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A girl who was forced into prostitution following her migration to Europe is photographed. Millions of children are on the move across international borders, fleeing violence and conflict, disaster or poverty, in pursuit of a better life. When they encounter few opportunities to move legally, sometimes children resort to dangerous routes and engage smugglers to help them cross borders.
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31 People Charged With Rape and Human Trafficking Offences of Girls as Young as 12 in Yorkshire

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals call for an end both to gender violence, and to human trafficking and modern slavery. And yet, human trafficking is still thriving in the UK, as well as globally. You can join us by taking action here to help combat trafficking and modern slavery, and help make sure Britain is properly supporting victims. 

Thirty men and one woman have been charged with offences related to raping and trafficking five girls in West Yorkshire, according to police. 

A police statement released on Wednesday said the allegations against the defendants related to non-recent sexual offences, that date back to between 2005 and 2012. 

Five women said the offences were committed against them as children in the Huddersfield area, when they were allegedly between 12 and 18 years old. 

Take action: Ramp Up the Pressure: Call on the UK Government to Prioritise Support to Modern Slavery Survivors

Mohammed Akram, 41, from Huddersfield, has been charged with two counts of trafficking with a view to sexual exploitation of a female, and rape of a female aged 14-15. 

Manzoor Akhtar, 29, of Huddersfield, has been charged with trafficking and three counts of rape of a female aged 13-15. 

The other people who were named by police have been charged with a range of crimes including rape, and facilitating the commission of a child sex offence. 

All 31 people will appear at Kirklees Magistrates Court on September 5 and 6, according to police. 

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Another 12 men, who haven’t be named for legal reasons, have also been charged with numerous offences in connection with the same investigation, said police. 

The arrests follow numerous warnings in recent months from the government, police, activists, and campaigners about the enormous scale of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK. 

The National Crime Agency (NCA), for example, released a major report in August 2017 that warned “every large town and city in the country” is affected by the issue.

The report revealed that the scale of trafficking and slavery in the UK was far larger than previously believed, and added that the threat was growing. Two of the key areas driving trafficking and slavery are sexual exploitation, and labour exploitation, according to the NCA. 

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The number of potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery in the UK reached a record high in 2017, according to another report released by the NCA in March 2018. 

Over 5,000 cases were referred to the UK’s National Referral Mechanism, which identifies and supports victims, in 2017, according to the report. That figure represented a 35% increase compared to 2016, and is the highest since figures were first compiled in 2009. 

Very worryingly, the number of children identified as potential victims rose by 66% from 2016, according to the report — up to 2,118 cases were reported in 2017, up from 1,278 in 2016.

“The reality is that there isn’t a region in the UK that isn’t affected,” Liam Vernon, a senior manager in the NCA’s modern slavery and human trafficking unit, told the Independent at the time. “The number is shocking and our assessment is that this is an under-reported crime.”

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Britain has been seen as a world leader in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, since it passed the Modern Slavery Act in March 2015. 

But the government estimates at least 13,000 people across Britain are still victims of modern slavery — trapped in forced labour, sexual exploitation, and domestic servitude. Police, however, estimate that the true figure is likely to be in the tens of thousands. 

In July, the home affairs committee launched an inquiry into Britain’s progress on tracking modern slavery and human trafficking since the Modern Slavery Act came into force, and assess what still needs to be done — particularly with regards to support for trafficking and slavery victims.