HRH Princess Eugenie has leant her support to The Salvation Army’s campaign to stop modern slavery. In an exclusive interview with the charity’s Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Anne Read, Princess Eugenie reveals what first motivated her to take an interest in modern slavery and why she began helping to raise awareness of the crime, which has seen a fivefold rise in victim referrals since 2011*.
In the interview, Princess Eugenie tells Anne Read about a visit to India with her parents where she met a group of women. They had been trafficked, but since being rescued from slavery they were using their tailoring skills to produce clothes within a growing social enterprise, and crucially, getting paid for their work.
The Princess then visited a UK safe house for female victims of modern slavery with The Salvation Army this year. She says in the interview:
“I think that was so shocking. [Modern slavery is] on our own doorstep when you think it is a million miles away.
“I was completely astounded by the victims. These people were strong, happy… these girls really showed me how to grab life and appreciate things. If they can do it, after what they’ve been through, it’s a huge lesson for people to learn.
“They are courageous, and everyone who works within modern slavery and who tries to fight for people who don’t have a voice, are courageous.”
The Salvation Army wants the public to feel empowered that they can do something by helping them to spot the signs of modern slavery in their community and by taking part in #askthequestion – a simple initiative through which people can ask the businesses or services they use, “is this slave free?”, using both hashtags #askthequestion and #slavefree.
During the interview, Anne Read asks Princess Eugenie how important it is for the public to question businesses about their supply chains. The Princess explains:
“The campaign in general is brilliant. It’s something to make people think, and make people listen and have a look and see what they can do to ask the question.
“I think raising awareness is such a huge part of modern slavery because no one knows it’s going on as much as it is. There are more slaves now than there were in William Wilberforce’s time and I think it’s such a huge problem but everyone can do their part to try and effect change
“It’s definitely something that I’m going to shout about.”
Earlier this month, The Salvation Army released a short film featuring Princess Eugenie in which she strongly encouraged the public to support its #askthequestion campaign to help stamp out modern slavery for good.
The church and charity also commissioned research which revealed 80% of people were not aware that big businesses in the UK (with a global annual turnover of £36 million) are now legally obligated under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (section 54) to tell people what they are doing to make sure they and their suppliers don’t use slave labour. According to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre just over 700 businesses have so far identified themselves as having complied with the Modern Slavery Act (by displaying a statement addressing their actions to combat slavery and human trafficking within their business or an admission that this is something with which they so far have failed to comply).
The Salvation Army sees the impact on the lives of victims of modern slavery having provided support through its Government contract covering all adult victims in England and Wales since July 2011. Its annual report shows there has been continued exponential growth in referrals of victims of modern slavery. More than 4,300 people have been supported by the service which works to help people to integrate safely into society here in the UK or in their home country. In safe houses and through outreach support across the country, The Salvation Army and its partners help people get medical, legal, emotional and any other help they need.
To watch the interview in full, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/askthequestion. For more information on how to spot the signs that someone is a victim of modern slavery and who to contact as well as how to take part in #askthequestion please visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/askthequestion