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.

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

Read the full press release here

Change is happening in the chocolate industry

We are delighted that Nestlé have made a public announcement stating that they are on target to achieve 100% cocoa from sustainable sources by the end of 2015, becoming the first major confectionery company in UK and Ireland to achieve this milestone.

It has been confirmed that by the end of 2015 all Nestlé confectionery containing cocoa sold within the in UK and Ireland will be certified through either UTZ or Fairtrade.

This is a great step forward! Certification through credible, independent standards bodies such as Fairtrade, UTZ Certified, and Rainforest Alliance, is a key step in eradicating child trafficking in the chocolate industry.


Send Nestlé a message through social media to thank them for making this commitment to certify their entire chocolate range. Here are some suggestions:

Thank you @Nestle for certifying your entire chocolate range in the UK & Ireland by the end of 2015! #togetherwecan @stopthetraffik

Thank you @Nestle for your commitment to @stopthetraffik in your supply chains.

We can’t wait to buy #traffikfree @Nestle products! Thank you for certifying more of your range!

Download this image to put in your post:

Why not send a selfie? – Take a #selfie with you and a @Nestle kitkat an
d post your thank you message with the hashtags #traffikfree #selfie and tag @stopthetraffik


This week the Fair Labor Association (FLA) released their audit of the farms in Nestlé’s Cocoa Plan in Cote d’Ivoire. Assessors found four children under the age of 15 working in the cocoa fields, as well as one case of forced labour (child trafficked labour) involving a young worker from Burkina Faso, believed to be 15, who had been working without pay or documentation since he was 13. 

The Nestlé Cocoa Plan “seeks to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities, addressing child labour while improving productivity and ensuringSustainable cocoa 1 website the flow of good quality, sustainable cocoa”. Nestlé have made commitments to eliminate the use of child labour across the cooperatives within the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. In response to this finding Nestlé said “As a company, we are doing all we can but we acknowledge that, as long as children work on cocoa farms, there will always be more to do” Sandra Martinez, Global Head of Chocolate and Confectioner.

STOP THE TRAFFIK commends Nestlé for their Cocoa Plan and their partnership with the FLA which has resulted in these children being found. Of course, we look forward to the day when no child trafficked labour is found in chocolate production, but discovering these children means they can be remediated and the problem can be addressed. 

Finding these children gives us a clear picture that child trafficking is still occurring in Cote d’Ivoire. It sends a message to chocolate producers that there is still more to be done to totally eradicate human trafficking.

If you are interested in reading the full report and the actions Nestlé is planning please go to  


We would like to see Nestlé’s commitments go even further. We ask Nestlé to publicly release their intentions to expand their Cocoa Plan (which currently covers 20% of their cocoa supply chain) and commit to 100% certification of every chocolate product sold around the world. We would like to see the Nestlé Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System rolled out across the whole of the cocoa supply chain and the see evidence of the financial commitment that Nestlé are prepared to make to tackle the crime of human trafficking. 


Since 2006, together we have put pressure on the chocolate industry. Together we have raised our voice on behalf of those who have been trafficked and exploited. The recent announcements from Nestlé demonstrate that your voice has been heard. Because of your actions, the industry is changing, thank you!

At STOP THE TRAFFIK we believe prevention of human trafficking is essential. Behind every break-through like this there is a lot of research, negotiation, education, awareness raising and resource development for campaigning. That all costs money.  We thank you, our activists, for your part in campaigning and ask you to support us financially so together we can continue to STOP THE TRAFFIK.

To make a donation today visit:

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.


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

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.


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.



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>


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


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.





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


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 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:

Facebook page:



chain checker

Human trafficking is not a straightforward challenge for a business, regardless of its size. Businesses are often unaware of the unethical and sometimes criminal behaviour of others in their supply chain and the legal, reputational and operational risks associated.

Even if business owners possess a basic understanding of human trafficking and think their organisation could be vulnerable due to the locations in which they operate, how can they find out? The perceived scale of understanding what areas of your business and supply chain could be unwittingly supporting the crime and implementing policies, procedures and processes to stop this poses a huge barrier.  As a consequence, businesses have tended to concentrate on their core business activities and have other Corporate Social Responsibility targets and priorities.

What has become clear in recent months is that the CSR landscape is changing and businesses have to take note of the increasing, collective voice emanating from consumers, activists, governments, intergovernmental and international organisations about the atrocities of human trafficking and the responsibility that lies with the business community.  One of the most pertinent of these voices being the UN and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The truth is that any organisation may find it extremely difficult to trace their multi-national and possibly fragmented supply chain.  This is why we must begin with a risk-based approach.  If companies can begin to identify areas of high risk and focus on these, to ask questions of their suppliers and their supplier’s suppliers, they can start to make that change.

Finance Against Trafficking aim to be the enabler for businesses to take on the challenge of human trafficking, helping them to understand the impact it could have on them, the areas of their business most vulnerable and to provide them with the tools and guidance necessary to minimise the risk.

To do this Finance Against Trafficking offer a number of different services to businesses, the most notable recent addition to which is ChainChecker.  An online, question-based tool, ChainChecker is designed to be used by anyone who works within a business and enables them to understand the areas of their business at risk.  It will highlight key areas of concern and provide practical guidance and actions you can take to minimise the risk that your organisation is unintentionally using forced, bonded or child labour and supporting human trafficking.

ChainChecker is intended to be the first step businesses can take to understand their risk, responsibility and the action they can take to prevent them being directly or indirectly involved with human trafficking.

To find out more about ChainChecker, how it works and to take advantage of the limited offer of £50 to sign up!

click here to go straight to the website.

It’s good to talk: An update on our meeting with Mondelēz International

we want traffik free chocolateThis spring thousands of STOP THE TRAFFIK activists around the world showed the world’s largest chocolate company just how passionately they feel about ending child trafficking in the cocoa supply chain.

The momentum was incredible!

Over 10, 000 messages were sent to Mondelēz International calling on them to demonstrate their commitment to tackling child trafficking within their cocoa supply chains by certifying their entire chocolate range. Our Thunderclap reached over 100,000 twitter accounts and Mondelez’s Facebook page was flooded with messages from STOP THE TRAFFIK activists.

We received hundreds of messages expressing why certification is so important to you. Here are just a couple:

“Being transparent to the world and being honest is something consumers love to see. Building on trust is so important, and it sets standards for other companies to follow”

“Certification acts as a way of measuring the difference made to the supply chain. Certification increases company transparency. Certification keeps companies accountable.”

Mondelēz heard you!

As a result of our collective consumer power, Mondelēz agreed to meet with STOP THE TRAFFIK to discuss the demands of our campaign. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions and comments ahead of the meeting.

So how did it go?

We engaged in a very constructive conversation and we would like to thank Francesco Tramontin- Director of External Affairs, Europe for flying to the UK to meet with us. We expressed the urgency of tackling child trafficking in the chocolate industry. Since 2001 we have seen chocolate companies make commitments to eradicating this horrendous crime from within their supply chains and yet in 2014, trafficking and exploitation continue to be hidden ingredients within our favourite chocolate products. This must stop.

What did we hear? 

We heard about the progress being made through Mondelez’s $400 million Cocoa Life Initiativeand their desire to see the eradication of child trafficking from their cocoa supply chain. The Cocoa Life Initiative seeks to develop a holistic approach to transforming cocoa communities – one that includes elimination of child labour, gender equality and education as measures for success – all of which are important outcomes for cocoa communities to thrive.

Plans don’t go far enough

These plans are definitely steps in the right direction and we are pleased to see this initial commitment however much of the detail on their programmes is still lacking. What percentage of their cocoa farmers will benefit from this Cocoa Life program? How much of their cocoa is currently certified? Who and how will their program be independently audited?

We called on Mondelēz to take ambitious steps to ensure that the plans they implement to address trafficking encompass their entire cocoa production.  As consumers we want Mondelēz to demonstrate their commitment to us through certifying their entire range of chocolate.

We were assured that detailed plans will be coming soon. A national situation assessment is currently underway within the Cote D’Ivoire and baseline reporting will be available later this year. Please see here for a formal response to some of our questions.

Key points:

There are still far too many unanswered questions and a lack of transparent details. We look forward to seeing further details soon.

A measure of any commitment is the speed of change. Change is inevitably connected the financial commitment made to tackling this issue. 

Our campaigning is essential to changing this industry. We must not give up until child trafficking ends.

Thank you for being part of this campaign. Our campaign continues.



Nigerian girls kidnapped: the devastating face of human trafficking

nigerian girlsOn Sunday 14 April in the middle of the night, more than 300 girls aged 12-15 were kidnapped at gun point, in the village of Warabe, in Borno state, Nigeria. As the eyes of the world’s media have followed this devastating story it has now become apparent that Abubakar Shekau has threatened to “sell” the girls.

This situation may at first present itself as unusual but when we take a second look at this horrific act of brutality,  we see another instance of human trafficking – force, fear, exploitation and greed: girls sold, money made and freedom lost.

As a world we cannot sit by and allow this to happen to these girls. Those who can,  must act. 

As a world we cannot sit by and allow this to happen to anyone.

Every day this crime takes place irrespective of race and place . A crime where people are the product and everyone has a price tag.  

This crime must stop.

STOP THE TRAFFIK believe that the only way to disrupt this growing global trade is for individuals and society to see this crime, talk about it, and take action to disrupt this global system! All stakeholders must be involved in tackling this crime. A strong voice and commitment is needed from all governments worldwide in order to stand together in the fight against human trafficking. We believe the key is for society, government and business to share knowledge, information and resources that can be used to empower vulnerable communities, making them safe, and to disrupt the traffickers’ trade.

Chocolate unwrapped: the truth behind your chocolate

Easter Egg image

With Easter fast approaching, the cravings for chocolate are kicking in! The rich, indulgent appeal of chocolate is just too tempting to pass up. When Easter rolls around, I usually cannot wait to pick up the nearest gooey Cadbury’s Crème Egg.

But did you know the darker side of chocolate?

  1. Estimates of child labour on cocoa farms in the Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, vary from 300,000 to 1 million between 2007-2013. [1]We know that a portion of these children have been trafficked.
  2. Thousands of boys as young as 10yrs old, from the Cote D’Ivoire and neighbouring countries, are trafficked to pick and harvest these beans.
  3.  The freedom of children is taken and they are forced to work long hours on the cocoa plantations without receiving any money for their work.

We’ve been campaigning with your help since 2007 to unearth the darker side of chocolate – and to introduce companies to the hidden side of their supply chain. Global chocolate companies have the power to change the industry. We, as consumers, have the power to show chocolate companies that we care about who makes our chocolate.

We know that the chocolate companies have heard our demands. Over the past few years, there has been a wave of promises to change. Carolyn Kitto, from STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia, says, “The cocoa industry has been quick to promise and slow to deliver. We are not talking about small companies without the capacity to act.”

Mondelez has achieved one chocolate of five in our Chocolate Box
Mondelez has achieved one chocolate of five in our Chocolate Box – The Big 5 Ranked

Ferrero have stated they will purchase a total of 20,000 tonnes of Fairtrade certified cocoa over the next three years. Haigh’s has certified its entire Easter range with UTZ Certified: 70% of the beans they source from around the world now come from UTZ Certified farms. This is a major endorsement for both Fairtrade and the fight for #traffikfreechocolate.

Mondelēz International, owners of Cadbury’s and Milka, are lagging behind. This Easter we’re urging Mondelēz International to set a public deadline for their certification of their entire chocolate range. This means we want to see a Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified logo on every chocolate product.

This Easter we have range of simple campaign actions. We believe no child should have to be trafficked to make our chocolate this year. Please join this journey towards #traffikfreechocolate:

  1. We want Mondelēz International to hear us loud and clear, as together we say, we want certified chocolate this Easter. Please sign our petition – let’s deliver 10,000 signatures to them by the end of Easter Sunday.
  2. We have launched a thunderclap! You can show your support of this campaign and spread the message via your social media platforms. The thunderclap will send a simultaneous tweet, amplifying our campaign message, on April 17th. Join us!
  3. Post a message on Mondeléz’s Facebook page asking them to take action.


Mondeléz are the largest chocolate company in the world, owning some of the top chocolate brands. They have the ability to make a huge difference within the chocolate industry.

Only with your help can we apply pressure to Mondeléz and show them we care about child trafficking within the chocolate industry.

Lend us your support for #traffikfreechocolate this Easter.


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.

Are You a #FashionVictim?

If you were pressed, would you admit to being a fashion victim? Have a think: how many clothes have you bought in the past week, month or year? You might secretly admit to being a fashion victim because you buy clothes you don’t necessarily need but you just can’t live without…

But do you know who made the clothes you are wearing?

It is a little known fact that over 200,000 young women and girls are trafficked to work in the cotton industry in the Tamil Nadu region of India. Thousands of European and North American brands and retailers regularly source their clothes from Tamil Nadua in India, for a total value of around 80 million Euros. This means that trafficked women and girls might have made the clothes you and I are wearing – clothes bought from well-known high street retailers.

Think you’re a fashion victim? Think again.

These are the real fashion victims: the women and girls who spin and weave the clothes that we find in our favourite clothing retailers, branded with our favourite clothing labels.

Women and girls as young as 14 are trafficked into The Sumangali Scheme, which operates under the guise of an ‘apprenticeship opportunity’. Registered as apprentices, instead of as workers, they work for 12 hours a day (the legal limit is 8 hours) and are often required to do up to 4 hours of overtime – for no additional pay.

We believe everyone involved in the making of our clothes should have the right to a healthy and safe working environment – and we think that you have the right to know where your cotton comes from. Speaking to Voice of Russia, our CEO Ruth Dearnley said, “The responsibility is on the retailers, they need to be accountable for the profits they are making. Responsibility is also on us. I want to be able to put on clothes that are traffik free. Those girls today are connected in our global family to what I’m wearing.”

Our supply chains mean that when I put my clothes on in the morning, I’m connected to that 14-year-old girl,” says Dearnley. “I may never see her but she is providing the cotton and weaving and spinning it.

We have been to India and met some of the girls who experienced the scheme. They asked us for one thing: to go and tell people what is going on, and to stop the scheme. We promised them we would.

We want to end the Sumangali scheme and end Make Fashion Traffik-Free, but in order to achieve this, we need you! Change only happens when we work together.

As consumers, together we have a very powerful voice. Together we can change the fashion industry. Most people think that the way they shop isn’t going to do anything – but it does. As a valued customer at your favourite brand or retailer, your voice matters. Next time you are out shopping, take a signed Make Fashion Traffik-Free postcard into your favourite high street retailer urging them to take action. Together we can Make Fashion Traffik-Free.

You can follow the debate on Twitter by using the hash-tag #fashionvictim. Read the rest of Ruth’s interview with Voice of Russia here:  UK fashion retailers urged to scrutinise supply chains to curb trafficking.

Alleged slavery case shines light on need for awareness of exploitation

Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Did you see last week’s news? An unprecedented case of alleged modern-day slavery was revealed, with three women released from an unnoticed 30 years of captivity.

Whilst details remain unclear, further investigations by police have revealed that the women were likely subject to extreme emotional control and psychological abuse. A criminal psychologist on the BBC commented that the recent details of those involved “appeared to suggest a ‘kind of political cult’ or ‘enforced commune’ was in effect holding the captives ‘almost in a psychological cage’”.

Whether this is officially stamped as a case of human trafficking or not remains to be seen. However, what is clear is that this situation was taking place on an ordinary residential street in central London and no one seemed to know.

It raises the issue about how we inform people of modern-day slavery and ensure they know what to look for, and what to do if they see something suspicious. Not just neighbours and people in the local community should know how to spot the signs, but also the local authorities and frontline professionals.

It has been claimed that at least one of the women involved had attempted to escape, with local authorities subsequently becoming involved with the household. The three women are believed to have interacted with public services throughout these 30 years, leading to the question: how did this go unnoticed?

A key factor is that often frontline professionals have not been trained in how to spot the signs of human trafficking and the different types of exploitation. Significant signs can be interpreted in many ways, for example limited access to a person’s legal documents, lack of self-esteem and distrust of authorities could indicate a variety of circumstances. However, they are also signs that a person could be in a situation where they are being exploited. This case highlights how essential it is that frontline professionals are trained to spot the signs so fewer cases of exploitation go unnoticed.

Through our ‘Spot the Traffik’ resources, frontline professionals and their communities can learn to know what exploitation looks like and who to tell, and take action in their area through STOP THE TRAFFIK groups.


We had a busy few days and spoke to many different media outlets about the issues surrounding slavery and human trafficking. See the coverage:

Katie Barker, UK Community Action Coordinator on ITV and quoted in the Guardian.

Katie Barker, UK Community Action Coordinator, on ITV.
Katie Barker, UK Community Action Coordinator, on ITV.

We commend Freedom Charity, who helped these women to safety, and hope that this case will spur communities to make a change and work to sense it, spot it and stop it.

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.


  • 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.


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 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? 

Stay cool and buy certified ice cream


It’s July and in Britain we are in the middle of a sweltering heat wave. Months of performing sun dances have finally paid off and the temperatures are rising. What could be a better treat in the heat than some lovely certified ice cream? 

The first step in taking a stand against human trafficking is changing your buying habits. We’ve already had a series on Ethical Consumerism on this blog, which you can find here if you missed it or want to refresh your memory. As you may already know we at STOP THE TRAFFIK are committed to demanding that chocolate companies meet the criteria for the six steps that we believe are necessary to bring about the end of child-trafficking in the cocoa industry. 

One of the key steps is certification. We believe that when you buy any product, you endorse it and all that went into its production. This doesn’t just apply to chocolate. When buying food products such as cocoa, coffee, vanilla, bananas and sugar look for certification labels such as Fairtrade, UTZ certified and Rainforest Alliance. These are the marks of credible, independent standards bodies that show the working conditions meet their requirements and are also a key step in eradicating trafficking in the food industry.

So what significance does this have on my favourite ice cream I hear you cry? Well many of the products listed above are key ingredients in the making of ice cream. Thousands of children as young as ten are trafficked to the Cote D’Ivoire to pick and harvest cocoa beans.  Children as young as 8 years old have been linked to vanilla production and forced labour is sadly also prominent in sugar production. Unfortunately, the ice cream industry appears to be lacking in the range of certified products that are on offer.

But there is still hope for ice cream lovers!

  • Ben and Jerry’s have predominantly Fairtrade certified ice creams in a range of flavours.
  • Magnum  have recently become Rainforest Alliance certified as well.
  • Some supermarkets, such as Waitrose have a Fairtrade certified own-brand ice creams so it is worth popping into your local store to browse the aisles.

Are there any that we’ve missed? Comment below and let us know!

Or how about you make your own? 

I think the best way to ensure that your ice cream is made using certified and ethically-sourced products is by making your own. For example this recipe for vanilla ice cream is beautifully simple. By choosing Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ certified ingredients you can make your own at home and I’m sure it will taste 100% better- homemade and traffik-free!

When staying cool this summer, the sourcing of your favourite ice cream may be the last thing on your mind. But when buying or making an ice cream treat make sure you look for certified products to ensure your frozen treat won’t leave you with a bitter taste.

What is your favourite certified ice cream? Comment below or on our Facebook page to let us know!

The stories behind the stats

Human Trafficking has many faces. Every day people become trapped into situations of exploitation akin to slavery. They arrive there through deception or force; taken against their will and sold into any and every industry you can think of.

Perhaps you have become a bit lost in a swirl of statistics. We can bandy around figures to make you gasp in horror at the scale of the atrocity but if, like me, you’re not a stats person, it might be helpful to bring it back to the real people and real lives behind the numbers.

Below you will find some resources which may be of use; whether for your own interest and understanding, or if you are thinking of raising awareness and profiling the issue of Human Trafficking in your local community. These are just some of the broadcast news reports, investigative articles, documentaries and dramas from the last couple of years which examine Human Trafficking and help us put a human face back on to the issue if the stats have left us confounded or, simply, a little fatigued.

Britain‘s Child Beggars,  BBC One Panorama  – 19/10/11
John Sweeney
Reporter John Sweeney tracks down the begging gangs to luxury homes in Romania, where he confronts the adults forcing the children to beg.

Honduras’ Lost girls, Channel Four – Unreported World, 08/06/2012
Ramita Navai, Talya Tibbon
Unreported World investigates the mysterious disappearance of hundreds of young Honduran women. They discover that many of them have been enticed to travel to Mexico with the promise of jobs but end up trafficked to brothels and forced to work in the sex industry.

The Fishing Industry’s Cruellest Catch, Businessweek, 02/12
E. Benjamin Skinner
On March 25, 2011, Yusril became a slave. That afternoon he went to the East Jakarta offices of Indah Megah Sari (IMS), an agency that hires crews to work on foreign fishing vessels.

The Witch Doctor’s Children, Our World, BBC World News, 12/10/2011
Chris Rogers
Over the last four years, at least 400 African children have been abducted and trafficked to the UK and rescued by the British authorities, according to figures obtained by the BBC. It is unclear how they are smuggled into the country but a sinister picture is emerging of why.

Trafficked: Sex slaves seduced and sold  (4 parts), BBC
Laura Trevelyan, David Botti, Ignacio de los Reyes, Chuck Tayman, Nada Tawfik, Mark Bryson, Claire Shannon, Luke Ward
Every year thousands of women are forced into prostitution and traded from Mexico to the United States. The BBC investigates the sex trafficking business, which makes some men very wealthy at the expense of vulnerable young women.

Trafficking in Britain: ‘For five months I asked when I would get a job, but all I did was clean their home’ Observer 06/11/11
Jamie Doward
Men from Eastern Europe are the latest victims of gangs who are promising jobs in Britain but delivering a life of virtual slavery

Romania and India, BBC radio, 7/2011
Becky Milligan
Becky Milligan goes on the trail of the pimps who entice Romanian girls into the sex trade;

Lover Boys, Al-Jazeera English, 5/2012
Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare

This is the story of Ibrahim, a Dutch-Moroccan man tackling the taboo problem of sex-trafficking within his community

The long path to freedom, CNN – 03/2012
John D Sutter, Edythe McNeme .
Mauritania’s endless sea of sand dunes hides an open secret: An estimated 10% to 20% of the population lives in slavery.

British men forced into ‘modern slavery’ abroad, BBC Radio 5,  01/02/2012
Alison Holt and Owen Phillips
Criminal elements of the British and Irish travelling community have been transporting
vulnerable British men abroad to work as virtual slaves.

 The price of cheap clothes?,  BBC Today Programme, 01/06/2012
Mike Thomson

Correspondent Mike Thomson has travelled to Tamil Nadu in Southern India to investigate claims that Indian textile firms, which supply some of Britain’s biggest high street retailers, are operating near slave labour conditions.

To find out how you can join the fight to combat trafficking check out

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

British sex gangs documentry on tonight

Dispatches documentry tonight at 10.30, channel 4 investigating British gangs grooming young girls for sex.

The programme highlights the grooming of young girls for sexual exploitation, an issue linked closely to internal trafficking.

True Vision describe the film on their website;

Later this month the Minister for Children and Families will launch an action plan outlining what the coalition proposes to do to tackle the problem of sex gangs grooming then abusing vulnerable children and young adults on the streets of Britain.

Recent research suggest that thousands of children are potentially being abused by street grooming gangs: and this may only be tip of the iceberg, as experts believe many crimes of this nature go unreported, partly because of sensitivities over race.

Dispatches reveals that over the last four years a disproportionately high number of men convicted of these crimes are British Pakistani.   Our investigation also shows this type of crime has been going on for many years. 

Tazeen Ahmad investigates why British Pakistani men are over represented in convictions for this pattern of crime, and hears from some quarters of the Pakistani community in the UK that say enough is enough, and that now is the time for decisive action on the issue. 

She meets victims of grooming and their parents whose lives have been torn apart, in an attempt to understand how girls as young as 12 have been targeted by these gangs, and then so terrorised and brainwashed that they keep the secret of their ordeal hidden for years. 

In a particularly shocking encounter she talks to two young Pakistani men who explain in detail how grooming by gangs is perpetrated, why virgins are more highly prized, and how the commerce of this type of brutal exploitation unfolds.  

Analysing in detail recent cases in Derby and Rotherham, Tazeen meets police, charities and the father of two men convicted of these crimes, who speaks for the first time ever on camera.

She also attends a sex education workshop run by a forward thinking Imam, who has very forthright views on the issue.    

This film asks if there are cultural, social or religious contributory factors;  how the Pakistani community feel about it; how it is  being exploited by the far right; how can it be policed; and what can be changed to protect young people from Britain’s Sex Gangs.

Extract from:

Read an interview with Alyas Karmanithe director of STREET (Strategy to Reach Educate and Empower Teenagers) UK Ltd, a counselor and an Imam here

UN Advisor slams government’s new trafficking strategy

“The UK government is taking the country’s anti-trafficking efforts in a dangerous direction, if its new strategy on tackling human trafficking published today is anything to go by.” This is the view of Steve Chalke MBE, founder of the charity STOP THE TRAFFIK and UN.GIFT Special Advisor on Community Action against Human Trafficking.

Steve said, “The government’s immigration-dominated focus on addressing the symptoms and not the causes of the trade in human beings will do little to stem the tide. It could also increase the vulnerability of the men, women, and children who are trafficked into the UK and exploited, by concentrating more on their immigration status than their position as victims of a horrible crime. Human trafficking is a human rights abuse, not an immigration offence. Police and border actions against the criminals are key, but unless there is a coordinated strategy to prevent human trafficking occurring in the first place, these efforts will be no more than sticking plasters. This new government strategy is a missed opportunity.
The UK government has clear international obligations to take specific measures, in particular helping communities identify and prevent human trafficking, and the strategy published today does little to bring this country into compliance with many of these:

·         Community research has to be undertaken to assess the scale of human trafficking. No government research on trafficking for forced labour or other non-sexual forms of exploitation has been published.
·         Information should be shared between the relevant stakeholders. Charities and community groups still need much more information and feedback from government bodies.
·         Awareness-raising is crucial to making communities harder for criminals to operate in. There is little actual government support for anti-trafficking work with the general public.
·         Education of young people will equip them to stay safe from human trafficking. Little effort has been made by the government to address the issue of human trafficking in schools and other settings.
·         Root causes of human trafficking need to be addressed through targeted poverty-reduction and other programmes. The government refuses to mainstream anti-trafficking measures into its international development efforts.
·         Safe migration and assistance information should be distributed to vulnerable migrants in the UK. There is no evidence that this is being systematically done.
·         Discouraging demand for goods and services produced by human trafficking victims is essential to stopping the crime. There has been little government effort to date to engage the private sector on this issue.
·         Civil society delivers most of the anti-trafficking projects in this country and need to be actively involved. Government consultation with the third sector on this strategy has been confused, last-minute, and not transparent.

Ruth Dearnley, Chief Executive of STOP THE TRAFFIK, says “Prevention is better than cure. Human trafficking starts in communities and can be stopped by communities. It isn’t just happening to someone else, somewhere else – it’s happening right here, right now. British young people are being trafficked within and out of the UK, and the new government strategy does little to address this. Although we welcome the strategy’s intentions about working with the public and the private sector, this government is still falling short on its responsibilities to prevent human trafficking, charities like STOP THE TRAFFIK are filling the gap, and we are equipping communities to prevent and tackle human trafficking in their localities.”

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 to learn more about trafficking and see all the ways you can get involved.


Trafficking in your country – 2011 TIP Report

This week the U.S. Department of State released their 2011 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report.

What can you use the TIP for? 

The TIP is a good resource for trafficking information in countries all over the world. The 2011 report there are 184 countries listed and ranked. If you want to know about trafficking in your own country or somewhere you are travelling to you can read individual Country Narratives which include sections on

  • General overview
  • Recommendations
  • Prosecution information
  • Protection information
  • Prevention information

This is also a great resource for students conducting research on human trafficking.

Is your country included in the report? What are your thoughts on their conclusions and recommendations?

You can check out country narratives and additional documents on the
***Documents are available in English, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Persian***

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

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.

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.