Did you see last week’s news? An unprecedented case of alleged modern-day slavery was revealed, with three women released from an unnoticed 30 years of captivity.
Whilst details remain unclear, further investigations by police have revealed that the women were likely subject to extreme emotional control and psychological abuse. A criminal psychologist on the BBC commented that the recent details of those involved “appeared to suggest a ‘kind of political cult’ or ‘enforced commune’ was in effect holding the captives ‘almost in a psychological cage’”.
Whether this is officially stamped as a case of human trafficking or not remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that this situation was taking place on an ordinary residential street in central London and no one seemed to know.
It raises the issue about how we inform people of modern-day slavery and ensure they know what to look for, and what to do if they see something suspicious. Not just neighbours and people in the local community should know how to spot the signs, but also the local authorities and frontline professionals.
It has been claimed that at least one of the women involved had attempted to escape, with local authorities subsequently becoming involved with the household. The three women are believed to have interacted with public services throughout these 30 years, leading to the question: how did this go unnoticed?
A key factor is that often frontline professionals have not been trained in how to spot the signs of human trafficking and the different types of exploitation. Significant signs can be interpreted in many ways, for example limited access to a person’s legal documents, lack of self-esteem and distrust of authorities could indicate a variety of circumstances. However, they are also signs that a person could be in a situation where they are being exploited. This case highlights how essential it is that frontline professionals are trained to spot the signs so fewer cases of exploitation go unnoticed.
Through our ‘Spot the Traffik’ resources, frontline professionals and their communities can learn to know what exploitation looks like and who to tell, and take action in their area through STOP THE TRAFFIK groups.
WHAT STOP THE TRAFFIK SAID
We had a busy few days and spoke to many different media outlets about the issues surrounding slavery and human trafficking. See the coverage:
We commend Freedom Charity, who helped these women to safety, and hope that this case will spur communities to make a change and work to sense it, spot it and stop it.