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Modern day slavery

“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name — modern slavery.” United States President Barack Obama

On March 8, 2013, International Women’s Day, Soroptimists in Barbados will be launching a campaign called the Purple Teardrop, which is a Soroptimist International initiative and follows the work against human trafficking done by European and Northern England Soroptimists whose campaign colours and ribbons are purple. The colour purple is also associated with women who have been abused.

The teardrop represents the suffering of those women and children who are trafficked, exploited and abused throughout the world, including in our local communities and we are also prepared to lend our voices to not just local issues, but regional and the wider global community.

Examples of human trafficking are if a woman is encouraged by her family, against her will, to receive gifts from men, such as payment of household bills, food or clothing, for sex, or if woman is lured from her country to another with the promise of a better life but when she reaches her destination she is forced to work for either low or no wages and to endure substandard living conditions, sometimes, in exchange for sexual favours.

According to the United Nations Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012, approximately 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour globally, including sexual exploitation. The report revealed that women account for 55 per cent to 60 per cent of all trafficking victims detected globally; women and girls together account for about 75 per cent.

Another key finding from the report was that trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58 per cent of all trafficking cases detected globally, while trafficking for forced labour accounts for 36 per cent.

Human trafficking or trafficking in person has three main components:

* The action of trafficking; which means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.

* The means of trafficking; which includes threat of or use of force, deception, coercion, abuse of power or position of vulnerability.

* The purpose of trafficking which is exploitation.

Article 3 of the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Person states that “exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Unfortunately, the US Trafficking in Persons 2012 Report, Barbados was given a rating of Tier 2 Watch List.

One of the cornerstones of Soroptimist International’s work is the objective to “end human trafficking and all forms of violence against women and girls”. Soroptimist International started this campaign against human trafficking in 2008.

“The trafficking of women for prostitution is an evil practice that no-one could condone. These women have to endure repeated humiliation and degradation. Their rights to aspire to happiness and a decent standard of living are ignored. They are cut off from their families and friends.

“They are subject to violence and to enforced drug-addiction. They have their hopes crushed and, even if they are lucky enough to escape, are emotionally scarred forever. This particularly heartless kind of slavery is something abhorrent, and brings shame upon any society that tolerates it.”

These are words spoken by the Purple Teardrop Campaign’s patron is the celebrated writer Louis de Bernieres.

What are the local Soroptimists doing?

Soroptimist International of Barbados and Soroptimist International of Jamestown have established a joint Committee to work on a public awareness on this issue.

We will start of our campaign with the distribution of flyers and purple ribbons at the popular supermarkets. The flyers will provide information on the indicators of human trafficking in your community and the relevant organisations to contact in the event that persons detect any suspicious activity or know persons who have been trafficked such as Crime Stoppers, police, Business & Professional Women’s Club of Barbados Crisis Centre..

We are also asking the public to wear something purple on International Women’s Day, next Friday, March 8 in support of the campaign to stop all forms of violence against women in our society.

There are other activities that are being planned throughout the year and will be working with Crime Stoppers, BPW as well as lending our support to the Bureau of Gender Affairs. Please join Soroptimists as we aim to combat any and all forms human trafficking in our communities.

Soroptimist International of Barbados;

— Babara Brewster

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