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Fears on trafficking at Games

03 August 2012


Hollow present: the Revd Steve Chalke outside Westminster Abbey with the Stop the Traffik campaign gift box

Hollow present: the Revd Steve Chalke outside Westminster Abbey with the Stop the Traffik campaign gift box

FIVE seven-foot-high "gift boxes" have been assembled in London to highlight what campaigners describe as the "deceitful promise" made to victims of human trafficking, a crime that is expected to increase during the Olympic Games.

The boxes, decorated like a present on the outside and covered with true stories of trafficking victims on the inside, are the work of the Stop the Traffik campaign and the UN. Staffed by 400 volunteers, three of the boxes will remain throughout the Games at St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and Southwark Cathedral. Two more will be moved around the capital during the same period.

The Revd Steve Chalke, founder of Stop the Traffik, and a UN special adviser on human trafficking, said: "It's a wonderful piece of public art. On the outside, it's a gift: it's enticing, which tells you what trafficking is. On the inside, it's a trap. Each surface inside tells you the real story of a person trafficked through London."

The stories include that of Hanna, a 16-year-old sold in Nigeria after her parents were deceived into believing that she would be given a better life in the UK. On arrival in London, she was made to work as a domestic servant, exploited for almost ten years, physically abused, and denied contact with the outside world. She eventually ran away, and her captor was convicted.

There is evidence that human trafficking has increased in the host cities of previous sporting events. During the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, the Greek minis- try of public safety reported a 95-per-cent increase in the num- ber of human-trafficking victims identified.

Human trafficking, which can include forced street crime, sexual exploitation, and forced labour, is as big a problem as the illegal arms trade, the International Labour Organisation states, and is the second largest criminal industry in the world, after drug trafficking. The UN estimates that more than 2.4 million people are being exploited in this way by criminals at any given time.

Each gift box includes details of a confidential free police helpline. Any concerns can be reported on 0800 7832 589.


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