Fifth of Britons unknowingly aid child trafficking, according to survey


• Buying pirate DVDs can benefit 'slave trade'
• Third of adults not aware of extent of the problem


More than a fifth of Britons may be unknowingly contributing to child trafficking, a survey published today reveals.

People who buy pirate DVDs and roses from street vendors, smoke home-grown cannabis, give money to child beggars and use prostitutes may be supporting what the United Nations has described as "a modern day slave trade", says research published by ECPAT, the international campaign against the sexual exploitation of children.

According to the survey, published at the launch of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness, 89% of those questioned were not aware that their activities may be contributing to illegal businesses run by networks who smuggle children from countries such as China, Africa and Afghanistan

"If you engage in these activities then you are supporting the illegal economy and that includes trafficking," said Chris Beddoe, chief executive of ECPAT UK. "Children are trafficked into the UK every day, across big cities and small towns. They have their identities removed, they are raped, beaten and forced to work in deplorable conditions."

The Home Office's UK Human Trafficking Centre received three reports a week about children smuggled into the UK between April and June, the first three months of operation of a national referral mechanism, and this is thought to represent just a fraction of the cases.

Detective Inspector Gordon Valentine, who heads Operation Palladin, the Metropolitan police's specialist anti-child trafficking team, said they have worked on cases where DVD-selling rings were linked to child traffickers. Afghan children are often used to work in illegal indoor cannibas farms and girls from Africa, China and Eastern Europe are known to have been trafficked into prostitution.

According to the survey conducted across 17 UK cities, a third of adults were not aware of the extent of child trafficking in the UK and a third believe trafficked children only end up in foreign countries.

"There has been a culture of disbelief," said Jan Buckingham, values director at the Body Shop which is helping to fund ECPAT UK as part of the campaign. "People don't see that children are being trafficked into the UK. They turn a blind eye."

The campaign which will be backed by posters in 300 Body Shop windows across the UK. The UK appears to be a hub for an international trade with children from 52 nations trafficked in a single year, but calls for better care for victims have been resisted by the government, according to ECPAT UK.

The report came amid warnings that the global economic crisis is set to increase the international trade. A parallel report by ECPAT, which works in 75 countries, predicted that with a further 65m people falling below the poverty line, more families will be tempted to place their children in exploitative situations .

It said budgets for education of girls may be the first to be cut in the down turn by some governments, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers. The report's authors also anticipate that brothel customers will move downmarket to save money, which may put more trafficked children at risk.

anticipate: antycypować, przewidywać

be a hub: być pępkiem świata

brothel: burdel, dom publiczny

cannabis: konopie indyjskie

deplorable: opłakany, żałosny

downmarket: rynek dla uboższej klienteli

exploitative: wyzyskujący

fraction: ułamek

referral: przekazywanie do rozpatrzenia

turn a blind eye (to something): przymykać (na coś) oko

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