Which industry generates 150 billion dollars? There are probably many, but there is one in particular - a criminal industry - that is said to be worth this amount. It is the industry of kidnap, human trafficking and enslavement. The value is frightening, as is the scale and scope of the trade. It can affect anyone, and its victims can be anyone, though it is a trade that has its preferences - children, and girls especially.
In 2008, the Australian Christine Caine founded the A21 Campaign - Abolishing Injustice in the 21st Century. At Salonika airport in Greece, she saw numerous posters of children who had disappeared. Why were they missing? The reaction stunned her. It was something that happened in Greece, and there was legal ambiguity that did little to prevent it from happening. A21 started with a crisis refuge in Greece. It now has offices and facilities across the globe: two in the USA; those of the UK, Netherlands, Norway, Bulgaria, Greece and the Ukraine in Europe; and others in South Africa, Thailand and Australia.
It is a campaign that has caught the attention of world leaders - Christine has visited the White House - and of religious leaders: the Anglican and Catholic churches have made clear their commitment to the cause of eradicating human trafficking and slavery. It is a campaign predicated on four principles - prevention, protection, partnerships and prosecution. Christine has been able to bring about legal change, but there are countries where legal mechanisms do not exist to tackle this worldwide criminal activity: 27 million people said to be in bondage, a maximum of 2% of victims who are rescued, their average age being 12.
The campaign is highly active in Spain, and it is a campaign that is being brought very close to home to us here in Majorca by the efforts of Jayne Conyerd. "You think this doesn't happen in Majorca," she asks. It does. In Spain, the campaign is co-ordinated by Loida Muñoz in Barcelona, and Barcelona is one of five places in the country where the Walk for Freedom is to be staged next Saturday. The others are Madrid, Seville, Valencia and Puerto Pollensa.
The walk is being supported by St. Andrews Anglican Church in Puerto Pollensa as part of its charitable giving. A21 is a Christian campaign, which is locally receiving the backing of other churches, but it is of course much broader. It is a campaign for anyone who is appalled at the level of this criminality and inhumanity. It is a campaign that constantly faces enormous challenges. The latest one, as Jayne points out, is as a consequence of the refugee crisis. Traffickers can "have a field day". A21 is, therefore, working on the Greek border.
The Walk for Freedom is to take place in 26 countries across the world next Saturday. These make nine more countries than last year, a sign of the growth of the campaign and also of the awareness of the criminal trade. It is awareness, therefore, that Jayne will be raising through having organised the walk in Puerto Pollensa.
The walk will start at 5.30pm on Saturday, 17 October. Its starting-point is the military base, and it will go the three kilometres along the pine walk and the coast road to Tamarells in Llenaire. It is not a protest, but a walk in silence, in single file to highlight the plight of those in bondage. There is a Walk for Freedom t-shirt, for a giving of five euros, but you will need to be quick in order to request one (by Tuesday) and to register for the walk through email@example.com. If you cannot, but still wish to take part, then please come along on the day, perhaps wearing a black t-shirt of the style of the Walk for Freedom t-shirt.
For further information, Jayne is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org. For details of the A21 campaign, these are at the website www.a21.org.
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