18 Oct 2010

Anti-Slavery Day today

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.


Philip Booth said...

3 ways to make a change from Anti-Slavery Society:

1. LEARN at www.productsofslavery.org
To mark Anti-Slavery Day, we are launching a brand new interactive website about slavery and the products we buy at www.productsofslavery.org to help you, as consumers, understand the scale of slavery in the global markets and how you can take action to end slave labour.

2. TAKE ACTION by signing our anti-trafficking petition
Please use Anti-Slavery Day to call on David Cameron to commit to tackling trafficking in the UK by signing up to a new EU law to help protect victims of trafficking across Europe. The UK cannot afford to miss such a vital opportunity to combat trafficking - SIGN THE 38dedrees PETITION HERE

3. DONATE just one day's pay
On Anti-Slavery Day please consider donating your day's pay which will go a long way in helping those trapped in slavery

Philip Booth said...

Independent on Sunday have asked us to support their campaign, launched last week, “urging the Government to sign up to the EU directive on human trafficking. The directive will strengthen our laws to protect victims and make it easier to prosecute those who enslave them. Readers can call on David Cameron and Nick Clegg to do the right thing by signing the petition on the campaigning website 38 Degrees.

Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party, said:

“Wilberforce described slavery as ‘a disgrace and a dishonour to this country’, and I’d say exactly the same about the coalition’s decision to opt out of the EU directive on human trafficking.

“It’s completely unacceptable that British legislation against trafficking is weaker than the rest of Europe’s. It effectively makes Britain the trafficking capital of Europe and invites this kind of systematic abuse.

“I’ve signed this petition on behalf of the Green Party because Greens will always be on the side of people who are vulnerable, oppressed or abused. Whose side are Nick Clegg and David Cameron on?”