The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Human Trafficking

At STOP THE TRAFFIK we work to raise awareness of human trafficking, because this is one of the best ways to protect those who are targeted by human traffickers. By learning about the nature of human trafficking, we can make it harder for human traffickers to hide their crimes and empower communities to recognise and disrupt the tactics of human traffickers.

Since knowledge is one of our main tools for disrupting the activities of traffickers, misconceptions about the nature of human trafficking can be harmful to the fight against the buying and selling of people. Confusions about what trafficking is, how it can take place, or  what it looks like mean that spotting and preventing trafficking in communities is all the more difficult.

So, here are 5 of the biggest myths about human trafficking and the actual truths they conceal.

 

MYTH 1: Human trafficking always takes place in illegal industries

It’s true that some cases of human trafficking take place within illegal industries. Children or teenagers are forced to work in cannabis ‘factories’ set up in residential premises. , forced into sex work or sometimes even bought and sold for organ harvesting.

But one of the big problems is that human trafficking is part of supply chains of companies selling everyday products like tea, chocolate and clothes. People are made to work in terrible conditions, and not given the pay that they were told they would receive. Big companies often don’t even know where the materials products come from – but it is their responsibility to know and to make sure their products aren’t coming from forced labor. STOP THE TRAFFIK campaigns for companies to root out human trafficking in their supply chains.

MYTH2: People who are being trafficked will always try to seek help

Human traffickers often use psychological means of control over those they are trafficking – such threats and deception. The trafficker might threaten to harm a person’s family if he escapes, or may make promises about the pay the person will receive.

This means that people who are being trafficked may not seek help even if they are in public places or situations where people could be made aware of their circumstances. They may be afraid of the consequences if they do, or they may be getting deceived by human traffickers. If you suspect someone is being trafficked, the fact that they aren’t trying to get help doesn’t mean that they are okay.

MYTH 3: People who are trafficked are always taken by force

Traffickers often prey on people who are already in vulnerable situations. Their biggest tools are deception and psychological manipulation, which means they often don’t use force to take away peoples’ freedom.

In Tamil Nadu, India, traffickers visit poor and marginalized communities to persuade parents to sign up their daughters for employment in textiles factories. They will give false promises about the hours, wages and working conditions – and will even show parents pictures of modern, clean buildings as examples of where their daughters will be working. Given these promises, the parents willingly send their daughters away to the factories. But the reality is that the girls sent off with the traffickers will be forced to work long hours in hazardous conditions, and most do not even receive the pay they were promised.

MYTH 4: Statistics on trafficking are accurate

Trafficking is a criminal industry based on secrecy – which means that data is difficult to collect and concrete statistics about the scale of human trafficking are hard to come by. The figures quoted by many news sources, even if presented as hard facts, are often just estimates made by experts based on limited number of human trafficking cases that have been detected.

At STOP THE TRAFFIK we use the most credible and frequently quoted statistics, but we always make sure to emphasise that these are just estimates.

MYTH 5: Traffickers only target those in poorer communities

Although some forms of trafficking are more prevalent in poor and rural communities, traffickers can operate anywhere, in any country and in any community. Just because a person is from a developed country or a relatively affluent situation doesn’t mean that they are not at risk from traffickers’ deception and manipulation.

STOP THE TRAFFIK has worked with Sophie Hayes – a woman from the UK who is a survivor of human trafficking and who has now written a book about her experiences set up a foundation to combat sex trafficking and exploitation. Sophie’s situation was very different from living in poverty or in a small rural village – and her story shows that anyone could be targeted by traffickers.

Human Trafficking and People Smuggling: The Distinction

In recent months the news has been filled with stories of people fleeing war and unrest in the Middle East to seek better, safer lives for themselves and their families in Europe.

But since European countries impose limits on the number of people they will allow, many people are resorting to crossing borders illegally – often paying smugglers to transport them by boat or lorry. These trips are dangerous and put people at risk, as numerous tragic losses of life have shown.

The news stories describing these events often refer to the smugglers paid to take people across borders as ‘human traffickers’ – but in fact, human trafficking and people smuggling are two very different things.

The distinction between human trafficking and people smuggling can get blurry – and reporters using the two terms interchangeably doesn’t help.

Knowledge is one of our primary tools in protecting vulnerable people from being exploited at the hands of human traffickers, so it’s important to understand why human trafficking and people smuggling are different.

Human trafficking and people smuggling: what’s the difference?

Human trafficking involves people being bought and sold for profit. They are taken involuntarily from their communities by force or deception and are moved to a different place, where they are forced into street crime, domestic servitude, labour and other activities.

The key difference between people smuggling and human trafficking is that those who are being taken across borders by smugglers are doing so voluntarily. Smuggling is a transaction between people who are paying to be taken somewhere and the smugglers who are paid to take them. People are not deceived or taken by force but ‘employ’ smugglers to take them across borders without detection.

Traffickers take people against their will and exploit them for profit; smugglers are paid to take people across borders – this, in principle, is the difference between human trafficking and people smuggling. But there are also some ways in which the two converge – people who pay to be transported across borders put themselves in a situation where they are vulnerable to being trafficked.

People smuggling and the threat of trafficking

Paying to be taken across borders by a smuggler is a desperate measure. The means of transport are crowded and unsafe – thousands of people have lost their lives trying to reach their destination at sea or by land. People put themselves entirely at the mercy of the smugglers who are responsible for transporting them, which can lead to them being taken advantage of. It is in situations like this where the line between people smuggling and human trafficking becomes less clear.

In principle, the relationship between the smuggler and the people being taken across borders should end when they reach their destination – this is what people believe when they pay to be taken across borders. But in practice, this may not be the case.

Smugglers often keep people in their power even once they have reached their destination – they can force people to work for years in illegal industries in order to pay off their debts to the smuggler. Further, smugglers are even able to take people to destinations they did not want to end up at. In entering into agreements with smugglers, people give smugglers a power over them that can be abused.

Even if people manage to safely cross borders, their illegal status can make it difficult for them to find work to support themselves. This means that they are especially at risk of being targeted by traffickers. Traffickers prey on people who are in desperate situations by making false offers of well-paying jobs and a better life – but the traffickers’ true aim is to exploit people for their own gain.

 

Why we need to protect refugees from the threat of trafficking

At STOP THE TRAFFIK we work to stop people being bought and sold, exploited for profit by others and treated as products rather than human beings. In principle people smuggling doesn’t involve any of this. Although people smuggling is an illegal and dangerous practice that puts peoples’ lives at risk, these people are voluntarily committing to being smuggled across borders.

But we must be aware that when people are in precarious circumstances – like having to cross borders in search of safety from war – they are particularly at risk from human traffickers. Regardless of our views about immigration, those of us who are committed to stopping human trafficking need to look out for people who are in situations where they can be targeted by human traffickers.

It’s only by working together to offer protection to the most vulnerable members of our global society that we can prevent human trafficking from taking place.

(Photo: Christopher Jahn/IFRC)

STOP THE TRAFFIK at the Financial Times

Financial Times’ global reach can transform the fight against trafficking

The greatest gift to a trafficker is the ability to operate in the shadows and work unseen, to maintain a state of denial enabling the growth of profits through this global crime to continue. To bring trafficking out of the shadows and achieve its effective disruption, STOP THE TRAFFIK has always been dependent on the life giving oxygen of large scale awareness.

That is why the news that the Financial Times has chosen us to be their Seasonal Appeal charity is a massive boost for STOP THE TRAFFIK. They are a powerful new partner with the clout to make a real difference in the battle against forced labour and trafficking around the world.

With the potential to shine the spotlight on the global economic debate around 21st century slavery, the FT and STOP THE TRAFFIK can together lead the empowerment of people, the utilisation of technology, and the gathering and sharing of knowledge necessary to bring disruption to this global crime.

Earlier this year we joined other charities in bidding for this coveted partnership and progressed through the stages, culminating in a final last month. STOP THE TRAFFIK volunteers of all ages visited the FT’s offices in London, standing gagged and dressed in black, holding written personal trafficking testimonies. The team also engaged in conversations and discussions with the FT team and presented via Skype to their offices around the world.

The team at STOP THE TRAFFIK has worked exceptionally hard to secure this partnership since April – but the reality is that this fantastic outcome is down to the continuing hard work that countless people across the world have put into the fight against human trafficking. We’re also aware that a number of charities were under consideration by the FT. Their work is both invaluable and inspirational. We are humbled to have been chosen and are determined to maximise this opportunity, empowering communities around the globe, to ultimately STOP THE TRAFFIK.

Ruth Dearnley
Global CEO of STOP THE TRAFFIK

Read the full press release here

Countdown to Freedom Sunday Starts Now

Human trafficking is a grave crime against humanity. It is a form of modern day slavery and a profound violation of the intrinsic dignity of human beings. It is intolerable that millions of fellow human beings should be violated in this way, subjected to inhuman exploitation and deprived of their dignity and rights. This outrage should concern each one of us, because what affects one part of humanity affects us all. Virtually every part of this world is touched in some way by the cruelty and violence associated with this criminal activity. If we are to combat this evil then we must work together to prevent the crime, support the survivors and prosecute the criminals.” – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby

On Sunday 19th October 2014, communities and faith groups all over the world will join together to raise awareness of the crime of human trafficking and show the world our compassion for the men, women and children who are trafficked and exploited.

Freedom Sunday began out of a movement organised by Not For Sale in the USA, uniting a group of churches together for a day of focus, prayer and worship centred around human trafficking. The following year, Not For Sale partnered with STOP THE TRAFFIK in Australia to involve Australian groups and denominations. This year, we’re delighted that Freedom Sunday is involving even more groups and communities from across the world, joining together in prayer and action to demonstrate a united and tangible response to human trafficking. This abhorrent crime must not be tolerated. We will make commitments to take action to prevent trafficking in our local and global communities.

Human Trafficking is the world’s fastest growing global crime and is one of the largest sources of income for organised criminals. The profits are high and the risks are low. It’s a system based on greed, control and power. It’s a global market place where people are the product and everyone has a price tag. This crime is based on an international conveyor belt of transactions and exchange, with sophisticated trade routes and communications. This human product creates profit in the tens of billions every year and growing. Those trafficked are often invisible, always powerless, and are put to work.

That’s why it’s important that we have a day to concentrate our efforts and reflect on what we are able to do to prevent trafficking in our context.

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STOP THE TRAFFIK activists come from a variety of faiths and cultures, brought together by the common goal of ending human trafficking. We celebrate this diversity for the wonderful display of global unity that it is, but we also want to support cultures and faith networks in finding an expression of activism that fits within their context. That’s why we’re calling on people from all systems of belief to work with us in developing resources that will be most helpful to them so that Freedom Sunday can act as a galvanising force in coordinating efforts against human trafficking everywhere.

It’s a day to focus, a day to lament and a day to cry out against global injustice. It’s also a day to empower and take stock. Trafficking occurs when people are taken from one community into another, so as voices within our own communities we have the power to effect change. Freedom Sunday is about equipping communities with the knowledge and the confidence that is necessary to stamp out trafficking in our areas.

The resources for churches are available to download from our website. They include suggested sermon notes, liturgies and a Freedom Prayer written specially by renowned poet Gerard Kelly. This year, we’re also excited to partner with, and develop resources for, other communities (faith-based or otherwise) that would like to join us in making the day a truly universal event. If you’re a representative of a group that is passionate about fighting trafficking and would like to work with us in developing resources to suit your gatherings then please get in touch by emailing info@stopthetraffik.org.

We’d also love to hear from anyone who is preparing their Freedom Sunday programme and to hear stories of how raising awareness of human trafficking has made an impact. If you have any stories or further questions then please get in touch by the above email address.

Together we can stop trafficking and start freedom.

http://www.facebook.com/stopthetraffik
@StopTheTraffik

 

GIFT box on the move

The UN GIFT box has been on the move! From Belfast, to Brazil, to Glasgow, the GIFT box has been making a mark, and spreading the word of STOP THE TRAFFIK.

#GIFTboxBrasil

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The World Cup has come to an end. Well done to Germany for winning! Whilst the world has had football fever, STOP THE TRAFFIK has been moving around Brazil with the GIFT box. Our volunteers out in Brazil have done an amazing job, raising awareness of human trafficking within Brazil.

The GIFT box was set up in 3 different locations around Brazil in order to raise awareness to a variety of people. It began its journey by the Christ Redeemer, where it was opened by various members of the government and the Brazillian press.

It then moved to Rio de Janeiro’s red light districts where it was staffed by women who are working within the sex industry and want to help end trafficking for sexual exploitation. The box was then moved to the famous Ipanema beach, which is a firm favorite with tourists. The final location was in the neighborhood Penha, outside Rio’s most dramatically set church.

The number of people who came to the GIFT box was staggering, with over 13,000 people being engaged during the first couple of weeks. This number continued to grow, with the volunteers raising awareness to a variety of people.

Our partners- Brazillian NGO 27million moved around Brazil to 4 of the world cup hosting cities with other anti-trafficking activists, including the NGO Operation Blessing. During this road trip they encountered both tourists and locals alike and engaged with them. They handed out STOP THE TRAFFIK leaflets, designed to raise awareness as well as equipping people with the facts on human trafficking and how to keep themselves safe.

Without the help of all of the volunteers out in Brazil, and our partners from the Rio State Government and the NGO 27 Million we could not have raised awareness to so many people, so a massive thank you!

STOP THE TRAFFIKS time in Brazil is not over though, this is just the beginning!

To find out more about STOP THE TRAFFIKS time in Brazil, and to see more photos, head over to STOP THE TRAFFIK Brazil’s website> www.stopthetraffik.org/brasil

#GIFTboxNI

gift  box ni

The GIFT box has been in Belfast, hosted by our partners No More Traffik last month. #GIFTboxNI moved around Belfast throughout June. From the City Hall, to The Titanic to Stormont (Parliament buildings). The GIFT box has raised awareness of trafficking within Northern Ireland, and has had visits from various members of parliament, including the department of justice. Even the Queen drove past! Well done to all volunteers involved and the NO More Traffik team! #GIFTboxNI will be moving around Northern Ireland over the next few months, so keep a look out and show your support!

Keep up to date, and check out pictures from #GIFTboxNI check out their facebook page> No More Trafficking

#STOPTHETRAFFIKTeam14

To round up a summer of sport, the Commonwealth games are upon us, and once again STOP THE TRAFFIK will be there! We are hosting a GIFT box in Glasgow along with More Than Gold. More Than Gold is a charity which is working in association with many churches across Scotland; they are uniting to raise awareness of human trafficking in both their local communities and around Scotland. STOP THE TRAFFIK is very happy to be working in partnership with this charity.

There will be four GIFT boxes around Glasgow, three of which will be at different locations throughout the games on Sauchiehall Street, and one shall be at Glasgow Cathedral.

We look forward to updating you on #STOPTHETRAFFIKTeam14’s progress and working with More Than Gold! Keep up to date with the GIFT box and check out our:

facebook page: STOP THE TRAFFIK.

Twitter: @STOPTHETRAFFIK

Instagram: STOPTHETRAFFIK

 

 

It’s not just football fever that you need to watch out for during the World Cup!

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The World Cup is here! And all eyes are on Brazil. STOP THE TRAFFIK is excited to announce that we have launched #GIFTboxBrasil. Many of us are caught up in the excitement of the World Cup, and are cheering on our favourite teams. Brazil is a country with breath taking sceneries, but unfortunately the country like any other is not exempt of human trafficking and exploitation. While the government, businesses, civil society organisations at federal, state and municipality level in Brazil have been actively working on addressing the problem of trafficking in the country, instances of the problem still persist. STOP THE TRAFFIK and their Brazilian partners the Rio State Government and the NGO 27 Million take the excellent opportunity that the World Cup offers to raise awareness of and empower people to take action to stop human trafficking.

The GIFT box received a grand opening ceremony outside the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer last week. The opening ceremony was attended by Members of the Brazilian government and the Brazilian press.

The GIFT box is moving around in order to raise as much awareness as possible. After its location at Christ the Redeemer where many tourists from Brazil and abroad encountered it, it was located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s red light districts where it was staffed by women who are working within the sex industry and want to help end trafficking for sexual exploitation. This was an amazing location as it provided peer to peer sharing and support for the women.

The box is currently located just off of the famous Ipanema beach, which is a firm favourite with tourists. The final location is in the neighbourhood Penha, outside Rio’s most dramatically set church in a 17th-century confection which offers dramatic 360-degree views from its cliff top perch. The church is surrounded by favelas. Having the box at this site will give us a chance to raise awareness amongst local Brazilians on how to keep themselves and others safe.

STOP THE TRAFFIK is working in partnership with 27 Million and the Rio de Janeiro State Government to carry out this awareness raising campaign. Alongside the GIFT box our Brazil Coordinator Leticia (27 Million) is visiting 4 of the 12 World Cup cities.

  • Sao Paulo
  • Belo Horizonte
  • Recife
  • Rio de Janeiro

Leticia will tour with other anti-trafficking activists, including from the NGO Operation Blessing. In both tourist locations and vulnerable communities they will engage with people and provide them with STOP THE TRAFFIK leaflets which include the signs of human trafficking – both on how to keep yourself safe and how to spot trafficking in your community, and where to report it. The aim of the tour is to empower people to take action against human trafficking!

One of the actions you can take during the World Cup is to organise a World Cup quiz night! Download our World Cup quiz  here which is designed to combine a fun night with your family or friends with raising awareness of human trafficking. You can gather your friends and family to watch your favourite team play together and do it before the match starts. We would love to hear how your quiz night was, email info@stopthetraffik.org to tell us how you’re on the ball during this World Cup!

 

To find out more about our activities in Brazil during the World Cup and beyond visit:

STOP THE TRAFFIK Brasil website: www.stopthetraffik.org/brazil

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/movimentogiftboxbrasil

Instagram: http://instagram.com/stopthetraffik

Behind the scenes of London #fashionweek…

Behind the scenes of LFWend

London fashion week for many is four days of glitz, glamour and elation as reams of clothes spill out of designer’s sketchbooks onto the runway. For four days, articles pop up on our favourite fashion magazines dissecting everything from the length of hems to the latest prints on sheepskin jackets…

And, like many others, I count myself as one of those people who just can’t resist the intrigue of an industry that is built around its aesthetic value.

Which is how I found myself arriving, last week, at London fashion weekend, gleefully armed with a free tote bag and goodies. Lured in by the stacks of striking dresses at reduced prices in dozens of pretty rooms, it was hard to see how something as nice on the eye as a beautifully cut, sequinned, cotton t-shirt could do any harm.

But we know it does.

Cotton T-shirtsBehind the scenes of London #FashionWeek, and the Weekend showcase, is a complex supply chain. The cotton t-shirt that I stood admiring, and wondering if my bank balance would ever stretch to accommodate, was as likely as any other to have passed through many hands, through various mills and factories, to the fashion house that would carefully place it upon its shiny rails.

And of the many hands that could have been responsible for its making, could have been a young woman or girl with a story like Ms A.J.  Ms A.J was taken to a mill by a human trafficker, and was employed in the cleaning section of a spinning mill. She had been told by the mill’s management that she would receive 3000 rupees after completing three years of work.

Ms A.J was not provided with a monthly salary – just food and accommodation. While on the scheme, she was beaten by other workers, and could not tell her parents what was happening to her. She had no money and could not escape from the mill. Social Action and Voluntary Awareness (SAVE) heard Ms AJ’s story and met her – they told her story to a court, who heard her complaints, and demanded she be freed.

Ms A.J was part of the hidden side of the supply chain, the part that is often given less attention.

Volunteer behind the scenes of LFWInspired by her story, and buoyed to take action to draw attention to the too often unnoticed section of the cotton supply chain, I approached a high-street fashion retailer the next day to deliver my postcard for the Make Fashion Traffik-Free campaign. It became clear, throughout my conversation with a sales assistant, that we all want our clothes, wherever we buy them, to be traffik-free.

Next time I visit London fashion week, I want to be able to gaze, guilt-free, at t-shirts that were made by people paid more than 98p per day. I want the hands my cotton passes through to be ones that see all the benefits of fair labour practices.

Behind the scenes of London #FashionWeek are 200,000 young women and girls trafficked into spinning mills in Tamil Nadu, India. Together, let’s make that change. Join me, and take action, by delivering a post-card to your favourite high-street shop.

The lengths people go to – to STOP THE TRAFFIK

GIFT Box USA

Flowing into our inbox this week have been stories of genuine creativity and ingenuity from our supporters. One of our supporters is literally going to great lengths to STOP THE TRAFFIK; or, should we say, cutting off those lengthy locks to go bald in the name of a good cause. We spoke to Matthew Morton, leader of the University of East Anglia STOP THE TRAFFIK group, who said, ‘Just before Christmas 2013 I took the step of pledging to shave off my hair (my beautiful, long, curly, tenderly conditioned, flowing hair) to raise money for STOP THE TRAFFIK.’

Matthew’s quirky fundraising campaign has struck a chord. Clearly attached to his long locks, and passionate about the prevention of human trafficking, he has exceeded his original fundraising goal of £3,500. The great lengths he has gone to have paid off – at the time of writing, Matthew has raised £4,190.00 thanks to the generosity of people like you.

Matthew is linked into a global network of STOP THE TRAFFIK supporters, all going to great lengths to raise awareness of human trafficking. In New York, our volunteers have persevered through the biting cold, and snow, to attract attention to the issue of human trafficking with GIFT Box USA. The GIFT Box is an interactive exhibit that aims to educate, and inspire action, around human trafficking: people are lured inside the big, colourful, box, before being confronted with the realities of the trafficking trade, as told by survivors.

The USA volunteers have donated their time generously, and gathered over 1,000 signatures since they’ve been stationed in Union Square. Our CEO, Ruth Dearnley, joined them this week, and spoke passionately about those involved: “It is a privilege to work alongside others, who believe that together we can STOP THE TRAFFIK.”

Meanwhile, in a similarly creative vein, STOP THE TRAFFIK Canada has been galvanising supporters into joining their flash mob, taking place on 8th March. They’re asking people to STOP, in the name of LOVE… A reminder that a little love, and a great dance, can help change the world – if we all take action.

Ruth Dearnley, our CEO, is often asked what ‘stop’ looks like. She says it looks like this: global supporters, coming together, going to great and creative lengths, all to raise awareness of human trafficking.

We would love to hear what you’re doing to stop the traffik in your community. Please send us your creative ideas, stories and photos so we can share them with activists around the world – at intern@stopthetraffik.org.

So You’ve Seen Our Video… So What Now?

Two weeks ago Girls Going Wild In Red Light District went viral and gained a lot of attention worldwide. Here is the story behind the video.

Many of you will have seen our video on YouTube after it was shared a few weeks ago by media company Upworthy.  Views have skyrocketed with 6,683,971 official views and over 50,000 views through YouTube users who have re-uploaded it. [1] 

The video was made by Duval Guillaume Modem, a PR agency in Belgium and focuses on women trafficked into sexual exploitation in the Netherlands. Women who have not chosen to work there but were tricked and deceived.

The video is not a commentary on those who have made a choice; it’s about those who haven’t. 

Esta, STOP THE TRAFFIK Nederland Coordinator comments: 

“We hope that people will do more than just ‘like’ or share this clip. We hope that they will try to find out more about trafficking and what is going on. Because STOP THE TRAFFIK isn’t just about human trafficking in the sex industry.”

Figures estimate that at least 9,000 women have been trafficked into the Netherlands for sexual exploitation.  This is a proportion of an estimated 30,000 victims of human trafficking in the Netherlands for all different types of exploitation including forced labour and domestic servitude . 

This issue is very real and very much happening on our own doorsteps, in the Netherlands, in the UK and in most countries around the world.

We hope this video shocks, we hope it stirs and we hope it moves people to want to take action.

STOP THE TRAFFIK is a movement; we are about the actions people can take to prevent human trafficking through campaigning and taking action where they live.

We are not a ‘rescue charity’ although we do work in partnership with those who work directly with victims. 

All people from places around the world, ages, cultures and faiths are a part of STOP THE TRAFFIK. We stimulate and welcome intelligent conversation and debate from all corners; but more than that we want to highlight it, to uncover it. Because this crime thrives in the dark.

Some of the millions of people who have watched it will hopefully have been inspired to get involved and work to prevent human trafficking.

We want people to help Stop the Traffik.

So take action…

There are a few different version of the film out there, our version is below.

[1] Views of the official versions of the video on YouTube, our profile (So You Think You Will Dance?)  and on that of Duval Guillaume, the Communications company who made the video, (Girls Going Wild in Red Light District).

The next Wilberforce?

Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans for a new bill to crack down on human trafficking in the UK last week. Are we seeing the start of a second-wave abolitionist movement in Parliament?

This announcement came the same weekend as the annual UN International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of Its Abolition. However slavery has not been completely abolished and the trade of people certainly has not ended. It is the world’s fasted growing crime and even as I write this blog it continues. There are an estimated 27 million people will have been bought and sold against their will and transported into slavery. In fact 9.1 million men, women and children are trafficked across borders and within their own country at any given moment in time.

This alarming facts have motivated Theresa May to propose plans for a ‘Modern Slavery’ bill. She stated in her Sunday Times article that it was “scarcely believable” that human trafficking continued to happen in the UK and that her first concern is to free the victims, regardless of nationality.

The bill will suggest tightening laws on human trafficking to consolidate and toughen existing anti-trafficking legislation. The law will hopefully be introduced during this session of parliament. Ending human trafficking will become one of the highest priorities for the new National Crime Agency that will take over from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in October. A ‘modern slavery commissioner’ will also be appointed to oversee the enforcement of the proposed changes to the criminal justice system.

Plans include tougher punishments under the new proposed law and lengthier prison terms, with organizing slavery becoming an ‘aggravated offence’, leading to harsher sentences for those with previous convictions.

If convicted of using abduction, threats of extortion to control slaves then traffickers could receive a sentence of up to 14 years, as well as being banned from returning to areas or businesses they previously worked in. Those convicted would also be banned from owning a company, working with children or young women.

A particularly interesting point May also made was that companies who use slave labour could be “named and shamed.” If a company’s profits are directly affected by publicly highlighting the existence of trafficking in their supply chain it could significantly change business culture in the UK and make transparency and ethical business a higher priority.

This is where we feel the proposals could go even further. In California an Act was passed last year that requires companies that meet certain threshold requirements to reveal their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chains. It requires companies to include in their disclosures information such as the extent to which they conduct independent audits of suppliers and if they provides training for employees on the subject of human trafficking. This information has to be made publicly available and therefore enables consumers and businesses to compare what actions they are doing and identify the shortfall.  

We want to see an Act such as this passed in the UK. It would mean businesses are held accountable to their Corporate Social Responsibility policies and encourage them to take action to ensure that they are committed to eradicating human trafficking in their supply chain. It would also mean consumers have access to the information they need to determine how to use their purchasing power to support companies that are actively working to end human trafficking. 

Evidently time will tell to see if these measures are passed and if they do deter traffickers however it is a brilliant step in the right direction. It shows that human trafficking is on the radar of the UK government and that they are willing to focus on preventing and combating the horrific trade in persons that persists over two hundred years after it was abolished.

The bill has been hailed as the “first serious attempt” to end human trafficking since William Wilberforce. Britain certainly has a history of being a “world leader” in the fight against slavery and this proposed bill could begin a change within the government to make it a consistent priority in all future administrations. 

Work to end human trafficking also needs to happen on the ground; through preventative measures such as education of what trafficking is and training to help frontline staff spot the signs. It can also begin with a simple step of examining what products you buy and whether trafficking has been part of its supply chain. This bill will certainly be significant and we welcome Theresa May’s proposals. However there is still more work to be done to end human trafficking once and for all. We can all be Wilberforce’s successors.

Who are you wearing?

This week the Australian Fashion Report has been published by Australian aid and development organisation, Baptist World AidThe report examines what prominent clothing companies in Australia are doing to protect workers in their supply chain from exploitation, forced labour and child labour.

Since the tragic Rana Plaza clothing factory collapse there has been much debate about labour standards in the clothing industry. Consumers increasingly want to know where their clothes and cotton is coming from. Many companies have responded to this shift by developing Corporate Social Responsibility policies but problems still remain. Change takes time but if these CSR policies are not implemented properly how can they be effective?

This was a key motivation behind the publication of the Australian Fashion Report. The report is the culmination of two years’ research and examines 41 clothing companies (128 brands) operating in Australia. It emphasizes the need for transparency in supply chains and urges the deliverance of an environment in which workers are respected and given a voice to negotiate working conditions and speak out against grievances.

The companies were ranked using a grading system after analysing four key aspects of Corporate Social responsibility; Policies, Traceability & Transparency, Monitoring & Training, Worker Rights. These were assessed using a variety of different sources, from the brands’ own publications to independent reports and an extensive questionnaire sent to the brand itself. Not all companies responded to the questionnaire however these companies can have their grades reassessed if they choose to take part in this aspect of the study. One still can’t help wondering why these companies were reluctant to take part and if this means they had something to hide.

The resulting grades are an indication of the extent to which companies have developed a set of management systems that, if used together, can reduce the risk of labour exploitation. High grades do not mean the clothes are child labour or forced labour free but it does mean that the supply chains that led to their production are better managed.

BWA have also produced a pocket guide to the report called ‘The Ethical Fashion Guide’. This shows clearly the best and worst companies in terms of 3 key categories: their Free2Work Supply Chain Rating, whether there is a guaranteed Living Wage for workers and if the company boycotts Uzbekistani Cotton. This aims to make it easier for ethically-minded consumers to consider who they want to buy their clothes following the results of this report.

THE KEY FINDINGS:

  • Worryingly, 93% of companies did not know where their cotton was sourced from but 39% were able to name most suppliers involved a factory level. This indicates a lack of clarity in the supply chain and a need for companies to examine their sourcing processes. If the company does not know who is picking their cotton or making their clothes then it is harder for them to trace whether human trafficking or child labour exists within their supply chain.
  • This is especially important as in 9 out of 10 of the world’s biggest cotton producers there has been reports of child labour. Australia was the only country in this top ten found not to use child labour in cotton harvests. Uzbekistan is the world’s fourth-largest cotton producer and the worst offender. There the President, Islam Karimov, has taken hundreds of thousands of children out of education to harvest cotton in the fields in horrible conditions. Gershon Nimbalker, co-author of the report, states that Karimov “uses the money to keep the dictatorship flush with funds, so it’s hugely problematic.”
  • 12% of companies received an A rating for labour rights management but only 5% had a fully implemented policy to ensure workers received a living wage. This is glaring evidence of the need for more management of labour rights and enforcement of related laws. A decent Corporate Social Responsibility policy is all very good, but if it is not backed up with procedures that are implemented to ensure a safe working environment and that respects the workers’ right to a living wage, it is worth less than the paper it is written on.

COMMENT:

The report highlights the labour rights issues involved in different stages of production such as forced child labour and worker exploitation in Uzbekistan. It provides a useful stepping stone for a public discussion about the sourcing of cotton and the need for transparency across the supply chain. Clothing companies around the world must be held to account over where their cotton comes from and who is involved in the production. Through making such information freely available to the public, BWA have shown that it is possible to scrutinize the policies and supply chains of some of the world’s largest clothing brands and that consumers can subsequently use this information choose where they spend their money.

BWA hope their report will empower consumers to purchase ethically, as there is a growing demand for transparency in supply chains following recent tragedies and investigations. We think it’s a further wake up call reminding companies to ensure their workers operate in a safe environment where they are rewarded and not exploited. 

The PR teams in some of the companies featured in the report now have their work cut out. A good Corporate Social Responsibility policy with ‘ethical’ stance is not enough. Nor is being able to name suppliers involved in the manufacturing level. From cotton picking to the shop floor, companies must ensure that trafficked labour is identified and stopped at all stages of their supply chain. Paying a living wage and providing western standards of health and safety in work environments will help to change the culture.

Australia has led the way with this report. Is this something other countries should be focussing on? How would the UK fare if the same research was conducted amongst UK based companies? What do you think? Let us know your comments below!
See the full report here

If you send one postcard this summer

 

 

A supporter signs his postcard. When will you sign yours?
A supporter signs his postcard. When will you sign yoursWe want Mondelēz to make Toblerone traffik-free and we need your help!

Here at STOP THE TRAFFIK we have just launched a new postcard campaign for traffik-free Toblerone and we want to work with you to get Mondelēz’s attention.

This summer, we want you to send a postcard to Mondelēz to ask them to take action and give a clear answer to our questions.

We have already sent out an amazing 6,500 postcards and requests are still coming in! It is inspiring to see that many ACTivists are asking for 20 plus postcards and planning to hold events in their schools, faith groups and local communities. We’ve even put together some ideas of how to get as many postcards signed as possible.

Be as creative and wacky as you like. From tea parties to a fancy-dress flash-mob. The more postcards we have, the bigger the impact.

So order your postcards today. Email info@stopthetraffik.org with your name, address and number of cards you would like. Then sign them, stamp them and send them back to us. We will be personally delivering these to Mondelēz’s Office on Thursday 18th October, Anti-Slavery Day. 

And it is as simple as that! 

So what is this all about? 

Thousands of STOP THE TRAFFIK campaigners from around the world have been in touch with Mondelēz (formerly Kraft) since November last year asking two key questions: 

  1.     When will Toblerone be traffik-free?
  2.     When will they release a public timeline committing to certifying the rest of their range?

In November 2012, we welcomed Mondelēz’s announcement that they would invest $400 million to help people in cocoa farming communities. However this ambitious plan had little information on certification or whether this money would be used to prevent child trafficking into cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast.

So we decided to give them a little help. Through our ‘Hey #Mondelēz, this is what a timeline looks like‘ campaign earlier in the year we encouraged Mondelēz to create a timeline for change.

Yet despite an announcement in July this year, Mondelēz have failed to provide any specific targets or deadlines.

So we are asking for more direct action and information. And this is where you come in. Order as many postcards as you like, hold an event, hand them out to friends and family and above all, encourage others to get involved too!

Two supporters proudly show with their signed postcards in London

So if you only send one postcard this summer, make sure it is asking this simple question: 

When will Toblerone be Traffik-Free? 

Cutting the GIFT box ribbon in the rain.

Community action: totally unwrapped.

On Saturday, at our STOP THE TRAFFIK Unwrapped event I can say without a doubt that Community Action to Combat Trafficking was eagerly and unreservedly unwrapped.

With over 250 participants from around the UK and beyond, the whole team were inspired and humbled by the passion and enthusiasm of the STOP THE TRAFFIK activists.  You people are amazing, thank you!

I was up at 6am to get into work and start setting up, as everyone arrived in the office the momentum for the day started to take shape. At 10am volunteers for the Olympic GIFT box project where trained; learning how to spread the message about the GIFT box and deal with any unexpected events from finding stray beer-cans littering the box in the morning to keeping up moral if the rain keeps falling.

At 12pm we launched the GIFT box, Ilias Chatzis from UN GIFT cut the ribbon of our box, and in true British weather style we gathered around under our umbrella’s. It was the very first outing of our new GIFT box, which only arrived in London the night before. Here are some pictures of the team putting up the box to give you a sneak preview of what everyone will see around London this summer, and the cutting of the ribbon. 

The GIFT box goes upCutting the ribbon around the GIFT box. Everyone gathers around the GIFT box

We were also joined by the Qatar Foundation to Combat Human Trafficking who had an exhibition outside the coffee shop. This is a fantastic relationship that started when Ruth Dearnley our CEO went to Qatar to speak at a conference. It is great to welcome them to London and share learning about our raising awareness during large sporting events.

The afternoon was all about sharing, learning and capacity building members; everything went on from chocolate to fundraising, from reaching vulnerable groups to running assemblies with schools. It was incredible to see everyone together from those who have been running ACT groups for years to people who had just stayed on from the morning but left moved and encouraged to get more involved.

A big thank you to all the activists and who travelled from far and wide to be with us; to all the speakers who came from other organisations who are working with and supporting STOP THE TRAFFIK; to UN GIFT for joining us in the launch of our joint project and to our very own Rebecca who did a super dooper job organising the day.

Were you there? If so we’d love to hear what you thought…praise, constructive criticism and ideas for next time all welcome!

Picture of the GIFT box

Are you going to the Olympics? We are!

The Queens’ Golden Jubilee this weekend is a tiny insight into the madness and mayhem we are about to witness with the Olympics just around the corner. Yes, the countdown is on! In just 56 days’ time over 9 million people will descend on our capital to watch the world’s best athletes compete.

It is an amazing opportunity for those who have made it, but we are focused on who else might see it as an opportunity. Fact: human trafficking takes place in London today. The facts we don’t know are whether the crowds and chaos this summer will give traffickers a helping hand.

So we are competing. Our race is to ensure that every person knows about human trafficking, every person can safe guard themselves and others, and every person is able to identify someone who may be vulnerable or at risk and know what to do. We hope to do this through our GIFT box.

Picture of the GIFT box

The GIFT box is a huge walk-in piece of public art. Disguised as a gift, the idea is to lure people into the box, just as victims of trafficking are often lured into their situation with false promises. Once inside they will learn, as victims of trafficking do, that all is not what it seems.

We know awareness and action can make a difference

 

Adam was 11 when he was taken from Nigeria and brought to London to stay with ‘Auntie’ who he’d never met before. Adam was forced into domestic servitude and regularly beaten.

Eventually, Auntie kicked him out and he was homeless. Adam met Tim, a youth worker, and told him his story. Tim immediately realised that Adam had been trafficked, He had been to a STOP THE TRAFFIK event so he knew what human trafficking was and what to do.

With STOP THE TRAFFIK’s help, Adam was placed in a safe house and has just been given the right to remain in the UK.

Through our box we want more people like Tim to be able to recognise the signs of trafficking and take action to protect people like Adam. The more boxes we can build the better!

So put aside worrying about congested tube lines and frantically planning a new route to work and instead help us BUILD A BOX. Donate now

Reports of unethical conditions for workers making Olympic mascots

Olympic mascots made by Chinese workers in exploitative conditions

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic games (LOCOM) has strict ethical guidelines for Olympic suppliers, however, The Sun exposed that these are not being met.

 

The Sun article states that the cuddly toy versions of the Olympic mascots, Mandeville and Wenlock, have been made in factories in China where workers are paid just 18p per a cuddly toy. Undercover investigators from Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), exposed the situation after visiting the Rainbow factory in Dafeng City twice. SACOM report that the workers in the factory are forced to work up to 11 ½ hours a day, with no holiday rights, fined a day’s wage for leaving their workspace untidy and told to lie to investigators about their conditions.

 

We are aware that there is a significant risk that trafficking in many forms could increase during the London Olympics. It is imperative that there is an immediate response to these reports that expose exploitative practises that could easily involve the trafficking of human beings. We expect to see the Olympic committee taking direct action to redress this situation and clearly demonstrate their commitment to ethical practises.

 

Read The Sun article here

Get involved with the GIFT box project and help us raise awareness about human trafficking during the Olympics

A smokey sweet global news round


 

Smokey

Activists in Africa are upset about the government’s decision to promote tobacco production but not just because smoking is predicted to be the leading cause of deaths worldwide by 2030 killing 8 million people a year. Tanzania has already seen an increase in trafficking onto tobacco plantations so if there is an increased demand for and production of tobacco due to the government’s promotions, there will almost certainly be an increase in human trafficking for forced labour on the tobacco plantations. Read more…

 

 Sweet

Two women in Brainerd, Illinois, USA wanted to be crime fighters as children and now that they are grown still want to help fight crime, just not in the traditional way. The women who share a passion for baking have a sweet dream to open a cupcake shop which will not only bring cheer to patrons but also raise awareness about human trafficking and help fundraise for victim care. Read more…

 

For more about how people are using cupcakes to raise awareness about human trafficking, check out STOP THE TRAFFIK Bristol’s cupcake campaign!

One year til the Olympics and we’re going on the road

One year from today, the Olympics will kick-off here in London and with the support of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, we are using this amazing opportunity to raise awareness about human trafficking through community roadshows.

Here’s the nitty gritty of what you need to know about the roadshows:

  • Why: Everyone needs to know what human trafficking is and how it affects them.
  • What: An interactive community workshop exploring the impact of trafficking and what we can do about it.
  • Where: Hosted by communities who want to lead the fight against trafficking and those that are hosting events for the 2012 Games.
  • Who by: STOP THE TRAFFIK team, police forces, local authorities, and community activists.
  • Who for: Anyone who wants to make their community harder for traffickers to operate in: local residents, community activists, community organisations, youth groups, faith groups, local charities, police officers, social workers, health workers, teachers, community services, and others.
We have roadshows planned for:
  •  Windlesham, Surrey – Thursday evening, October 13th
  •   Epsom, Surrey – Saturday afternoon, October 15th
  •   St Albans, Hertfordshire – Saturday afternoon, October 29th
  •   Newham, London – Monday evening, November 14th
  •   Birmingham, West Midlands – Saturday afternoon, November 19th
  •  Tower Hamlets, London -Thursday evening, November 24th (TBC)
  •   Islington, London-Tuesday mid-day, December 13th

If you want to REGISTER for a roadshow, email act@stopthetraffik.org with your name, address, and location you will be attending.

If you want to HOST a 2012 roadshow, email act@stopthetraffik.org to suggest a location for an event, a venue it could be held in, and the communities it could reach.

If you AREN’T IN THE UK you can still get involved by starting Travel Alert! in your community. All the resources to get started in your community on our website www.stopthetraffik.org/resources/travelalert.

Breaking the trafficking stereotype

Yesterday,  a man who was found guilty of trafficking women out of the UK, was sentenced to 20 years in jail. This was the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

Before an attempt was made to traffick two girls, 14 and 16, out of the country, the girls were imprisoned in the man’s UK home where he used their belief in Juju magic  to control them. Read the BBC news story here.

I remember when I was younger and first learned about trafficking, people thought of human trafficking as something that only happened somewhere else – ‘poor’ countries in Asia, Africa, or South America, maybe even Eastern Europe.

After time and a lot of awareness raising, I think more people are becoming aware that human beings are trafficked into countries all over the world – ‘rich’ and ‘poor.’ However, I think the stereotype still partially persists in that these are people from ‘poor’ countries in Asia, Africa, or South America, maybe even Eastern Europe.

Having grown up in the US, I understand how it can be hard for a lot of people to imagine that people are actually being trafficking OUT of some of the richest countries like the UK, USA, or Canada to ‘poorer’ countries but that is the reality. Human trafficking is not bounded by geographical borders, economic status, race, religion, gender, or age. Human trafficking is a universal problem that can take place in the backyard of your community, no matter if you live in an exclusive Beverly Hills community or Indonesian slums.

So now that you know trafficking can be taking place in your backyard, what can you do about?

You can join STOP THE TRAFFIK and do your part to make your community and communities around the world, hostile to human trafficking. Take part in the chocolate campaign, raise money for a girl’s education through Freedom Ticket For Life and/or join or start a local ACT group. Not everyone can dedicate all of their time to fighting human trafficking but there are a lot of small things you can do in your day to day life that can make a big difference.

If you are already a member of STOP THE TRAFFIK and want to tell us what you are doing or you want to find out what others are doing, head over to our Facebook page. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ us so you can keep up with our latest updates and you can Follow us on Twitter, too.

 

– Elizabeth, Intern at STOP THE TRAFFIK

Northern Ireland – Police can’t do it alone!

This week, a BBC investigation in Northern Ireland uncovered that up to £500,000 is spent every week on prostitution and police estimate there are 88 brothels in operation. Read more here.

Police said gangs can make millions of pounds a year by trafficking women in to the country and exploiting them. Northern Ireland has a higher demand for prostitution than many other areas in Europe and the authorities know that something needs to be done but the police are able to tackle it all. But the police shouldn’t have to do it alone. Communities also have a role in combating human trafficking. They need to increase their participation in making their neighbourhoods hostile to trafficking through involvement in awareness raising and community action.

Last week, one of our staff members was in Belfast delivering a workshop at a training day lead by Belfast City council and Migrant help line.  The event was attended by frontline professionals, services providers and community members who were passionate about wanting to understand the indicators of trafficking and how to appropriately respond/report if they came across cases.

“For me the value of the day was meeting those who represented their communities across Northern Ireland.  People wanted to know what role they could play in the fight to combat trafficking in Northern Ireland.” – STOP THE TRAFFIK staff

We have an ACT group in Craigavon  who are beginning to increase awareness and understanding of the issues so that Craigavon becomes a community where it is harder for traffickers to hide themselves and their victims.  If you’re in Northern Ireland (or anywhere else around the world!) why not start your own ACT group and do your part to make your neighbourhood traffik-free.

Stolen – new BBC drama addresses child trafficking

Sunday 3rd July, BBC1 will air it’s new 90-minute drama Stolen, from award-winning director Justin Chadwick

Stolen follows the story of one man, Anthony, and three children. Anthony works in the Human Trafficking Unit, battling to make a difference to the plight of exploited children being smuggled into the UK and from there, to anywhere and to any fate. (Courtesy of BBC Press Office)

Damian Lewis, who plays Anthony,  said

It makes you look at aeroplanes passing through the sky very differently. Is there a child on that plane that’s just been trafficked from wherever? And I think people who see this film will feel the same way. It goes on all around us in the shadows.” (In an interview with Ian Wylie

You can watch Stolen at 9pm Sunday, 3rd July on BBC1.

Once, you’ve watched it, head over to our Facebook page and tell us what you thought of it!

Can’t watch it on TV? You can watch it live online.

Can’t watch it live online? You can watch it on BBC iPlayer.

Can’t watch it on BBC iPlayer, we’ll keep you updated on cinema release dates!

Although BBC1 does broadcast in a lot of countries around the world, we know that not everyone will be able to view this amazing drama. We also know that a lot of  networks around the world are trying to raise awareness about human trafficking so tell us about TV dramas in your country that you think have addressed the issue of trafficking well!

————————————————————————————————————

03 July 2011, 11:30pm

I just watched Stolen and they did a really good job representing many of the forms of child trafficking.

What did you think?

Did you notice any times during the film that someone could have recognized the signs of trafficking and helped?

What about places where a poster or a flyer could have helped the victims?

Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you thought of the film.

If you want to do something to take action and help prevent and stop human trafficking, visit our website www.stopthetraffik.org to learn more about trafficking and see all the ways you can get involved.

 

Traffickers no longer ‘sleep tight’ at Travelodge

Staff at the Wyndham Travelodge San Diego, California were recently in the news for being complicit in human trafficking activity operating from within the hotel.

One activist heard about it on the news and started a campaign through Change.org

It can be hard to imagine that the slightly run down B&B around the corner from you or the luxury spa hotel in your town could possibly be a trafficking hot spot but time and time again hotels pop-up in the news linked to human trafficking. This is not the first well-known hotel chain we’ve written about; last year we highlighted the Hilton Hotel in China which lost its 5 star rating for running a brothel in the basement; as well as blogging about a trafficking ring selling a girls virginity in a London Hotel for  £150,000.

History has shown that the accommodation industry is a prime spot for trafficking activity but history doesn’t have to repeat itself. Global Travel Alert is a campaign to raise awareness about trafficking through two key areas where traffickers operate: the transport and accommodation sector.

Take action in your community: it’s easy, download the door-hanger, pick the biggest hotel to you, contact them and tell them how they can get onboard.

Take action when you travel: whether you’re a business traveller, having a holiday in the sun or a weekend break you could make a difference! Take the door-hanger to wherever you’re staying be it a resort, motel or lodge.

If every receptionist, chef, chambermaid, and every visitor knows what trafficking is, what the signs of trafficking are and what to do about it, then traffickers will soon find hotels have No Room for Trafficking!

 

Who works at the cannabis farm next door?

The Observer thinks the authorities are failing, but could communities also do more to identify potential cases of trafficking?

 

Recently the Observer highlighted the case of Hien, a 14 year old from Vietnam who was trafficked into the UK. Hien was picked up at Heathrow by the British authorities and was put into care but his traffickers caught up with him and he disappeared. He was found 6 months later during a raid on a cannabis farm.  Read more here

People like Hein trafficked to work in cannabis farms have been tricked or coerced by the traffickers. They are forced to work for long hours with little or no pay; they have often had their passport taken from them and are often threatened with or suffering from physical or mental abuse.

 

The Observer article calls for UK officials to up their game and improve their response to victims of trafficking. But should we rely only on official services to prevent trafficking? Or could Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ have a part to play?

 

A report in 2010 found that the number of cannabis factories in the UK were continuing to rise, the most recent figure being 7000 per year, which has more than doubled since the previous report was published in 2007. A large percentage of these are found in converted homes in residential areas. Therefore each one is likely to have a next-door neighbour, a community on the door-step that might notice something suspicious. Whether you call it Big Society or think that’s just a reinvention of good old community action, trafficking is something that we know can be prevented through increased community awareness and responsibility. Read the signs and know what you’re looking for. If you see anything that you think is suspicious, report it to the police as it could be a living nightmare for a victim of trafficking. If everyone knew what to look out for maybe more human trafficking victims like Hein could be found.

 

 

Possible indicators or a residential property turned into a cannabis farm:

  • The windows of the property are permanently covered from the inside
  • Visits to the premise occur at unusual times of the day or night
  • People do not seem to live in their premises but visits are regular
  • There may be a vent protruding through the roof or a rear window
  • There may be a pungent smell
  • Noise coming from various types of equipment (i.e. cooling fans)
  • Compost bags, black sacks, laundry bags or garden equipment left outside, usually in the rear of the premises.

Cut the strings of the trafficking puppet masters

Today, the London Metropolitan Police are spreading the word around London about their new human trafficking hotline which we hope will encourage victims and those who may know of victims to help cut the strings of their puppet-master traffickers.

STOP THE TRAFFIK are really excited to work with the Met police on this project. With today’s launch of the Met’s hotline, London joins cities around the world like Manila and Abu Dhabi, in which hotlines have seen great success in helping to alert authorities to potential trafficking situations, rescue victims, and eventually prosecute the traffickers.

Hotlines are fantastic tools to help combat human trafficking but they are only helpful if victims and communities know about them which is one of the reasons STOP THE TRAFFIK developed the GLOBAL TRAVEL ALERT! Victims are trafficked from a community and are trafficked into a community and although we aim to prevent trafficking before it happens, we also want to reach potential victims while they are in the process of travelling from one community to the next via car, train, bus, boat or plane.

No matter where you are in the world, you can use the Global TRAVEL ALERT! to help spread the word about your local hotline or number victims and community members can contact to receive help and support. Getting involved is really simple! All you need to do is download the resources from our webpage, customize them to meet your community’s needs and then start spreading the word in your community at hotels, bus and train stations, schools, churches, community centers, everywhere!

The poster is great for hanging in toilets in travel centers like bus and train stations. Just adapt it with a local phone number people can pull-off and take with them.

Ask your local hotels to put door hangers in each of their rooms. You can even give them to friends and family and ask them to take them with them when they travel to hang up.

We’ve also created a fold-up luggage label you add a local number to and also add an organisational logo to if you want! Pass them out to travellers in your community so they can stick it in their wallet and will always know who to call if they need to.

If you’ve got any questions about bringing TRAVEL ALERT! to your community, e-mail us at info@stopthetraffik.org

What are your favourite trafficking films?


A team of New York University (NYU) postgraduate students are getting ready to film Brave Girl, which will tell the story of Bumika, a 13-year old Nepali girl, who is trying to “change the heart of a kidnapper before her fate is out of her control.”

We are really excited about this film! With each new film about human trafficking there is an opportunity to reach a new audience and raise awareness around the issue so hopefully Erin Galey and her team can raise the funds they need to complete their project. You can find out more about the film here.

What are your favourite (or least favourite) films about trafficking? Any recommendations? When I was explaining what we do at STOP THE TRAFFIK and what human trafficking is to my 16-year old ‘sister’ she were struggling to understand, so since she lives a few miles east of Hollywood I thought a movie reference might help. I asked if she’d seen Taken and obviously she had because I saw an expression of understanding, and then horror, come over her face. I’ve only seen Taken once and I have to admit, before I started at STOP THE TRAFFIK, it was my go-to reference when I needed to explain trafficking to someone. After I started here, I was so disappointed when someone told me the film never actually mentions “human trafficking,” I was especially bummed since it is one of only two films that come to mind when I need a spur of the moment pop-culture reference for trafficking – Slum Dog Millionaire is the other one. We get asked to recommend films all the time for various national and international films festivals; leave us a comment and tell us which ones would you recommend?


You don’t have to be a budding director or have a huge budget to make a film to raise awareness about human trafficking! A lot of our activists use their talents to produce films about human trafficking and I’m  in awe at the amount of creativity they have. Last month we launched the global TRAVEL ALERT! and we want our activists to hold a summit to raise awareness within their local hotel and/or transport industries. We also want you to have some fun and stage a prank to get publicity for your summit! You could stage a hotel room on your high street with a mattress, friends donning their favourite PJs and some event flyers or you could organize a flash mob at your local train/bus station, whatever you can think of, film it and put it on YouTube to spread the word! For details, check out our how-to guide.


ACT Sheffield on the telly!

A fantastic ACT group based at Sheffield Hallam University were asked to feature on the ITV news!

The programme is called ITV fixers and helps people ages 18-25 achieve various projects. They were raising awareness of the internal trafficking of British nationals and the ITV were so impressed, they had little documentary made about what they were doing.

You can check it our here http://www.itv.com/yorkshire/human-trafficking46090/

ACT groups rule.

Bloody cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire

 

People have been asking me what our take is on what’s going on in Cote d’Ivoire at the moment. Is the unrest there affecting the trafficking of kids onto the plantations? What is our response?

I want to take some time explaining it, but in a way that is short and simple to understand (hopefully!).

First things first: what *is* going on in Cote d’Ivoire at the moment?

Last November, elections were held for the first time since a cease-fire after a hard fought civil war that ended. The elections were won by a man called Allassane Ouatarra, leader of one the two factions involved in the civil war. However, the previous president, Laurent Gbagbo, from the opposing faction, has refused to step down. Ouatarra is supported by the international community, Gbagbo by the Ivorian army.

Unrest between the two sides has been increasing, it seems civil war is once again imminent and the situation is constantly evolving (click here for today’s latest news update)

Ouatarra called on Western countries to stop buying Ivorian cocoa (their number one export) as cocoa money has been used by Gbagbo to fund his military.  Though this ban is mostly in effect, it is primarily hurting the cocoa farmers at the moment, since they’re having a hard time finding buyers for their cocoa. Also, it has increased the smuggling of cocoa into neighboring countries.  You’ve heard of blood diamonds, is this the cocoa equivalent?

At present there are hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire just sitting there, unable to move. For the cocoa that is already dried and fermented, waiting in the large warehouses of the ports, it’s not a big issue. That cocoa will remain good for a long time. However, there is also a lot of cocoa in transit & still on the farms that is starting to go bad. The timing of this is disastrous, as this harvest was the first good harvest in years for the farmers. Now they have finally got a large, excellent quality harvest, but they can’t sell it.

So that’s one part of the issue: the ban on cocoa is bad for the farmers. It’s also not so good for Gbagbo, who is currently a de facto military dictator, but the question to be asked right now is whether the cure is worse than the disease. Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I do know a lot of people are suffering.

However, there is also the issue of human trafficking onto the cocoa plantations & the work that is being done to fight that. As you can imagine, having a country that is divided, with fighting going on, is not really helping the initiatives aimed at reducing the trafficking of children forced to work on the cocoa plantation.

In fact, during the last civil war, the cocoa crops financed a lot of the fighting. Children were trafficked to finance the war. The danger is that this will happen again.

STOP THE TRAFFIK is very concerned about the current situation, and is watching developments closely. We’re working together with this in a group of European trade unions and NGO’s called VOICE, where we’re sharing the latest information & trying to come up with good answers to the situation. At the very least, STOP THE TRAFFIK call on the cocoa companies involved in the cocoa production there to put as much pressure as they can on all parties to stop the fighting, to not be involved in financing the violence, and to push for a peaceful solution at the shortest possible time.

If the global cocoa industry were to take a joint stand, we are sure they could make a significant difference. In the meantime, make sure you as consumers continue to push for more Traffik Free chocolate in your local stores. Eventually, paying a decent price and ensuring proper labour conditions are some of the important long-term solutions in this tasty product

Antonie Fountain: STOP THE TRAFFIK Netherlands

E-learning tools launched on International Woman’s day

On International Women’s Day a joint e-learning initiative between Metropolitan Housing Partnership (MHP) and STOP THE TRAFFIK was launched to educate and raise awareness of human trafficking among authorities, communities, and the public.

These e-learning modules explain what human trafficking is, the signs of trafficking people should look out for, and what people can do if they suspect trafficking is happening in their community.

Barbara Roche, Chair of Metropolitan Housing Partnership, said “Trafficking ruins lives. We know, for example that there are many instances that involve the exploitation of children.  If you know what trafficking is, what it looks like, and who to tell, you could play a key part in securing someone’s freedom.” Barbara continued: “We will be providing this online training to our staff, and are looking at ways to make it available to our residents too. We at MHP are proud to be working with STOP THE TRAFFIK to raise awareness and improve the lives of the victims of human trafficking.”

To register go to www.traffickingaware.org

A second module has been especially designed for teachers who may come into trafficked children or those at risk on a day-to-day basis but not realise it. This module has been written in collaboration with Off the Record (a fantastic NGO working with unaccompanied asylum seekers and refugees) and the Croydon Community against Trafficking. It is in the final phase of development and will be available to schools and teachers with an accompanying work book. If you are interested in this specialist resource, please email victoria.kuhr@stopthetraffik.org

Women of the world UNITE!

Today is International Woman’s Day!

Today is the day we put our feet up and celebrate the very simple fact that we are and (in most cases) always will be women.

Wondering what to write, the women in our office tried to think of reasons why it is great to be a woman. Ourlist started with things like; we have soft skin, we are nurturing, we wear nice pants…  I was very quickly reminded how lucky I am being a woman in the UK.

Today, as I sit here with the sun streaming through the window, a friend I met at an anti-trafficking conference in Egypt is inspiring her fellow women to meet in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to use this day both a celebration and as a way of re-connecting with a political voice that was taken away and forgotten.

As I sit here, I know there are women and young girls working in a brothel I visited as part of a project run by Oasis India. I can see it perfectly; a narrow house in the middle of a district famous for its sex industry. Small sprawling rooms no bigger that a sauna but just as warm with at least 8-10 young women and girls in each, waiting for customers with a man guarding the door….. I think they would find my list insulting.

As I sit here with my Masters Degree I think about the girls denied an education because they are girls or because there are no girl’s toilets in their school or because the school is too far away. Pretty grim isn’t it?

To stop me hurling myself out the window in despair, I think a little bit deeper….

Sally in Egypt has taken to the streets. She may be surrounded by hundreds of empowered women, she may be there yelling on her own, it doesn’t matter how many people are there – the movement has start somehow. Admirably she has the drive to get up and fight for what she believes in.

I can see women sat in Mumbai’s brothels but I can also see the tiny lady from Oasis India talking to them and holding my arm for support. They won’t stop fighting for India’s untouchables.

Then I read an email from 3 mums in Australia who are taking part in Freedom Ticket for Life and want to raise money to get vulnerable girls into school.

Life’s funny isn’t it?

We are women and women rock. We have a voice; we should always use it because one thing we are good at is shrieking.

An excited to be a woman Victoria Kuhr

Global Newsround 01.03.2011

Argentina In an attempt to curtail human trafficking within it’s borders, the Argentinean government is considering punishing anyone who pays for sex. The proposal has started a heated debate between women’s rights groups and sex workers. The Association of Women Prostitutes stress the difference between sex work where consent is given, and trafficking which they condemn.   Read more… http://www.insidecostarica.com/special_reports/2011/2011-02/argentina-sex-trafficking-clients.htm

US Memphis, Tennessee is once again a battleground over slavery where officials are trying to put and end to trafficking. Memphis is an ideal location for trafficking because it sits at the intersection of two major highways near an international airport. Women are brought in from all over the mid-south and outside of the US and forced into sex work, beaten and their life threatened. After success with Craigslist.org, officials are now working to bring an end the ‘adult services’ section on Backpage.com where trafficking victims have been recruited. The southern states are banning together again to bring an end to an institution they once fought to keep. Read more http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14156211

US, Houston. 500 Indian guest workers are bringing a law suit against Signals International for human trafficking. They were brought to America to work in shipyards after Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast in 2005. The workers alleged that they were lured to the U.S. with promises of becoming legal permanent U.S. residents and threatened, subjected to substandard living conditions and fraudulent payment.   If they are successful, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stated that this will be the largest human trafficking case in U.S. History. Read more http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/nri/news/Over-500-Indian-guest-workers-sue-US-company-for-human-trafficking-/articleshow/7548222.cms

Nepal, Kathmandu, you can order girls for dinner along with your main course. Of course sex isn’t actually on the menu but that doesn’t mean it’s not for sale in many of the 1,200 dance and cabin restraunts in the city. After a raid the men are often released on bail while the girls are forced through “inappropriate exams and worse.” Even with the help of victim advocates agencies, many of the girls find it hard to take up a normal life due social stigma. Read more http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/southasia/features/article_1622723.php/Teenage-girls-trapped-in-Nepal-restaurant-prostitution-Feature