Efforts to end modern slavery will fail without a gendered approach
The Women’s Equality Party today welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to a £33 million International Modern Slavery Fund, but cautioned that defeating modern slavery means understanding and responding to the gendered nature of these crimes.
“It is a testament to the Prime Minister that she has committed to defeating modern slavery, which forces thousands of people into abusive, exploitative and dangerous situations. But if the Prime Minister is serious about putting an end to it, she must understand and respond to the gendered nature of these crimes,” said Sophie Walker, Leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WE).
“Almost half of all modern slavery crimes reported in the UK involve sexual exploitation, where women and girls make up 95 per cent of victims. Other modern slavery crimes, such as domestic servitude, are almost exclusively perpetrated against women and children. Taking a gender-neutral approach to this simply will not work,” added Walker.
The Modern Slavery Strategy (2014) reported that more women are identified as potential victims of modern slavery than men. In 2013, almost two-thirds of referrals into the National Referral Mechanism were women, a proportion which has remained stable since 2011. Yet the strategy makes no reference to gender mainstreaming or gender-specific instruments
“Modern slavery thrives on gender inequalities. Women experiencing violence, trapped in poverty, with few legal rights, inadequate access to education or poor employment prospects are easy targets for modern slavery and are less able to escape it,” explained Walker.
“But gender inequalities also drive demand. Unless we tackle demand for commercial sex and cheap labour in the UK, women and girls will continue to be forced into slavery. The government must have a clear plan for how it will achieve gender equality at home and abroad.”
As part of this plan, the Women’s Equality Party is calling on government to criminalise the purchase of sex, ensure ongoing cooperation with EU partners in the fight against modern slavery, end the detention of asylum seekers and ratify the Istanbul Convention to tackle violence against women. The latter two of these commitments are part of their #100daysofMay campaign, which calls on Theresa May to act on six achievable goals by 22 October – her one hundredth day as Prime Minister.
“Gender equality is one of the best weapons we have in the fight against modern slavery. The further we can reach beyond law enforcement and into prevention, protection and support, the greater our chance of defeating these heinous crimes,” added Walker.
Published August 03, 2016