15 Aug 2010

Call for support for victims of trafficking

Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world and it is thought that 1.2 million children and young people are trafficked every year for sexual exploitation and cheap labour. This is an issue I have covered before - see for example here and here. Indeed some years ago I helped organise a discussion locally on people trafficking. But I could have raised this key issue a bit more - it is outrageous not more is done.

The previous Chief Constable for Gloucestershire Dr Tim Brain had a lead on this issue nationally and brought some good changes - but they did not go far enough. I am also not convinced that the concerns that the Olympics will lead to an increase in trafficking in this country are understood. Trafficking increased during the Olympics in Germany and concerns have been raised that we will have a similar problem. Greens have raised the issue as long ago as 2000 and locally we have written to the Government and press on several occasions - infact just found an old letter of mine from 2003 attached below....anyhow this issue is still not getting enough coverage. I was therefore delighted to hear about The Body Shop campaign "to fight against human trafficking, bringing awareness of this modern-day slave trade to world leaders and the global community."

In collaboration with ECPAT UK they are calling on the UK Government to introduce a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. This would mean that all child victims of trafficking would:

- have someone with parental responsibility to care for and support them

- be prevented from facing further exploitation and harm from their traffickers

- receive the educational, medical, practical and legal support they need to help rebuild their lives

It seems amazing we can't guarantee this now. Please add your name to the petition here. You could also ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion 513 that seeks support for child victims of trafficking.

My letter to local press in March 2003:

The Home Office announcement (Citizen 12/3/03) regarding the Eaves Housing project shelter for victims of sex trafficking is to be welcomed, but it must be put in perspective. It makes 25 places available. But every year, at least 200 victims of sex slavery are kicked out of Britain, often to be received home as vilified outcasts.

Coincidentally, this week's Green Party conference in Llandrindod, mid-Wales, will be considering a report on sex trafficking. It argues these women need support, counselling, and same-sex interviewers and translators. They are often terrified when arrested and need a secure, safe environment, sympathetic treatment - and an offer of asylum if necessary.

As Gloucestershires Chief Constable Dr Tim Brain, notes in The Citizen, better treatment for trafficked women, rather than their rapid repatriation, would help the police to gather the information they need to track down the traffickers themselves, who are the real criminals.

We need more support than has been announced this week, for sex-trafficked women in Britain and it is time to get serious on traffickers who are today's slave-owners.

Philip Booth, Gloucestershire Green Party.


Stephen P said...

Hi Philip,

Whilst undoubtedly better treatment of persons found to be trafficked would be desirable, I must take issue with you bringing up the Olympics in this regard. There is categorically no evidence of a rise in trafficking cases resulting from major sporting events, including the World Cup in Germany in 2006, to which you refer.

Whilst a moral panic engulfed Europe over the 2006 World Cup, and seems to have done so around every major sports event since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, no significant rises in trafficking cases have been found to result from any of these events. In the case of the German World Cup, and indeed also in the case of this year’s South Africa World Cup, predictions that 40,000 or more women and children would be trafficked into the country were made.

In the event, just three women were found to be trafficked into Germany for the World Cup, with one further woman internally trafficked within Germany and one man trafficked. No trafficking victims were found at the South Africa World Cup.

I wrote a lengthy post about a year ago on these panics, the address of which follows. I am currently putting together a further post on the panics at the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 (similarly, no trafficking cases) and the South Africa World Cup.

Very frequently, the consequences of these panics is over-reaction by the authorities, resulting in considerable human rights abuses to sex workers, especially migrant sex workers.

Best, Stephen

Philip Booth said...

This comment provides a very interesting viewpoint re the Olympics - a big thank you - I will read further. The national press have been alive with this story in the past....and other organisations like UNISON and the Terrence Higgins Trust, the HIV and sexual health charity, have raised concerns about the poss impact.

While I accept there is perhaps not the evidence for the increase in trafficking, I would imagine that it is still likely - as one comment said this is a huge business opportunity and it is unlikely that such ruthless businesses will ignore this?

Clinicians assessing the impact of the Sydney 2000 Games found a big increase in demand for sexual health services and a corresponding increase in sexually related diseases, mainly among casual workers. This is not trafficking but an indication of some of what goes on....

I still have concerns but greatly appreciate you raising this. I will look into it further - your blog provides some v useful material.