The exhibition, built by students from the Central St Martin’s College of Art, depicted the four different kinds of slavery hidden away in our society. Curtains, doors, drawers and tea chests concealed the stories and photographs of survivors.
The survivors who shared their stories with the Human Trafficking Foundation to create the exhibition attended the opening. Among them was Cristina, a Romanian girl sold by her mother into prostitution in Birmingham when she was 16 and who narrowly escaped being snatched from her local authority care home by her traffickers. There was also a man, duped by a job advertised in Hungary, and on arrival here forced to work without pay, compelled to open a credit card account operated by his slave master, forced to claim benefits for non-existent children.
No one knows the real numbers involved. The Serious Organized Crime Agency knows that at least 2,000 victims are found each year but believes there are a great many more. Of the known victims, 49.5% come from the South East.
I’m appalled that the moral outrage of slavery persists in the UK today, so many years after it was made illegal. I’ve contacted my colleague Peter Bone MP, who leads on this issue in Parliament, and I’ll be supporting him. You can find out more here.