A Man Without Identity

Human smuggling is a massive underground chain business, targeting migrants seeking a better life in more developed countries. In this bid for a better life, migrants pay smugglers to take them to wealthier countries, often in dangerous, inhumane ways. Voyages can result in physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and in worst cases—death. Although migrants are promised social benefits by their smugglers, the reality is that as non-citizens they are ineligible for government benefits in the receiving countries. And considering that these migrants are indebted to their smugglers, but cannot legally find work to pay off their debt, many victims lead lives of quiet desperation in the shadows of society.

The United Kingdom Home Office estimates that a half million illegal immigrants live in the UK today. The documentary interviews a young Indian man, speaking under the false name of ‘Manoj’ to protect his identity. He is a human smuggling victim and shares the bitter reality of his life in the UK. During the journey he was sexually abused and had to travel in a bag for part of the way. Once in the UK, his smugglers advised him to destroy his passport, an act that effectively washes away his real name and identity. Without a national insurance number, Manoj is also restricted from health services and susceptible to labor exploitation. His job at a service station only earns him 336 pounds every two weeks. As a smuggling victim, Manoj is locked out of the full rights of citizenship and treated as a person not deserving the same rights as everyone else. This further undermines his shaky sense of identity, and as far as the government is concerned, he does not exist.

Despite this hardship, Manoj wants his family in India to believe that he is living a luxury life in the UK. He says that his parents have to live as proud as they were, and when he goes back home, he will have to go back with his head held high. But before Manoj can go home he has to settle his loans, and according to him, that day is nowhere near.

The end of the documentary offers hope in awareness: ‘It is a ghastly, cruel, bitter, and darker world, but awareness could make a difference and save many lives.’