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I am Slave: TV drama highlights Britain’s slave trade

Modern day slavery was highlighted in a powerful new drama following the plight of a young girl kidnapped in the Sudan, transported to London and kept as a slave.

Disturbingly, the Channel 4 tale first broadcast on Bank Holiday Monday is based on true events.

To most in Britain, slavery is a thing of the past, abolished in 1833 through the campaigning of William Wilberforce and other activists.

In fact slavery still goes on in 21st Century Britain − as many as 5,000 people are currently working as slaves in this country, according to figures from the Home Office.

The drama, I am Slave focuses on the criminal network that still imports kidnap victims from abroad and forces them into a life of drudgery.

It tells the story of Malia, a 12 year-old Sudanese girl snatched from the arms of her father during a Muharaleen raid on their village in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, sold into slavery, then later shipped to Britain to work unpaid for a wealthy Sudanese family.

Malia’s childhood is cruelly taken from her as she spends six years working for a Sudanese family. In the meantime, Malia’s father has been tirelessly hunting for his daughter. Then, aged 18, Malia is sent to London, where neither her living conditions nor her treatment improve. Inhumanly and brutally caged, and having had her passport taken away from her, Malia attempts to escape.

Writer Jeremy Brock (who penned Mrs Brown and The Last King of Scotland) forges a story loaded with horrific and spine-chilling scenes mostly at the hands of Malia’s female master in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and sprinkled with slivers of hope and humanity. Wunmi Mosaku’s plays Malia supported by Isaach De Bankolé who plays Malia’s champion wrestler father, Bah. De Bankolé has appeared in films such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Casino Royale.

Malia’s plight is a true story based on the life of Mende Nazer, a Nuban woman who was abducted, enslaved and brought to London.

Modern slavery exists in the UK in various forms. Trafficking into the UK for sex or domestic work involves thousands of women and children. Some children, especially those from African countries, are trafficked through the UK to other countries. Although child labour is prohibited in the UK, there is a connection with the UK through the conditions under which sportswear and clothing, or grocery products such as tea or cocoa, are produced.

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