This Anti-Slavery Day, Soroptimist International Northern England and STOP THE TRAFFIK presented a petition to 10 Downing Street.
This was not your usual petition. This petition was a Global Blanket made up of hundreds of signatures on fabric squares. The Global Blanket is a visual cue urging us to think about who makes our clothes. As a result of the complex supply chains of the fashion industry, it is difficult to be sure that our clothes are free from human trafficking. For this reason, we urge the UK Government to ensure increased transparency in the UK fashion industry.
The clothes we wear go through countless processes before they hit the shops. These processes involve labour. But can we be certain that every person involved is treated fairly?
Traffickers target vulnerable workers at every stage of the supply chain. For example, traffickers trick young girls from poor communitites into working for ‘Sumungali Schemes’ in Tamil Nadu, India. Glossy brochures filled with pictures of comfortable accommodation and false testimonies deceive parents. A lump sum of money at the end of a three-year contract is the final incentive. But this is just another lie. In reality, the girls are forced to work twelve hour days, six or seven days a week in dangerous environments. This results in a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. In addition to this, the girls have little freedom and family contact. To learn more about these ‘Sumungali Schemes’, click here.
STOP THE TRAFFIK began the Global Blanket Campaign to make a stand against this global exploitation. The campaign encourages three actions:
The UK Government passed The Modern Slavery Act on March 26th 2015. Section 54 of the Act focuses on supply chain transparency. This is a significant step. However, legislation only has impact when implemented, and the law was only passed in the UK. We need to help government by lobbying corporations, and other nations. With this in mind, all 12 clubs in the Soroptimist International Northern England region contributed to the Global Blanket Campaign.
Soroptimist International Northern England (SINE) used 264 fabric squares to make their Global Blanket. Each of these represent one of the 264 members in the North England region. The colour, detailed handiwork and size of SINE’s Global Blanket make it especially striking. As such, it served as a great community engagement tool at events. SINE members organised events to raise awareness and share information about human trafficking. The blanket’s strong visual impact drew people in and sparked discussion. Not only did SINE members make a bold statement at these events, but at 10 Downing Street too.
STOP THE TRAFFIK were proud to stand beside SINE representatives as their Global Blanket was presented. Soroptimist International is the world’s leading women’s voluntary organisation. They have over 80,000 members in more than 3,000 local clubs in over 100 countries. Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls all over the world. Education, empowerment and enabling initiatives are central to their work.
Indeed, these are also central to STOP THE TRAFFIK’s work. As such, we hope our collaborative effort will galvanise supply chain transparency as a political and human rights issue. SINE campaign and fund-raise for a number of deserving causes including human trafficking and modern slavery. STOP THE TRAFFIK are very fortunate to have the support of such an impassioned and committed group of activists. You can visit Soroptimist International Northern England’s website by clicking here.
Above all, the Global Blanket Campaign empowers us all as consumers to take action. As an ongoing effort, anyone can take part in the Global Blanket Campaign. Take some recycled fabric and cut it into squares. Once you’ve done that, sign your name and decorate! For example, you could decorate using coloured pens, thread, glitter or loose buttons. Send your square to STOP THE TRAFFIK and we will stitch them together into a huge Global Blanket. If you belong to a group, invite other members to join you. A crafts event is a fun way to raise awareness and participate in the Global Blanket Campaign. Ultimately, the Global Blanket Campaign is aiming for 1 million patches by 2019. So there’s still plenty of time to take action and get involved!
Visit the SPOT THE SIGNS page to learn more about the indicators.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, you should always call 999.