Citizens demand specialist support for child trafficking victims
ECPAT UK is marking Anti-Slavery Day 2018 by delivering a 120,000 strong petition to the UK Government that demands guaranteed specialist support for trafficked children.
Young members of an award-winning ECPAT UK youth programme for victims of trafficking will be joined at a ceremony at No. 10 Downing Street today by the anti-slavery organization Freedom United, online campaign platform Care2, ethical fashion company Beulah London, and Labour MP Carolyn Harris.
Trafficked children are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. However, in Britain, ECPAT UK says that they are often left with no family or support system. Having suffered in situations of exploitation, they require high levels of dedicated, specialist support in order to meet their needs, recover and rebuild their lives. The UK government provides support to victims of trafficking under child protection laws, however, this support is often severely inadequate and inconsistent across the country. This leaves children vulnerable.
Trafficking victim Hanh* shared her story:
“My social worker and her manager made me believe that I couldn’t have counselling,”
“Even though I had a letter from the government saying I was a victim of exploitation, it took more than three years of court appeals before I was finally granted leave to remain in the UK. It was so stressful. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of ECPAT UK and my friends in the youth group.”
Hanh was just 15 years old when trafficked to the UK, where she was sexually exploited for two months. After she managed to escape and find a police station, the government acknowledged her status as a victim of trafficking, but it was only the beginning of a series of challenges, that she says left her desperate and struggling to rebuild her life. And she is just one of hundreds of victims in the UK facing a similar situation.
Debbie Beadle, ECPAT UK’s Director of Programmes says:
“We have seen time and time again the terrible impact that a lack of specialist support has in trafficked children’s lives,”
“While adult victims receive specialist support including therapeutic services, counselling, financial support, access to legal advice and safe accommodation, child victims are placed into services that lack awareness about trafficking and the specific needs of trafficked children. This means that many children suffer without the assistance they need to recover and move on from their trauma, and they may be vulnerable to re-trafficking and further exploitation.”
*Name changed to protect the young person’s identity