What is exploitation and why does it happen?

As part of our series to understand more about the situation in Leicester’s garment factories and to educate others, we look at what exploitation is. We’ve pulled together a bunch of resources to help you understand modern slavery and why it happens.

17 September 2020

There are probably hundreds of resources we could share on this question – we’ve narrowed it down to a few below. We are sticking with a UK focus because the exploitation in Leicester is the catalyst to this list. Apologies if we’re missing others. Feel free to let us know if there are others that should be included.

The best place to start is by hearing the stories of those who have experienced exploitation. University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab has pulled together narratives by survivors of modern slavery.

Unseen’s Kate Garbers delivered this TEDx talk about modern slavery and where it happens.

Before the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which raised a great deal of awareness about the existence of modern slavery in the UK, the Centre for Social Justice published a report about it. They have recently published a follow up report in partnership with Justice & Care.

Rights Lab and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner have pulled together a list of research about modern slavery in the UK. You can see it here.

Rights Lab also has two podcasts:

  • The Rights Track which covers various topics related to modern slavery and human rights.
  • Voices for Change which speaks with anti-slavery professionals about one change they would want to see.

The first place you should start to understand the root causes of exploitation and modern slavery is “Confronting Root Causes Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains” by Genevieve LeBaron, Penelope Kyritsis, Cameron Thibox and Neil Howard. See here.

And while you’re there, you might want to check out all of the Open Democracy’s Beyond Trafficking and Slavery section here.

Our next few blog posts will go into some key industries looking at what risks exist and how they can be addressed. Watch this space!

*This is part of a blog series examining exploitation in the UK. To read our a summary of our thoughts on what happened in Leicester go here. To read our industry profile on hospitality, go here.


Looking for help?

If you are looking for help, want to report a suspicion or are seeking advice,
call the Modern Slavery Helpline on

08000 121 700

If its an emergency and you believe someone is in imminent danger, call