Modern Slavery Bill

Written evidence submitted by Geoffrey Knipe (MS 29)

1. The Rotarian Action Group was founded in July 2009 by Rotarian Mark Little of the Rotary Club of Norwich St. Edmund and others, and received recognition from the Board of Rotary International in January 2013. The reasons for the formation of the Action Group were expressed as:


· "The kidnap, abuse and use of children as slaves is increasing worldwide.

· Anti-slavery organisations need extra support from other groups.

· Rotarians need to be reminded of their ethical and other responsibilities.

· Rotarians should not only help to protect children from polio, other diseases, unsafe water, poor sanitation but also from the bonds of slavery. The Action Group on Child Slavery will facilitate this task."

2. The aims of The Action Group were expressed in the following terms:

[To] "

· Provide members with a source of information on child slavery issues and future project opportunities.

· Publicise the work of anti-slavery organisations.

· Remind Rotarians of their ethical responsibilities re the rights of children.

· Encourage Rotarians and Clubs to take action by either

a) actively supporting the work of anti-slavery organisations (e.g. donations) or

b) directly supporting various Child Slave Rehabilitation Centres (e.g. personal visits, participating in Matching Grant projects etc.).

· Influence other organisations to consider the rights of children and to take action."

3. Rotary International is a worldwide service organisation of business and professional people, who help those in need, encourage high ethical standards and work towards world understanding and peace. It has more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical regions. The Rotary Foundation is the organisation’s international charity and gives over $169 million (US) every year to educational and humanitarian programmes that promote international understanding.

4. The United Kingdom Government has promoted the Modern Slavery Bill to try to clarify and remedy some of the issues surrounding slavery in the 21st Century. It needs to be stated that slavery is illegal in every country in the world, but there are more slaves worldwide today than there have ever been. The current figure is estimated by Walk Free’s Global Slavery Index at 29.8 million, whereas the total number of slaves involved in the ‘slave trade era’ has been estimated at just over 12 million; in that era most slaves were able-bodied men. Now approximately one half of all slaves are female, and a half are children. Approximately a half of all slaves are in India – this slavery comes primarily from that country’s caste system. The remaining slaves are to be found in every country in the world, with the exception of Antarctica.

5. Slavery consists of a person who is

· forced to work for little or no pay,

· under threat of violence (or use of violence),

· … and unable to walk away

· … and in the case of a child, he / she receives no education.

6. The enslavement takes many forms, and includes the following (in no particular order):

· Sexual (prostitution, child pornography, etc.)

· Forced labour or services

· Servitude (e.g. domestic servitude – restavecs)

· Organ removal

· Illicit international adoption

· Trafficking for early marriage, including so-called ‘arranged marriages’

· Recruitment as child soldiers

· For use in begging

· As athletes (e.g. as child camel jockeys or footballers)

· Recruitment for cults

· As fishermen in international waters, or to help fisherman on inland waters

· To help pick cotton

· To help pick cocoa beans

· To work in brick kilns

· In clothing, firework and glass-making factories

· In stone quarries

· Working on carpet looms

· Mining

· Farming

· Persons in debt bondage or bonded labour.

7. I have been asked to review the Modern Slavery Bill with a view to commenting on its provisions. To produce these observations I have:

a. Read the Modern Slavery Bill ("the Bill").

b. Read "the Alternative Bill" produced the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (includes Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK, Kalayaan, UNICEF UK).

c. Considered The Action Group ’s various documents in connection with the subject of Child Slavery.

d. Used my own knowledge of child slavery in particular and modern slavery in general, acquired over a period of years.

8. There can be no doubt that the Bill is a major step forwards in dealing with the issues referred to in its Long Title. However, there can be little doubt that the bill has some significant weaknesses. Some of those issues are addressed in the Alternative Bill; my suggestions do not in any way detract from that, and I wholly support it. I advance suggestions for addressing one particular area, that of forced marriage of minors.

Forced (or arranged) marriage of a child under 18 years

9. The most striking point of the Bill is the apparent omission of any attempt to address clearly the subject of forced (or ‘arranged’) marriage of children; at best the issue may be partially addressed in some clauses of the Bill but without specifically addressing the issue; at worst it seems to be wholly ignored. My perception is that this area is arguably one of those most in need of addressing. My submissions do not include a consensual arranged marriage where both parties are over the age of 18, but do include any agreement or arrangement whereby at least one party to the proposed marriage is under the age of 18 years.

10. Although arranged marriage involving children is generally perceived as being wholly wrong, both legally and morally, there seem to be many in the UK-based Asian community (and perhaps others) who regard such an arrangement as being a traditional part of their way of life (and therefore acceptable). There needs to be a totally clear public message sent to those who may wish to be involved in the arrangement of marriages involving (usually) under-age girls.

11. What is totally clear is that in UK law a child is incapable of consenting to such a marriage. Once married she will then be subjected to a life of servitude including a sexual relationship to which she has not consented and could not consent. Further her education will cease in her early teens and she will be denied her full potential whatever that may have been. A proportion of such girls may have the capacity to achieve academic brilliance, but they will be lost to society. While I have no statistics (and they may not even exist) I am sure that Education Welfare Departments will be well aware of Asian girls who ‘go missing’, never to return to education in the UK.

12. My proposal is clearly and explicitly to criminalise any agreement (or negotiations leading to an agreement), whether or not that agreement is fulfilled, for the marriage of a child (under 18 years), wherever that marriage takes place, provided that any party to the agreement (which would include all parents/guardians, an adult party to the proposed marriage, and any other person who contributes to or facilitates the arrangements) is a citizen of the UK or resident in the UK during any part of the agreement, from commencement of negotiations / discussions to the ceremony of marriage, regardless of where the marriage is, or is intended to be, celebrated, or where the other party to the marriage resides.

13. Forced marriages generally involve the following:

a. A female child (under 18) being required (i.e. forced) to be married when she is below the age of consent in the UK;

b. The child is removed from education in the UK before such education is concluded, thus depriving the child of a completed education;

c. The child is generally trafficked to another country to be married there;

d. The child goes through a ceremony of marriage which may or may not be legal in the country where the marriage takes place but would be illegal in the UK in any circumstances;

e. The ‘spouse’ is sometimes related, to a level of first cousin, and / or is frequently a much older man.

f. The child is incapable of giving consent to any of the steps a.-d.

g. The child’s life is then permanently blighted, as she is incapable of completing her education in the UK or elsewhere so as to make the most of her life. She will also be required to undergo a sexual relationship at an age when she could not consent (and thereby be a victim of rape and other sexual offences) and she will also be likely to bear children by a husband who she could not legally have consented to marry.

h. Other consequences may follow including domestic violence.


2A Forced Marriage (to follow clause 2 of the Bill)

(1) A person commits an offence if that person arranges or facilitates the marriage of a child under 18 years ("C").

(2) It is irrelevant whether C consents to travel for such purpose or whether the marriage takes place.

(3) A person may in particular arrange or facilitate C’s travel for such marriage by:

(a) transporting or transferring C, harbouring or receiving C, or transferring or exchanging control over C;

(b) removing C from education in the United Kingdom;

(c) negotiating with any other person for the marriage to take place;

(d) being over the age of 18 years agreeing to enter into such marriage with C.

(4) A person arranges or facilitates V’s travel with a view to V being exploited only if the person intends that C should marry (in any part of the world) after the travel.

(5) "Travel" has the same meaning as in clause 2(5)

(6) A person who is a UK national commits an offence under this section regardless of-

(a) where the arranging or facilitating takes place, or

(b) where the travel takes place, or

(c) where the marriage takes place, or whether the marriage takes place;

(7) A person who is not a UK national commits an offence under this section if-

(a) any part of the arranging or facilitating takes place in the United

Kingdom, or

(b) the travel consists of arrival in or entry into, departure from, or travel

within, the United Kingdom.

October 2014

Prepared 15th October 2014