The STUC was pleased to secure an excellent range of expert speakers on the issues of child sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women, and over 80 delegates registered for the event. The Conference was chaired by Women’s Committee Chairperson, Tricia McLaren, and, the first session of the Conference considered the exploitation of Children. Tam Baillie of Barnardos Scotland gave an overview of the situation in Scotland, identifying three types of child sexual exploitation and outlining service provision and potential actions for trade unions. Susan Arnold of the Fighting Against Child Exploitation (FACE) spoke of the innovative work of her organisation in Tayside, and showed the very moving “Nae Danger” FACE film.
During the second session on trafficking, Glasgow Community and Safety Services Manager, Ann Hamilton, spoke of the appalling plight of trafficked women working in the sex industry in Glasgow. The Poppy Project Film showed women’s own horrific experiences of being trafficked into the sex industry in the UK.
Eaves Housing Chief Executive, Denise Marshall, then spoke on the work of the Poppy Project in providing support for women who were trapped into a cycle of trafficking, abuse and exploitation.
Naomi McAuliffe of Amnesty International spoke on Amnesty’s campaigns to support trafficked women by joining up service provision, and changing immigration laws. Linda Shanahan of Zero Tolerance (ZT) presented on the campaigning work of ZT in challenging male violence against women and urged that men join the fight against exploitation and trafficking.
The subsequent workshop discussions, facilitated by Women’s Committee members Janet Cassidy, Elaine Dougall, and Pauline Rouke, and General Council member Linda Shanahan, came up with a range of action points for trade unions, service providers and government to take forward. These included working with the British Transport Police and transport unions; using the Unions into Schools initiative and education unions to disseminate the “Nae Danger” message; raising greater awareness through union structures; and taking direct action with marches and rallies against trafficking and prostitution.
The Conference fulfilled its brief of raising awareness amongst trade unions and other organisations on these issues, and identified a number of action points and campaigning initiatives for trade unions to take forward. A full report of the Conference is currently being produced and will be available on the STUC website.