The issue of human trafficking was dealt with at a very enlightening evening at the Meeting House on Wednesday evening. Hatty Hodgson, of the West Midlands Anti Human Trafficking Network was the Key Speaker.
Many thousands of people in the world today are sold into slavery, not only in poor countries but in Western Europe too, including the United Kingdom.
Human trafficking takes a number of different forms. Often people are lured with the promise of a good job or career in another country, or another part of their own country, and end up losing their freedom and working for little or no pay. The three main kinds of work in which people are exploited in this way are prostitution, domestic service and forced manual labour. They are usually helpless to do anything about it either because they are intimidated by physical violence, they have no one who ‘looks out’ for them, become dependent on those who control them or because they are misinformed by them and unaware of the possibility of getting any sort of help.
The police now have special units dealing with this kind of crime, and Hattie pointed out some of the ways in which we can all do something about it. For instance, we can aim to become much more informed about the sources of products we buy in the shops, and challenge retailers when we suspect that there is human trafficking somewhere in the supply chain. We can also report to the police any suspicious things we see that could point to trafficking, such as groups of demoralised and forlorn looking people being picked up in a van or a man surrounded by a group of women he seems to be contolling. Things like this could be insignificant, but there is always the possibility of our report being the vital piece of evidence that is needed to make a case and put a stop to this kind of exploitation.
Some very grim and cruel cases were talked about, and there was a lively discussion. The event was organised by Lizzie Santander Ochoa and Melvyn Xavier Stephen two Chaplaincy student volunteers.
Hattie Hodgson wrote her own blog about her visit to the Chaplaincy a USW you can read it here.
Submitted by Hattie on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 – 23:32
I’m on my way back from visiting the newly named University of South Wales (formerly Glamorgan University), sitting on a train and reflecting about what has gone on today. I’ve done an awful lot of this this year (see Trains, tears and trafficking). I’ve been speaking to a group of students about human trafficking, its occurrence in the UK and my work with the West Midlands Regional Anti-Trafficking Network. This is not out of the ordinary, it is a workshop I have run many times before, but this evening it feels as if something special has happened.
The student body at the University of South Wales is possibly one of the most international I have ever come across. The evaluation forms people filled in at the end of my time indicate that there were individuals in this evening’s session hailing from India, Portugal, Israel and Latin America to name just a few locations. The variety did not end there, the chaplaincy at the University of South Wales is a multi-faith facility and so there were representatives of many faith groups in attendance. This diversity brought a huge richness to this evening’s discussion. Human trafficking occurs in nearly every country in the world. The fact that everyone approached the topic in hand from a different perspective, often literally a different location in the world, meant that the stories being shared, and the questions being asked truly reflected this global nature. I have come away buzzing with things I need to look up and questions that I need to answer.
More than this though, the passion for change among the group this evening re-reminded me that there are individuals all over the world that want to change the world for the better. Caught up in the day to day tasks of my current work, it can sometimes seem hard to see where the small steps I am trying to make are leading. Evenings like this evening help to change this, giving me hope that we can make a difference and that, one day, we might find ourselves in a world where injustice is a thing of the past.
Faith in Action Intern
Want to find out more about the Faith in Action Project? Want to hear from speakers engaged in anti-trafficking work in the UK? Want to find out how we can help destitute asylum seekers? Want to meet students who are passionate about faith and social justice? Why not come to ‘Life to the Full…Putting Faith into Action’? Find out more on the event’s page.