Domestic servitude survivor story inspires online animation
30th July 2021
The real-life story of a survivor of domestic servitude has become the inspiration behind a new online animation aimed at the communities of West Yorkshire.
Launched today (30/07) to coincide with UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, it highlights the signs, raises awareness and encourages reporting of this hidden crime.
Domestic servitude typically involves victims working in a private family home where they are ill-treated, humiliated, subjected to unbearable conditions or working hours and made to work for little or no pay.
The team from the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Hope for Justice, West Yorkshire Police and the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Programme have collaborated with locally based Fettle Animation to develop the content, which follows the journey of a young woman moving from her home country to the UK.
West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe, is also the Chair of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network and said:
“We know that domestic servitude is one of the least identified exploitation types of modern slavery in the UK, accounting for almost 8% of reports behind labour, sexual and criminal exploitation.
“This does not mean that it is necessarily less common, but because it literally occurs behind closed doors, it isn’t identified or recorded.
“The victim could be used by their own family members or partner, who often use their position of power as control, making threats or even withholding a passport.
“With the anonymised animation depicting the actual experience of a survivor, it has a very strong emotional connection, which we hope will both confront the issue head on and prompt greater reporting.”
Over the last two years, there has been a specific increase in reports of domestic servitude within West Yorkshire, indicating women from Pakistan and Bangladesh are being brought to the UK and exploited in domestic homes. As well as English, the animation has therefore been translated into Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali with subtitles.
Paul McAnulty is the UK and Europe Programme Director of Hope for Justice and said:
“At Hope for Justice, we are dedicated to tackling modern slavery in all its forms, and we are committed to working closely with partners to ensure all who are affected by exploitation have the opportunity to pursue their preferred future.
“Domestic servitude is one of the most clandestine and under-reported forms of modern slavery, owing to its private residential setting, making it difficult to tackle. We are proud to play our part in helping to raise awareness of this repugnant crime. Working in collaboration with partners, we want to ensure that our society is more resilient and better equipped to identify those in need of support, and to prevent those at risk of being targeted by exploiters from falling victim.”
Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney, of West Yorkshire Police, added:
“West Yorkshire Police takes all aspects of modern slavery and human trafficking seriously and works closely with partners to make sure that victims are supported by our specialist investigation officers, and action is taken against those proven to be involved in their exploitation.
“West Yorkshire Police were extremely keen to develop this video and would like to thank everyone involved in producing it, which is a real example of what happened to a woman who was brought to the UK for those purposes.
“We hope it will make the signs of domestic servitude easier for people to spot and encourage those who may recognise someone they know in this situation to contact police or our partners, so we can take immediate steps to protect that person and prevent them from these awful crimes.”
To find out more, report or get support, visit https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/policing-and-crime/domestic-servitude-animation