Posts Tagged ‘Trafficking’

Author: Caroline Clegg - Director
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February 15th 2012
Anya17: Director Caroline Clegg’s invitation to listen to the survivors

I would firstly like to express my gratitude to the extraordinary young women that we met at the recent Charity visit and to the volunteers and all good men and women who continue to give not only their time and resources, but “a part of their hearts” to people who have suffered at the hands of traffickers, slave gang masters and, often times, their own family members.

I have been involved in creating theatre work on the issue of slavery – and that is what trafficking is – for five years now. Firstly in creating Slave – A Question of Freedom; secondly a new piece of drama on grooming, Takeaway Teenager (June 2012) and presently Anya17 and I can say that the reality still continues to shock me intensely. I am saddened daily at the slowness of change which results in more people like the women we met suffering.

Sometimes the sadness translates into feeling impotent, despondent and ineffective as an artist. I wonder if we really contribute to making a difference. We are simply translators. We make choices of how to present someone’s story and throughout the creative process we develop a narrative that we hope will provoke, relate and reveal, in this case the underground world of buying and selling girls as sex slaves.

Once we have a show we hope that the audience will bear witness, become reactive and perhaps demand that more be done to stop this trade in humans. But will they?

For some, the opera or play may stay in mind for as long as it takes to drink a gin and tonic at the bar. For others it will it be like reading the newspaper; a repulsive story for a few moments but once read it will be discarded because it is not an issue that affects them and there is the mortgage to be paid, the kids need new shoes and yes whilst it’s very sad, there is nothing we can do is there…. Is there?

But perhaps it could help people to listen and listen with hearing and understanding ears to their stories until we, governments and security forces can’t pretend to be deaf anymore?

I don’t believe that not listening because it is too upsetting is an option, because only in hearing will those who have been trafficked gain freedom and justice.

Imagine listening to a girl; someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister, telling you that they had met a man, fallen head over heels in love and followed her boyfriend or by now fiancé to a new place to make a life for themselves.

When they arrive at that place she is beaten into submission, half starved, drugged and locked in a room where up to thirty men have sex with her every day. There could be a girl like that living on your street.

There are thousands of girls (and boys) in the UK now in this situation and they need help. During the recent Charity visit I had the privilege to meet three incredible women who had escaped and survived similar terror. The effect of meeting them was not only deeply humbling but emotionally challenging and thank God, because it stoked and renewed my anger and determination to give voice to their testimony and celebrate not only their dignity and courage but their indomitable will to survive and to rebuild their lives. After five years of work in this area you would think that you would be immune, that you had heard every possible horror. But every girl or boy is an individual human being with equal rights as you and I and part of his or her life has been stolen and they deserve to be heard.

Thank you again to the Charity and especially thank you to the remarkable young women for allowing me to sit and bear witness to your stories, to share a cup of tea and cake with you and see you smile especially as you told us of being reunited with your children and families. But mostly, thank you for distressing and disturbing me and for giving me a chance to listen and react.

As I re-read the opera that night, tears streamed down my face as the girl’s stories became embedded in the notes on the page. The screams within the melody were their screams loud and clear and the silent bars of violence, rape, murder and degradation were the silenced voices of those still enslaved.

I am realistic enough to know that an opera will not stop the sex trade and it will not stop men wanting to go to a brothel. But I do know that if you watch Anya17 you will be changed and with change comes action, and with action those at this Charity and others around the world will have a voice.

As I said above, as artists we are simply translators of stories which we then present on stage to give their voice a platform on which to be heard.

Please come and listen and ensure that those who have escaped, the survivors, are not victims but victors. It is our duty to keep this issue on the front pages and in the forefront of the minds of politicians who have the power to make real change.

Thank you for reading.
Caroline Clegg

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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January 23rd 2012
Purple Teardrop Campaign supports Anya17

I am delighted to announce that the Purple Teardrop Campaign has joined Anya17 as an official supporter. As you can imagine we’re all very excited about their participation and wish them the warmest of welcomes. The Purple Teardrop Campaign has four main aims:

1. To raise awareness among the general public of the plight of women and children who are trafficked.

2. To try to suppress the demand for trafficked women by making men who use prostitutes aware that they could be contributing to this trade.

3. To promote the Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111, so that members of the public can give confidential information on locations where they think trafficked women are being exploited.

4. To support the safe houses which provide holistic care for victims who have been freed from trafficking.

To find out more about the Purple Teardrop Campaign follow them on Twitter @TeardropPurple or visit http://www.purpleteardrop.org.uk 

 

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Author: Caroline Clegg - Director
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December 19th 2011
Anya17 Director & Cast: First Read-Through

Anya17’s award-winning Director Caroline Clegg explains her ethos of using the Arts to raise awareness of modern day slavery and the victims of sex trafficking, and why she has chosen to be involved with the opera…

On Monday December 12th I had my first read-through with the cast of Anya17.  Although Anya17 is an opera, it is useful to speak the libretto as text at this stage prior to the singers learning the notes. I feel privileged to be working on this important project and would like to invite every person who reads this blog not only to come to see the performance, but also to join Anti-Slavery International, for only with action will we end slavery.

For the past five years, and intensively for the last two and a half, I have been immersed in the issue of slavery with particular reference to Mende Nazer.  I read her book, Slave six years ago and adapted it into the award winning play Slave – A Question of Freedom with my company Feelgood which has just finished its second tour.  It is the true story of her abduction, rape and slavery in Sudan and the UK.  She was one of the lucky ones and escaped in 2000.  Now she uses her voice to help those who remain voiceless namely the 27 million nameless in slavery today who cannot speak out.

Working on the play has taught me a myriad of things, the most important being that we as artists and story tellers have a paramount responsibility to be strong advocates for the victims and to represent their stories authentically.  Enslavement is the cruelest and most inhuman act one human being can perpetrate on another and the very fact that in the 21st century it is as prevalent today as it was 200 years ago is abhorrent.  In Anya17 we will tell the story honestly, without compromise or neglect for the truth and we invite you all to come and watch, particularly if you are a man.  Let’s not shirk this issue.  Slavery today is predominantly perpetrated by males, particularly in sexual slavery.  And yes, let’s use the word slavery.  Trafficking is just a means of transportation.  People are being bought and sold into slavery.  What else do you call it if someone is forced to work 7 days a weeks, 18 hours a day without pay and they are locked in a house without any means to escape or communicate with the outside world?  People are sold to become domestic slaves in someone’s house, or as part of an unpaid gang to work on building sites, in catering outlets making sandwiches for supermarkets or as drug mules or commonly as prostitutes servicing up to 30 men a day.  Right now there could be someone in your street or town who is enslaved and you would know nothing about it.

A modern slave is de-humanised, brainwashed into non action, because she has been drugged and terrorised into thinking that if she tries to escape not only will she/he be killed but his/her captors will also find their family and kill them too.  Often the enslaved person forced into prostitution is simply known by a number  – hence Anya17 or in Mende’s case ‘abda’ or ‘yebit’ meaning slave and person worthy of no name.  Imagine if your son or daughter, your mum or your sister, being groomed and seduced to go to London for a ‘job’ and you never saw them again!”

Our generation is charged with ending slavery.  William Wilberforce spent 36 years in getting parliament to make it illegal now we have to stop it all together.  The Victorians stamped out a visual transatlantic slave trade; now it is up to us to eradicate the secret and dangerous underground trade in people.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 24th 2011
Anya17: First BBC TV Coverage

Simon Clemison: BBC News

Adam Gorb and I are much indebted to the brilliant BBC who have not only covered our previous collaborations but have already leant their support to Anya17 at the earliest possible stage. In a clear commitment to raise public awareness of the issues of Human Trafficking, here is the first BBC News Report which was aired just days ago across three BBC southern TV regions.

Special thanks must go to Simon Clemison (pictured) at the BBC, whose dogged determination

and belief in the project resulted not only  in the News article already mentioned, but also a second BBC TV report on Trafficking in the South West (to be posted shortly), and an in-depth documentary to be aired next year.

Thank you brilliant BBC!

Ben



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Author: Stu Jones - Graphic Designer
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November 10th 2011
Anya17 T-Shirts: Exposed

In my last blog post I promised I’d shed some light on the story behind the mysterious code on the rear of the Anya17 t-shirts. So for any of you who have been waiting with bated breath, here we go.

When we first met Ben he had a pretty good idea of what he needed to do from a marketing point of view to get people excited about Anya 17. Getting a buzz going about the opera was absolutely essential. It was natural that, during our initial conversations about the logo, talk turned to include the other visual aspects of the project: the website, Facebook, Twitter, print work and other general merchandise, including t-shirts.

We all thought t-shirts were a fantastic way of getting the branding out there and seen by as many people as possible. It made perfect sense to have the (at that point undesigned) logo as the most prominent element on the front of the shirt. Then there was the small matter of the back of the t-shirts. We all felt that the rear of the shirt gave us a great opportunity to share more information about the project aims and to spread awareness of the trafficking issue. Therefore, as well as the logos of any sponsors, a bit of information on the rear about the cause was a must, but we also wanted something a bit different that would really serve as a conversation starter.

During our first phone call Ben had already talked about the kinds of services girls in Anya17’s situation were being forced to offer by the traffickers. The way these services were advertised to potential customers (so-called ‘Johns’) was very particular and listed as a “menu”. This menu of services varied from girl to girl and was written using a code of acronyms. The code had apparently originated as a way for ‘Johns’ to elude the police on internet prostitution websites. Ben explained the code was very well known to the ‘Johns’ and each individual acronym was usually listed together with an indication of price, again written in code.

We all thought that this menu would make very interesting print for the rear of the t-shirts. The idea was to use it as a device to inspire questions and conversation but I especially liked the way the format seemed to echo that of rock band tour t-shirts. However, instead of listing the venues of the performances, ours would listing the different types of ‘performances’ themselves.

With that decided, all that was left was to design the actual t-shirts. As you will have seen if you have looked at the t-shirts on the Spreadshirt website there is rather a lot of stuff crammed onto the back. As we were including the rather provocative code we thought it was important to also give facts to put it in context and to bring home the shocking reality of the issue. We really liked the idea of indicating the sexual nature of the obscure code through a climax style use of the word yes after each ‘service’ and contrasting this with some text explaining the cold reality. Not only would it be a conversation starter for anyone not in the know, it would also act as a kind of slap around the face for anyone who did know the code, and would hopefully inspire some empathy.

The rear of the t-shirt is then finished off with the ever growing assortment of supporter logos, thanks to all Ben’s hard work in getting everyone involved.

So finally, for those of you who are itching to know, the meaning of each of the acronyms in the code are listed here. Please be warned, however, that they are obviously of a sexual nature so if you’re a bit faint-hearted or easily offended please stop reading right here.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ANYA17 T-SHIRT CODE EXPOSED >>

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 26th 2011
House of Lords

Ben Kaye ~ Human Trafficking Foundation Chairman Anthony Steen ~ Adam Gorb ~ House of Lords

It was a great honour indeed for Adam Gorb and I to be invited to The House of Lords on October 17th to represent Anya17 at the inaugural HTF Media Awards. Never having visited Parliament before, the sense of occasion was even more heightened as we were ushered past the thousands of tourists, through the private gates and into this extraordinary centre of power, declaimed by its extravagant, almost gothic architecture and interior restrained magnificence.

Neither Parliamentary film footage nor the ubiquitous London postcards could have prepared me for the scale or opulence of The Lords. Both Adam and I though spent our time wisely though, talking with many representatives from Human Trafficking Charities and political figures about Anya17, as well as listening to speeches from Trafficking victims and media figures.

Having seen so many ‘shots’ of The Houses of Parliament from across the river it was strange to see the London Eye and so many other new landmarks from the deeply historically-entrenched perspective of The Lords. Despite the radically-altered skyline I couldn’t help but be transported back to Pepys, the Great Fire and strangely enough the freezing of The Thames, together with its accompanying Chestnut sellers, braying their wares from behind glowing braziers on the ice – such is the lot of a poet!

From an Arts perspective I was absolutely bowled over by a truly extraordinary exhibition of charcoals by the Artist Rosalie Watkins, whose powerful work portrayed a Trafficking victim ‘Kira’. If you haven’t seen these utterly exceptional works of art then you absolutely MUST visit http://www.rosaliewatkins.co.uk/rosaliewatkins.co.uk/Human_Trafficking_Project.html

In essence though our presence at The Lords was an opportunity to rouse the media and raise awareness of Sex Trafficking in particular and more generally Human Trafficking in the UK. Could I therefore take this opportunity to thank Tamlin Vickers at the HTF for the invitation following our Award nomination. Press, BBC three regions TV and much other coverage swiftly followed, including an additional promise of coverage from BBC Radio 3.

My next blog will cover my visit to No. 10 Downing Street and the possibility of a performance in Strasbourg in April courtesy of Bob Walter MP and the UK’s Presidency of The Council of Europe.

Auditions for Anya17, (and filming) begin in just over a week, so I’ll no doubt be back in touch very soon!

Oh yes… Funding! To date we have received no funding whatsoever, so if you would like to help (and incidentally become the owner of the very ‘first’ T Shirt design before it changes in a few days time) please spend the equivalent of a couple of double mocca chocca chinos and you can say that you were in at the beginning! http://anya17.spreadshirt.co.uk

Please be aware that the back of the T Shirts contain sexually explicit content appropriate to the cause. For younger wearers I recommend the ‘Front Only’ option.

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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October 18th 2011
Anti-Slavery Day: Writing for Justice

It’s all go in the Anya17 camp this week (Today is Anti-Slavery Day, we’re nominated for our first ever award from the Human Trafficking Foundation, Ben’s off to Number 10 and our brilliant T-Shirts have just launched). As the brand new online media manager, there’s nothing quite like being thrown in at the deep end!

I’m Hayley and barely two weeks ago I picked up the phone and spoke to Anna for the first time about the possibility of volunteering for Anya17 as their online media manager. A few days later and I found myself on the end of a phone to Ben, discussing ideas for this blog and our Twitter feed – and I hadn’t even agreed to volunteer at that point!

A country-loving southern living up in the industrial north of England, I found out about Anya17 through Sheffield based charity City Hearts, who work with victims of human trafficking to rehabilitate them and, where possible, reunite them with their families in their home countries. Through City Hearts, I’ve met women who have been trafficked to the UK to work in the sex industry. The thing that struck me most about them was this; they could be anyone. They could be me. They could be you. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and boyfriends. They are girls who, at one time or another, found themselves in what ended up being the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. (At this point I feel I should interject that both men and women can be victims of trafficking – the statistics are quite shocking – but the focus of Anya17 is that of the stories of the women trafficked for sex).

Speaking to Ben over the phone I could tell he was hugely passionate about giving these faceless, voiceless young women a platform to make their voice and their stories heard. What comes across – and I’m sure it’s more obvious in person – is his belief that even doing something, no matter how small, can make a difference.  And that’s ultimately why I agreed to be Anya17’s online media manager. Using my ability to blog, my unhealthy addiction to social media, and my journalist head to help raise a voice for these people and in some way, make a difference.

Over the next few months I hope we’ll build a large online following both interested in the opera and in raising awareness and fighting against this incredible injustice. I’m excited to see a more “traditional” art form, the opera, catapult a serious modern-day world issue into the public psyche and to the fore of the political arena.

Anya17, in my mind, is a story with many sides, told by many people. And this blog is where you’ll see them unfold.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 13th 2011
United Nations

Ben Kaye from Anya17 meets Aranka and Syria from The United Nations (UN-GIFT) in London Oct 2011

It was wonderful to finally meet Siria and Aranka from UN.GIFT, with whom I had been liaising for so long before we had an informal get together this week in London. It was particularly poignant also to meet at the BFI Southbank, where the Composer Adam Gorb and I had so many meetings thrashing out the Opera.

Siria and Aranka had just flown over from Vienna on a very busy schedule indeed and were due to fly across the globe the next day, so it was great to catch up. UN.GIFT are about to launch (amongst many other things) a new Human Trafficking leaflet and would very much appreciate feedback from UK NGOs before publication, so if you don’t have their contact details then please do get in touch asap.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 2nd 2011
Anya17 Nominated for Award!

It was a huge surprise when I heard that ‘Anya17’ has already been nominated for an award!

Despite the fact that the premiere of Anya17 is not until March 7th next year, the Libretto for the Opera has been circulating amongst the Charity community in the UK and abroad, and the result seems to have been a nomination for a HTF Media award at The House of Lords in October!

Let’s not get too excited here, because not only is there ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’ but also some technicality over dates may make us ineligible both for the Awards for this year, and unfortunately for 2012, but the nomination itself is a great emotional boost to all of us who have worked so hard and for so long on this project – some since 2009. Without Adam Gorb, the RNCM, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Hope University, Anna, Stu, Lauren, the UN, the supporting Charities, MPs, MEPs and the BBC, what we may have had here could have just have been a still-born dream.

Before I go into full ‘Awards Ceremony Mode’ therefore and start thanking my Agent (who doesn’t exist), my Mother (who definitely does) and my Deity (the Jury’s still out on that one), I would sincerely like to thank all of you for nurturing some nebulous genus of an idea and helped the project to get this far.

Surely the plaudits though must go to my hairdresser…

Well done everyone!

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