As more Vietnamese fall prey to human trafficking, UK calls for tighter controls on nail bars

By Reuters/Emma Batha   September 12, 2017 | 12:31 pm GMT+7
As more Vietnamese fall prey to human trafficking, UK calls for tighter controls on nail bars
Slavery report sounds alarm over Vietnamese nail bar workers. Photo by Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo/File Photo

Victims trafficked from Vietnam most commonly end up in labor exploitation, often in cannabis cultivation and nail bars.

Britain's anti-slavery tsar called for tighter regulation of nail bars on Monday to tackle the exploitation of girls and women trafficked from Vietnam, and urged the public to help end the "vile crime" of modern slavery.

Vietnam consistently ranks as one of the top three source countries for potential victims of modern slavery in Britain, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland said.

Traffickers charge £10,000 to £33,000 pounds ($13,210-$43,600) to smuggle people from Vietnam to Britain, according to a report commissioned by Hyland to shine a light on a criminal area he said was very little understood.

Victims trafficked from Vietnam most commonly end up in labor exploitation, often in cannabis cultivation and nail bars, but many are also sexually exploited, the report said.

Data suggests just over half of victims are children.

"Measures must be implemented to prevent slavery within the nail bar sector using existing regulations and laws or through using a specific licensing scheme," Hyland said at the launch of the report.

"We see a proliferation of nail bars in the U.K. but very little happening about them."

He said Britain should look at New York where the mayor has introduced controls on nail bars.

One nail bar worker quoted in the report worked seven days a week for £30. Another was forced to give all his money to his traffickers who kept him locked up between shifts.

Hyland said those who use nail bars should look at the conditions staff work in and be alert to tell-tale signs of exploitation such as rapid staff turnover or unfeasibly low prices.

Between 2009 and 2016, nearly 1,750 Vietnamese nationals were referred to the government agency that identifies victims of human trafficking, according to the report.

But experts at the launch said the true number could be much higher.

Chinese, Russian, Polish and British nationals are thought to be complicit in the trade, as well as Vietnamese nationals.

The report also expressed alarm at the numbers of trafficked children going missing from care after being rescued.

Hyland told of one boy who was put into care after being arrested at a cannabis farm, but while there he was re-trafficked by the same man who had brought him to Britain.

After he was arrested at another cannabis farm he was placed back in care, but was promptly trafficked into domestic servitude, which included sexual abuse and violence.

The report said police should receive guidance on the potential for modern slavery in the nail bar sector and cannabis cultivation.

It also called for British and Vietnamese authorities to draw up a plan on intelligence sharing and the training of law enforcement and immigration officials.

Vietnamese officers will be coming to Britain later this year to look at anti-trafficking operations.