Modern Slavery Bill

Written evidence submitted by TRAC (Trafficking – Raising Awareness and Campaigning) (MS 26)

1. TRAC (Trafficking – Raising Awareness and Campaigning) is an independent initiative formed by representatives from Congregations of religious sisters in the UK, working to end sex trafficking. At present 17 congregations attend, representing over 11,000 sisters worldwide. TRAC members have a variety of skills and experience from working hands on with victims of human trafficking in safe house and prisons, research, campaigning and speaking on the issue. TRAC is a member of RENATE (Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking & Exploitation) and also works through many other networks and organisations. Our focus is particularly on those people trafficked into situations of sexual slavery and we highlight the role that ‘demand for services’ plays within the landscape of Modern Slavery.

2. We are wholly aware that there are many and complex factors that make people vulnerable to being trafficked, but believe that if the issue of Demand were addressed the supply chain would inevitably crumble.

3. We appreciate the fact that the government is committed to getting this Bill through Parliament as early as possible and before the elections in 2015.

4. We endorse what The Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) submitted particularly in areas:

4.1 Anti-Slavery Commissioner: That the role of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner be strengthened by increasing independence from the government and broadening its powers.

4.2 Child Victims: that child victims be provided with independent legal advocates with the necessary legal powers to protect and promote the best interests of the child. Clause 41 provides no guarantee of that as the Bill stands.

4.3 Transparency in Supply chains: We feel it is essential that big business is open and transparent in relation to its practices, particularly in the hotel and the tourist-service industries, such that no 'service' industry becomes a 'front' for forced sexual services.

4.3.1 Therefore the Bill needs to ensure adequate scrutinising of businesses to take responsibility for a zero tolerance in regard to sexual exploitation.

4.3.2 Cooperation with NGO and grass-roots organisations is essential in order to reduce demand along with encouraging supply-chains that outlaws slavery in all forms.

4.4 Compensation for Victims: We see this as an essential part of the bill, along with the provision for 'whatever time it takes' rather than a stipulated time as each victim will proceed at a different pace for rehabilitation/reintegration.

5. As TRAC, we are disappointed that the government has not used this occasion to address the aspect of 'demand' in relation to forced slavery for sexual services. There is a unique opportunity here to move the bill and the country towards a 'Nordic model' whereby a revised attitude towards the purchase of sex would consider any such transaction as unacceptable and degrading to the buyer, thereby eventually reducing the demand. We would, therefore, encourage the government to undertake research on the legal measures that some countries have taken to criminalise paying for sexual services.

6. Demand-Supply: we firmly believe that the engine driving modern slavery and human trafficking is demand. The exchange of best practices can help reduce the demand for all forms of trafficking, including sexual exploitation.

7. Demand for cheap goods, cheap labour and cheap services, necessitates a supply often to the point of exploitation of the weakest in our societies.

8. We hope the Modern Slavery Bill can begin to address some of these issues.

October 2014

Prepared 15th October 2014