MANCHESTER: Stop The Traffik, an awareness raising organisation is urging members of the community to be responsive and come together to put a stop to human trafficking.

The group want individuals to play their part by looking to spot the signs of trafficking and reporting them.

Julia Pugh, 31, Manchester: Stop the Traffik Coordinator, said: “We want Manchester to be a hostile environment for traffickers.

She added: “It’s about empowering people that the smallest piece of information that an individual may have could make a real difference, and even lead to the rescue of a trafficking victim.”

Julia Pugh (left) and Julia Muraszkiewicz, Stop The Traffik Coordinators
Julia Pugh (left) and Julia Muraszkiewicz, Stop The Traffik Coordinators

One place where people can contribute is the Stop App, where they can share any information, new or old that may not be important enough to report to the police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as: “The acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them”.

Exploitation can take various forms such as sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and forced criminality.

in 2016, 84 people from the Manchester area were referred by Greater Manchester Police to the UK National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a support network for suspected trafficking victims.

These trafficking victims were exploited in various ways, the most common exploitation type being sexual exploitation with 41 of them having been subjected to this.

NRM victims manchester
Credit: Elliot Thompson

At their most recent event,  a wine and chocolate tasting evening at the Sandinista, Stop The Traffik volunteers promoted the use of Fairtrade products as a way of combating labour exploitation in the agricultural industry.

Guests were shown a short documentary about child slave labour in the cocoa industry, in the Ivory Coast and taught how buying Fairtrade products might help to eradicate such exploitation.

The Sandinista, Old bank St, Manchester
The Sandinista, Old Bank St., Manchester. Credit: Elliot Thompson

Julia Muraszkiewicz, 31, Manchester: Stop the Traffik Coordinator, said: “We want people to know that they have the power to make a change.

“Companies need to please their consumers so if a consumer says ‘this is what we want’, that’s what they’ll get.”

At the event guests also got to try various Fairtrade chocolate and wine, whilst taking part in a fun and interactive quiz designed to increase their knowledge of the crime and show them how their purchasing decisions can have a real impact on the crime.

Thomas Jones, 30, Salford, who attended the event, said: “I will look out for the Fairtrade label more.”

Going forward Stop The Traffik will continue to work with groups within the community such as schools, Manchester Airport and Greater Manchester Police, to educate people about human trafficking so that more victims can be saved.

More information about Stop the Traffik can be found on their website.

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