International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Friday 29 November 2019

On International Day for the Abolition of Slavery we wish to acknowledge the thousands of women and girls across the UK who are trapped in situations of modern slavery, including sexual exploitation and domestic servitude.

The International Labour Organisation highlight that women and girls make up 71% of the 40-45 million people affected by forced labour and forced marriage globally, and 99% of those sexually exploited for commercial gain. A shocking 1 in 4 victims of modern slavery are children.

In the UK in 2018 there were 1,192 women and 533 underage girls referred to the ‘National Referral Mechanism’ (NRM) because of sexual exploitation, and 591 women and 228 girls referred for labour exploitation or domestic servitude. However we know these figures are huge underestimates for the scale of this issue, because women, and often young women and girls, will not share their experiences or speak with any services for fear of stigma, mistreatment and severe repercussions including loss of their lives.

Violence against Women and Girls services such as specialist outreach and centres for women affected by sexual exploitation or other forms of modern slavery are few and far between in the UK, but vital to reach women trapped in such circumstances. More research is also needed to understand the true scale of this issue for women in the UK.

At Young Women’s Trust we are campaigning for economic justice for all young women. This cannot be achieved when women and girls are still trapped in situations of modern slavery across the UK.


Notes to editors:

To request an interview with a spokesperson at Young Women's Trust, please contact Peter Simpson on or on 020 7837 2019 or 07803 051 848.