Children are trafficked into the UK, have their identities removed, raped, beaten and forced to work in deplorable conditions: survey
Tags: Gordon Valentine, Chris Beddoe, Jan Buckingham, ECPAT UK
14th August 2009: If you buy a pirate DVDs, or even roses from the street vendors, chances are that you are unwittingly contributing to illegal businesses run by networks involved in smuggling children from countries like China, Africa and Afghanistan.
To make the matters worse, though more than a fifth of Britons may inadvertently be contributing to the child trafficking menace, they are not aware of the aftermath of their actions.
In fact, a research published by international campaign against sexual exploitation of children, ECPAT, suggests people who also smoke home-grown cannabis, hand over money to child beggars, or even encourage prostitution, may be sustaining — to use term by the United Nations — "a modern day slave trade".
Detective Inspector Gordon Valentine, heading the Metropolitan police’s specialist anti-child trafficking team, says they have worked on cases where DVD-selling rings are linked to child traffickers. Afghan children are often used to work in illegal indoor cannibas farms and girls from Africa, China and Eastern Europe are known to have been trafficked into prostitution.
Chief executive of ECPAT UK Chris Beddoe adds by engaging in these activities, you support the illegal economy, including trafficking.
Children, he adds, are trafficked into the UK every day, across big cities and small towns. They have their identities removed, are raped, beaten and forced to work in deplorable conditions.
A testimony to this effect is provided by the fact that the Home Office’s UK Human Trafficking Centre received as many as three reports a week about children smuggled into the UK between April and June.
The survey, published at the launch of a nationwide campaign to generate awareness, says 89 per cent of those questioned were ignorant that their activities may in reality be contributing to the illegal businesses
Conducted across 17 UK cities, the survey shows a third of adults are not aware of the extent of child trafficking in the UK; a third believe trafficked children only end up in foreign countries.
Jan Buckingham, values director at the Body Shop helping to fund ECPAT UK as part of the campaign, says there has been a culture of disbelief; people don’t see children are being trafficked into the UK. They turn a blind eye."