As Britain continues to celebrate its growing tally of gold medals, the 2012 Olympics has provided UK residents with another international victory to cheer about. Thanks to an Olympic-orientated campaign, human trafficking cases are being exposed across London.
Human trafficking, one of the largest crimes in the world, affects up to 2.4 million men, women and children every year who are tricked or coerced into leaving their home by the promise of a better life elsewhere. When they arrive at their destination however, they discover that they have been deceived and are led in one form or another into a life of modern-day slavery.
Over the past two weeks, GIFT boxes have been appearing in various iconic locations around London, including outside Westminster Abbey, inside St Paul's Cathedral, outside Southwark Cathedral and in several Olympic boroughs as part of a new campaign organised by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) and Stop the Traffik.
On the outside, these walk-in pieces of public art have the look and feel of intriguing gifts, symbolising the enticing promises made by traffickers. However, on the inside they contain a three dimensional, thought-provoking and interactive experience that introduces those who enter to the grim reality of human trafficking, as well as suggesting ways in which visitors can help to bring an end to this global crime. Each box takes on a different theme exhibiting the many facets of this fast-growing crime; domestic servitude, forced labour, sexual exploitation and forced street crime were chosen as they are the most prevalent forms of trafficking in London.
Ruth Dearnley, CEO of Stop the Traffik, says: "As the world descends on London for the Olympics, we want to teach people to recognise the signs of human trafficking and so far, we've been incredibly satisfied with the results.
"As people have entered the box across London they have learnt more about the crime and for some the penny has dropped; they realised that certain suspicious situations in their own neighbourhoods could actually be cases of trafficking – cases that the police are now investigating. Our aim is to help people understand that trafficking takes place all over London and the rest of the UK, as well as in every other country in the world, often right under our noses."
Stop the Traffik and UN.GIFT are promoting this campaign during the Olympic and Paralympic period to attract not only the attention of the hundreds of thousands of Londoners – but also the attention of the millions of tourists and visitors from around the world who will be in the capital during this very special summer, to help them take home the message of a global initiative against the evils of human trafficking.