Launch at Westminster of Taken Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking – Hazel Thompson’s powerful report on the situation in Mumbai. Also read about Kavi – and a special showing of the film in Liverpool.

Launch of Taken Campaign at the House of Lords: 4.45pm Wednesday October 16th, Inter Parliamentary Union Room, Westminster. Remarks by David Alton – Lord Alton of Liverpool.
About the Taken Campaign http://takenebook.com/

 

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Jubilee Campaign

I’d like to begin by encouraging people to buy the digital book, Taken, from Itunes – the profits from which will go to Jubilee Campaign for their project in India to rescue girls from the red light district. The perfect companion is a copy of Danny Smith’s Shouting into the Silence. Let me also thank Marc Carey of Hard Rock Cafe, and Hazel Thompson, for their important support for this initiative.

The digital book has a link for a petition that is being launched – and everyone can play their part in supporting the campaign.

 

 

Based on Swedish laws, which I will mention further, the petition calls on the Indian government to make the purchase of sex illegal and to decriminalise the victims of sex trafficking. The campaign was developed with help from one of the key people who ran The Body Shop’s successful trafficking campaign. And I will draw on some work which was undertaken on their behalf.

That paper and this campaign reminds us why human trafficking matters.

It matters because, Human Trafficking entraps, exploits, enslaves, manipulates and demeans. It is based on deception and frequently involves violence or coercion. A trafficking victim faces a bleak future of domestic servitude, factory work, farming, mining, drug harvesting, or the sex industry while those who profit from this illegal industry are enriched on a scale comparable to that of the drugs barons.

It is a silent industry which profits by working under the surface, in dark corners and in concealment.

Estimates suggest that in India, alone, anything between 20 to 65 million people are victims of forced labour – many from the Dalit community of so-called untouchables. . This plays in to the hands of the traffickers with 90% of current victims recruited from inside India, often from the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

According to a United Nations Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. It came as a surprise to me that, according to the UN, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. They say that in some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.

Men, women and children are trafficked within their own countries and across international borders. Trafficking affects every continent and every country.

All countries are affected by human trafficking, whether it’s a country from which people are trafficked; a transit country through which people are trafficked ; or a destination country. Sometimes a country will be all three.

— The UN Office on Drugs and Crime say that:
People trafficking is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.

— UNICEF Estimate that:

1.2 million children are trafficked every year.

—The International Labour Organisation reported that in 2012:
At least 20.9 million people were victims of forced labour worldwide. While it is difficult to establish a precise figure, their research suggested that 44% of the 20 million are trafficking victims.

The purpose o f the Taken Campaign is to shine a light into the dark places which those figures represent and to give voice to those silent victims.

It’s about giving voice to people like Wihini, aged nine, and her brother Sunni, a boy aged seven, who lived on Thane train station in Mumbai, India with their parents – both alcoholics. One day the children disappeared. Wihini and Sunni’s father told how a man had come and offered money for them and that he had sold them for the equivalent of $30. That was the last anyone heard of them. In that area of Mumbai every two to three months children disappear or are kidnapped and sold into prostitution or forced labour, or worse.

In particular, the Taken eBook details the subjugation of Indian girls who, robbed of childhood and innocence, are trafficked into the red light district of Mumbai – the capital of the country’s sex industry.

But those affected lose far more than their innocence. Frequently, women and girls suffer sexual violence, held against their will. Chillingly and shockingly, the average of age a trafficked girl in India is just 11 years old.

The Indian Government needs to do much more to end this illegal and egregious abuse of children’s human rights.

The death, exactly a year ago, of a 23-year-old student , the victim of an horrendous gang rape, was a terrifying reminder of the level of violence against girls and young women in India but also of wholly unacceptable social attitudes and a culture of impunity.

TAKEN makes it clear that such stories are not isolated events but reveals the evidence of systematic violence perpetrated year in and year out – with little sign of any serious campaign to end it.

Despite creating Anti Human Trafficking Units, a Child Welfare Committee in each Indian state and special Juvenile Police Units, the prosecution of traffickers and accomplices is next to non-existent. The 2013 US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report states; “traffickers are increasingly better organized and adapting to state government crackdowns on well-known establishments or routes of human trafficking.” The report adds that corruption is preventing the police and judicial authorities from taking effective action.

This culture of impunity, laced with corruption, is entrenched by attitudes which treat victims as if they were themselves criminals.

India’s Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) criminalises traffickers but also criminalizes other offences, including prostitution, and it is this provision which often targets the victims. One estimate suggests that 85% of prosecutions are against women and children and just 15% against the perpetrators. This is an upside down world which heaps suffering upon suffering. There is a strong case for India to introduce laws like those pioneered in Sweden – and adopted in countries such as South Korea and Cambodia – which criminalise those who buy sex, not those who are forced to sell it.

Until fundamental and radical change occurs women and girls will go on living subterranean lives in Mumbai’s red light district; they will go on being treated as criminals when, in reality, they are the victims;

Since their adoption in Sweden, in 1999, that country has seen a significant reduction in trafficking and prostitution, reducing its appeal as a destination country for traffickers.

What is clearly true is that trafficking and exploitation are blood brothers, closely related to their cousins: vested interest and indifference. Human trafficking is an engine for social misery and human degradation which undermines human rights and human dignity. It is one of the great curses of our times, which is why the Taken campaign deserves to be widely supported and why we must add our voices to those of Danny Smith and Jubilee Campaign and to those who are at last shouting into the silence, giving voice to those whose voices have been muted, and awakening those whose ears have been closed to this untold torrent human suffering

Taken2

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Website http://takenebook.com/

MEDIA LINKS

 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/28/trafficked-india-red-light-districts
Taken trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yJl19Jd-rQ
Buy Taken https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/taken/id715654976?mt=11

The Taken Campaign App available free on Apple’s app store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/taken-campaign/id717179884?ls=1&mt=8

Also  visit: www.jubileecampaign.co.uk

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See also..

India’s Lost Childhood

5pm Monday 4 November

International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Docks, Liverpool
Free entry. Pre-booking is essential.

Details and booking: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/events/displayevent.aspx?EventID=16721
View trailer: http://www.dfn.org.uk/kavi

Featuring the award-winning, Oscar-nominated dramatic short film ‘Kavi’

Kavi is a young boy in India who wants to go to school and to play cricket with other children. Instead he is forced to work in a brick-kiln as a modern-day slave.

The first Global Slavery Index published in October 2013 showed that India has almost half the world’s slaves – 13.9 million out of almost 30 million. Most of them are Dalits or Adivasis.

Special Guest, Kumar Swamy, South India Human Rights Convenor, will be interviewed. There will also be an opportunity for audience Q&A.

“Kavi tugs at the heartstrings” – Entertainment Weekly
“Remarkably incisive and moving.” – The Los Angeles Times
“I was stunned by the realism of Kavi… the film was moving, heartbreaking, and even beautiful.” -Kevin Tent, editor of Sideways, Election, and Blow
“This is one of those rare films that will just make you sit back and say, ‘Wow…’ when it’s over. It’s that good.” – Duane L. Martin, The Rogue Cinema
“Told unflinchingly, in hues of blazing orange, “Kavi”… is both art and a rattling bulletin about human slavery occurring worldwide.” – Chris Garcia, American-Statesman Film Critic
Kavi

Chen Guagncheng’s Visit To the UK – Chen is presented with the Westminster Award for Human Rights, Human Life and Human Dignity. Archbishop Desmond Tutu Issues Joint Statement with Chen.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng issued a joint statement calling for international leaders to confront China on their human rights violations http://thecommunity.com/2013/06/desmond-tutu-and-chen-guangcheng-a-year-for-human-rights-in-china/

Chen Guangcheng arrives at Westminster: "It has taken a blind man to see what the world has refused to see."

Chen Guangcheng arrives at Westminster: “It has taken a blind man to see what the world has refused to see.”

Chen Guangcheng holding one of the postcards produced by Jubilee Campaign and launched by David Alton and Danny Smith when Chen was sent to prison. Phyllis Bowman of Right To Life assisted with their distribution.

Chen Guangcheng holding one of the postcards produced by Jubilee Campaign and launched by David Alton and Danny Smith when Chen was sent to prison. Phyllis Bowman of Right To Life assisted with their distribution.

Chen was interviewed on national TV and radio - pictured here with Jon Snow of Channel Four news.

Chen was interviewed on national TV and radio – pictured here with Jon Snow of Channel Four news.

Cheng Guangcheng and his wife come to the House of Lords

Cheng Guangcheng and his wife come to the House of Lords

Cheng Guangcheng and his wife in Parliament's Westminster Hall

Cheng Guangcheng and his wife in Parliament’s Westminster Hall

China's coercive One Child Policy Discussed at Westminster in the Grand Committee Room

China’s coercive One Child Policy Discussed at Westminster in the Grand Committee Room

"It's a girl - the three most dangerous words in the world."

“It’s a girl – the three most dangerous words in the world.”

"The only country in the world where it is illegal to have a brother or a sister."

“The only country in the world where it is illegal to have a brother or a sister.”

Chen is awarded the Westmintser Award for Human Rights  Human Life and Human Dignity

Chen is awarded the Westmintser Award for Human Rights Human Life and Human Dignity

Chen is awarded the Westminster Award for Human Rights  Human Life and Human Dignity. It was presented by Fiona Bruce MP and Lord Alton on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group and the All Party working Group for human Dignity. The Award was sponsored by Right To Life and the meeting was sponsored by RTL, Life, Care, Epiphany Trust and Jubilee Campaign

Chen is awarded the Westminster Award for Human Rights Human Life and Human Dignity. It was presented by Fiona Bruce MP and Lord Alton on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Pro Life Group and the All Party working Group for human Dignity. The Award was sponsored by Right To Life and the meeting was sponsored by RTL, Life, Care, Epiphany Trust and Jubilee Campaign

https://davidalton.net/2013/04/07/chinas-one-child-policy-official-figures-reveal-that-336-million-women-have-been-aborted-37-million-more-men-than-women-as-campaign-of-gendercide-unbalances-the-population/

A shocking report in The Financial Times has finally revealed the true extent of China’s one child policy – a policy which has resulted in a massive imbalance between young men and women and which has targeted girls babies in a relentless campaign of gendercide. Over decades, using taxpayers’ money, this is a policy which has been indirectly aided and abetted by successive British Governments.

The report – which is based on official data from the Communist Party’s own health ministry – suggests that Chinese doctors have undertaken over 330m abortions during the 40 years since China began to implement the one child policy.

First introduced in 1971 I began to challenge the policy in 1980, after my election to the House of Commons and over the years which have followed I have questioned the millions of pounds which Conservative and Labour Governments – enthusiastically supported by the Liberals and then Liberal Democrats – have poured into agencies which have, in turn, funded the Communist Party’s Chinese Population Association.

At one memorable meeting with a Secretary of State for International Development the air was blue with undeleted expletives and four letter words as I was accused of undermining development policies which relied on population control. I told the politician concerned that we should be attacking poverty not people and that it was an egregious violation of the rights of women when they are forcibly aborted or sterilised. For the UK to have channelled money into agencies which have in turn funded those carrying out coercive population measures makes us collaborators in these violations.

Some years after that meeting, during a visit to China, and in conversation with Chinese officials, I was surprised when they privately gave me quiet encouragement in opposing the one-child policy.

In Beijing there was also more sympathy than I had anticipated when I took up the case of Chen Guangchen, the blind human rights activist who had single-handedly exposed the forced abortion of over 120,000 women in the Shandong province.

While Chen Guangchen was incarcerated during a four year prison sentence – and then kept under house arrest – I told senior Chinese officials that I thought that one day Chen would be seen as a national hero. It was striking that no one contradicted me or shouted me down. Of course, many officials have suffered under these policies too. Hardly anyone in China is unaffected.

Chen’s bravery and the clarity with which he saw the economic and demographic consequences of a policy which evaded sighted people gradually opened the space for more honest debate within the country.

The micro-bloggers in China – some of whom I recently met in London – took up Chen’s case and began to question the policy. One of those bloggers has more than 5 million followers and is able to exert much greater influence than party cadres. In the absence of a free press the bloggers represent the best hope for changing opinion and attitudes.

Clearly this more open debate, and public exposure of horrifying stories like that of a women coercively aborted, and whose seven month unborn baby was then left by her side on her bed, as a warning not to become pregnant again, are having a radicalising effect on the population.

The scale of what has been done is phenomenal. Since 1971, Chinese doctors have aborted 336m women and undertaken 196m sterilisations. 403m intrauterine devices have been inserted into women, often without their consent.

The Chinese say that their population of 1.3 billion would be about 30% bigger if they had not pursued these draconian policies. Elsewhere, when poverty and infant mortality are reduced population has fallen naturally.

By comparison, since legal abortion was introduced in America in 1973, in a country about a quarter of China’s size, around 50 million abortions have been undertaken. In the UK, with a population of around 60 million, the figure is 7 million abortions.

The attrition rate in China has not been getting better.

The official figures show that since the 1990s around 7 million babies are aborted every year, around 2 million men and women have been sterilised, and another 7 million women have been required to have intra uterine devices fitted.

For years economic analysts have been warning about the imbalances and distortions which this policy has created. The official data now confirms the inevitable. Not only are there 37 million more Chinese men than women, globally the sex-selection abortion of little girls means that between 100 million and 200 million females are missing in the world. But there are other implications of this social engineering.

The ratio of children and retirees shows that for the first time the one is less than the other – meaning that (as in child-poor Europe) there simply will not be the children to support those who have retired. One Chinese economist, Ken Peng, said: “This makes China’s population look more like a developed country than a developing one, which is a key disadvantage in labour-intensive industries,”

The new Chinese leadership has hinted that it will introduce some welcome reforms – such as the dismantling of the network of re-education centres which indoctrinate citizens in Communist Party beliefs. Some observers also think they may also re-examine the one child policy.

One commentator, Mr He Yafu, has suggested that one likely change to family planning rules would be to permit two children for parents who were both single children themselves. He said that the policy, in place on a trial basis in some cities, could be implemented nationwide. But he added that such a modest change would not be enough to deal with the accelerating problem on an aging and unbalanced population; and even these modest changes have been attacked by die-hard officials in the Communist Party’s family planning secretariat.

Yan Yuxue argued that “the idea of easing the ageing problem by increasing the fertility rate is like drinking poison to quench thirst.”

So, despite the more open criticism of this appalling policy we should not assume that it will simply disappear without a fight.
Nor should we be seduced by the argument that the Chinese Government may allow some couples to have two children. The key question is not the number of children but the principle of State interference in the intimate life of a family and the coercion which the State uses to enforce limits. Even with a two-child policy, women will still be subject to forced abortion if they get pregnant without a birth permit.

And, of course, a “two-child policy” rather than a “one child policy” will not discourage gendercide, the sex-selective abortion of baby girls. There is already plenty of evidence of rampant gendercide in those districts where couples can have a second child if their first is female. Forced abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and gendercide – the sex-selective abortion of baby girls – will undoubtedly persist until China abolishes all coercive birth limits.

What amazes me is that those who would normally be so outspoken against cruel abuses of human rights, and against discriminatory practices targeted at women, have been so quiet for so long. The moment abortion or population are mentioned the shutters come down and the world simply looks the other way as 330 million women are forcibly aborted.
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Speaking during Chen’s visit to the Westminster Parliament, David Alton said:

While others remained silent, Chen courageously dared to speak out against China’s coercive one child policy – which has led to 330 million abortions and to 37 million more men than women. Today, in China, the three most dangerous words are “It’s a girl.”

Chen’s stand against this egregious violation of human rights led to four years imprisonment, then to house arrest, and then to a death defying escape from China. Today, Chen’s relatives, whom he had to leave behind, continue to be intimidated and attacked by local officials.

It took this blind man to see and to challenge what political leaders chose not to see. His bravery and his suffering, in the cause of human rights and human dignity, shames those who implemented these polices and those in the West who have aided and abetted them.

Chen’s bravery and the clarity with which he saw the human, economic, and demographic consequences of a policy which evaded sighted people has gradually opened the space for more honest debate within the country.‬

‪Official figures show that since the 1990s around 7 million babies are aborted every year, around 2 million men and women have been sterilised, and another 7 million women have been required to have intra uterine devices fitted. ‬There have been over 330m abortions during the 40 years since China began to implement the one child policy.‬


This has led to population imbalances and distortions. The official data now confirms that not only are there 37 million more Chinese men than women, (contributing to the 100- 200 million girls estimated to have been aborted globally in sex selection abortions) but there are other implications of this social engineering.‬

‪Economists point to the ratio of young to old and to the loss of labour needed to sustain development. It also leads to the emasculation of family structures, to “little emperor’s syndrome” and to other unwelcome social phenomena such as human trafficking.

While Chen Guangchen was incarcerated during a four year prison sentence – and then kept under house arrest – I travelled to China and told senior Chinese officials that I thought that one day Chen would be seen as a national hero. It was striking that no one contradicted me or shouted me down. Of course, many officials have suffered under these policies too. Hardly anyone in China is unaffected.‬ But, while others remained silent it was Chen who had the bravery to speak out and to challenge this inhumane, misguided and cruel policy. China is a great country and it is home to many great people – but its coercive population policies diminishes its greatness and its new leaders should make it a priority to change this policy.

Chen’s current situation can be found here:

China: Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng’s Relatives Receive Death Threats

http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/blog/?p=1058

There is a wealth of historical information about Chen Guangcheng here:
http://www.womensrightswithoutfrontiers.org/index.php?nav=chen-guangcheng

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/blind-chinese-human-rights-activist-receives-pro-life-award-at-uk-house-of/

The Story of Alexander Ogorodnikov – new book to be published on the life of “the eternal dissident”

A Dutch Catholic writer, Koenrad De Wolf, has recently published the remarkable story of Alexander Ogorodnikov, one of the great Christian dissidents of the Soviet Union. The book has now been translated and it is to be published in English in the New Year. It is the story of a singular man and which deserves to be told.

I first heard of Alexander in the early 1980s, just after I had been elected to Parliament, the human rights organisation, Jubilee Campaign, asked my support for a young Soviet dissident who had just been sent to the Gulag. His case immediately captured my interest. Ogorodnikov was not one of those protesters who carried out noisy human rights campaigns. He worked in silence, building up an underground Christian Seminar.

Three things about him fascinated me. First, in a society that was controlled by the KGB from beginning to end, he had succeeded in creating a network with branches in more than ten cities of the former Soviet Union, thereby reaching a few thousand believers − surely a feat without precedent in the history of the Soviet Union. In addition, Ogorodnikov − a young man in his twenties − called his group the “Christian” Seminar. He himself was an Orthodox convert, as were all his friends who lent their support to this initiative. But they welcomed Protestants and Catholics to their meetings as well. That ecumenical approach was also a first. Finally, his unimaginable idealism, his courage and his spirit of self-sacrifice also touched me. When given the option to leave the country, he firmly declined because he wanted to change “his” Russia from the inside out. His willingness to sacrifice himself also meant that when he was imprisoned he was parted from his wife and newborn child.

Slowly, the net closed around the group. All those responsible for keeping the Seminar alive were arrested, put through show trials and deported to Soviet camps. Inevitably, as the leader of that group Ogorodnikov was the first in the long line of detainees.

At the beginning of the eighties, news of Ogorodnikov was replaced by a disquieting silence. We could only imagine what atrocities were taking place in the Gulag. We carefully followed the publications issued by the Keston Institute in Oxford, which systematically gathered information on the dissidents via the underground press or samizdat that often travelled to the West at a snail’s pace. And as long as no death announcement was published, there was hope. Several times I myself approached the British Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and they made representations but it was all without results.

I vividly remember years later, at the end of 1986, when two farewell letters from Ogorodnikov reached the West − six months after they have been smuggled out of the camp in Khabarovsk. They made a huge impression on me, and they still do today, although twenty-five have elapsed. Jubilee Campaign responded to Alexander’s letters by immediately launching a campaign throughout the United Kingdom. Hundreds of thousands of posters and postcards of Alexander were distributed. I often visited Saint James Church in Westminster in the heart of London, where the Reverend Richard Rodgers and the Orthodox monk Athenasius Hart had gone on a hunger strike to obtain Ogorodnikov’s release. When Alexander was finally set free in February 1987, we threw a huge party.

Although Ogorodnikov had spent years in hell and had barely survived the horrors of the Gulag − including a few lasting physical injuries − and the KGB had destroyed his marriage, Alexander continued his struggle. What fascinated me was that he did this without any form of bitterness or hard feelings, and with that perpetual smile on his face − but at the same time with a rarely seen determination. When you’ve survived the Gulag, you’re no longer willing to compromise on anything. Alexander’s priority was to obtain religious freedom. But he also saw this as an opportunity to realize his life’s ambition: to change“his” Russia from the inside out.

As a pioneer, his accomplishments were astounding. He founded the first free school in the Soviet Union as well as the first soup kitchen and the first shelter for orphans. He also went into politics, but that step was not a success because of his unwavering scruples.

When, in 1989, he visited the West for the first time, he was my guest in Liverpool where, among other things, we visited the Beatles Museum. Alexander had told me that it was overhearing the prison guards listening to Beatles music, which had helped him to defeat the isolation in which he was kept. He told me how he had learnt some English through the music and through conversations with a prisoner in the next cell to whom he was able to have secret conversations via a broken pipe.

Alexander also visited the city’s Cathedrals – and appropriately, the Catholic church of Our Lady of Good Help, in Wavertree, where one of the Beatles, George Harrison, was baptised. At the end of Mass, Colette Carmel-Hart, the organist, played the traditional Russian anthem in his honour. He also visited a Baptist Church in Accrington – where the congregation had heard of him through their MP, the late Ken Hargreaves, and had faithfully kept him in their prayers throughout his captivity. One member of the congregation in Liverpool told him that she had his photograph in her kitchen and prayed for him daily. I think it was the first time that Alexander realized how much his courageous stand had touched people way beyond his homeland and from every walk of life.

After the extraordinary changes which came in 1989 I organized support for Alexander’s social activities, and I also helped with the delivery of the first printing press that had ever been legally imported into the Soviet Union. Our contacts have lessened over the years, but I am full of admiration when I read here that Ogorodnikov is still carrying on his struggle − often all alone. While we tend to use grand and lofty language to talk about solidarity, Ogorodnikov goes to the Moscow train stations and the metro three times a week to beg for food. And right up to the present day, this “eternal dissident” is a thorn in the side of the powers that be in the Kremlin. The fact that in 2011 his shelter in Buzhorova is wired for electricity but still is not connected to the grid, after ten years of operation, beggars the imagination. And only because he refuses to pay bribes to corrupt bureaucrats. A man who has survived the Gulag doesn’t pay bribes.

At the moment, Ogorodnikov is risking a new two-year prison sentence because a contractor who guaranteed the rebuilding of the shelter in Buzhorova in 2009 is believed to have hired illegals.
Alexander Ogorodnikov’s life story is far from over, but it testifies to a rare courage and sacrifice. It is one which deserves to be told. The struggle and suffering of the Church in the former Soviet Empire deserves to be told to all generations.

1989 with Alexander Ogorodnikov at Moscow Press Conference

1989 Moscow with Alexander Ogorodnikov, addressing democracy activists

1989 Moscow airport importing the first legal off set litho printing press, met by Alexander Ogorodnikov, former Soviet prisoner

1990 Alexander Ogorodnikov visits Liverpool