metropolitan University, Institute for the Study of European Transformations. p. 4 and Lucy Platt et al. (2011) ‘Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Violence Among Indoor-working Female Sex Workers in London: The Effect of Migration from Eastern Europe’. Sexually Transmitted Infections 87 p. 378. 25. The Earl of Sandwich (2006) ‘Slavery’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/612190012.htm#06121937000444. 26. Nick Davies (2009) ‘Prostitution and Trafficking: The Anatomy of a Moral Panic’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/ oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated. 27. Home Office and Scottish Executive (2007) ‘UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking’. p. 14. 28. Denis MacShane (2007) ‘Business of the House’, UK Parliament www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2007-10-25b.432.3. 200

Notes 29. Denis MacShane (2008) ‘Human Trafficking’, UK Parliament www. theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2008-01-16b.1025.2. 30. Nick Davies (2009) ‘Prostitution and Trafficking: The Anatomy of a Moral Panic’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/ oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated. 31. Diane Taylor (2012) ‘Met Police Sex Trafficking Investigations Criticised’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/mar/19/ met-police-sex-trafficking-investigations-criticised. 32. Tamara Barnett (2014) Shadow City: Exposing Human Trafficking in Everyday London. Andrew Boff; GLA Conservatives. p. 9. 33. David A. Feingold. ‘Trafficking in Numbers: The Social Construction of Human Trafficking Data’, in P. Andreas, and K. M. Greenhill (eds), Sex, Drugs, and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2010) p. 58. 34. IOM (2006) ‘Trafficking in Human Beings and the World Cup in Germany’. p. 2. 35. APPG Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade (2018) Behind Closed Doors: Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales. Foreword. 36. Sharron A. Fitzgerald (2016) ‘Vulnerable Geographies: Human Trafficking, Immigration and Border Control in the UK and Beyond’. Gender, Place and Culture 23(2) p. 187. 37. Annie Hill (2016) ‘How to Stage a Raid: Police, Media and the Master Narrative of Trafficking’. Anti-Trafficking Review 7. www.antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/article/view/ 199/188 p. 42. 38. BBC News (2005) ‘“Brothel” Workers to Remain in the UK’. http:// news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/4310360.stm. 39. BusinessLive (2005) ‘Cuddles “Victims” Held’. www.business-live. co.uk/economic-development/cuddles-victims-held-3990247. 40. Nick Britten (2005) ‘Sex Slaves Freed As Police Smash Human Trafficking Operation’. The Telegraph. www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ uknews/1499644/Sex-slaves-freed-as-police-smash-humantrafficking-operation.html. 41. Justin Davenport and Josh Pettitt (2013) ‘22 Arrested As Met Swoops on Soho Venue Allegedly Linked to Sex Trafficking and Rapes’. Evening Standard. www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/ 22-arrested-as-met-swoops-on-soho-venues-allegedly-linked-tosex-trafficking-and-rapes-8984378.html. 201

The Truth About Modern Slavery 42. Molly Smith (2013) ‘Soho Police Raids Show Why Sex Workers Live in Fear of Being ‘Rescued’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/11/sohopolice-raids-sex-workers-fear-trafficking. 43. Shannon Hards (2019) ‘Pop-up Brothel Uncovered by Police in Newquay’. Cornwall Live. www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwallnews/pop-up-brothel-uncovered-police-2441270. 44. Holly Christodoulou (2016) ‘Sex Tourists: Britain’s Seaside Towns “Plagued by Pop-up Brothels Using Holiday Lets As Sex Dens”’. The Sun. www.thesun.co.uk/news/1738848/britains-seaside-townsplagued-by-pop-up-brothels-using-holiday-lets-as-sex-dens/. 45. Shannon Hards (2019) ‘Pop-up Brothel Uncovered by Police in Newquay’. Cornwall Live. www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwallnews/pop-up-brothel-uncovered-police-2441270 and Steven Morris (2017) ‘Sex Workers Renting Holiday Lets for Pop-up Brothels, Say Police’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/04/ criminals-renting-holiday-lets-pop-up-brothels-police-newquay. 46. Charlotte Becquart and Elizabeth Mackley (2017) ‘These Are the Signs that a Pop Up Brothel May Be in Your Street in Cornwall’. Cornwall Live. www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/signspop-up-brothel-your-877562. 47. Imogen Braddick (2019) ‘Police Rescue 15 Women from Pop-up Brothels During Redbridge Raids’. Ilford Recorder. www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/operation-magpie-brothelsredbridge-ilford-lane-1-6329256. 48. Adam John (2018) ‘Kent Police Reveal Six Locations Officers Have Raided in Relation to Suspected Brothels’. Kent Live. www.kentlive. news/news/kent-news/kent-police-reveal-six-locations-1626345. 49. Graham Ellison, Caoimhe Ni Dhónaill and Erin Early. ‘A Review of the Criminalisation of Paying for Sexual Services in Northern Ireland’. Queen’s University Belfast. p. 126. 50. Home Affairs Committee (2016) ‘Prostitution’. House of Commons. p. 23. 51. Jay Levy and Pye Jakobsson (2014) ‘Sweden’s Abolitionist Discourse and Law: Effects on the Dynamics of Swedish Sex Work and on the Lives of Sweden’s Sex Workers’. Criminology and Criminal Justice 14(5) p. 597. 52. Alexis Aronowitz, Gerda Theuermann and Elena Tyurykanova (2010) ‘Analysing the Business Model of Trafficking in Human Beings to Better Prevent the Crime’. OSCE. p. 70. 202

Notes 53. Seo-Young Cho, Axel Dreher and Eric Neumayer (2013) ‘Does Legalised Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?’ Economics of Security Working Paper Series, June 2012, Working Paper 71, p. 24. https://studylib.net/doc/8329888/does-legalized-prostitutionincrease-human-trafficking%3F. Last accessed 26 August 2020. 54. Ibid. p. 26. 55. Transcrime (2005) ‘National Legislation on Prostitution and the Trafficking in Women and Children’. European Parliament. www. europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2005/360488/ IPOL-JOIN_ET(2005)360488_EN.pdf. 56. On France: Hélène Le Bail and Calogero Giametta (2016) ‘What Do Sex Workers Think About the French Prostitution Act? A Study on the Impact of the Law from 13 April 2016 Against the “Prostitution System” in France’. On Ireland: Conor Gallagher (2017) ‘Dramatic Rise in Attacks on Sex Workers Since Law Change’. The Irish Times. www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/dramatic-rise-inattacks-on-sex-workers-since-law-change-1. 3208370. On Norway: Amnesty International (2016) ‘The Human Cost of “Crushing” the Market: Criminalisation of Sex Work in Norway’. 57. Hélène Le Bail and Calogero Giametta (2016) ‘What Do Sex Workers Think About the French Prostitution Act? A Study on the Impact of the Law from 13 April 2016 Against the “Prostitution System” in France’. p. 7. 58. Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (London: Verso, 2018) p. 145. 59. Maya Oppenheim (2019) ‘Jailing of Migrant Sex Workers in Ireland Decried As ‘Completely Unjust’. The Independent. www. independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ireland-migrant-sexworkers-jailed-prison-newbridge-police-romania-naas-a8962291. html. 60. Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (London: Verso, 2018) p. 160. 61. Ibid. pp. 146 and 160. 62. Laura LeMoon (2018) ‘SESTA Won’t Stop Sex Trafficking, But it Will Kill Sex Workers’. Vice. www.vice.com/en_us/ article/pax5pv/sesta-wont-stop-sex-trafficking-but-it-will-killsex-workers and Molly Smith (2018) ‘If Sex Workers Can’t Advertise Online, it Forces Them Onto the Street’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/06/sexworkers-advertise-online-pop-up-brothels-criminalised. 203

The Truth About Modern Slavery 63. Glenn Kessler (2018) ‘Has the Sex-trafficking Law Eliminated 90 Percent of Sex-trafficking Ads?’ Washington Post. www. washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/20/has-sex-traffickinglaw-eliminated-percent-sex-trafficking-ads/?noredirect=on&utm_ term=.f930b983a583. 64. Emma Goldman (1910) ‘The Traffic in Women’. Anarchism and Other Essays. www.marxists.org/reference/archive/goldman/ works/1910/traffic-women.htm. 65. Tobias Jones and Ayo Awokoya (2019) ‘Are Your Tinned Tomatoes Picked by Slave Labour?’ The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/ world/2019/jun/20/tomatoes-italy-mafia-migrant-labour-modernslavery and Susan L. Marquis (2019) ‘Saving Farmworkers from Slavery-like Conditions, Field by Field’. RAND. www.rand.org/ blog/2019/09/saving-farmworkers-from-slavery-like-conditionsfield.html. 66. International Committee for Prostitutes Rights (1989) ‘World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights’. www.walnet.org/csis/groups/icpr_ charter.html. 67. Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (London: Verso, 2018) p. 193. 68. Ibid. p. 205. 69. Ibid. p. 193. 70. New Zealand Government (2014) ‘DML v Montgomery and M&T Enterprises Ltd’. p. 30. https:// www.justice.govt.nz/assets/ Documents/ Decisions/2014-NZHRRT-6-DML-vMontgomeryand-MT-Enterprises-Ltd.pdf. 71. Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights (London: Verso, 2018) p. 203. 72. GAATW (2018) ‘Sex Workers Organising for Change: Selfrepresentation, Community Mobilisation and Working Conditions’. p. 104. 73. Ibid. pp. 219–20. 74. Ibid. p. 222. 75. Ibid. p. 105. 76. Punternet Users (2019) ‘General Discussion: Topic – VivaStreet’. Punternet. www.punternet.com/board/read.php?3,4183. 77. Julia O’Connell Davidson, Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) pp. 193–4. 204

Notes

CHAPTER 4   1. Adam Smith. Wealth of Nations: A Selected Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) p. 157.  2. No author given (2016) ‘Boss Guilty of Trafficking Hungarian Slaves at Dewsbury Factory that Made Beds for John Lewis’. Yorkshire Post. www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/crime/boss-guiltyof-trafficking-hungarian-slaves-at-dewsbury-factory-that-madebeds-for-john-lewis-1-7686768.  3. Felicity Lawrence (2019) ‘Lithuanian Workers Win Exploitation Case Against Kent Workers’. The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/global-development/2019/apr/11/lithuanian-workers-winexploitation-case-against-kent-gangmasters-darrell-houghtonjacqueline-judge-chicken-catching.  4. No author given (2018) ‘Kent Gangmasters in Lithuanian Court Over Chicken Catchers’. BBC News. www.bbc.co.uk/news/ uk-england-kent-44482680.  5. Felicity Lawrence (2015) ‘Fear, Hunger and Dirt: Lithuanian Migrants on Life As Chicken Catchers’. The Guardian. www. theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/10/fear-hunger-dirt-lithuanianmigrants-chicken-catchers-dj-houghton.  6. Annie Kelly (2018) ‘Thai Seafood: Are the Prawns on Your Plate Still Fished by Slaves?’ The Guardian. www.the guardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/23/thai-seafoodindustry-report-trafficking-rights-abuses.   7. Kate Hodal and Peter Bengsten (2017) ‘John Lewis and Habitat Withdraw Granite Worktops Over Slavery Concerns’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/sep/03/ john-lewis-habitat-withdraw-granite-worktops-slavery-concerns.  8. Tobias Jones and Ayo Awokoya (2019) ‘Are Your Tinned Tomatoes Picked by Slave Labour?’ The Guardian. www.the guardian.com/world/2019/jun/20/tomatoes-italy-mafia-migrantlabour-modern-slavery.   9. Hult Research and the Ethical Trading Initiative (2016) ‘Corporate Leadership on Modern Slavery: How Have Companies Responded to the UK Modern Slavery Act One Year On?’ 10. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (2017) ‘FTSE 100 Failing to Lead on Eliminating Modern Slavery from Supply Chains?’ 205

The Truth About Modern Slavery 11. The Sancroft-Tussell Report (2017) ‘Eliminating Modern Slavery in Public Procurement’. Sancroft. 12. Genevieve LeBaron and Nicola Phillips (2018) ‘States and the Political Economy of Unfree Labour’. New Political Economy 24(1). 13. Paddy Ireland and Renginee G. Pillay. ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in a Neoliberal Age’, in P. Utting and J. Marques (eds) Corporate Social Responsibility and Regulatory Governance: Towards Inclusive Development? (Basingstoke; Palgrave MacMillan, 2010) p. 78. 14. Theresa May (2019) ‘PM Speech at ILO Centenary Conference’. Gov.uk. www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-at-ilocentenary-conference-11-june-2019. 15. Theresa May (2013) ‘Home Secretary Speech on Modern Slavery’. Gov.uk. www.gov.uk/government/speeches/home-secretaryspeech-on-modern-slavery. 16. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) pp. 13–14. 17. Sainsbury’s (2019) ‘Modern Slavery Statement’. p. 6. 18. Genevieve LeBaron (2018) ‘The Global Business of Forced Labour: Report of Findings’. Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute. p. 38. 19. Fabio Teixeira (2019) ‘Picked by Slaves: Coffee Crisis Brews in Brazil’. Thomson Reuters Foundation. https://packages.trust.org/ Brazil-Coffee-Slaves/index.html. 20. Cf. Magdalena Öberseder et al. (2011) ‘“Why Don’t Consumers Care About CSR?”: a Qualitative Study Exploring the Role of CSR in Consumption Decisions’. Journal of Business Ethics 104(4) pp. 449–60. 21. Julia O’Connell Davidson (2012) ‘Absolving the State: The Trafficking-Slavery Metaphor’. Global Dialogue 14(2) p. 10. 22. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980) p. 160. 23. Ilse Ras and Christiania Gregoriou (2019) ‘The Quest to End Modern Slavery: Metaphors in Corporate Modern Slavery Statements’. Anti-Trafficking Review 13. www.antitraffickingreview. org/index.php/atrjournal/article/view/409/346. 24. International Justice Mission (2018) ‘Justice Review: A Journal on Protection and Justice for the Poor’. p. 54 (emphasis added). www. ijmuk.org/documents/studies/IJM-JusticeReview-UK_FINAL_ WEB-Spreads-1.pdf. 206

Notes 25. Cf. Klara Skrivankova (2010) ‘Between Decent Work and Forced Labour: Examining the Continuum of Exploitation’. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. www.gla.gov.uk/media/1585/jrf-betweendecent-work-and-forced-labour.pdf; Bridie France (2016) ‘Labour compliance to Exploitation and the Abuses In-between’. FLEX and the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group; Ronald Weitzer (2015) ‘Human Trafficking and Contemporary Slavery’. Annual Review of Sociology 41. pp. 223–42; Joel Quirk. The Anti-slavery Project: From the Slave Trade to Human Trafficking (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan: London, 2015). 26. Conny Rijken. ‘When Bad Labour Conditions Become Exploitation’, in Conny Rijken and Tesseltje de Lange (eds) Towards a Decent Labour Market for Low-Waged Migrant Workers (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018) p. 189. 27. ILO (2007) ‘Report III (B)’. International Labour Conference 96th Session. www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc96/pdf/ rep-iii-1b.pdf. 28. Labour Behind the Label (2020) ‘Boohoo and COVID-19: The People behind the Profits’. https://labourbehindthelabel.org/reportboohoo-covid-19-the-people-behind-the-profit/. Last accessed 26 August 2020. 29. Environmental Audit Committee (2019) ‘Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’. UK Parliament. https:// publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/ 1952/report-files/195205.htm. 30. No author given (2016) ‘Boss Guilty of Trafficking Hungarian Slaves at Dewsbury Fctory that Made Beds for John Lewis’. Yorkshire Post. www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/crime/boss-guilty-oftrafficking-hungarian-slaves-at-dewsbury-factory-that-made-bedsfor-john-lewis-1-7686768. 31. Clean Clothes Campaign (2019) ‘Figleaf for Fashion: How Social Auditing Protects Brands and Fails Workers’. p. 52. 32. Stephanie Clifford and Steven Greenhouse (2013) ‘Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories Abroad’. New York Times. www.nytimes. com/2013/09/02/business/global/superficial-visits-and-trickeryundermine-foreign-factory-inspections.html. 33. Upton Sinclair. I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (Berkeley: University of California Press) p. 109. 207

The Truth About Modern Slavery 34. John Lewis (2019) ‘John Lewis Modern Slavery Statement 2018/19’. p. 10 and Marks & Spencer (2019) ‘Modern Slavery Statement 2017/18’. p. 2. 35. Mike Dottridge (2014) ‘Some Implications of Using the Term “Modern Slavery”’. The Trafficking Research Project. https:// thetraffickingresearchproject.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/ some-implications-of-using-the-term-modern-slavery/. 36. David Metcalf (2018) ‘United Kingdom Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19’. HM Government. p. 10. 37. World Bank Group (undated) ‘About Us’. Doing Business. www. doingbusiness.org/en/about-us. 38. World Bank Group (2020) ‘Doing Business: Comparing Business Regulation in 190 Countries’. pp. 63–4. 39. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) p. 166. 40. Consumer Goods Forum (undated) ‘Priority Industry Principles’. 41. Mark Anner (2018) ‘CSR Participation Committees, Wildcat Strikes and the Sourcing Squeeze in Global Supply Chains’. BJIR Symposium on Corporate Social Responsibility and Labour Standards 56(1) p. 76. 42. Human Rights Watch (2019) ‘Paying for a Bus Ticket and Expecting to Fly: How Apparel Brand Purchasing Practices Drive Labour Abuses’. pp. 14–51. 43. Clean Clothes Campaign (2019) ‘Figleaf for Fashion: How Social Auditing Protects Brands and Fails Workers’. p. 13. 44. Rachel Wilshaw (2018) ‘UK Supermarket Supply Chains: Ending Human Suffering Behind Our Food’. Oxfam GB. p. 6. 45. House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (2019) ‘Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’. UK Parliament. p. 14. 46. See www.wsr-network.org for further information on worker-driven social responsibility. 47. Felicity Lawrence (2017) ‘How Big Brands Including Sports Direct Unwittingly Used Slave Labour’. The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/global-development/2017/aug/08/how-big-brands-includingsports-direct-unwittingly-used-slave-labour. 48. Bridget Anderson and Ben Rogaly (2005) ‘Forced Labour and Migration to the UK’. TUC. 208

Notes 49. Human Rights Watch (2019) ‘Paying for a Bus Ticket and Expecting to Fly: How Apparel Brand Purchasing Practices Drive Labour Abuses’. 50. Genevieve LeBaron (2014) ‘Subcontracting is Not Illegal, But Is it Unethical? Business Ethics, Forced Labour and Economic Success’. International Labor Politics 20(2) p. 244. 51. Ibid. p. 242. 52. Ibid. p. 245. 53. Human Rights Watch (2013) ‘World Report 2013: Events of 2012’. p. 33. 54. Ella Cockbain and Helen Brayley-Morris (2017) ‘Human Trafficking and Labour Exploitation in the Casual Construction Industry: An Analysis of Three Major Investigations in the UK Involving Irish Traveller Offending Groups’. Policing 12(2) p. 134. 55. David Metcalf (2018) ‘United Kingdom Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19’. HM Government. p. 52. 56. UK Parliament (2019) ‘Written Answer from Kelly Tolhurst MP to Paul Blomfield MP’. www.parliament.uk/business/publications/ written-questions-answers-statements/writtenquestion/Commons/ 2019-02-04/216311/. 57. UK Parliament (2019) ‘Written Answer by Victoria Atkins MP to Paul Blomfield MP’. www.parliament.uk/business/publications/ written-questions-answers-statements/writtenquestion/Commons/ 2019-02-04/216309/. 58. Eliza Marks and Anna Olsen (2015) ‘The Role of Trade Unions in Reducing Migrant Workers’ Vulnerability to Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion’. AntiTrafficking Review 5. p. 7. 59. Ursula K. Le Guin (2014) ‘Acceptance Speech for Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters’. National Book Foundation. https://youtu.be/Et9Nf-rsALk. Last accessed 26 August 2020.

CHAPTER 5  1. Mallory Gafas (2018) ‘British Teacher “Prances” across the US to Fight Modern-day Slavery’. CNN. https://edition.cnn. com/2018/09/04/world/planet-prancer-dance-us-slavery/index. html. 209

The Truth About Modern Slavery  2. Gordon Miller (2020) Twitter status. https://twitter.com/gordon miller81/status/1212718716242333699.   3. Deloitte (2015) ‘Study on Prevention Initiatives on Trafficking in Human Beings’. EU Commission. p. 7.   4. Olaudah Equiano (2005) ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’. www.gutenberg. org/files/15399/15399-h/15399-h.htm.  5. Mike Kaye (2005) ‘1807–2007: Over 200 Years of Campaigning Against Slavery’. Anti-Slavery International. p. 8.   6. Ibid. p. 9.   7. Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 18.  8. Home Affairs Select Committee (2009) ‘The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK’. UK Parliament. Paragraph 45.  9. No author given (2008) ‘Anti-trafficking Drive Launched’. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7214412.stm. 10. Home Affairs Select Committee (2009) ‘The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the UK’. UK Parliament. Paragraph 45. 11. Home Office (2014) ‘Modern Slavery is Closer Than You Think’. Gov.uk. www.gov.uk/government/publications/modern-slaverycloser-than-you-think. 12. Roy Carnegie (2018) ‘Shedding Light on the Invisible People Trapped in Modern Slavery’. British Journal of Photography. www. bjp-online.com/2018/01/carnegie-invisible-people/. 13. Tom Powell (2018) ‘Anti-slavery Day: 10 Downing Street Leads Iconic British Buildings in Lighting Up Red to Raise Awareness of Modern Slavery’. Evening Standard. www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ antislavery-day-10-downing-street-and-other-iconic-buildings-litup-red-in-support-a3965816.html. 14. FoI request response obtained by the author (2019). 15. Edward Orehek et al. (2010) ‘Need for Closure and the Social Response to Terrorism’. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 32(4) pp. 279–90. 16. Evgeny Lebedev (2017) ‘Slaves on Our Streets: A Major Investigation to Expose Hidden Horrors of Modern-day Slavery in London’. Evening Standard. www.standard.co.uk/news/ modern-slavery/slaves-on-our-streets-a-major-investigation-to210

Notes expose-hidden-horrors-of-modernday-slavery-in-london-a3632636. html. 17. Theresa May (2013) ‘The Abhorrent Evil of Human Trafficking Taking Place on London’s Streets’. Metro. https://metro.co.uk/ 2013/10/14/theresa-may-the-evil-of-modern-day-slavery-takingplace-on-londons-streets-4144671/. 18. Tariq Tahir (2013) ‘Police “Failing to Deal” with Human Trafficking Misery’. Metro. https://metro.co.uk/2013/10/14/police-failing-todeal-with-human-trafficking-misery-4144814/?ito=cbshare. 19. Andrew Boff (2012) ‘Silence on Violence: Improving the Safety of Women – the Policing of Off-street Sex Work and Sex Trafficking in London’. Office of Andrew Boff, London Assembly Member. p. 22. 20. Kevin Bales. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) preface. 21. Julie Ham, Marie Segrave and Sharon Pickering (2013) ‘In the Eyes of the Beholder: Border Enforcement, Suspect Travellers and Trafficking Victims’. Anti-Trafficking Review 2. www. antitraffickingreview.org/index.php/atrjournal/article/download/ 31/51?inline=1. 22. Kevin Bales. Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005) p. 58. 23. Diane Taylor (2019) ‘Judge Rules £1/Hour Wages for Immigration Detainees Are Lawful’. The Guardian. www. theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/27/judge-rules-1hr-wages-lawfulfor-immigration-centre-detainees. 24. Diane Taylor (2018) ‘Home Office Backed “Slave Labour” Pay for Immigration Detainees’. The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/uk-news/2018/sep/04/home-office-pay-immigrationdetainees-menial-jobs-legal-action. 25. Diane Taylor (2017) ‘Immigration Detainees Bring Legal Challenge Against £1 an Hour “Slave” Wages’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/28/immigrationdetainees-legal-challenge-slave-wages. 26. Ibid. 27. UK Government (2020) ‘UK Government Modern Slavery Statement’. p. 1. 28. Hannah Lewis and Louise Waite (2019) ‘Migrant Illegality, Slavery and Exploitative Work’, in Gary Craig, Alex Balch, Hannah Lewis 211

The Truth About Modern Slavery and Louise Waite (eds) The Modern Slavery Agenda: Policy, Politics and Practice in the UK (Bristol: Polity Press) p. 225. 29. Ibid. 30. Carol Bacchi (2017) ‘The Ethics of Problem Representation: Widening the Scope of Ethical Debate’. Policy and Society 26(3) pp. 5–20. 31. Annie Kelly and Mei-Ling McNamara (2016) ‘A Slave in Scotland: I Fell into a Trap and I Couldn’t Get Out’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/may/28/ slavery-human-trafficking-hotel-workers-bangladesh-scotland. 32. No author given (2013) ‘Edward – Antislavery Usable Past’. www. antislavery.ac.uk/items/show/142. 33. Michal Carrington, Andreas Chatzidakis and Deirdre Shaw (2018) Consuming Modern Slavery. University of Glasgow, Royal Holloway University and the University of Melbourne. 34. Ibid. p. 7. 35. Ibid. pp. 24–5. 36. Robert N. Proctor. Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008) p. 2. 37. Modern Slavery Helpline (2018) ‘Modern Slavery Helpline Annual Assessment 2018’. www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/uploads/ 20190503163925108.pdf. 38. Annie Kelly (2018) ‘Reports of Slavery in British Car Washes Fail to Trigger Arrests’. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/ global-development/2018/jul/13/reports-slavery-british-carwashes-fail-to-trigger-arrests-473-potential-victims. 39. Vogel, D. and Cyrus, N (2017). ‘How Successful Are Campaigns Addressing the Demand-side of Trafficking in Human Beings?’ www. demandat.eu/sites/default/files/D12.4%20DemandAT-PB-%20 Campaigns_web version.pdf. 40. Peter Olayiwola (2019) ‘Killing the Tree by Cutting the Foliage Instead of Uprooting it? Rethinking Awareness Campaigns As a Response to Trafficking in South-west Nigeria’. Anti-Trafficking Review 13. p. 51. 41. Ibid. p. 60. 42. Ibid. p. 62. 43. National Crime Agency (undated) ‘County Lines’. www. nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/what-we-do/crime-threats/drugtrafficking/county-lines. 212

Notes 44. No author given (2013) ‘Edward – Antislavery Usable Past’. www. antislavery.ac.uk/items/show/1633. 45. The Passage (2017) ‘Understanding and Responding to Modern Slavery Within the Homelessness Sector’. 46. Home Office (2014) ‘Modern Slavery Strategy’. UK Government. p. 12. 47. Hannah Westwater (2019) ‘The Big Issue Responds to Government Figures Showing Drop in Rough Sleeping’. The Big Issue. www. bigissue.com/latest/the-big-issue-responds-to-government-figuresshowing-drop-in-rough-sleeping/. 48. House of Commons Library (2020) ‘Households in Temporary Accommodation (England)’. UK Parliament. https://research briefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN02110. 49. DFID (2019) ‘Annual Review 300506 – Post April 2018’. https:// devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300506/documents. 50. DFID (2019) ‘DFID 8565 Stamping Out Slavery in Nigeria (SoSiN) Contract Award’. www.contractsfinder.service.gov.uk/ Notice/6791d1b1-b18a-4d6f-a3bc-c5ae3d9ff653. 51. DFID (2019) ‘Calldown Contract Section 4 Appendix A’. DFID and UK Aid. p. 6. 52. Sean Morris, John Cassidy and Anesa ‘Nes’ Parker (2015) ‘The Freedom Ecosystem: How the Power of Partnership Can Help Stop Modern Slavery’. Deloitte. www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/ topics/social-impact/freedom-ecosystem-stop-modern-slavery. html. 53. Medaille Trust and Hope for Justice respectively. 54. BBC Media Centre (2018) ‘The Prosecutors: Modern Day Slavery’. www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2018/32/the-prosecutors. 55. Ayslos and ARC Foundation (2020) ‘Vietnam: Returned Victims of Trafficking’. www.asylos.eu/vietnam-report. Last accessed 11 June 2020. 56. Iain Duncan Smith (2019) ‘Modern Slavery and Victim Support’. UK Parliament. www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id= 2019-03-27b.145.0. 57. Kate Roberts (2019) ‘Human Trafficking: Addressing the Symptom Not the Cause’, in Gary Craig, Alex Balch, Hannah Lewis and Louise Waite (eds) The Modern Slavery Agenda: Policy, Politics and Practice in the UK (Bristol: Polity Press), pp. 225 and 158–9. 58. Jane Bradley and Emily Dugan (2019) ‘Hundreds of Child Trafficking Victims Have Been Refused the Right to Stay 213

The Truth About Modern Slavery in the UK’. Buzzfeed News. www.buzzfeed.com/janebradley/ child-trafficking-victims-refused-uk. 59. Sarah Newton (2017) ‘Victims of Modern Slavery Inquiry’. Home Office. www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/ work-and-pensions/Letter-from-Sarah-Newton-MP-to-Chair-remodern-slavery-session-17-2-2017.pdf. 60. Kevin Bales (2010) ‘How to Combat Modern Slavery’. TED; YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUM2rCIUdeI. 61. Cited in Julia O’Connell Davidson. Modern Slavery: The Margins of Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) p. 10. 62. Hannah Lewis and Louise Waite (2015) ‘Asylum, Immigration Restrictions and Exploitation: Hyper-precarity As a Lens for Understanding and Tackling Forced Labour’. Anti-Trafficking Review 5. p. 9. 63. Kevin Bales. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) p. 253. 64. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) p. 2. 65. Marilyn Murray (2019) ‘Getting Through the Front Door: Public Awareness Campaigns As an Essential First Step in the Fight Against Human Trafficking’. Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. www. opendemocracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/gettingthrough-front-door-public-awareness-campaigns-as-first-step-in-/.

CONCLUSION   1. Anand Giridharadas. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018) p. 5.   2. Quoted by Gary Younge (2005) ‘Riots Are a Class Act – and Often They’re the Only Alternative’. The Guardian. www.theguardian. com/politics/2005/nov/14/france.eu.   3. Joel Quirk (2008) ‘Unfinished Business: A Comparative Survey of Historical and Contemporary Slavery’. UNESCO. p. 8.   4. Home Office (2014) ‘Modern Slavery: How the UK is Leading the Fight’. Gov.uk https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/328096/Modern_ slavery_booklet_v12_WEB__2_.pdf.   5. Conservative Party. ‘2019 Manifesto’. p. 53. 214

Notes   6. George Orwell. Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel (London: Secker & Warburg, 1949).  7. Kevin Bales (2010) ‘How to Combat Modern Slavery’. TED; YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUM2rCIUdeI.   8. Kevin Bales. Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) pp. 3, 46 and 80.   9. Ibid. p. 198. 10. A21 (undated) ‘Our Solution’. www.a21.org/content/our-solution/ gn9pjs. 11. Home Affairs Committee (2019) ‘Oral Evidence: Modern Slavery HC 1460’. House of Commons. p. 154. http://data.parliament.uk/ writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/homeaffairs-committee/modern-slavery/oral/95163.pdf. 12. Kristin Toussaint (2020) ‘Spain Creates a Universal Minimum Income’. Fast Company. www.fastcompany.com/90511093/spaincreates-a-universal-minimum-income-targeted-at-2-3-millionpeople. Last accessed 11 June 2020. 13. Craig Paton (2020) ‘“Time Has Come” for Universal Basic Income, Says Sturgeon’. The Independent. www.independent.co.uk/news/ uk/home-news/universal-basic-income-ubi-scotland-uk-nicolasturgeon-coronavirus-a9498076.html. Last accessed 11 June 2020. 14. Guy Standing (2019) ‘Basic Income and the Three Varieties of Freedom’. Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. www.open democracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/basic-incomeand-three-varieties-freedom/. 15. Simon Birnbaum and Jurgen de Wispelaere (2019) ‘The Power to Walk Away: Is Basic Income a Bridge Too Far?’ Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. www.opendemocracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/ power-walk-away-basic-income-bridge-too-far/. 16. Neil Howard (2014) ‘On Capitalism and Coercion: Are Trafficking, Slavery and Forced Labour Actually Necessary for Maintaining Liberal Capitalism?’ Aljazeera. www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/ 2014/04/capitalism-coercion-2014417133923106962.html.

215

Index n refers to a note A21 (organisation) 139, 163, 175–6 abolitionism and abolitionists 25, 43, 56 depoliticising of 8–9 impact on colonial powers of 6–7 slave abolitionists 141 white abolitionists 5, 7 26 see also new abolitionism aboriginal people, Australia 26 Action Plan on Human Trafficking (2007) 22, 81–2, 141 Adams, Niki 67, 75, 80, 84, 86, 88, 100 After Exploitation (organisation) 59 agnotology 9 see also ignorance; public ignorance agricultural workers, exploitation of 96 Albania 79 All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade 83, 84, 86 Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA 2018) 94–5 Amazon (company) 121n Anderson, Bridget 10

Andrijasevic, Rutvica 10 Anner, Mark 125, 128, 135 Anti-Slavery Day 142 Anti-Slavery Day Bill (2010) 23 Anti-Slavery International 16, 37, 121 anti-trafficking, political rhetoric of 45–6 Anti-Trafficking Initiative 47 Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group 60–1 anxiety 36, 37 Arefin, Shamsul 63 argument, as verbal warfare 62 Arkless, David 37 Asda (supermarket) 104 ASOS (online clothing retailer) 106–7, 108 audits (workplace inspections) 119–20, 123 Australia 26, 31, 147 awareness-raising 139–43, 144, 155, 156, 158, 159, 161–2, 170–1 Azad, Abul Kamal 63–4, 150 Bacchi, Carol 149 Backpage.com (website) 95 Baderschneider, Jean 31 Bales, Kevin 8, 11, 26, 46, 147, 163 Disposable People 11–12, 25–6, 135, 146, 169

216

Index

Ending Slavery 112, 123 on freed slaves 167–8 on freedom 169, 170 new abolitionist views of 25, 123, 140, 163, 172–3, 175 on World Bank 123 Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety 127 Bates, Lord 55–6 Batty, Judge Christopher 103 BBC, documentaries on modern slavery 129, 163–4 ‘bedroom tax’, framing of 3–4 Begonia, Marissa 53 Behind Closed Doors: Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales 83, 84 Belgium 52 Bernstein, Elizabeth 36 Better Work Initiative 128 Birnbaum, Simon 181 Black Lives Matter 148, 174 Blair, Tony 13 Blue Blindfold campaign 141 Body Shop 107 Boff, Andrew 75, 144–5 Boko Haram 10 Bone, Peter 21–2 Bono 13 Border and Immigration Agency 22 border controls 20–1 Border Force 45 border officials, conflicting roles of 62–3 Bradley, Jane 166–7 Brain, Tim 82 brands 177 government regulations on 131–5

pressure on suppliers by 123–8, 130 Branson, Richard 13 Brayley-Morris, Helen 133 Brazil 113 Breathnach, Declan 42 Brewer, Phil 16, 65, 152, 178 on awareness-raising 156 on exploitation 116, 127, 133 on Modern Slavery Act 30 on victimhood 164–5 Bristol University, research into sex work by 69 Britain ‘discretionary leave to remain’ 167n government policies of 28, 30–1, 48–50 government regulations 131–4 refusal of right to remain in 166 role in abolitionist movement 174 role in historical slave trade 173 and UN Convention 21–2 see also Home Office British Red Cross 51 Brokenshire, James 49 brothels 83, 84, 86–7 police closures of 84 police raids on 85, 87, 88 ‘pop-up brothels’ 83, 84, 86-7 see also massage parlours Cable, Vince 22, 28 Cambodia 136 Cameron, David 27 Canada 89 cannabis farming, criminalisation of 96 CARE (charity) 91 217

The Truth About Modern Slavery Caribbean, emancipated slaves in 6–7 celebrities, campaigns against modern slavery by 1, 13 Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) 23, 26–7, 29, 35, 110, 177 certainty and uncertainty 143, 151, 152 Chad 4 chicken farms, exploitation on 104–5, 129 children domestic work by 156–8 and drug-related crime 159–60 sent to UK by parents 156–8 trafficking of 19n China 6, 44, 130 Chuang, Janie 34 Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe (CHASTE) 80 Clegg, Nick 28 Clinton Global Initiative 27–8 CNN Freedom Project 163 Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) 77 Cockbain, Ella 133 coffee plantations, exploitation on 113 Cohen, Lori 47 Cold War, consequences of end of 17, 74 colonial powers, impact of abolition on 6–7 colonialism, legacy of 43 Colston, Edward, toppling of statue of 174 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association 31

Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar 136 Conservative Party, election manifesto (2019) 174 construction industry 50, 130, 133 Consumer Goods Forum ‘Priority of Principles’ 124 consumers, responsibility of 111–2, 113–4 Consuming Modern Slavery (report 2018) 151, 152, 153 ‘coolie’ trade 6, 43, 56 Cornwall Live (website) 87 corporate social responsibility (CSR) 108, 109–10, 177 Costa, Antonio Maria 15 Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings 21, 22 county lines 159–60, 162 coverture 6, 6n COVID-19 137, 161, 180 in detention centres 66 impact on the economy 137 impact on homeless people 161 in Leicester 118 Crossroads Women’s Centre 67 Crowe, Russell 13 Cuddles (massage parlour) 85, 86 Cugoano, Quobna Ottobah Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic 140 Daily Mail 86 Daily Mirror 82 Daily Telegraph 30 Davidson, Julia O’Connell 20, 76, 101, 113, 141 Davies, Nick 81, 82

218

Index debt bondage 58, 101, 104 Deloitte 163 (company) Denmark 92 Department for International Development 162 Department of Justice 90 detention centres 59–60 COVID-19 in 66 mental health of detainees in 59–60 work in 148–9 disposable products 111–2 Dixon, Darryl 155 DJ Houghton Catching Services 129 Doezema, Jo Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters 73 domestic servitude 54 domestic work and workers 53, 54–5 by children 156–8 contracts for 55–6 exploitation in 115–6 visa for 53-4, 55, 56, 57 Dottridge, Mike 37, 121–2 Douglass, Frederick 172 dowry system 80 Drapers Online 43–4 drug-related crime 159–60 Dugan, Emily 166–7 Dunelm Mill (furniture retailer) 103 Eastern European women 17, 74 economy, the 137 framing of 4, 137 emancipated slaves 6–7 Employment Agencies Standards Inspectorate 134

English Collective of Prostitutes 67, 75, 85, 86 Equalities and Human Rights Commission 28 Equiano, Olaudah 140–1 ethical certification schemes 113 ethical trade 113 Ethical Trade Initiative 119 European Commission 139 European Convention on Human Rights 33 European Parliament 92 elections (2009) 28 European Union 46 directive on human trafficking 23 non-citizens of 44, 60–1, 165 rights of citizens of 44, 60–1 Evening Standard 144, 145, 147 ex-prisoners 149 exploitation 19, 39, 48–9, 95, 97, 121–2, 148 and brands 104 continuum of 115–6, 117–8, 181, 183–4 framing of 34, 174, 175 Facebook 156 factory lists, transparency of 106–7 Fairtrade certification 112 farm work, exploitation in 96 fashion industry 118, 125, 126–7 feminists, attitudes to sex work 76, 102 Field, Frank 24, 27, 58–9 fishing industry, exploitation in 124, 125 Fitzgerald, Sharron A. 85 219

The Truth About Modern Slavery Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) 50, 52, 59 forced apprenticeships 6–7 forced labour 116–7, 148, 168–9 forced marriage 4 Forrest, Andrew (‘Twiggy’) 13, 16, 26, 163 Fortescue Metals Group 26 frames and framing 3–5 France 45–6, 75, 89, 90, 93 free market economics see neoliberalism Free the Slaves (organisation) 12, 163, 168 freed slaves 167–8 freedom, new abolitionist view of 167–70 Freedom Fund (organisation) 163 Freedom United (organisation) 163 Frisch, Max 58 Gallagher, Anne 13–14 Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority 134, 154–5 garment industry 118, 125, 126–7 Gates, Bill 13, 17 Giridharadas, Anand 172 Glasgow Trafficking Awareness-Raising Alliance 70 Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women 41, 162 Global Fund to End Modern Slavery 31 Global Slavery Index 12–14, 148 Global South 43, 105, 122 Goldman, Emma 95–6 Gottardo, Carolina 52 governments, regulations by 131–4, 136

Gregoriou, Christiana 114 Guardian, The 86, 155 Guy, Christian 23–4 Habitat (furniture retailer) 105 Haiti, slave revolt in 5 Hammond, Ben 139 hand car washing 164, 165 Healy, Catherine 99 Hill, Fiona 29 historical abolitionist movement 5, 12, 117 racist views of 7 HIV, transmission of 93 Hollobone, Philip 45–6 Home Office 50, 58–9, 69, 154 homeless people 161, 162, 178 ‘hostile environment’ 49–50, 180 Howard, Neil 183 Human Rights Caucus (HRC) 76–7 human rights due diligence 134 Human Rights Watch 125, 132 Hidden Away (report 2014) 54, 55 human trafficking 17, 19, 20, 64–5 as a contaminant 21 criminalisation of 20, 21, 35, 46 deaths in container trucks (2019) 39–40 and exploitation 39 UN definition of 18, 40, 41 victims of 41, 42 see also trafficked children; trafficked men; trafficked women Hungary 104 Huxley, Aldous Brave New World 155–6 Hylton, Lord 55

220

Index Iceland 89 identity characteristics 25–6 ignorance, production of 9, 34, 37, 139–40, 144, 153 see also public ignorance ‘illegal labour’ 49, 50 illegal migrants see undocumented migrants Illes, Ferenc 104 immigrants see migrants immigration, as contaminant 12, 21, 25, 56, 84–5, 114, 115 Immigration Act (2014) 49 Immigration Act (2016) 49, 57 immigration controls 20, 21, 28, 29, 50 indentured labour 6, 56 Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner 164 India 6, 15, 136 Integrated System of External Vigilance 48 International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904) 72–3 International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights (ICPR) 97 International Justice Mission 115 International Labour Organization (ILO) 111, 116–7, 125, 127–8 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 43 ‘Invisible People’ (exhibition) 142 Ireland, Republic of 89, 93 Ireland, Paddy and Renginee E. Pillay 109

Israel 89 It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to fight Modern Slavery (CSJ 2013) 23 Italy 101 Jesuit Refugee Service 59 John Lewis (department store) 103 Johnson, Boris 149 Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants ( JCWI) 39, 65 joint liability law 134–5 Joseph Rowntree Foundation 23 Justice for Domestic Workers ( J4DW) see Voice of Domestic Workers Kelly, Liz 79, 80 Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate 87–8 Khliji, Saeed 126 Khoza, Thulisile 99–100 Kloss, Karlie 13 Kosovo 79 Kozee Sleep (bed manufacturer) 103, 119 La Strada (network) 16 labour agencies 129 government regulation of 133 labour inspectorates 133, 134 labour laws 49, 133, 134 labour recruitment agencies 129 Lainez, Nicolas 44 Lakoff George 3, 5, 174 Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson Metaphors We Live By 1, 61–2 221

The Truth About Modern Slavery language and framing 27 political use of 27, 39, 41–2, 144 Latin American Women’s Rights Service 52 Layzee Sleep (bed manufacturer) 103 Le Guin, Ursula 137 LeBaron, Genevieve 113, 130–1 Lebedev, Evgeny 145 Leicester and COVID-19 118 garment industry in 118, 126 Leigh, Carol 68 Lewis, Hannah 168 Lippmann, Walter Public Opinion 27 London 147 sex work in 79, 82–3 London Assembly 145 London Olympics (2012) 82–3 Love146 (organisation) 170 Mac, Juno and Molly Smith 99 Revolting Prostitutes 89n, 97–8 McAdam, Marika 63 McColl, Lord 166 McDonald’s 104 McGoey, Linsey 58, 120, 152 The Unknowners: How Strategic Ignorance Rules the World 34, 35 MacShane, Denis 82 mail order brides 80 Malaysia 136 Mankevicius, Edikas 104 Manolada, Greece, human trafficking in 32–3 Marks & Spencer 104

Marshalls (company) 107, 108, 131, 136–7 massage parlours, police raids on 85, 86, 91 May, Theresa 1, 29–30, 31, 34–5, 57, 144, 182 and consumer responsibility 111 and ‘hostile environment’ 49–50 and Modern Slavery Bill 111, 112 meat-processing industry, exploitation in 128 Metro 34–5, 144 Metropolitan Police Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit 16 Mexico City, decriminalisation of sex work 99 Mexico/US border 47 migrant smuggling 18, 21, 40–1, 44 migrant women 51, 52, 53–5 see also domestic work; sex work migrants as a contaminant 21, 25, 56, 84–5, 114, 115 criminalising of 65 deaths in container trucks (2019) 39–40 and debt 101 discouraging of 162 escaping poverty 43–4, 65 fear of immigration authorities 51–2 luring of 41–2 and poverty 25–6, 183–4 recruitment of 64 restrictions on 48–9 vulnerability of 57–8 see also undocumented migrants 222

Index Miller, Gordon 139 Miller, John 64 Mitchel-Hill, Elaine 107, 108, 110, 131, 132, 136, 138 ‘Modern Day Slavery: the Hidden Agenda’ (exhibition 2013) 26–7 modern slavery 1–3, 6, 8, 12, 117–8, 184 anxiety about 36, 37 awareness-raising campaigns 139–43, 144 BBC documentaries on 129, 163–4 contamination by 24, 114, 115 criminalising of 29, 30, 35, 36 depoliticising of 9, 32, 176 estimated numbers of 12–15 framing of 3, 4–5, 9, 24, 32, 36–7, 172–3, 174–5, 176 metaphor for exploitation 9–10, 16, 34, 115, 121–2 and party politics 24 rebranding of 38 solutions for 178, 179–80 victims of 59–60 Modern Slavery Act (2015) 23, 30, 31, 50, 104, 105–6, 114 Section 54 105–6, 110 flouting by companies of 107–8 Modern Slavery Bill 29, 55, 57, 111, 112 Modern Slavery Helpline 31, 154 Modern Slavery Strategy (2014) 161 Mullan-Feroze, Rachel 60, 71, 91, 101–2, 165, 167, 169 Murray, Marilyn 170 Myanmar 13, 136

nail bars 163–4 ‘nanny state’, framing of 3 ‘Natashas’ (Eastern European sex workers) 74, 75 National Audit Office 30 National Crime Agency 35, 142, 154, 159, 160 National Referral Mechanism (NRM) 50, 59n, 75, 86, 87, 88 Nelson, Fraser 24, 110 neoliberalism 108–9, 111, 126, 137 Netherlands 52 new abolitionism 11–13, 25, 26, 29, 30, 34, 114–5, 167, 175–6, 179 attitudes to sex work 67, 102 on World Bank 123 New Economy Organisers Network 4 New York Times 11, 46, 119 New Zealand 98–9 New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective 99, 100 Newcomb, Commander Alison 86 Newquay, Cornwall, sex trade in 87 Next (clothing retailer) 103 Nigeria 43, 156–7, 162 Nigerian women 74, 75, 101, 148 Nokes, Caroline 59 Nordic model legislation on sex trade 88–94, 89n impact on sex trade 89–90, 93 impact on sex workers 92–4 impact on trafficking 91–2 see also sex buyer law Northern Ireland 89, 90–1

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The Truth About Modern Slavery Norway 89, 90, 91 Nottingham University Rights Lab 150

public intuition 154, 155

Obama, Barack 27–8 Office for National Statistics 134 Olayiwola, Peter 156–8, 162 online platforms, for sexual services 88, 94 openDemocracy (website) 170 Operation Fort 129 Operation Magnify 50 Operation Vaken 28 oracular power 35 Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe 91 Orsos, Janos 104 Orwell, George 39 Nineteen Eighty-Four 175 outsourcing 129, 130 Overseas Domestic Work Visa 53–4, 55, 56, 57 Oxfam (charity) 125

racism 60, 147–8 Rafiq, Mohammed 103, 104, 119 Rainforest Alliance 113 Ras, Ilse A. 114 Reagan, Ronald 108 recruitment agencies 129 government regulation of 133 Redbridge, police raids on brothels in 87 refugees 59, 65 Regan, Linda 79, 80 Renzi, Matteo 46 rescue 58, 162–3, 165, 169 Rijken, Conny 116 Roberts, Kate 166 Roddick, Anita Body and Soul 107 Romanian women 75

Pall Mall Gazette 71 Patel, Priti 40, 45 Phong (Vietnamese migrant) 44–5, 51 ‘positions of vulnerability’ (UN) 19–20, 177 ‘positive reasonable grounds’ 59n poverty 25–6, 43–4, 65, 183–4 links to drug-related crime 160 prison labour 147, 148 privatisation 109 Proctor, Robert N. 9, 153 prostitution see sex work public awareness 150–2, 154–5 public ignorance 152, 153 Public Interest Research Centre 4

Quirk, Joel 7, 17

Sainsbury’s (supermarket) 104, 112 Everyone’s Business app 120 Saint-Nizier Church, Lyon, sex workers protest in 75 Sanctuary for Families (organisation) 47 Sandwich, Earl of 81 Sawyer, Chief Constable Shaun 178 Sectors Based Scheme 58 sex buyer law 88, 89, 90–1, 92–3, 100 sex work and workers 67, 71, 82, 96–7, 165 as a choice 69, 76, 91 consent to 73, 77 224

Index criminalisation of clients of 88–9, 89n, 90, 93–4 and debt 100–1 decriminalisation of 97–8, 97–8n, 99, 101 legislation of 97–8n in London 79, 82–3 migrant women 79, 81, 101 prohibitionists of 77–8 protest movements of 75, 76 and rape 69, 71 trafficking for 79–83, 91, 92, 176 violence against 93 see also ‘white slave trade’ sexual exploitation 69–71, 78, 95–6, 146 sexual services customers of 90 online advertising for 91, 94–5 online platforms for 88, 94 sexually transmitted disease (STDs) 93 Shadow City: Exposing Human Trafficking in Everyday London 82–3 shadow factories 130 shareholder primacy 109 Sharma, Nandita 43 Sharp, Granville 7 Sinclair, Upton 120 Sisonke (organisation) 99–100 Skrivankova, Klara 16–17, 75, 106, 132, 170, 182 on anti-slavery movements 173 on campaigning 25 on depiction of slaves 141 on framing 36–7, 38 on the Modern Slavery Bill 29 on quantifying slavery 16–17



on rescue 165 on trade unions 120 on trafficked women 74 on trafficking within Eastern Europe 17 slave owners, compensation for 7, 174 Slave Trade Act (1807) 5, 22 slavery 1, 5, 12 legal definition of 6 methodology of quantification of 15, 16–17 see also modern slavery; ‘white slave trade’ Slavery Abolition Act (1833) 5 slaves in abolitionist movements 5, 141 depiction by abolitionists of 141–2 estimated numbers of 12–15 legal ownership of 6 Smith, Adam The Wealth of Nations 103 Smith, Iain Duncan 23, 166 Smith, Molly 86 Smith, Molly and Juno Mac 67, 93 Revolting Prostitutes 89n, 97–8 smuggling 41, 44 Snapchat 156 sourcing squeeze 125, 127, 128, 130 South Africa 14, 99 Spain 48, 60, 137, 180 Spectator (magazine) 24 Sports Direct 118, 129 sports events, links to trafficking 83

225

The Truth About Modern Slavery Stamping Out Slavery in Nigeria (SOSIN) 162 Standing, Guy 180–1, 183 Stead, William T. ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’ 71–2 Steen, Anthony 21, 23, 27 Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA 2018) 94–5 Stop the Traffik (organisation) 156 Sturgeon, Nicola 180 sub-contracting 130, 131 Sumangali 10, 15 Sunday Times 29 Super Bowl (US), links to trafficking 83 supermarkets, pricing pressure on suppliers by 124–5, 126–7 suppliers, pressure by brands on 123–8 supply chains 105–6, 125, 130–1 Sweden 89, 91, 92 Taken (film) 41 tea plantations, exploitation on 113 Tehrani, Christopher 104 Tesco (supermarket) 104, 105–6 Textile Manufacturers Association of Leicestershire 126 Thailand, fishing industry 135–6 Thatcher, Margaret 108 Thomson Reuters Foundation 113 tied visas 54 Trade Union Act (2016) 122 trade unions 120–2, 135–6 membership of 122 trafficked children 19n

trafficked men 103–4, 160–1 trafficked women 41, 74 estimated numbers of 79–81, 82 trafficking see human trafficking Trump, Donald 47 Trust for London 23 UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking (2007) 22, 81 UK Independence Party (UKIP) 28 United Nations 177 UN Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979) 74 UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime 18–20, 25 UN Development Programme 48 UN Human Trafficking Protocol 76 UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) 2, 6, 83 UN Office of Drugs and Crime 15 UN Resolution on Trafficking in Women and Girls (1994) 74 uncertainty see certainty and uncertainty undocumented migrants 19n, 49, 50, 51–2, 65–6, 146 unions see trade unions Universal Basic Income (UBI) 180–1, 182–3 ‘unknowns’ 34 and ‘useful unknowns’ 34, 35, 120, 166, 177 Unseen (organisation) 31, 154

226

Index US Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons 64 ‘useful unknowns’ 34, 35, 120, 166, 177 victimhood 145–7 denial of 164–5 victims, depiction of 41–2, 141 Vietnam, garment industry in 43–4, 135 Vietnamese girls, nail bar workers 163–4 Vietnamese migrants 44–5 deaths in container trucks (2019) 39–40 visas 53–4, 55, 56, 57 Vivastreet (website) 100 Voice of Domestic Workers 53 Vox (journal) 47 Waite, Louise 168 Walk for Freedom (organisation) 163 Walk Free Foundation 13, 14, 163 Walsh, Alex 51–2

Washington Post 83 Wedgwood, Josiah 141 West African women 75 white abolitionists 5, 7, 26 ‘white slave trade’ 71, 72–3, 74, 145 Wilberforce, William 5–6, 23, 174 racist views of 7 Wispelaere, Jurgen de 181 women 53, 74, 75 see also Eastern European women; migrant women; sex work; trafficked women Women for Refugee Women 59 Women’s Legal Centre, South Africa 99 worker-driven social responsibility 127 World Bank 43, 65, 123, 126 Doing Business 122–3 World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights 97 World Cup (Germany), links to trafficking 83 Yindjibarndi people 26

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