Hidden in Plain Sight: The Issue Plaguing Modern Society

Reporting by Ammarah Ahmed, BBC

Image by Hussain Badshah

What strategies of implementation are being actionated by the members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in the defeat of modern day slavery?


Human trafficking: the issue plaguing modern society, yet hidden in plain sight. The United Nations (UN) defines it as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit. 

The three elements of human trafficking may be rationalised into the act, means and purpose. The act constitutes what is done, such as the act of recruiting, selecting, or harbouring a person. The means accounts for how the act is committed, such as through force, fraud or psychological coercion. The purpose finally reports for why the crime is enacted, perhaps for forced labour, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation. In today’s UNHRC council, delegates dove into the complexities surrounding the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Let’s talk “fast fashion”

To many of us, modern slavery may be a foreign concept. Entrepreneur and CEO Nicholas Bernhardt expounds the concept in particularly transparent terms:
“If you’re buying a dress for $5, someone along the line is being exploited. There’s no other way to look at it – you can’t buy a dress for $5 and think that everything’s above board.” 

Fast fashion has dominated the industry in recent years, a highly profitable and exploitative business model. The practice has thrived in our consumerist social-media age, with expectation for low prices and runway rip-offs on demand. In this morning’s council, China was questioned by fellow delegates about the ethical factors involved in their facilitation of one such fast fashion brand, Shein. 

Shein has been previously called out by an enraged international community for misleading customers about complying with international labour standards. By way of worker exploitation and forced labour, the company is able to profit from cheap quality clothing for ultra-low costs. The BBC has reached out to the delegate for the Republic of China on the issue, however have received no further comment.


Ultimately, China’s legislations protecting individuals from the effects of modern slavery and human trafficking are unenforced within the nation, much unalike the requirements under British law and the country’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.