A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE
In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act marked the end to legal slavery across the British Empire. Today however, modern slavery still exists: the human trafficking industry is estimated to be worth £32 billion per year, putting it on par with the global drugs trade.
Today people around the world are sold and held against their will to work in the sex trade, domestic servitude and via labour exploitation in agriculture, sports events and manufacturing.
The documentary ‘Not My Life,’ recently aired on CNN as part of its commendable Freedom Project put pictures and stories to the human tragedy of trafficking. In the film we learn about the thriving sex trade in Southeast Asia where girls as young as eight are forced into working in brothels to serve a steady stream of visitors; young boys are sold for labour and forced to beg in the streets of Africa; and in the USA, we hear about domestic help with no rights or pay, and the tragic depiction of 10-year old girls being prostituted and raped in USA truck stops.
I attended a preview of the film and after the screening, the director Robert Bilheimer spoke of a conversation he had with Kofi Annan about the horrors of trafficking and how he could continue to help to eradicate it. Annan said, ‘do what YOU can do.’ It’s a powerful message. What can each of us do within the context of our own worlds? For me, I’m fortunate to be working at a global level and hope to influence through my blog, presentations and networks.
LexisNexis, sponsor of the premiere of film Not My Life and a global advocate for human rights, recently launched a book called ‘The Human Trafficking Handbook’, edited by award winning human rights barrister Parosha Chandran. It can be found at www.lexisnexis.co.uk/humantrafficking.
UN Goodwill Ambassador and actress Mira Sorvino also spoke at the event. She is a tireless advocate in her role with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Last year, she was recognized by the UN Correspondents Association for her efforts on the issue of human trafficking. She has talked with victims, consulted with Member States to implement the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking and worked to improved laws across the USA, among many activities.
If you are in the UK and interested in learning further about how to help the child victims of trafficking, the child rights organisation ECPAT recently launched guidelines for the UK to adopt a system of guardianship to provide the legal foundation to support victims in our country. The recommendations were launched at Anti-Slavery Day 2011 and are outlined in a document called ‘Watch over me: a system of guardianship.’
There are many ways to help and many organisations working to stop the horrific trade of trafficking. Our collective voices can drive action and change. We all must each do what we can do.