Saturday, March 24, 2007

Slavery - past and present

Tomorrow is the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain.

A time to reflect on how this country came to be so (comparatively) wealthy.

But also a time to reflect on the fact that slavery is still a booming international business.

After drugs and arms, people form the most lucrative traffic in the world.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the global trade in human beings is worth at least $31.6 billion.

And according to Free the Slaves, there are 27,000,000 people in the world enslaved today - more than at any other time in human history.

Modern forms of slavery are growing in Britain according to the Joseph Rowntree Organisation and the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation.

These include the global sex trade as well as domestic workers and those working in construction, agriculture, catering and other businesses.

But didn't the government announce recently that they were (finally and after huge pressure) going to sign up to the European Convention on Action against Trafficking?

They finally signed yesterday.

But wait. Before you pop open the champagne, read this :

The announcement that the Home Office is to sign the convention was welcomed by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) a coalition of children's charities and anti-slavery campaigners.

But the campaign group said child victims of trafficking would not be properly protected until the government gave them the right to residency.

ECPAT said the government's reservation on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child restricted the human rights of children who have entered the country illegally, including those trafficked.

Christine Beddoe, director of ECPAT UK, said trafficked children and unaccompanied asylum seekers were currently returned to their home countries even when their family's whereabouts were unknown.

"The reservation is completely unacceptable and must be removed. It undermines the principle of the best interest of the child and all other efforts to combat child trafficking."

So now certainly isn't the time for self-congratulatory backslapping ...

There's still plenty to do.


Anonymous said...

Went back to your original January postijg. As King Lear (and some of your respondents ) said, 'I have ta'en too little care of this'.

Unknown said...

Well part of doing things is passing on the information. You've shared and now I intend to pass this onto to my students who are looking into Children's Rights - or rather as they have discovered lack of.

Unknown said...

I watched the rally on the news yesterday. The church mumbled 'sorry' for their part in slavery 200 years ago.
They are a global organisation - could their 'sorry' not be put to better use?

equiano said...

Thanks, Debi, for an excellent post!

Meloney Lemon said...

Like other unspeakable parts of history, sorry isn't good enough. What matters is not forgetting and remaining alert to continuing atrocities.

Debi said...

I feel another post coming on ...