Regional TV award for domestic servitude survivor story online animation

It highlights the signs, raises awareness and encourages reporting of this hidden crime.

12th October 2022

Originally launched to coincide with UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons and based on a real-life story, the video follows the journey of a young woman moving from her home country to the UK.

It highlights the signs, raises awareness and encourages reporting of this hidden crime.

It is hoped the animation will reach an even wider audience after winning Best Animation at the Royal Television Society Yorkshire Programme Awards this month. (OCT)

West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, is also the Chair of the West Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Partnership and said: “This recognition is fantastic news and highlights just how important awareness raising in this area is. Depicting the actual experience of a survivor, this anonymous animation confronts the issue head on and we hope has prompted greater reporting.

“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.”

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.

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, the UK and Europe Programme Director of Hope for Justice, said: “We are thrilled with the impact that the animation has had, as a means not only to raise crucial awareness but to hopefully prevent people falling victim to exploitation, and to potentially help those trapped in slavery to see a way to freedom.

“Domestic Servitude is the most clandestine form of modern slavery and potentially the most under-reported, with so many cultural sensitivities and nuances that overlap with issues such as domestic violence and honour abuse, we need to better understand the fluid nature of vulnerability and respect how people’s circumstances can lead them into this situation.

“It’s always emotional when the work we do, on a daily basis, confronts such an abhorrent insult to people’s basic rights to dignity and freedom. It’s grounding to bring our efforts (no matter how strategic in ambition) back to the individual, freedom and justice can be very subjective and by remaining survivor-centred and by valuing the unique and individual journey of those with lived experience, we can hopefully prevent others from having to endure this horrific abuse.”

West Yorkshire Police's Detective Inspector Vicky Wilson, who works on the regional Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Immigration Programme and was involved in providing the evidence base for the project, said: “We are delighted that the great work by Fettle has been recognised in this way because we knew they shared our passion for the project and that shone through in the animation.

“Domestic Servitude is one of the most difficult exploitation types to identify as it literally happens behind closed doors.

“But, as a result of the awareness raising by West Yorkshire Police, which this animation has been part of, the numbers of identified cases reported to us increased by 60 per cent.

“This is still believed to be the tip of the iceberg, but I hope the recognition and further publicity this award provides will help this important film to reach a wider audience.”

Kath Shackleton, Producer at Fettle Animation said: “Working on the Modern Slavery Awareness animation, we knew we were onto something special. We’re thrilled to win an award and delighted and humbled to hear that our work is having an impact on the ground in helping people affected by these issues to get the help and support that they need.”

To find out more, report or get support, visit https://www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/policing-and-crime/domestic-servitude-animation