18 Oct 2011

Anti-Slavery day today

Person.jpgToday Tuesday 18th October is the second UK annual Anti-Slavery Day (see last year here). It will now fall on 18 October every year as this date 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. Trafficking is the third largest illegal activity in the UK - a £32billion 'business'.

Trafficking takes many different forms; debt bondage, sexual exploitation, trafficking of children, either for petty crime or more serious crimes such as ATM thefts and begging. Children under 10 are increasingly trained for criminal activity, since they fall below the age of criminal responsibility.

ECPAT UK, a children’s rights organisation campaigning against the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the UK believes that Anti-Slavery Day provides a great opportunity to shine a light on the largely hidden yet brutal crime of human trafficking in the UK. As part of their campaigning work, ECPAT UK is calling on the Government to provide greater protection for child victims of trafficking. In particular, they are calling for a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking in the UK. More information and a specific briefing on guardianship can be found on their website at www.ecpat.org.uk/campaigns/guardianship.

Stroud has had a tradition of anti-slavery - many will know the anti-slavery arch in Paganhill - see here - we have also had many demonstrations and a march to commemorate 200 years since abolition (see here arguments about whether we should apologise for previous roles in slavery). Zarin Hainsworth, a Ruscombe resident has led discussions on trafficking (including Green Party's Coffee House) and worked with government to bring about improvements. There have been improvements in some areas and greater awareness but in 2010 the Met's special unit closed - the only one in the country. This is totally dire - and made worse by the Governments refusal to sign a new EU directive this year to tackle trafficking!! Also earlier this year I reported the concerns about the denial of rights of asylum seekers - see here. Since then we have also seen news come to light that authorities are failing to enforce the law aimed at tackling sex with trafficked women - see Guardian here.

We need to be doing much more - well done to ECPAT UK for raising this issue and keeping it alive.

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