The Power of One. (Part 2)
By Jennifer Welker ~thetransitcafe.com
Friday, 28th July 2006
Jennifer Welker wants travel companies to get serious about human trafficking. She talks to one man who's trying to make a difference.

Part Two of this Two-part story;The numbers and what you can do

Each year, approximately 12.3 million people are forced into labour. Between 600,000 and 800,000 men, women and children trafficked across borders, not including domestic trafficking in which people are moved from rural to urban areas each year. Most are trafficked into sexual exploitation, and about 80 per cent are women and 50 per cent children. A majority of those children are under the age of 16 and this is destroying generations of people, Mr Arkless said.

And there are two more shocking statistics from Mr Arkless. Approximately 65,000 Easter European women and children were moved to London last year, and Germany brought in 196,000 prostitutes for the World Cup to service the fans. Their argument? It is better to bring these people in legally than for them to arrive illegally. But Mr Arkless would argue that bringing in women specifically for prostitution only continues to devalue these women and what happens to them after the World Cup? Where will they go?

Organised Crime

Many organised crime groups are largely behind human trafficking, and it is a bigger business than colonial slavery ever was.

"People who lead very poor lives at home and are looking for a way out are often forced to take loans from unscrupulous people and have to find a way to pay it back with bogus interest. The debt then passes to the next of kin if the individual dies before paying back. They have to work in factories, brick kilns and rice mills. Or worse yet, they are sold into the sex trade without even knowing it, and with no way to escape."

Mr Arkless himself has received 27 death threats, and the CIA has positively tagged him. But that won't stop him from the fight.

Get up, Stand up.

"I just think, if you don't stand up for anything, you won't get anywhere. NGOs can't find the leverage, the UN can't solve the problem and the police don't have the resources. The Interpol has all of 1.5 people to fight human trafficking! When we called on the business community to raise money to hire people to help. What was their response? The Interpol said we were trying to bribe them!"

At present, there are no mechanisms in place. The international police have no resources. Mostly it's the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the IOM (International Organisation of Migration) that are doing something. There are also a number of other organisations, about 200 non-governmental groups, but they are very dispersed.

"We hope to help pull these small, fragmented groups together," he said. "The best way to start is to mobilise global companies against human trafficking directly.

"How are we doing so far? Well, from zero when we had no declaration on the 1st of January this year until now, I'll be modest…

"We've made huge steps. It takes incredible energy to do this, with all its complexities. Without huge personal commitment, it wouldn't be possible. It also takes huge personal energy for people at the top of corporations. Without that, nothing will change," he said.

What Dave says must be done:

  • Ban agencies demanding money for employment
  • Governments should be in more control of labour movements
  • People should have something to go to, when they are moved
  • Global call centre – talking with British Telecom and AT&T to see about setting up a global hotline and companies could sponsor the administration of it.
  • Regulate the employment industry, so that there are no unscrupulous players.
  • UN – a basic human right not to have IDs confiscated and taken away. Not one government has signed up in favour of this basic human right.
  • Engage governments to have more proactive cross-border control. Let the right people move and control the movements of the wrong people.
What you can do, now

• Learn about the Athens Declaration at: www.gcwdp.org and sign up!

Any business company willing to contribute to the global fight against human trafficking can sign the Athens Ethical Principles by filling the signatory form ( www.gcwdp.org/public/content/documents/159/signatory-form.doc ) and sending it to the Focal Point (signatory@smwipm.ch) of the ‘End Human Trafficking Now!' Campaign. By receiving the letter of acceptance from the Focal Point the company becomes a signatory of the Athens Ethical Principles and will be included in the list of signatories on the End Human Trafficking Campaign – Business Community website.

• Visit Ninemillion.org

Nike, UNHCR, Microsoft, MSN, Procter & Gamble, Manpower, the NBA and more have teamed up to help 9.3 million refugees worldwide. Their goal is to help 9 million children get an education through sports. Find out how you can help them too.

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