It’s Friday! This is the final post on human trafficking in NI in which I will attempt to answer some of your questions and provide a few ideas for what your next step may be. I’ve been so thankful for your feedback throughout this ‘series’ on human trafficking in NI. Blogging is much more fun when you get to ‘see’ who is on the other side of the screen!
The most common theme in your comments/questions is summed up in this one:
Now we’re aware, how can we (average people) best add our voices?
Let me book-end this by saying that your voice DOES carry a lot of sound. A lot of power. This is not born out of naïveté or over-exposure to Disney films. YOU matter. YOU are and will continue to change the world. No pressure…:)
Practically speaking, there are a few things you can do.
- The community are the PSNI’s eyes and ears. If you see/hear anything suspicious, report it right away to the police or to Crimestoppers.
- Be informed. We have access, with the addition of modern technology to society, to more information than ever. The world is truly ‘at your fingertips’. Make the most of it and do your research. Love 146 have a greatly informative mix of statistics, written and video stories…why not start there? Then, perhaps you could Google “human trafficking NI” and find out what is going on there…you know the score. Here’s my overview from Monday. There is nothing more useless than positing an “interest” in human trafficking and yet doing nothing to inform ourselves. Understand how human trafficking works. Why is this important? Because, secondly…
- Use your voice to inform others. In conversations with your friends, colleagues, family, people you come across – take the opportunity when it arises to talk about human trafficking. Increased awareness = decreased injustice. “Prevention also comes from public awareness. While policies and strategies are important, the fight against human trafficking also occurs on the streets.” Awareness lessens the risk for victims, discourages pimps, repels people who buy others. Maybe you’d find it useful to keep a story in your mind of a victim or survivor of human trafficking. Maybe a few statistics would be handy to have to use in conversation.
- Use your voice to demand change. In Northern Ireland specifically we have found the Government to be very responsive to public outcry in relation to human trafficking. They are listening. As the ‘people’, we have the right to bring to the attention of our leaders the issues we grapple with and ask them to do something about them.
- Join a local action group. There are plenty in Northern Ireland who are doing fantastic work in raising awareness and supporting organisations who work directly with victims. If you are in the Craigavon area, Craigavon ACT is stellar. The North Coast area is beginning to develop interest and small networks of concerned individuals. Derry is the same. QUB has a Project Futures Society dedicated to advocacy work within the University (and lots of fun events). Belfast has several church-run Hope for Justice/ACT groups and I’m involved in the Belfast Abolition Collective, a group of individuals and organisations working together. In short, there is a network of people and groups fighting the problem where you live – join them. It’s incredibly important to invest in local communities if we want to abolish human trafficking – it is, after all, on our streets. If you need help finding them/getting in touch, leave a comment on this post or contact me another way and I’ll “hook you up”!
- Consider how you may be responsible for encourage the sale of human beings. No, you don’t buy sex. No, you don’t drive people from one city to the next. But, as we have spent the past week ‘bringing it home’ to Northern Ireland, let’s think again about the global problem. Our consumerist society here has implications for those who supply us with the things we are taught to crave. My friend Charlotte has embarked on a journey into discovering what ‘ethical trade’ really is. Should we really buy Apple products (I type this on a Mac). Should we boycott Primark? Etc. I’ll let her do the talking. Check out her High Street Human Rights blog.
- Put May 13-19th in your diary. ‘No More Traffik On Our Streets’ – a week-long festival of events raising awareness about human trafficking and declaring that it is not welcome here.
- Continue to change the culture – let’s create a culture in which human trafficking simply doesn’t have space to exist.
And as fuel for this? I’d encourage you to be angry. Just yesterday, Scotty Smith tweeted: “Don’t waste good anger on bad drivers and poor restaurant service. Invest it in human trafficking and advocating for the poor.” Human trafficking is worth your good anger. You should be angry about people of infinite worth being sold for profit. You should feel your heart beat faster when you hear of a child exploited in a sweatshop. You should feel heat in your cheeks when you read of a man trafficked again and again around the UK, forced to sell the Big Issue in the middle of a cold winter. You should feel your blood boil when you hear of the brothel the PSNI broke into, the door to a room in which a victim was found marked with fingerprints, nail marks, failed attempts at escape and DNA that did not match anyone they found there. You should have trouble sleeping when you hear these stories. You should be uncomfortable, broken-hearted, anguished.
Last Friday, David Ford concluded his talk by saying this…
“If you don’t leave here tonight angry, then you haven’t been listening. In civil, modern, western, democratised Northern Ireland, there are slaves…keep being angry.”
And may your anger lead you to action.
PS: if you’d like to skim through any of this week’s posts, click on the ‘Human trafficking in NI’ category in the list of categories over there –>