Chief executive of Refuge, Sandra Horley CBE, says:
“Modern slavery is a multi-billion pound business that dehumanises its victims and trades on the destruction of human dignity. It affects an estimated 40 million people worldwide, 71 per cent of whom are women and girls.
“We are encouraged by the reforms to the National Referral Mechanism announced by the government yesterday. Theresa May has shown great leadership in passing the landmark Modern Slavery Act, and creating an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
“Now is the time to focus on how everyone involved with tackling this scourge of our society can help encourage victims to come forward and get the support they need.
“We are seeing a worrying increase in victims coming through our helpline and via our frontline caseworkers. But many of them do not immediately present as having been enslaved.
“Women may come to us as victims of domestic violence, but it is only months later, when Refuge has gained their trust, that that they disclose experiences of trafficking and slavery.
“Refuge plays a pivotal frontline role in bringing these victims out of the shadows. We provide specialist services, in their own language, to help them escape those who abuse and exploit human beings for their own selfish financial profit, and ultimately put them behind bars.
“The fight against this horrific crime will be a long one. But Refuge will be at the forefront; helping victims escape to a better life.”
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