Let’s reach them ALL

Today is anti-slavery day. A lot is going to be written and said about the issue of human trafficking but I’ve decided to dedicate my blog to it today because we all need to be raising awareness. It is shocking to ponder the statistics (many of which I found on the Hope for Justice website so thanks to them):

* Over one million children enter the global sex trade each year.
* $9.5 billion is made through human trafficking each year.
* The UN estimates that 80% of people trafficked are taken for sexual exploitation.
* There are an estimated 4,000 trafficked people in the UK but the actual figure is probably a lot higher.
* The rate of recorded child trafficking in the UK has increased by almost 50% in two years.

Hope for Justice reached 78 victims of trafficking in the UK last year but there are so many more out there that they haven’t found yet! The sites say that 99% of trafficking victims are never rescued. How sobering – how awful! That in our ‘civilised’ society this is still going on today…

One of the people that first educated me about this issue was Julia Immonen, who I happened to come across on twitter. I was fascinated by the fact that she was rowing the Atlantic Ocean having never rowed before. To start with, the writer in me thought it would make a great story – it did – and yet it had a much bigger impact on me than that. She told me that: ‘I heard about human trafficking a few years ago through The A21 campaign and my jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe that I am an educated girl and yet I knew nothing about it.’ What is so inspiring is that she took something that is already a big part of her life, sport, and started using it to raise awareness in a positive way, founding Sports Against Trafficking.

In one of the interviews I did with her Julia explained that in the run up to the Olympics, when the site was being built, there were 10,000 construction workers and during that time prostitution doubled in the East End of London. We have just had a wonderful summer celebrating the sporting achievements of our best athletes, and been full of national pride about how well the Games were run and what a wonderful atmosphere they created around the country. And yet, at exactly the same time, extra women and children were being smuggled in for use in the sex industry. It makes me sick to think of what was going on in the ‘underbelly’ of London, but the truth is that every major sporting event creates supply and demand – for more hotels, the food industry – and the sex industry.

It can all seem rather overwhelming, and we can wonder what on earth we can do about it as individuals. I felt like that when I first heard, but, speaking to Julia, I realised that, while I may be useless at sport, what I do is write and what I can do is help raise awareness by writing about those who are making a difference. Keeping their profile up keeps the issue in the public sphere more and I hope that I’m helping in some small way. I am always on the look out for new people to profile – so please let me know if you know of anyone! It was inspiring to learn more about Beulah London, the ethical fashion label that is in the brilliant position of having the Duchess of Cambridge as a client, which means their clothes, and the story behind them, are being talked about worldwide. I’ve also learned more about the work of A21, and how Beth Redman has been working closely with them and, along with husband Matt and LZ7, wrote a song, ’27 Million’ specifically to raise awareness and money for the campaign.

How wonderful to see how each one of these people have dedicated their gifts to this cause. While we may not all have the capacity to work as tirelessly as them for this issue it is such a vital one that I urge you today to take some time to find out more, think about what you can do – each one of us can pray and give a little – and determine not to stop until we see human trafficking eradicated.

I know this is a long post – but I do not apologise for that! 😉 PLEASE think about all those helpless victims who are trapped through no fault of their own – apart from loving the wrong person…

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