STEP solicitor addresses human trafficking seminar
A SOLICITOR attached to the Dungannon based community development organisation, STEP, has addressed a special seminar at Stormont on the issue of human trafficking.
The event, which took place in the Senate Chamber, was organised by Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA, Lord Maurice Morrow.
The seminar was held in advance of Anti-Slavery Day on October 18, which was the closing day for the consultation on Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill.
Keynote speaker was Gunilla Ekberg a Swedish-Canadian lawyer and international expert on the human rights of women and girls.
She held the position as Special Advisor for six years to the Swedish government on trafficking in human beings, responsible for developing public and legislative policy.
Other contributions came from Swedish Members of the European Parliament Anna Hedh MEP (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament), who addressed the seminar on film and Mikael Gustafsson MEP chairman of the European Parliament’s Women and Gender Equality Committee (Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament).
Lord Morrow said: “The seminar heard from a wide range of speakers including representatives from Women’s Aid, STEP (South Tyrone Empowerment Programme), Dr Dan Boucher (CARE Parliamentary Affairs Director) and from our keynote speaker Gunilla Ekberg, who flew to Northern Ireland specifically to take part. We were also very pleased to have contributions from Anna Hedh MEP and Mikaeal Gustafasson MEP.
“In her address Ms Ekberg spoke powerfully about Sweden tackling head-on some of the arguments that some have made against it.
“Firstly, Ms Ekberg made it plain that in the first instance the police were deeply hostile to the proposal and said it would not work. Now they are fully behind the law and a great champion for it.
“Secondly, Ms Ekberg refuted very effectively the contention that you should not criminalise paying for sex because this will drive the practice underground where women will suffer more. While this line of argument might sound reasonable at first glance, Ms Ekberg demonstrated that it is in fact nonsensical. As the Swedish police have discovered, you cannot drive prostitution underground. Pimps need to communicate with their market if they are to sell and make money and it is in this communicating that they critically have to be above ground and in so doing give themselves away.
“The Swedish law has eroded the suffering experienced by women by significantly reducing its extent.
“The impact on trafficking has been clear. The Swedish police have intercepted phone conversations in which people say, don’t bother sending women to Sweden. Their law is so completely opposed to the purchase of sex there is no point.
“In addition there was a speech from Khara Glackin, solicitor with STEP, who addressed the increasing incidents of forced labour and the horrific effects of this aspect of modern day slavery.
“I was pleased to be able to welcome representatives from a spectrum of public and private agencies including the PPS, PSNI, Probation Board, Soroptomists NI, St Vincent de Paul, Migrant Helpline, Victim Support, Youth Justice Agency, Embrace NI, various churches, and many, many others. I thank them all for attending and participating.”
The DUP assembly member concluded: “The aim of the event was to highlight this diabolical crime which all too often slips from the headlines and falls into the category of being someone else’s problem.
“But for victims the nightmare doesn’t simply vanish and it is vital they receive fair, sensitive assistance to help them recover from their horrifying ordeal and hopefully allow them to reclaim full control of their lives.
“This is a cross-party, cross-community issue which does not discriminate. A victim is a victim, who often find themselves isolated, abused, terrified and in serious danger. Northern Ireland must do all it can, ultimately through legislation, but with the combined effects of detection and prosecution, to stamp out this vile, inhuman trade, and in the meantime to ensure rescued victims, are protected.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Dungannon
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South west
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South west