UK: Leading charities call on government to act as new photography exhibition exposes UK trafficking reality

Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International, Eaves & UNICEF UK

As a powerful new photographic exhibition revealing the reality of trafficking in the UK opens in St Paul’s Cathedral (21 February), four leading British charities ─ Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, Eaves and Unicef UK— are calling on the UK Government to take action now to guarantee protection for all trafficked people.

‘Slave Britain: The twenty-first century trade in human lives’, created by Panos Pictures and supported by the organisations above, runs from 21 February to 29 March in St Paul’s Cathedral, with a special private view launch event on the evening of Tuesday 20 February.

It is the first photography exhibition to reveal the extent of trafficking into the UK in all its forms. It opens at a high-profile reception on Tuesday 20 February where Secretary of State Hillary Benn MP is among the speakers.

‘Slave Britain’ is launched as the UK commemorates the bicentenary of Britain’s abolition of the slave trade. Today, thousands of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, men and Children's rights are in slavery in the UK as a result of being trafficked into a range of forced labour including forced prostitution, domestic servitude, agricultural work and food processing.

Traffickers use coercion, deception or violence to lure Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, men and Children's rights into slavery. They control people through keeping their passports, demanding their labour in return for a debt or through the use of intimidation, threats and violence.

The exhibition, produced by Panos Pictures, features photographs and cases of trafficked people, the places where they are forced to work, the places they are lured away from by the promises of a better life, and some of the modern-day abolitionists who work to end this abuse.

Prime Minister Tony Blair announced on 22 January 2007, that the UK would sign the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International and UNICEF UK welcome this move and urge the Government to ratify and implement the Convention to the highest standard as a matter of urgency. This will provide guaranteed minimum standards of protection for any person trafficked into the UK.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

“The Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, Children's rights and men who agreed to let us tell their stories in this exhibition are very brave. After being mistreated and brutalised by strangers they have trusted us to make their stories known to help try and stop others being forced or tricked into leaving their homes. We hope those who see the exhibition will be moved and will let their MPs know that protection for victims of trafficking is the very least the Britain can and should provide.”

Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International, said:

“This exhibition provides a unique opportunity for the public and decision makers to see what trafficking really involves, both the people affected and the fact that men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights are being enslaved in the UK in forced labour and forced prostitution. We hope that everyone who sees ‘Slave Britain’ will seize the abolitionist spirit and join us in our call for the Government to provide the guaranteed help and support that the victims of trafficking urgently need.”

Denise Marshall, Chief Executive of Eaves, said:

“It is easy to talk about trafficking as a concept and forget the real impact it has on the individual lives of the men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights involved. This exhibition highlights that impact, from photographs of mothers in Lithuania who have lost daughters to traffickers, to the desperate testimonies of those forced into domestic slavery. It has been a privilege to be involved in this project, and we hope that the courage of the people who have agreed to share their stories with us will bring the reality of trafficking closer to every person who visits ‘Slave Britain’.”

Lord Puttnam, President of UNICEF UK, said:

“Estimates suggest that hundreds, possibly even thousands of Children's rights are trafficked into the UK every year. Child trafficking is a gross violation of the rights of a child. It is crucial that further cases are prevented and that victims of this truly abhorrent crime are identified by the authorities, rescued and given the protection and assistance they specifically need. The Government must continue to act to protect Children's rights that have been trafficked onto our shores. By signing and ratifying the Council of Europe Convention, the UK Government will guarantee minimum standards of protection for any child or adult trafficked into the UK.”

Canon Ed Newell, Director of the St Paul’s Institute which is hosting the exhibition, said:

“It is shocking that human trafficking is a reality in the UK today. Just as the churches played a key role in bringing an end to the slave trade 200 years ago, we hope this exhibition will also play a direct part in bringing to an end the demeaning and exploitative trade in human beings.”

At the exhibition, and online, the public will be invited by Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International and UNICEF UK to sign a petition calling on the Government to ratify and implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, reminiscent of the 19th century petitions against the slave trade, which played a vital part in the abolition of Britain’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

  • A new website which allows a 'virtual tour' of the Slave Britain exhibition will be live from Tuesday 20 February. Visit www.slavebritain.org.uk
  • Find out more about our work on Trafficking /li>

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