FEATURE6 May 2021

Breaking chains: Working to end human trafficking

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Human trafficking remains a huge international problem. Research from Stop the Traffik and Humankind Research sought to understand the reality of exploitation in Lithuania and the UK. By Liam Kay.


People coerced into work. Domestic servitude. Forced marriage. Sexual exploitation. Today, there are more people in slavery ( 40.3 million people worldwide, according to estimates from the International Labour Organization) than at any point in history, including during the transatlantic slave trade that ran between the 15th and 19th centuries.

UK charity Stop the Traffik works with partners to build a global picture of human trafficking. In 2019, it ran a social media campaign in Lincolnshire, UK, and Lithuania to raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking. Ruth Dearnley, chief executive of Stop the Traffik, says that the campaign was born from wider work by the charity to undermine the human-trafficking business.

“That business needs to recruit, to push its money through the system at every level, and maintain or increase demand, ” she explains. “Our strategy is to cut the legs off those three elements.”

Lithuania was chosen because human trafficking – particularly for labour exploitation – was ...