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EU pledges strong action to stop trafficking

A new European strategy aimed at stemming the flow of women, men and children trafficked across the continent, has been welcomed by Catherine Bearder MEP.

key_yeheyeh.pngIt came as Catherine hosted the Fighting Human Trafficking event at the European Parliament earlier today (Wednesday).

Row for Freedom members travelled to Brussels to speak about becoming the first all-female crew to cross the Atlantic. The team completed the challenge earlier this year to raise awareness of the problem of trafficking.

The European Commission has this week agreed to adopt the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings (2012-2016).

It included setting up national law enforcement units specialising in human trafficking and a joint European investigation team to prosecute cross-border trafficking cases.

Catherine said: "Slavery has not been consigned to the history books. It is appalling human beings are still being put up for sale and trafficked into forced labour or prostitution."

In the South East, police recently made a number of arrests following the discovery of a suspected child sex ring in Oxford.

Meanwhile, two teenagers who disappeared in Worthing in April were thought to have been victims of a trafficking gang.

Recent estimates from the International labour Organisation (ILO) suggested there were 20.9 million victims of trafficking around the world.

And Europol has said children forced into criminal activities such as begging and shoplifting are traded for around 20,000 Euros each.

Julia Immonen, who was part of the Row for Freedom crew and runs the charity Sport Against Trafficking, spoke at Catherine's event.

She said: "Row for Freedom was an extraordinary opportunity to raise global awareness about human trafficking.

"The emerging stories of people inspired to make a difference is overwhelming. Catherine has supported us from the offset and this has really helped strengthen our campaign."

Fellow rower Debbie Beadle, from High Wycombe, said: "Row for Freedom was such an amazing achievement and beyond our dreams."

The EU strategy will be discussed by the European Parliament and Council, while the Commission will report on progress every two years.

Catherine added: "People are becoming more and more aware of this previously unreported crime and they are not willing to see it ignored anymore."

To see interviews with trafficking victims log on at

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