The crime of modern slavery has received much attention in the last few years. The British government introduced the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, and the prime minister, Theresa May, said she wanted “tough new penalties to put slave masters behind bars where they belong”.
But what exactly do we mean by “modern slavery”? According to the UK’s Anti-Slavery Commissioner, modern slavery is human trafficking. But they are not the same thing – and putting them under the same title puts some victims at risk of being ignored.
The term “modern slavery” invokes a moral outrage that no one would disagree with. There are frequent news stories of vulnerable people being forced to work in appalling conditions and “slave drivers” being prosecuted for labour exploitation. The new focus on labour exploitation requires businesses to demonstrate supply chain transparency and produce “modern slavery statements” to show that it is not taking place in their companies.