Sir Mo Farah and modern slavery: his story is a lesson for us all

15 July 2022

The nation was shocked this week when British Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah revealed that he had been a victim of child trafficking. Born as Hussein Abdi Kahin, he was trafficked into the UK as a young child, and forced into domestic servitude.

In a beautiful and empowering documentary, Sir Mo Farah looks into his past and shares his experiences of child trafficking and domestic servitude. It takes tremendous bravery and courage to disclose such an experience, but particularly in the hostile environment we are experiencing today. 

Sir Mo Farah’s revelation has shone a light on the thousands of men, women and children in the UK who are coerced into exploitation and slavery every year. Last year alone there were just under 13,000 cases of modern slavery reported via the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). Around 43% of these cases included children.

Following the airing of the documentary, we, along with colleagues across the Anti-Trafficking sector signed a joint statement, calling on the government to improve protections for victims of trafficking. See an excerpt below:

Shockingly, even when they do come forward themselves, many victims of trafficking, including those who were trafficked as children, will find themselves disbelieved, at risk of immigration detention, removal or incarceration at the hands of the authorities who should be proactive in offering protection… Survivors of trafficking are often more likely to be prosecuted for the crimes they were forced to commit or breaches of the immigration rules than the traffickers themselves for the abuse perpetrated. Prosecution rates are dismal, with most perpetrators going free while their victims live in fear.

We hope that Sir Mo Farah’s story will provide comfort and support to others who may be experiencing fear and discrimination in a hostile immigration environment. We’re also grateful for the incredible awareness that Sir Mo has raised by sharing his story.

Moving forward, we will continue to push for policy change, greater inclusion of and support for survivors of modern slavery and stronger protection mechanisms.

Sir Mo Farah showed the nation the human face of trafficking – an issue which continues to plague the UK and the globe. We won’t stop fighting for freedom from slavery for everyone, everywhere, always.

Thank you Sir Mo Farah for your exceptional bravery.

If you suspect modern slavery, please contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the police on 101. In an emergency always call 999.

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Feature image: Erik van Leeuwen (bron: Wikipedia). – Shared under a GFDL licence.