Today, Monday 18th October is the first ever UK annual Anti-Slavery Day.
The day is supported by ECPAT UK, a children’s rights organisation campaigning against the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the UK. In particular, they focus on the protection of trafficked children in the UK and children exploited in tourism. This is an issue I have covered before on this blog - see here. See also here a new petition from 38 degrees.
Stroud has a history of being anti-slavery. Locally we have Britain's oldest anti-slavery memorial - the arch at Paganhill. It was built by Henry Wyatt in 1834, a prosperous businessman and banker and anti-slavery campaigner - see here the restoration in 2008. And in Stroud there was a march to commemorate the Abolition of Slavery Act (see here some background and photo above). See here discussion re apologising for slavery.
In March of this year, the Anti-Slavery Day Bill was introduced in Parliament as a Private Members’ Bill and became law just before the General Election. In July David Cameron, announced that Anti-Slavery Day would fall on 18 October every year. This date appropriately coincides with the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day.
The aim of Anti-Slavery Day is for people in the UK to acknowledge that despite the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade over 200 years ago men, women and children continue to be victims of the modern-day slave trade. The day will help to raise awareness of the dangers of modern-day slavery, including human trafficking and exploitation, and encourage people to be proactive in the fight against it. Hence this blog to raise awareness.
This years campaign, The Body Shop and ECPAT UK are calling on the Government to provide greater protection for child victims of trafficking. In July, a petition was launched asking the Government to introduce a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. More information and a specific briefing on guardianship can be found on our website at www.ecpat.org.uk. The petition can also be signed online or in any The Body Shop store around the UK.
Lastly see the Anti-Slavery International - I joined it back in the early 80s when it was struggling to keep going. I lost touch with it until a few years ago and have been delighted that it appears a stronger organisation - the issue is alive as much as ever - we need an organisation like this to keep us aware and campaign for the changes we need.