Britain will lead the fight against modern slavery, the U.K.’s new Prime Minister Theresa May has said, calling it “the great human rights issue of our time”.
She said a new UK cabinet taskforce would tackle the “sickening and inhuman crimes”, while £33 million from the aid budget would fund initiatives overseas.
Mrs May said a review to mark the first anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act, which she drew up as home secretary, found there had been 289 modern slavery offences prosecuted in 2015 – and a 40% rise in the number of victims identified.
The most recent Home Office estimates suggest there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, with 45 million estimated victims across the world.
Victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.