A Disturbing Number Of Turkish Barber Shops Are Using Modern-Day Slave Labor

a hairdresser combs and cuts a man's hair
Shameersrk / Pixabay

Modern slavery is not as uncommon as we think. In fact, Charlotte Tucker, detective inspector for the Avon and Somerset police, has warned consumers to keep an eye out for slave labor in your local barber shops and nail salons. Slavery no longer means a ball and chain; it might mean someone offering residence and exploiting their tenants for labor.

After uncovering an operation in a Vietnamese nail salon, Tucker shone light on the first UK case for modern slavery involving children. Since then, she has been hoping to discover and stop other situations involving exploitation. According to the Telegraph, she warned women against getting manicures and haircuts from employees that might be victims. However, women aren’t the only ones who need to worry about this worrying practice.

Wet shaves have become a popular request in many barber shops, which is sending men to these businesses in droves. However, many traditional Turkish barber shops might be using modern-day slave labor as well. In a different Telegraph interview, she brought up these barber shops, and how to to spot a exploited employee.

“There are barber shops setting up now where people live above the shop and customers pay in cash,” she said. “Owners are looking to exploit workers and make money.”

woman doing nails
After a two-year investigation, three people involved in nail salons were charged of modern slavery in the UK. StockSnap / Pixabay

In order to spot potential victims of modern slavery, you have to stay vigilant. While getting a shave or haircut is supposed to be a pleasant experience, you have to keep your eyes open. One sign that Tucker mentioned was this:

“If you’re in a barbers and another customer arrives, a tired or disheveled barber comes downstairs to start working on them. [That’s a warning sign.]”

Tucker warns that other red flags include businesses that only accept cash, employees that live and work on-site, and tired, distant staff. There might be a supervisor that speaks for the employees, and the people working at the establishment might not speak English.

The tragic part is that modern slavery can occur almost anywhere. Popular industries include not only the aforementioned barber shops and nail salons, but clothing factories, cannabis farms, and even car washes. Sexual slavery and exploitation among women and girls isn’t uncommon, either.

According to AntiSlavery, this practice is thriving in the UK. Over 13,000 people are victims of modern slavery, and other studies indicate that this number could be much, much higher. While police are trying to track down and dismantle these practices, the public eye can go a long way in finding victims.