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Domestic servitude is the seemingly normal practice of live-in help that is used as cover for the exploitation and control of someone, usually from another country. It is a form of forced labour, but it also warrants its own category of slavery because of the unique contexts and challenges it presents.

Victims of domestic servitude may appear to be nannies or other domestic help, but the moment their employment arrangement transitions into a situation whereby they cannot leave on their own free will, it becomes a case of enslavement.

The circumstances of live-in help can create unique vulnerabilities for victims. Domestic workplaces are connected to off-duty living quarters and often not shared with other workers. Such an environment can isolate domestic workers and is conducive to exploitation because authorities cannot inspect homes as easily as they can formal workplaces.

Domestic servitude can also be a form of bonded labour. This form of slavery happens when migrant workers reach a destination country, and they incur a debt for their travel and/or a recruitment fee. Though working, if their employer or recruiter adds on additional costs that can never be repaid, like housing or food, then the arrangement has transitioned into a form of slavery. This problem is compounded when employers or recruiters neglect legal documentation or confiscate it because migrant domestic workers are often fearful of reporting the abuse for fear of legal consequences.

Domestic servitude can also be a form of bonded labour. This form of slavery happens when migrant workers reach a destination country, and they incur a debt for their travel and/or a recruitment fee. Though working, if their employer or recruiter adds on additional costs that can never be repaid, like housing or food, then the arrangement has transitioned into a form of slavery. This problem is compounded when employers or recruiters neglect legal documentation or confiscate it because migrant domestic workers are often fearful of reporting the abuse for fear of legal consequences.

Forced Marriage

Nobody has the right to force you to do something you don’t want to do. You can talk to a counsellor any time about how you feel and if you’re having problems with your family.

Some families force their children to marry because they:

  • think it’s an important part of religion or culture
  • are worried about the family’s reputation and honour (in some cultures also known as ‘izzat’)
  • want all of the family’s money to stay together
  • want to marry their children off in exchange for money
  • don’t approve of their child being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender
  • don’t want their children to have relationships or sex
  • feel pressured by the community or other family members to follow traditions
  • want to keep family values and honour.

But none of these reasons are okay. And nobody has the right to force you into marriage.

If you’re being forced into marrying someone you don’t want to, this is wrong and its also against the law. It can feel like you have no control, but it’s important to think about your future, your safety and what forced marriage would be like for you.

It’s possible that your parents or family would force you to marry because they think it’s the best thing for you. This doesn’t make things okay and you can get help to stop this from happening

You might love your parents but might also feel unsure about why you’re being forced to marry. You might be told that you’re brining shame on your family if you don’t marry. Your parents might even say that they’ll disown you. This is emotional abuse.

If you can’t talk to your parents, maybe you can think of another adult who you trust like a family member, teacher or school nurse. Its important to let someone know as quickly as possible so that you can be safe and get help.

Forced marriages happen in many religions and nationalities and can affect both boys and girls. It doesn’t only happen to young people; it can happen to adults too. There are some people and communities that think forced marriage is okay.

But it’s important to remember that all major religions (Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Jewish) are against forced marriage. Forced marriage is never okay, and it’s important to remember there is help available.

Forced marriage is against the law in the UK and you have a right to say no if you’re being made to marry someone who you don’t want to. The minimum age for marriage in the UK is 16.

You have the right to:

  • choose who you marry, when you marry or whether you want to get married or not
  • make decisions and to be able to tell someone about what’s happening to you
  • feel safe and to ask for help
  • say no and explain that you don’t feel happy with what is happening.

You might worry that if you tell someone then your parents or other people could get into trouble. Or you may think it will make things worse. You don’t have to deal with this on your own. There are people who won’t judge you and who will support you with what you’re going through. You can contact a counsellor in private at any time and talk about anything.