News story

UK steps up support to end modern slavery and child exploitation globally

UK will prioritise ending modern slavery and child exploitation around the world.

Picture: ILO
Picture: ILO

To mark the national day against slavery on October 18, International Development Secretary Priti Patel outlined an increase in support for women and girl refugees in Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, and for vulnerable people at risk of trafficking on migration routes in North Africa and Europe.

The International Development Secretary echoed Prime Minister Theresa May at the United Nations General Assembly as she called on the global community to go further and work faster to stop modern slavery and child exploitation.

Ms Patel has been named as a member of the first ever Government taskforce on modern slavery, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

The international response to modern slavery, human trafficking and child exploitation has been far too slow, which is why I am making eradicating these crimes a priority for my department.

As a member of the first ever Government taskforce on modern slavery I will replicate the leadership already shown in the UK to work with international governments, multilaterals, civil society, religious leaders and businesses to stamp out modern slavery and end all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation against children.

As a globally engaged, outward looking Britain we will keep our promises to the world’s poorest by protecting victims and ending these vile crimes for good.

Child labour, both forced and not forced, involves close to 170 million children around the world, while 45 million people work in conditions of forced labour.

The Department for International Development will prioritise work with sectors including extractives, tourism and agribusiness to improve transparency in labour practices and supply chains around the world.

To improve the global response to modern slavery and child exploitation, the International Development Secretary is setting out:

  • her new role as a founding board member of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. This Partnership is mobilising governments, multilaterals, civil society, religious leaders and businesses – and will work with the International Labour Organisation’s Alliance 8.7 – to end all forms of abuse and exploitation of children.
  • new support for vulnerable people at risk of trafficking or gender-based violence along migration routes towards, and within, Europe. The new support includes safe shelters, medical care and legal support for victims.
  • a new partnership with ShareAction and Oxfam, which brings together some of the world’s biggest institutional investors to encourage the companies they invest in to seek out and tackle modern slavery within their supply chains.
  • new support to protect girls and women and provide support to survivors of violence across seven key countries: Egypt, FYR Macedonia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Serbia and Turkey.

The Secretary of State’s focus on this agenda builds on DFID’s existing work to tackle slavery and exploitation around the world. The department has already reached over 200,000 women in South Asia and the Middle East through the Work in Freedom programme which trains women in their communities and works with businesses and recruiters to tackle trafficking.

DFID will provide:

  • a £1 million grant through our Responsible Business Programme (RATE) to ShareAction and Oxfam to leverage the influencing power of institutional investors to drive better practice in company supply chain management. ShareAction works with large institutional investors to encourage the companies they invest in to be more responsible. Alongside Oxfam, it will work with investors to improve the transparency of labour practices within the supply chains of the companies they invest in. Reducing the existence of modern slavery within supply chains will be a core focus of the work.
  • £4 million for the Women and Girls Protection Fund for Europe and North Africa. This will support vulnerable groups at risk of trafficking or gender-based violence along migration routes, including by giving them access to services such as legal assistance and psychosocial support.
  • a £1 million extension to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women which will protect girls and women and support survivors of violence across seven key countries: Egypt, FYR Macedonia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Serbia and Turkey. The focus will be on providing funding to small women’s rights and civil society organisations addressing the issue of sexual and gender based violence experienced by women and girl refugees.

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Published 16 October 2016