Getting Equipped to Stop The Traffik …

On the 30th June 2012 the lovely Sabine and I went to the Oasis Centre in London for a training day from ‘Stop the Traffik’ ahead of us volunteering for the ‘Gift Box’ Campaign which I will share more about soon.   I just wanted to share with you all a few lessons I learned, and how you too can get equipped in the fight against Human Trafficking.

Stop The Traffik are an amazing charity that have been going in the UK since 2007.  Read their story here  Visit their website and sign up to their blog using the links on the right on this page.

I was full of anticipation heading to this training because as massive as my heart is to stop trafficking, I know that in order to make my contribution I need to be resourced, equipped and empowered.  And thankfully that what Stop The Traffik do.

We learnt about some of the tactics that traffickers use to deceive people into being trafficked.  I think we can have this naive view that trafficking is only about prostitution, or that people must be stolen like in ‘Taken’ or just be stupid.  Sadly in reality there is often very clever deception that takes place.  For example a job advert for a well know building company to work in Spain, with training provided- when in reality an 18 year old from Russia ended up locked into a building site with no safety equipment, no money, and had to eventually walk to Germany to escape.  Or an advert for a summer job abroad with a family business selling ice cream in Europe- to which a girl in Latvia applied, took a plane to Heathrow, met someone in Costa Coffee, had her documents taken, and was then sold in that Costa for £4,000 to work in a brothel in the North of England.

These aren’t just stories.  These are realities!!

Human trafficking is to be deceived or taken against your will, bought or sold and transport into exploitation; whether forced labour or sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced marriage, forced begging or for the removal of organs.

1.2 million children are trafficked every year — Estimate by UNICEF

There are even reports that some trafficking groups are switching their cargo from drugs to human beings, in a search  of high profits at lower risk — The UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Approx 4 x the profit can be made from a person than drugs.  The person can be willingly brought into the country whereas drugs would be illegally hidden.  A person can be re-used again and again.

Trafficking affects every continent and every country; whether it’s an origin country where people are trafficked from; a transit country where people are trafficked through; or a destination country where people are trafficked to. 

On average, one person is is trafficked within and between countries every 30 seconds

Stop the Traffik recognised the fact that the Olympics provided a unique opportunity to reach a huge number of people from all over the world with the truth about human trafficking.  There was some speculation that trafficking could increase during the Olympics, but the reality is it happens every day! Our aim was to raise awareness and also do research about trafficking during this time, whilst the world was in and around London.  They recognised that power doesn’t just come in sharing a statistic, but engaging in conversation, and empowering people to make a change themselves.

Stop the Traffik and the Police…

As part of our training we were privileged to be spoken to by one of the Inspectors for ‘SCD9’ a special unit of the Met Police who are focusing on trafficking, and have a great relationship with ‘Stop the Traffik’.  He told us that they have 35 trained detectives, and , police trained on human trafficking, which is amazing!  There are no boundaries to trafficking and therefore it can happen anywhere.  Citizens really need to be able to notice the signs and report their suspicions.  How this information is reported has been developed.

You can report any suspicions you have on the Stop the Traffik website ‘Report Incident‘ tab.

Or call the Police Trafficking Helpline: 08007832589  For advice/ info: UK Human Trafficking Centre 08447782406.  For victim support: The Salvation Army 03003038151

Trafficked people often lack movement, language, documents and information on their area.  therefore the police are being trained to ask the right questions, eg where is your passport? When did you last leave your house?  It is so important for the police to see them as victims not suspects, and massive progression has happened in this area.  Victims are now often sent to victim centres rather than police stations, and are given 45 for their case to be studied rather than an immediate deportation.

1 trafficker in England made £2.2 Million from 1 Croatian person.

A trafficker in London made £40,000 from 1 sex trafficked victim in one year.

There are currently 46 live cases being investigated.  It is an appealing crime that must be stopped.

It has been important for people to know the difference between trafficking and smuggling.  Or from a person trafficked into sexual servitude, and someone working as a prostitute.  Victims of human trafficking don’t “self identify”- they often don’t realise that they have been ‘Trafficked’ therefore it is up to us and the police and NGO’s to help them.  They are often given a ‘legend’ or intricate back story, and told to abscond to a certain place.  All kinds of threats and tactics are used.

However, there has been break-though and convictions.  Recently a trafficker received 20 years for trafficking 2 Nigerian women.  And the case of the ‘Romanian Cinderella‘ received 40 years total convictions

ACT Groups:

Stop the Traffik have 50 ‘Act Groups’ (Active Communities against Trafficking) nationally.  These groups educate people on trafficking and campaign.

‘Human Trafficking’ The Movie:

When Sabine and I got home, after being equipped and excited about the difference we can make, we decided to watch ‘Human Trafficking‘ (2005).  I would say if you haven’t watch it please do!!  Although fictional, it covers really well 3 different types of human trafficking that can take place.  I couldn’t believe that what was a prominent enough issue to be made into a film in 2005, could be something that I, and the world are only just opening up their eyes to!

“We must face the fact that none of this horror would be possible, if our culture didn’t create a demand for it.  We need to realise that modern day slavery is only occurring because we choose to ignore it”  

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

 – William Wilberforce

Think about how you can get equipped and empowered to fight trafficking yourself…

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