Government takes new action against modern slavery

  • 16 December 2013
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New action on modern slavery

The government's promised tougher action to stop people being forced to work against their will in the UK.

It's known as modern slavery and usually involves people being brought to the UK illegally from poorer parts of the world, to work.

Because the crime is carried out in secret it's hard for the authorities to know how many people are affected.

But under new rules set out by the government, criminals involved could now face life in prison.

There will also be a new anti-slavery commissioner to make sure the law works and hope these measures will reduce the number of people held in modern slavery in the future.

But some people feel the new actions don't go far enough and that more needs to be done to protect the victims, especially children.

The government says it expects the changes to become law by 2015.

What is modern slavery?

In school, you're usually taught about slavery through the stories of African men and women shipped to places like the West Indies and America during the 19th Century, then sold and forced into back-breaking work.

Although that kind of slavery was abolished in the British Empire back in 1833, a different kind still exists today, known as modern slavery.

According to the International Labour Organisation around 21 million men, women and children around the world are in slavery.

This means they're either:

  • forced to work - through mental or physical threat;
  • owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse;
  • treated as an object or bought and sold as 'property';
  • locked or tied up, or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.

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