Hundreds of women from South Asia coming to marry in the UK are treated as domestic slaves by their in-laws; very often there is no one to notice what is happening and very little support offered.
The women who report cases of domestic slavery are usually from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Women are treated in a way that stretches far beyond any comprehension of marriage whether arranged or not. Marriage should never be synonymous to slavery and abuse.
One woman was imprisoned by her mother-in law for three years in North England. She was forced to get up at dawn and clean the whole house, scrub the floors, clean the windows, do the washing, cook and find time in between to sew. She was sometimes beaten until she bled.
A consistent factor in most ‘slave bride’ stories is that women are not allowed to leave the home on their own and they are not allowed to speak to anyone outside the family.
Women who find themselves in these slave-like conditions are unlikely to report abuse. This is due to language barriers, fear of reprisal, fear of being deported and a large amount of family pressure.
I wonder, to what extent is this human trafficking? The women knew they were coming to England to get married, but they were still tricked. None of the women believed they were coming to be treated as slaves and be abused. In this sense, they were all transported, coerced and exploited.
Communities need to be more aware of the signs of exploitation and report any suspected cases. So many people live in slave-like conditions with no one to speak to or ask for help.
Find out more about how to spot the signs of trafficking in your community and what you can do to STOP THE TRAFFIK at www.stopthetraffik.org.