Anti-Slavery Day – 18 October 2018

What does slavery mean to you in 2018? You’ve read about it in history books, seen dreary films of slaves transported to cotton fields to work endlessly without rights, dignity and literally a life. All that seems a world away. Unfortunately, slavery is just as much of a problem everywhere today – it is a transnational pandemic, operating in more sinister ways, the biggest money-spinning business of the 21st century. Transactions of modern day slavery are borderless, and there are no tariffs no taxes and more often done insidiously.

The staggering numbers of 45.8 million people are being held in modern slavery around the world. It more common than you think.

On 18 October charities, individuals, local authorities and police forces raise awareness of modern slavery and take appropriate action. Today slavery is less about people literally owning other people – although that still exists – but more about being exploited and completely controlled by someone else, without being able to leave.

The UN Palermo Protocol’s definition of human trafficking can be broken down into three essential parts: Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The acquisition of a person by means of deception or coercion for the purposes of exploitation. This includes sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, forced criminal activity, sham marriages, and even organ removal.

The Purple Tear Drop campaign has been adopted by several Soroptimist clubs, as have the ‘She Loves Me She Loves Me Not’ bookmarks that Soroptimists have used effectively to heighten awareness among younger audiences lest they become victims.

Interestingly, in a country wide survey on Human Trafficking in the UK, the responses displayed amongst the general public a serious lack of awareness of human trafficking and its fallout. Then there are people who don’t want to know what is modern day slavery – they are cocooned in the belief that its outside their orbit of existence.

Yes, awareness is what Soroptimists do best. 18 October provides a focal point for raising awareness about the many people who continue to be trapped, and to promote the need for many individuals and organisations across society to muster a resolve in ending it. Has your club done its part of raising awareness?

Nisha Ghosh – APD Violence and Conflict Resolution