Guild’s sobering meeting on human trafficking

Campbeltown Courier opinion.

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Members of Killean and Kilchenzie Guild and their guests had an engrossing and sobering meeting when they met under the leadership of Marion McDonald to hear about the church’s anti-human trafficking policy.

Marion is a member of the Scottish Churches Anti-Human Trafficking Group (SCAHTG), which raises awareness of human trafficking and how society can defeat it.

Marion skillfully mixed statistics with stories of individuals, underlining the widespread nature of human trafficking and modern slavery.

One of the ladies who attended the thought-provoking meeting, which was organised by Maggie Young, said: ‘Any possibility that we were in danger of dismissing the problem as one of inner cities, or “somewhere else”, was dispelled by  a map showing the widespread nature of incidents of human trafficking and modern slavery in Scotland, and there undeniable, was an incident in Appin. This shocked!

‘The mood was not all despair. On a purely local level, there was a positive outcome in that so many people travelled so far to learn about the issue. This was an open meeting and we underestimated the response.

‘On an official level, legislation already exists to make human trafficking a criminal activity, but, even better, new legislation in progress will make support for victims a legal requirement.

‘With details of events in Essex unfolding and 39 young people dead in horrific circumstances just because they wanted a better life for themselves and their families, this talk was far too pertinent.’

To the question, ‘What can we do?’, Marion’s answer was simple – Do what people in Kintyre already do so well: be good neighbours, talk to people and if you are worried, keep on talking.

Marion also pointed out the unpalatable fact that human trafficking and modern slavery flourish with an end product often the user or the purchaser. If the price seems surprisingly low, it is often because the cost to another individual is unbearably high.

People were advised to be considerate, informed shoppers and were shown several logos, of which the most familiar was likely Fairtrade, of companies who ensure that their products do not involve slave labour.

A somewhat subdued group, following refreshments arranged by Margaret Morrison, voted that the proceeds of the Bring and Buy Stall and a further donation should be sent to fairly new charity Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS).