By Tribeni Gurung (report written on behalf of UN WOMEN NC UK), International Anti-Human Trafficking Project Advisor - Anti-Trafficking International Programmes - The Salvation Army
A highly engaged and motivated audience gave up their Saturday morning to hear our speakers affirm that “Human trafficking is a heinous crime that involves the recruitment, harbouring or transportation of people using coercive or forced methods for the purpose of exploitation (1).” It is estimated that there are currently 40.3 million people living in modern slavery (2) across the globe; 70% of victims are women sold into forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude in various industries and sectors. As such, the human trafficking trade generates $150 billion annually.
Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner explained that this vile crime has come back into our society at the UN Women UK National Committee brunch debate on April 28th 2018. He confirmed that the crime is also acute in the UK. 94% of the adult women recommended to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) are referred following sexual exploitation. The NRM is a structure for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring that they are given the right support (3). The framework, however has received much criticism in that survivors who choose to enter the NRM are given only 45 days of recovery and reflection. Many argue that this is too short a time to recover from the trauma. In 2017, Mr. Hyland travelled across the UK and reviewed the NRM and identified gaps which the UK government are now addressing.
Many survivors of trafficking have managed to rebuild their lives and have gone on to support their families. Lynellyn Long, co-founder of HERA (Her Equality Rights and Autonomy), demonstrated that by improving the status of mothers and daughters they are then able to reach their goals and thus avoid being coerced into exploitative situations. HERA aims to help women survivors of trafficking, conflict and other forms of violence to pursue their aspirations and ambitions for a better life.
This is through education to prevent trafficking and further exploitation and, also, entrepreneurship training to increase women’s economic life chances. Ms. Long explained that it was imperative to challenge cultural perceptions of women and recognise their capacity to fully contribute economically to their households.
Participants engaged in a Q & A with our speakers with issues ranging from legislation to end sexual exploitation to finding out more about the work of HERA and how to become a mentor to survivors of slavery and trafficking.
In conclusion, Laura Haynes, Chair of the brunch debate, highlighted the need to recognise women who are in danger of becoming victims of human trafficking. Ms. Haynes argued that it was necessary to “work with different players to have a systematic approach in order to create awareness and greater understanding.” This would, of course mean that all members of society have a role to play in order to make a significant difference. The scale of human trafficking and modern slavery continues to flourish globally with new forms of exploitation emerging such as cyber- sex trafficking (4), organ harvesting and baby factories (5). It is the complex nature of the trafficking process, which often makes it difficult to identify potential victims and perpetrators. Hence, there is no room for celebration yet as we still have a long way to go.
Thanks to generous donations from everyone who attended we raised £267 to go towards the UN WOMEN Fund for Gender Equality and the UN Trust Fund to end Violence Against Women and Girls.
1 Anti Slavery International https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/human-trafficking/
2 Global Slavery Index https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/
4 Shutdown Cyber Sex Trafficking, IJM https://www.ijm.org/shut-down-cyber
5 ‘Nigeria 'baby factory' raided in Lagos, BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-43905606