90 Indians facing modern slavery in Britain
Campaign groups believe Indians are among a large number of foreign nationals facing such situations.Updated: Dec 19, 2017 20:57 IST
As many as 90 Indian citizens were referred to Britain’s authorities dealing with modern slavery during 2016, a major audit report criticising the Theresa May government’s much-publicised campaign on the issue revealed on Tuesday.
Indian citizens accompany their employers using the ‘domestic workers’ visa, but often end up in abusive situations and are paid poor wages.
Being unable to change employer after arriving here, some are caught up in other categories of modern slavery.
The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) lists India among the top eight countries whose citizens are in such situation in the United Kingdom.
Campaign groups believe Indians are among a large number of foreign nationals facing such situations. In 2014, the Home Office estimated that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013.
The NAO report titled ‘Reducing Modern Slavery’ concluded that until the May government was able to establish effective oversight of the modern slavery system as a whole, it will not be able to significantly reduce its prevalence.
As Home secretary and now as prime minister, May had focussed on abolishing modern slavery, which encompasses slavery, servitude, sexual exploitation, forced and compulsory labour, and human trafficking.
The scale of Indians caught in modern slavery in the UK has often been highlighted by campaign groups such as Human Rights Watch, Kalayaan and Southall Black Sisters.
The 90 Indian referred in 2016 is considered a conservative estimate, since many remain unreported.
In a much-publicised case, Permila Tirkey, a woman from Jharkhand employed as domestic help by an Indian origin couple, was awarded 184,000 pounds by an employment tribunal in 2015. She was subjected to severe restrictions, paid much below Britain’s minimum wage, over-worked and her passport withheld.
Amyas Morse, NAO head, said: “The campaign to drive out modern slavery is in the early stages. So far it is helping to establish the scale and international nature of this issue. To combat modern slavery successfully, however, government will need to build much stronger information and understanding of perpetrators and victims than it has now.”
The report said the Home Office had an “incomplete picture of the crime”, the victims and the perpetrators. The government’s Modern Slavery Strategy was introduced in 2014, aiming to significantly reduce the prevalence of modern slavery.
The 2015 Modern Slavery Act made provisions for slavery, servitude, forced labour and for human trafficking, including for the protection of victims and for an independent anti-slavery commissioner.