27 July 2020
Professor Parosha Chandran on modern slavery during the COVID-19 pandemic
Parosha Chandran, Professor of Modern Slavery Law, has been interviewed by The Guardian after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Leicester was blamed on sweatshop conditions in factories.
In the interview, Professor Chandran says the type of exploitation seen in Leicester is happening across the country, and that she’s not surprised a recent survey calculated 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK.
She states modern slavery is ‘a vastly hidden crime. There are control mechanisms that are used very effectively by enslavers and traffickers to keep people quiet and to make victims fear going forward to the authorities to ask for help.’
Professor Chandran hopes the situation in Leicester, where factory workers were reportedly paid as little as £3 an hour and worked with no protective equipment during lockdown, will serve as a wake-up call. ‘Modern slavery is not just confined to one place in the Midlands. It’s going on everywhere, therefore there needs to be a robust response to it.’
She argues the authorities must be far swifter in dealing with modern slavery cases as often by the time police are informed ‘workers have been threatened not to say anything.’
Elsewhere in the interview, she states that the pandemic has provided more opportunities to abuse and exploit children after a recent report said drug gangs were using lockdown to ‘recruit’ vulnerable young people.
She also talks about recent work she has carried out during the lockdown, including the drafting of a new anti-slavery bill for Uganda.