I’m going to start this post by telling you what criminals who traffic children into the UK do to them as soon as they arrive in the country. They dress up as British police, take them to abandoned buildings, beat and violently gang rape the children. They do this to scare the child from authority, so that they don’t trust anyone that approaches to help them. I’ve always believed that torture was never just about physical abuse. Torture is about that and about taking away any hope you have that this torture can stop, or that one day you can reach out to someone who can help make it all go away.
On the records, 10 children are trafficked into the UK every week, destined for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude or child labour – that’s over 500 children a year. Imagine who many more never come to the authority’s attention? 6 out of the 10 children, who are recorded eventually as trafficked, disappear. The authorities don’t find them and no one really ever knows what happens to them. But an even more audacious problem is that even when the children come to the attention of the authorities, they are often prosecuted for the offenses they have been forced to commit.
It’s an important moment for us in the UK. It’s important because we can DO something about it. Britain is publishing the world’s first Modern Slavery Bill under which perpetrators of the crime will be jailed for life. The Modern Slavery Bill is the first of its kind in Europe, and one of the first in the world, to specifically address slavery and trafficking in the 21st century. Though this is all excellent and great – we need children to be specifically referred to so that they are afforded legal guardianship to protect them and keep them in the system. The Netherlands and Scotland are GREAT at doing this.
We need to lobby for three things:
– Every child should have a legal guardian – someone to ensure they get the support they need to stay safe
– Trafficked children should not be prosecuted for crimes they have been forced to commit
– There should be a specific offense for child trafficking and exploitation
To find out more about the Modern Slavery Bill:
I recently attended a UNICEF campaign training session and I want to share with you the following information on how you can help. Do this – it doesn’t take time, it DOES make a difference and it will make you feel amazing when something gets done… so here it is…
If you don’t feel up to meeting your MP… please write this letter to the Home Secretary, Theresa May. Make sure you include your own address in the letter. Here’s the address to save you time searching for it:
Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
The Home Office
2 Marsham St
London SW1P 4DF
And if you don’t know what to write – here’s a good template you can use:
To the Rt Hon Theresa May MP,
I’m devastated to know that at least 10 children are trafficked every week in the UK.
The Modern Slavery Bill has the opportunity to transform the lives of trafficked children by making sure law protects them. Please don’t let the Bill fall short of its potential. For every child who has been sold, sexually exploited or forced into slavery, I urge you to ensure the Modern Slavery Bill includes strong measures to protect children. Specifically:
- Every unaccompanied child should have a legal guardian – someone who is there to look out for them, hold authorities to account and help children cope with any abuse they’ve experienced.
- It’s shameful that trafficked children are prosecuted for crimes they have been forced to commit. The law must be changed to protect them.
- Very few child traffickers are ever held to account under current laws. There needs to be a specific offence for child trafficking and exploitation, to ensure those responsible are prosecuted.
If you are feeling up to it and want to do more than write the letter, contact your MP’s office to book an appointment. Try calling and follow up with an email. All you need to do is take the above letter and tell them you would like him or her to attend the next scheduled reading of the Modern Slavery Bill and would like them to represent your concerns in child protection and that the laws on prosecuting the children and not affording them legal guardianship needs to change.
Ask your MP to keep you informed about what is happening with the Bill – it’s your right to ask this. Remember the MP represents YOU.
To find your MP
Some General Information on Child Trafficking:
‘Trafficking in persons’ shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs (Palermo Protocol, adopted 2000)
- Child trafficking differs from adult trafficking in that it need not involve coercion or deception
- Any situation involving children being recruited and moved for the purposes of exploitation is considered trafficking as a child is deemed unable to give consent to their own exploitation
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have and you write the letter or visit your MP, please write and let me know.
Picture from the UNICEF campaign website.