Guest speaker Jean Lambert, London Green Party Member of the European Parliament told the meeting that the UK is a major venue for people of all ages being trafficked into forced servitude and slavery and London is the trafficking capital of the world. All the money raised from the evening will go to the Eaves’ Poppy project which supports victims of trafficking.
Across the EU some 880,000 people are forced to work in slave labour conditions. It is the fastest growing crime internationally, second only to drugs and arms and is one of the most lucrative generating around £21billion across the EU in 2012.
Ms Lambert told the meeting attended by Soroptimists from clubs in Ipswich, Chelmsford, Southend-on Sea and Enfield, as well as representatives from Redbridge Borough Police and groups in East London working in this field, that women and children are the most vulnerable. Children are forced to beg, women are forced to work as prostitutes and domestic slaves and increasingly the labour market is being exploited with men and boys, in particular, being forced to work for low wages.
Most of the people trafficked in Europe are from Eastern Europe, but the map is changing with large numbers coming from Africa and the Far East. United Nations statistics show that one-third of victims are children under the age of 18.
Ms Lambert works on a range of issues including asylum and refugees, employment and social affairs and human rights and civil liberties. She said that although there is strong EU Legislation against trafficking in persons more is needed and currently being addressed. There need to be tougher sanctions on traffickers and improved workplace/labour inspections. There is also a need for far more protection for children and for victims willing to testify.
Of the 28 EU member countries, current EU legislation has been fully put into national law in less than one-third. The UK is currently debating the situation.
To celebrate International Women’s Day SIEL had an open meeting on 5 March 2013 with inspirational guest speaker Elin Haf Davies . Elin talked about how a farm-girl from Wales turned into a world-record-breaking ocean rower. As a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, something she had dreamed about doing since she was a child, she set herself an amazingly brave challenge to cross the Atlantic. In December 2007 she set off to cross the Atlantic in the Woodvale Rowing Cup. Astonishingly, before she made up her mind, she had never rowed or even been out to sea. On the sea caught up in a 77-day and seven-hour schedule of constant rowing alongside her colleague. Elin said “It was an absolute killer. We would sleep for two hours then row for two hours over a 24-hour period”. Never one to rest on her laurels, she having conquered the Atlantic, she then joined a team of 4 girls to tackle the Indian Ocean. This was a dangerous 3,200-mile, 78-day journey with brutal conditions, including a cyclone as they approached Mauritius. The team was the first ever all-women crew to cross the Indian Ocean and, of course, had raised vital finds in doing so. Elin started to get itchy feet again and trained for a new experience on the seas – this time in a sailing boat across the Pacific Ocean, to complete a hat-trick of oceans. This was a journey of 5,680 miles which took around 33 days. When she returned from the Pacific, Elin had the distinction of carrying the Olympic torch and running with it through Wales.
The evening was very successful and the raffle held raised helped us raise funds for the London Anglia Regional project – Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust Nurse training in KwaZulu, Natal South Africa.