A recent study has exposed nearly 30 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery writes Holly Woods.
Imagine being forced into a shipping container along with around 30 other girls with little to no food, no bathroom and a journey of several days in darkness ahead of you.
This is just the beginning of your harrowing journey. Soon the air filter breaks and girls begin to collapse around you. By the time you reach your destination half of the girls in the container are dead, when the doors finally open and the fresh air rushes in, the people who open the doors jump back in disgust at the sight and the smell of you. You thought you were on your way to a waitressing job in an exotic location; all you wanted was a chance to provide for your family.
Now you are dragged to a hotel room, not likely to be heard from again. According to a recent study conducted by the Walk Free Foundation, 29.8 million people are victims of modern slavery across the world, a number higher than the population of Australia. The study conducted over 10 years is now known as the Global Slavery Index, the first of its kind. It investigates the levels of slavery across 162 countries and Australia is ranked 138 (1 being the worst) out of the 162, with approximately 3000 modern slaves. According to the study modern slavery is deemed to cover: slavery, slavery like practices, forced labour and human trafficking.
Loren Burton, an intern with the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA), is completing her Masters in Human Rights and is passionate about making people aware of human trafficking, a large contributor to modern slavery.
“India has about 14 million slaves, so when you compare it to that [Australia] it doesn’t seem like a lot, but obviously these are lives we are talking about, and one would be too many,” Burton says. She has launched the Make It Stop Campaign,in a bid to raise awareness in Australia of the cruelty that is occurring all over the world and even in our own backyard.
“The most recent case was a lady in Runcorn,she brought her daughter over from Thailand who was only nine-years-old, and she was actually prostituting her out from her house,” she says.Burton believes the fact that prostitution is legal in Australia is contributing to human trafficking numbers. “It makes it hard to measure correctly the number of people actually being trafficked,” she says.
“One of the things that concerns me is students taking a gap year, travelling to either Thailand or Europe, could actually end up being trafficked.” Burton says representations of human trafficking in films such as Taken (2008) are fairly realistic, however not everyone has Liam Neeson to come to their rescue.
“Only about one percent of people get rescued. If you get trapped in this world it’s very hard to get out of it, it’s very grim.” Burton encourage everyone to get involved and raise awareness. “You don’t have to be an activist or a politician or someone in power to actually make a difference.”