miércoles , marzo 22 2023

Children of modern slavery victims in the UK

FREEDOM COLLABORATIVE, UK. A new study finds that children of modern slavery victims in the UK are rarely recognized or supported, the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of forced labour victims in Azerbaijan, and a new report by INTERPOL looks at human trafficking for organ removal.

There are at least 5,000 children of modern slavery victims in the UK – with many more potentially lost in the system – and the majority are not getting the support they need, according to a new report by the crisis charity Hestia.

The charity, which supports over 2,200 adult victims of modern slavery and 1,200 dependent children each year, says that children who were with their parents while they were exploited, or born as a result of exploitation, are not being recognized and often experience profound trauma.

In its report Forgotten Children, Hestia estimates that 5,000 children are currently affected but warns the actual figure could be much higher. The research is based on the testimony of 20 women (and indirectly their 43 children) who had been victims of modern slavery and have been supported by Hestia’s Phoenix Project, alongside interviews with their caseworkers, and professionals and experts working in this area.

What is clear from the research is that, for those women and their children who manage to escape modern slavery, the journey to recovery is a long and difficult one. For children, a mother’s trauma can have a deep and lasting impact on their lives. The research found that mothers who have survived trafficking face psychological consequences from the experience, and they need and deserve greater protection, support and care from the wider system. Where Hestia’s staff were able to help secure this support – often only after assertive caseworker advocacy – the women and their children could begin to flourish.

While there were some positive stories of support from health professionals and teachers, many women are simply left to get on with things by themselves, and there is little understanding or recognition of the impact their trauma has had on them and their children. At times, professionals are insensitive to the traumatized condition of women, even when their situation has been disclosed. For many, one of the biggest barriers to accessing and taking up support was having to repeatedly describe their trafficking history to different professionals, which reactivated their trauma.

There was very limited support from professionals for the children included in the research, with relatively little specialist help provided for children by local authorities, health services or in the community. Four children had previously been identified as a Child in Need under the provisions of section 17 of the Children Act 1989, but these cases had all been closed and they were no longer receiving support. The education system also posed challenges for these children, and support and understanding varied amongst teachers and school support staff. While some mothers coped with these challenges and built strong relationships with their children’s teachers, others struggled.

The stories from female survivors included in the report highlight the urgent need for better understanding and support for families impacted by the trauma of modern slavery. Weaknesses in the current system need to be improved so that trafficked mothers are better protected and supported to recover fully, empowering them to make a better life for their children.

Hestia is calling on the government to amend the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and enable children of modern slavery victims to be recognized as victims in their own right, alongside introducing a new system of Children and Family Advocates to focus on the needs of the child. As well as recognizing children as victims in law, Hestia is calling for training for health professionals, teachers and social workers, to improve their understanding of the ways in which modern slavery can impact a mother and child.


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