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U.K. Pledges $53 Million to Combat Modern Slavery, Including in the Garment Industry

The U.K. has pledged 40 million pounds ($53.7 million) to aid more than 500,000 people around the world who have either survived modern slavery or are at risk of becoming victims, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced in conjunction with last week’s International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Mordaunt condemned modern slavery as a “global disgrace” and pledged the U.K.’s long-term commitment to “stamp out this practice abroad,” which will in turn support the efforts to end slavery in the U.K.

As part of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge at the United Nations General Assembly to double the U.K.’s aid commitment to tackling modern slavery, Mordaunt set out U.K. aid to support hundreds of thousands of people at risk of exploitation, as the country presses for international action to break the business model of people traffickers.

The U.K. is stepping up efforts at home and abroad to combat the crimes of human trafficking, forced labor and abuse, with 40 million people estimated to be modern day slaves. Behind the numbers are people subjected to horrific exploitation.

The support will address slavery and trafficking in countries with a high prevalence of these crimes in South Asia, and others such as Nigeria, which are also source countries for trafficking to the U.K., Mordaunt said.

“The continued trade in human beings is a global disgrace and simply not enough is being done to tackle it,” Mordaunt said. “It is time to eradicate this shameful practice. Slavery anywhere must not be tolerated in the 21st century and our work to stamp out this practice abroad will support our effort to end slavery in the U.K. This is a long-term challenge and others must follow our lead.”

[Read more about forced laborNorth Korean Workers in Your Supply Chain Now Count as Forced Labor]

The aid package includes funds for the second phase of the Work in Freedom program to prevent trafficking and forced labor among women migrant workers from South Asia, which has the highest prevalence of forced labor globally. This will focus on victims of forced domestic work and garment manufacturing, providing skills training to women before they move to a nearby country for work, supporting women at their destination so they can access help if they are exploited, and working with governments to improve laws and policies to protect vulnerable people from becoming victims of this crime.

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It also includes a contribution to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, which will be used to target sectors with a high risk of slavery, like the garment sector, fisheries and construction, combating this crime by working with law enforcement, prevention and victim services and business.

In addition, funding is included for support in Nigeria focused on creating credible alternative livelihoods in hospitality, creative industries, technology and agri-entrepreneurship, so people are not forced into a life of trafficking, providing better victim support and counselling, and increasing public awareness of the risks of trafficking.