No Child Taken!

When Tearfund Ireland launched our No Child Taken campaign in September last year we had no idea that it would culminate a few months later in standing on the steps of Dublin Castle with Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald.

We launched the No Child Taken campaign to support the anti-trafficking work of our partners in countries such as Cambodia, Malawi and Haiti and to raise awareness of the horrors of human trafficking around the world. But it led us to look not just at the countries we work in but also at our own country. It soon became clear that Ireland is a destination, transit and source country for human trafficking and if we wanted to really tackle this issue, it would take a double sided approach. We would need to tackle it in the countries we work in and the country we live in. It also became clear that we were not alone in this, we soon found solidarity with the Turn off the Red Light campaign, an alliance group here in Ireland that have been working in this area for years. Joining this campaign brought our development work overseas, together with a national campaign here in Ireland.

Tearfund Ireland work in countries where people are desperately poor, countries like Cambodia, where some can only afford to give their children one meal a day. In these countries, traffickers prey on poor villages, offering parents a better life for their children and parents believe them. During our campaign we spoke about Nang, a 12 year old girl who lives on the border of Thailand and who like so many others will be at great risk of being trafficked when she finishes primary school. Traffickers will come to her village and promise her a job across the border in Thailand in one of the many karaoke bars. They will offer her a bright future, but the reality is that these karaoke bars are generally brothels where men pay for drink, singing and sex. We also spoke about Ranjit, a little boy sold to shovel animal excrement at just 6 years of age. A boy whose mother described him as ‘her world’ but who due to extreme poverty, felt her only option was to sell him in the hope he would have a better future.
These are just two examples of the 1.2 million children who are trafficked across the world every year, who have been sold like commodities, into the sex industry or as domestic slaves or unpaid labour workers. The annual profits generated from trafficking in human beings is as high as 32 million USD, making it the fastest growing crime in the world. A crime that flourishes on the back of other people’s poverty.

Thus also making it a crime that seems unstoppable, a global underground industry that is growing at an alarming rate. But it is possible to stop it, to fight it, to stand up for what is just. Jesus came to bring good news to the poor and so that the oppressed will be set free. So in His name, we at Tearfund Ireland decided we wanted to do everything we could to stop the evil of trafficking. Teaming up with Turn off the Red Light campaign introduced us to the Nordic Model of prostitution. This model criminalises the buyers of sex as opposed to the person providing it. The links between human trafficking and prostitution are too strong to ignore; the most common form of human trafficking is trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

We know ourselves that one in three of the young girls who go across the border to work in Thailand will end up in the sex industry and that is why our partners work so hard to educate local communities on the dangers of trafficking. And why we asked our supporters to stand with us in asking our own government to cut off demand for trafficking by criminalising those people who fuel the sex industry in Ireland. The hope being that it will protect women and children here in Ireland, but also the many women and children that are trafficked here from around the world, from the very countries we work in.

And so we found ourselves on the steps of Dublin Castle one cold November morning delivering over 700 campaign cards to Minister Fitzgerald asking her to bring in legislation that would criminalise the buyers of sex and protect vulnerable women in this country and beyond. Minister Fitzgerald has done just that; late last year she introduced the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014. This was a massive achievement for the Turn off the Red Light campaign and Tearfund Ireland, but unfortunately it does not end there. We need one last push to make this Bill law and a short window to do it in. So once again we are asking people to stand with us, to make a stand against trafficking, to say that no more children will be taken from their homes and from their villages, no more women or men will be sold into a life of pain and suffering. Not in this country, not in any country.

Stand with us. Send Minister Fitzgerald an email asking her to urgently proceed with the introduction of this legislation… http://www.turnofftheredlight.ie/action/

For more information on this campaign and Tearfund Ireland go to www.tearfund.ie

By Gemma Kelly, Tearfund Ireland

1 Comment
  1. Dear Minister Fitzgerald,
    I would like to strongly urge you to implement the law that would make it a criminal offence for the purchase of sex in Ireland. I also believe the punishment should be very strong for those found guilty of this offence.
    This in turn will help reduce the number of women & children being forced into the disgracefull and disgusting sex trade.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my request.
    Yours Sincerely
    Dermot Kelly

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