Tackling Slavery with Unchosen
Amongst the many dates that should be marked on our calendar a big red circle should be placed around the 18th October 2012 UK anti-slavery day. It is alarming to think that across the world over 12 million people have been trafficked and worked as slaves with nearly 50% put to work as sex workers. We tend to still think of slavery as a blight on our country's past or something that happens in the developing world yet those figures paint a different picture for the UK. Unchosen, the Bristol based charity that campaigns for end to human trafficking will be marking anti-slavery day with a special screening of Stolen, a heart wrenching film that looks at child exploitation, and will feature a Q&A session with representatives from leading charities as well local and constabulary authorities.
I first learnt about Unchosen through writer and broadcaster Mark Le Leivre who I met at the Encounters International Film Festival Launch in 2010. Mark asked for help in promoting Unchosen that year which was to run over several days with screenings, talks and exhibitions scheduled throughout Bristol and Bath. You can read the article, which includes the organisation's history, by clicking here. I was impressed to learn that it had the support of legendary film maker Ken Loach as well as director Nick Broomfield, director of the acclaimed feature film Ghosts, as Unchosen's Honorary President.
Basically the organisation is all about using films and documentaries to keep up awareness of human trafficking into the UK. Unchosen work in collaboration with film makers, NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) and an army volunteers to set up campaigns at schools, universities and local communities. They help raise awareness, expose traffickers in the UK with the help of their volunteer base, and especially work to involve young people to be aware of the dangers of grooming and generally to get involved and help make a difference.
This year's event features a screening of Stolen, a 90 minute TV movie which aired on BBC One in July last year. The film stars Homeland's Damian Lewis as DI Anthony Carter, an officer assigned to the Human Trafficking Unit, trying to find three young girls brought into the country and forced into servitude. The film starkly examines the profitable and dark underworld of human trafficking in the UK which has seen over 1.2 million children sold into slavery. The film will then lead to a Q&A session with Graham Sims, Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods & City Development for Bristol City Council, Ella Remes,Children’s Services Manager for Barnardo’s, and Detective Inspector Dave Grimstead, Public Protection, Avon & Somerset Police. The combination of the film followed by the panel discussion should engage the audience, encouraging them to think long and hard about the subject matter and what needs to be done to tackle its seemingly increasing rise in the UK.
If there was a every a time for greater need to raise awareness of human trafficking to the UK it is now, given how it is increasing and very little seems to be done to bring it to an end. In August 2010 the coalition government chose to opt out of the EU effort to clamp down on the trade in sex slaves, causing quite a stir until perceived pressure saw a reversal of that decision the following year. Yet there are still fewer arrests being made and there is speculation that human trafficking, in particular those used as sex workers is slowly becoming less of a priority. An article by Mark Towsend, Home Affairs Editor for The Observer reveals some disturbing facts and revelations about the fight against slavery in the UK.
Stolen will be screened at the Tobacco Factory and admission is free. For more information you can visit the Unchosen website by clicking on the flier on the top right hand side of the page.