The counter-trafficking movement in Northern Ireland is gaining pace. The Assembly is moving, the law is changing, communities are awakening, individuals are rising, the media is rustling, funding and resources are being identified and mobilised…we are taking steps toward becoming a nation alongside whom human trafficking is not allowed to exist.
It, the counter-trafficking movement, is becoming a “thing” to be involved with. A bracelet to wear. A week of events. A profile picture to upload. An event to attend. A phrase to #hashtag. A bus to take an instagram picture of???
And I think it’s ok. I regularly have conversations with people regarding their concern over this movement just being a phase, something “hip” (I realise that the word “hip” is no longer, well, “hip” itself.) They say people are only involved because it’s the flavour of the month, because it’s something to be seen to do. (I will explore the fact that human trafficking attracts people because of its graphic, shocking nature in another post. This particular one only refers to its temporality).
I know that in six months’ time, some people will have lost interest in the cause. I also know that in six months’ time, people who are awakening to the issue now will be six months into a journey of long-term passion and effort. As someone said to me not so long ago: “You don’t need everyone to be in this…you need a few strong people to lead the change.” People to be set on fire as the world watches them burn with a fire that changes things. And so, whilst at the minute, I do want more people on board, I am ok with not everyone becoming a ‘hardcore abolitionist’.
That said – I want everyone in Northern Ireland to know what human trafficking is and what to do about it. But I also think we need people who are going to run with other issues: sectarianism, poverty, education, social care, and others that affect our nation (I’ll let you in on a little secret: I believe each of these issues link directly to human trafficking. So I give you my blessing, maybe a little selfishly. Shhh.)
So if we have a summer of counter-trafficking being a trend that means that more people hear about it, and more people are educated in their response to it – and then the numbers then die down a little, I’m ok with it. The bottom line is this: people are becoming aware. Some people are becoming life-long abolitionists. There is a growing group of us who are committed to seeing the dream of ending modern-day slavery here (and, indeed, further afield) reality. We are here. We’re not going anywhere. We will be here. Join us – for the summer, or maybe even for a little longer.