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‘…a fully grown man utterly broken by what he had experienced, physically and mentally exhausted with physical evidence showing the overt signs of the abuse he had been through.’

This is how Kate Garbers met Riso, a man who had been trafficked and in forced labour for months, with no way out. Modern slavery is far closer than we think. Yet it is largely unseen and unknown to most of us – a crime against humanity hidden in plain sight.

In this revealing exposé, Kate Garbers shares moving stories of survivors she has met and shares insights she has gained through over a decade of anti-slavery work. Survivor stories are complemented by a forensic account of how modern slavery works and the many forms it can take – from forced labour to organ harvesting – and how it is enabled to continue by our current laws and systems.

Unseen Lives also provides a vision of hope for those looking to challenge and dismantle modern slavery, laying out what changes we need to make as individuals and as a society in order to effectively tackle modern slavery and improve the support of survivors.

Reviews

This is a must read book for anyone who wants to understand one of the gravest problems of contemporary society. Kate has managed to give voice to the unseen, provoke and challenge us to understand how as ordinary citizens we are all deeply implicated in exploitation, trafficking and slavery, but at the same time she wants us to dig deeper and think about how to bring about change. Brilliant and hugely important.
Samantha Knights QC, Matrix
An intelligent and authoritatively written book based on evidence. Every survivor is different, every agency has different thresholds and criteria and it is no surprise that we have a messy dysfunctional system tackling modern slavery. This book should be read by those who know very little, but also maybe more importantly by those who think they know it all. As a former Police & Crime Commissioner and magistrate, I recognise that the author brings clarity to a confused scenario. Solutions are neither clear nor straightforward. Victims have limited choices, or no choice. The least worst choice just reminds us that this is our responsibility to know more. All our agencies and the public need to know the signs, to listen to our gut feeling. The "them" and "us" are clearly articulated. Under different situations, "Us" could become "them". This book is not about "do gooding". It's not about telling victims what to do, it's about giving them the power to make choices with knowledge.
Sue Mountstevens, Former Police and Crime Commissioner, Avon & Somerset, 2012-2021
Kate's compelling case studies reveal the agonising decisions survivors and their support workers must face in a system fit for purpose on paper, but that in reality offers very little, and risks re-traumatisation, criminalisation and even in some cases re-trafficking. Her book's recommendations, including from survivors themselves, alongside her message of empathy provides a powerful guide for both the public and policymakers alike.
Tamara Barnett, Director of Operations, Human Trafficking Foundation
This is a very personal moving story of the journey of one determined woman who decides that listening to the experiences of the victims of trafficking is not enough. Her response to the harrowing testimonies we read about is to set up the charity UNSEEN and champion the cause of victims to Government. Kate Garbers shows us that she is more than a campaigner as you will find when you read her book. She cares deeply and hopes that you will as well and then act. The question she is really posing to us all is will we?
Lord Coaker of Gedling, Former Co Chair of All Party Parliamentary Modern Slavery Group
A beautifully written and eye-opening book that draws from the author's unique front-line experience over more than a decade. This is an absolutely essential read, full of engagement with survivors, deep research, and fresh ideas for how we can see, hear, understand and confront modern slavery in our society.
Professor Zoe Trodd, Director of the Rights Lab
An inspiring, powerful memoir and a clear explanation of the development of modern slavery and the responses to it over the last twenty years. Written with humility and warmth, it demonstrates what an individual can do to really make a difference.
Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner