Jam today, an end to sex trafficking tomorrow

Empty gesture from “jam makers”, or an important move to help tackle sexual slavery?

Today’s news that those former barrackers of Tony Blair the Women’s Institute are going to start monitoring the local press for classified ads offering the “services” of “exotic” ladies (ie possibly forcibly trafficked women from places like Nigeria or Moldova) is dividing opinion.

A Telegraph blogger sees the WI effort as an “empty gesture”, the minister for women Harriet Harman thinks it can make a difference.

My view is that we shouldn’t knock anything that could help stop criminal gangs raping and brutalising women who they literally buy and sell and then mercilessly exploit in the sex industry. Specialist websites are already awash with deeply dubious information about women called “Natasha”, supposedly “freshly arrived from Moscow”. (Some of them may be sex workers; but some are sex slaves, advertised as available for sexual exploitation).

Then again, I’d have more confidence that Harman’s WI speech was thought through if we hadn’t just heard that the country’s only specialist police anti-trafficking unit was closing because of a lack of money. 

Today’s the day marking the need to eliminate violence against women (more on this from Amnesty blogger kilchoman) and guess what? There’s an awful long way to go. Here’s just a snapshot of stories in today’s news:

· WI (them again!) reporting that half of their survey sample of members had experienced domestic violence or knew someone who has
· A man found guilty of the kidnap, rape and murder of 17-year-old Southampton girl Hannah Foster
· Ban Ki-moon saying that both sides in Congo (Congolese army and rebels) have been committing atrocities, including raping women
· New laws come into force today in England, Wales and Northern Ireland cracking down on people who force women into marriages (and sometimes extreme violence and misery)
· Amnesty’s Heather Harvey blogging today on the Telegrpah site on the plight of Iran’s women, who are routinely discriminated against in law and suffer beatings from the Iranian police (and imprisonment) if they dare to speak out

Like I always say, don’t get mad (well actually you should probably get quite mad), get even. Or at least, take up your campaigning cudgels. I’d recommend three things: (1) if you can, come to our Downing Street demo on Congo tomorrow lunchtime; (2) send a greetings card to the Iranian women campaigners as part of Amnesty’s excellent cards campaign; and (3) sign up to Amnesty’s anti-trafficking campaign.

After you’ve done that little lot, why not go and make some jam….?

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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