Stars across the globe raise their hands to stop child trafficking: Global petition to banish this modern day slave trade and protect child victims
New research shows one in five British adults still don't believe that children are trafficked to the UK. In reality, hundreds of children from over 50 countries - some as young as 11 years old - are exploited in the UK every year. A petition calling for the UK Government to put the safety and wellbeing of young victims of trafficking at the heart of their plans has been launched spearheaded by ECPAT UK and The Body Shop with the support of stars from around the world including Rob Lowe, Matt LeBlanc, Yoko Ono, Joanna Lumley, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and Sir Ben Kingsley.
While trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the most common form of child trafficking in the UK, children are also trafficked to the country for other types of abuse including labour exploitation, forced participation in criminal activities, forced marriage, illegal adoption and domestic servitude. Even children who are not trafficked for the explicit purpose of sexual exploitation are vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse because of the dangerous and hidden circumstances in which they are kept.
To combat this crisis, The Body Shop and ECPAT have partnered in a three year global campaign to stop the trafficking of children and young people, uphold their rights to be protected from exploitation and inspire long-term change to strengthen the protection offered to these children and young people. Together, they are spearheading an international petition calling on Governments across the globe to put child trafficking on their agenda and banish this modern day slave trade.
In the UK, we are specifically calling on the Government to offer greater protection to child victims of trafficking by ensuring every child is provided with a guardian to look after them. A system of guardianship would provide care and support needed to successfully negotiate the welfare, legal and immigration system, access all the services to which they are entitled and find durable solutions to their situations. In September 2007, ECPAT UK and UNICEF published a report entitled Rights here, rights now: Recommendations for protecting trafficked children, which outlines the main responsibilities of a guardian.
These responsibilities include:
- Ensuring that all decisions are taken in the child's best interests;
- Ensuring that the child victim has appropriate care, accommodation, health care provisions, psycho-social support, education and language support;
- Ensuring the child victim has access to legal and other representation where necessary;
- Consulting with, advising and keeping the child victim informed of his/her rights;
- Contributing to the identification of a durable solution in the child's best interests;
- Providing a link between the child victim and various organisations which may provide services to the child.
ECPAT UK also believes that such guardians for child victims of trafficking must be independent. They should be appointed by an independent guardianship service, which can act in the best interests of the child and monitor the guardians so that they are not directly accountable to the government. A good example of an independent guardianship service for separated children is the Nidos system in the Netherlands. Set up by the Dutch government in the early 1990s, its role is to exercise the authority of supervising these young people on their way to adulthood and to promote their interests. The guardian provides long-term continued support and has responsibility for the mental and physical well-being of the child.
Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK said, "Children who have been trafficked will often have faced appalling situations of exploitation and abuse. They desperately need the support of a designated adult who, in the absence of a parent, can take decisions on the child's behalf and ensure they have access to safe accommodation, education and the medical, practical and legal support they need to help rebuild their lives. We are delighted that The Body Shop is joining with ECPAT UK to call for a system of guardianship to be introduced in the UK."
Jan Buckingham, Values Director at The Body Shop said, "We are launching this petition, which will be presented to UK Government in 2011, because we do not believe enough is being done to stop sex trafficking and protect young victims. We want everyone to play their part to help stamp out this terrible violation of children's rights and protect victims of this horrific crime found on our shores."
The Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition will be activated in some 66 countries around the world. The UK section will be delivered to the Prime Minister in 2011.
How Can You Help?
- Sign the petition at any The Body Shop store or online at www.thebodyshop.com/stop
- Spread the word - join the ECPAT UK Facebook group or follow ECPATUK on Twitter and change your profile picture/ Twibbon to your handprint or hand in the 'stop' position to show you've signed the petition and supported the campaign.
- Buy the hand cream - all proceeds** from the sales of The Body Shop 'Soft Hands, Kind Hearts' hand cream (50ml/ RRP: £3.50) goes to support ECPAT projects.
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