5 Years A Slave

"I can't say anything because they're my relatives."


Slavery. A dehumanising process that was once carried out by doctors, politicians and heads of state, but that's all changed. You wouldn't know it, but you could have walked past a slave owner on your way home today. Modern day slavery thrives on the sole assumption that slavery no longer exists. 

Nahas is a young man whose life is currently being controlled by the one person who should be protecting him: his uncle.

As soon as Nahasthen aged 20arrived from India to England in May of 2011, he was quickly put to work in his uncle's phone repairs shop in London. While the relationship between slave and master is thought to be fearful , Nahas simply described it as "okay."

When asked about how he felt about his current situation, Nahas said "I'm not feeling good at the moment because I need to sort out my paperwork."

On a normal day, he works from 10am until 7pm, Monday through Saturday. He often plays cricket on Sundays. "I work more than 40 hours a week and I get paid less than minimum wage," he says, "which is not fair and I can't say anything because they are my relatives. So if I say something they're gonna be against me and I'll have to leave the house and I don't have anywhere to go. So I have to stay in my job and do whatever they say."

Nahas lives a very restricted life.  "At the moment I don't have any options, I can't go anywhere because of my situation, I have to stay with my uncle. I can't go out."

His original plan when he came to London wasn't to be living the life he has now. "I came here to complete my ACCA, which is Accounting, so when I complete that I will go for a better job, work for an accounting firm."

When asked to describe what freedom meant to him he says, "I am not able to travel at the moment. I would like to travel but first I need to sort out my paperwork. I also want to work wherever I want."

Unlike most of us, Nahas isn't allowed to travel because he needs to stay and make money for his uncle. He's also not allowed to go out and explore the area he lives in nor is he allowed to pursue the career that he wants. "I am forced to work," he says, "so I have to stay."

Despite his situation, Nahas is hopeful for the future. "My dream is to achieve my goals that I set up when I came here and hopefully soon everything will be sorted out...then I'm free to set up my career and explore the world. I have a dream of opening a phone shop so I can work for myself if I can't do accountancy."

Nahas is just one of the thousands of people who are stuck in this exploitative cycle, and without the right help, they'll continue to be exploited. If you ever come across an individual who isn't allowed to travel alone, looks withdrawn or seems to be working against their own will, there's a chance that they could be a modern day slave. Once you're sure that's the case, make sure you call the police. It'll make a world of difference.