Walking with a Purpose

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We can change our world/ website

It’s hard to believe that something as terrifying as human trafficking occurs in our very own backyards. The victims of human trafficking are often caught in an endless cycle silenced by the fear of either being outed by law enforcement or killed by the trafficker, and at the same time wanting to speak out as they are being held against their own will.

A21 says it is an organization designed to provide better access to rescue trafficking victims it focuses on ‘restorative care and fierce intervention’. Founded in 2008 by Christine and Nick Caine, their mission was radical. Abolish Slavery, Everywhere forever. Erina Low a Prevention, Awareness, and Education Coordinator for Australia said that the organization had rescued 938 women, men and children in the 10 years of operation. A truly admirable fete.

Earlier this year in the suburb of Mt Waverley, a couple kept a ‘slave’ in their home for eight years. The couple who illegally brought over the unnamed female from Sri Lanka, tortured her with ‘boiling water, hit her several times and forced her to lie in her own urine’ according to news.com.au report. It was a frightening reminder that in fact in our very own suburbs human trafficking was indeed occurring.

A21 Australia says it strives to empower individuals in these situations to speak up and seek help and everyone else to be educated on the reality that it does in fact exist in first world countries such as Australia.

This year A21 is having their 5th annual global event known as ‘Walk for Freedom’.  The fundraising event will take place on the 20th of October at 10am in Harmony Square, Dandenong. Dandenong was selected as Melbourne’s meet up because there is already a history of human trafficking in the form of dodgy businesses and illegal sex trade, that is recurring in that suburb.
 
The A21 website describes the event as single-file lines of participants in black walking in their local streets, sidewalks, bridges, and tunnels with a message that can’t be ignored: slavery still exists. Participants will also hold signs and pass out flyers to reach the people in our city with the message of human trafficking.
 

The act of Human trafficking in Australia is covered up so well that often times law enforcement will mistake ‘regular businesses’ with slavery. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, forced labor of individuals often occurs in industries such as  ‘hospitality, construction, agriculture and sex work’ however there is no precise data on how many people are trafficked in Australia or even globally. This is in part because people are unaware of what trafficking actually looks like, including the victims themselves.

Department of Home Affairs asks that we look for these particular red flags: the person is unable to terminate their employment at any time, they are confined in the workplace and will often leave at odd times, they are living in the workplace, or another place owned/controlled by their employer, the person is subject to less favorable working conditions because they come from overseas and the person is not allowed to speak for themselves.

 

 
Source: Plymouth Covenant Church
Funds are being raised prior to the walk and on the day itself. Jess Conlon, organiser for Melbourne’s Walk for Freedom says the funds raised go “towards enabling and training people in the front line to do the rescue, it also goes towards freedom centres and child advocacy centres.”
 
Find out more about The Walk for Freedom this coming October.

 

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