On 17th March 2012, TRAC, the Awareness Raising & Campaigning part of the Medaille Trust, ran a workshop for 6th Formers in the Diocese of Brentwood – the host diocese for the forthcoming Olympic Games. The aim of the workshop was to inform the students about human trafficking and sexual exploitation and the possible increase of it over the period of the Games,
in order that they might go back to their respective schools and share their experience and information with the rest of the school, at the appropriate levels.
We were very pleased to welcome 28 students (25 female and 3 brave males) from five different schools and their staff members who had given up their Saturday break to attend. The day ran from 10am until 4pm and the programme was arranged using the Pastoral Cycle model.
- Experience – with the aid of stories the participants formed discussion groups and gave very good feedback. This was followed by the film ‘Ballerina’ after which they shared their feelings about the content.
- Analysis – Basic information was given on PowerPoint followed by a quiz covering a wide range of issues i.e. demand, grooming, UK situation, global situation.
- Reflection – a PowerPoint presentation which covered all forms of trafficking and which was backed by the recording of Christine Aguilera singing ‘Beautiful’ gave much food for thought. The silence which followed was very poignant. The students were then asked to write a message to someone who had been trafficked; a trafficker and a user. These messages, written on different coloured pieces of paper, were turned into a chain which formed part of the closing liturgy.
- Action – The various schools formed groups to discuss what action they could take when returning to school. There was great enthusiasm and promises to use all they had learned at school assemblies, newsletters etc., while realising that it must be age appropriate.
A list of resources was later sent to all participants via email. This included websites and YouTube clips to help with future presentations. Feedback over the following weeks showed that the day was a great success and appreciated by students and staff alike.
Here are some thoughts you may like to reflect on:
A World without Chains
‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’
Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
‘None of us are free if one of us is chained’ (Mann;Weil 2011)
History shows that while slavery per se was abolished in the 18th & 19th centuries other forms of harsh labour including sweatshops persist in spite of early laws to address the issue such as the Factory Act of 1833 in the UK.
Today globalisation has meant that multinational corporations have moved their operations overseas in order to lower their costs and increase profits. Many of the popular company labels such as Walt Disney, The Gap and Nike have been accused of using sweatshops. Media coverage in the 1990s exposed the use of sweatshop and child labour to sew Kathie Lee Gifford’s Wal-Mart label!
Sweatshops are implicated in human trafficking when workers are tricked into starting work without informed consent, or when they are kept at work through debt bondage or mental duress. This is most likely when the workforce is drawn from children or the uneducated rural poor.
The sweatshop workers often do not earn enough money to buy the products that they make even though they are commonplace goods such as tee-shirts, shoes and toys.
Reflect on the conditions these people must endure:
- Long hours and very low pay
- Hazardous materials and situations
- Employer abuse without a way to defend themselves
- Child labour laws violated (education?)
- Negative environmental and health impacts (pollution and birth defects) on workers and the local community
What can we do to eradicate this practice of bondage?
- Inform ourselves and others – surf the internet, (websites)
- Get involved in campaigns, (High St Stores?)