Guest blog by Vivien Caldwell, Amnesty Paisley Group - Human Trafficking

Amnesty Group Paisley are excited to say that Fri 4 May saw the Unite against Human Trafficking Conference come together in what turned out to be a very successful and productive day. The group planned the conference in partnership with Unite the Union and the Women's Support Project. The alliance came together through the vision of Unite Youth member Jamie-Max Caldwell. Jamie chaired the conference and opened by saying that his recent awareness of the issues surrounding Human Trafficking came from the work of Amnesty Paisley Group. Jamie explained how this had successfully 'lit the fire' for him to present an emergency motion to the Unite Youth Conference.
 
The hard work of Elaine Dougall of Unite meant that delegates were welcomed to enjoy the hospitality on offer at John Smith House, Glasgow where an impressive line of speakers took to the podium to highlight various issues relating to Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation. It was clear that everyone agreed that this is a form of violence against women; a modern day form of slavery which sees victims being recycled; and a human rights abuse driven by an increasing demand, making it one of the most lucrative areas of crime today.

Speakers included Jan MacLeod of Women's Support Project who provided a revealing insight into the easy access to women on the internet. Delegates were shocked to see their own villages, towns and cities listed on advertisements. Dawn Samson of Crown Office provided an insight into the law and the role of the prosecutor in seeking convictions. Trish Godman, former MSP gave a fascinating and useful insight into the mechanics of parliament, effective lobbying and showed her continuing support for Rhoda Grant's private member's bill which would see the buying of sex criminalised. Agnes Tolmie highlighted the work being done by the STUC and urged everyone to action. The conference was also delighted to welcome the expertise of Gunilla Eckberg, former advisor to the Swedish Government who talked with passion about the improvements Sweden has seen in rates of trafficking and prostitution since changing the law in this area. Gunilla made it clear that making it illegal to 'buy a human being' sent an essential message about acceptable behaviour and urged delegates to take the opportunity to choose what kind of society we want in Scotland.
 
The conference was also chosen as the forum for Bronagh Andrew (TARA) to launch the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Report with which Amnesty has been involved and for Crown Office's Dawn Samson to announce the availability of newly created information leaflets.

The Paisley group were heartened to see the acknowledgement of the link between human trafficking and prostitution. Having championed this issue Jacci Stoyle submitted a resolution to the Amnesty Annual Conference in April asking AIUK to acknowledge the inextricable connection between the two and consider this in any future research and policy formation. The resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority, a development on which Jacci was commended by Gunilla Eckberg. Speaking at the conference to highlight the human rights elements of the Human Trafficking debate Shabnum Mustapha expressed her support for the resolution.

The Paisley Group will continue work on this issue by taking forward their additions to the 'Wall of Action' which was created at the Conference and by continuing to encourage as many people as possible to ‘Unite against Human Trafficking’.

The group can now also be found on Facebook: Amnesty – Paisley Group. 

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