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In 1807, Britain passed the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, a law banning the legal trade of slaves. Yet, rather than ending the slave trade, this merely forced it underground; 200 years later, a hidden slave trade continues around the world. A top destination is the United Kingdom.
Organized criminal gangs in the UK “import” people from various countries and regions—Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, China—and compel them to work under the threat of violence or death. The victims, often under age 18, are forced to labor in factories or—more horribly—into sexual exploitation.
Many are lured to Britain by the promise of employment, often expecting a much better job than is available in their home country. After they arrive, their new employers usually commandeer their passports and other legal documents—barring their ability to return home.
Human trafficking—the modern-day version of slavery—is a lucrative business. According to an estimate by the International Labor Organization, it brings in $32 billion a year worldwide. Last December during the House of Commons daily debates, MP Caroline Spelman said that “the average earnings of a trafficked prostitute for his or her pimp are roughly £100,000 [$190,000].”
Authorities do not know exactly how widespread the problem is, but rough numbers offered by the government are viewed as gross underestimates. The more deeply the matter is investigated, the higher official estimates rise. News outlets have begun to report on individual cases, bringing the problem into public view.
Worldwide estimates of human trafficking vary widely. Anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million persons are sold into slavery each year. A report by the Joseph Rowentree Foundation estimates that at any one time “more than 12 million people may be working as slaves.” The report also points out that there are at least 360,000 slaves living in industrialized nations.
In response to this rising problem, Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service recently launched a new team designed to address human trafficking and its effects, both in the UK and abroad. A commander from the MPS explained, “The victims can be male or female, adults or children who are trafficked for exploitative labor or forced prostitution work.”
The commander also said it is a “global problem” and that the team will work with other nations to “significantly disrupt these criminal networks.”
The British government is beginning to address the problem by planning to increase awareness inside the UK and in the countries from which the slaves are coming. But to what degree the new Metropolitan Police team or the government will “significantly disrupt” the problem of human trafficking in the UK remains to be seen.
Slavery has existed throughout history. Though most countries today have legally banned it, the practice of human beings owning other human beings still exists, largely done in secret.
Many in the world long for real solutions to the lingering troubles that have always plagued humanity. Today, this remains only a hope, a wish. Man’s problems have been constant throughout history. While we now possess more knowledge than ever before, humanity’s troubles and ills remain the same—insoluble.
However, man’s problems—slavery, hatred, murder, war—will soon be solved, removed!
To understand the true source of this world’s problems, and why men are helpless to solve them, read the booklet Why Man Cannot Solve His Problems.