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Bucks children sing at Christ Church - page seven

Reporting from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire

November 2011 No. 229

Flashmob against trafficking LUNCH-time shoppers in Oxford were shocked to see girls in cages, apparently being ‘auctioned off’ to passers-by. They were even more startled when members of the crowd donned blindfolds and froze on the spot for five minutes. The flashmob was held to raise awareness on Tuesday, October 18th, the UK’s Anti Slavery Day and the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Day. The message was ‘don’t be blind to trafficking’ and the event was organised by Oxford Community Against Trafficking, (OXCAT), a group set up by members of local churches who want to open the public’s eyes to this modern day slavery. In Oxford, two men were recently jailed for sex trafficking offences and OXCAT is working with Thames Valley Police and other agencies, as part of its campaign. Esther Davison, of OXCAT, said: “We wanted to organise a provocative event which would open the public’s eyes to what is going on in many British cities like Oxford. “Open Your Eyes is the slogan precisely because trafficking is usually out of sight and out of mind. That’s why the flash mob were wearing blindfolds: to emphasise that we go round with our eyes shut, oblivious to the possibility that an ordinary house could be a prison for modern-day slaves. Also we like to believe that prostitutes are selling sex because they want to. But that isn’t always the case. Behind the smile, there may be a

Inside: News Michael Gove MP at Church School opening PAGE 3

Spotlight on Humour and the Gospel



Win some Meaningful Chocolate goodies PAGE 7

An actress from Oxford Student Union poses in a cage during the ‘auction’. Photo: John Cairns.

girl who has been tricked into leaving her country and is here under the control of a ruthless criminal who is making a fortune out of her. That’s why we put girls in cages on Cornmarket. This is what slavery looks like in Britain now, and we’re here to say it is completely unacceptable. It has to stop.” Owen Gallacher, also of OXCAT and a member of St Aldate’s Church said: “Watch out for the tell-tale signs. If you see young girls, maybe from Eastern Europe, always being

driven around by older men and never out on their own, ask yourself why. “Call the police or inform Crimestoppers. Community awareness is one thing that can actually stop trafficking. If everyone opened their eyes, we could prevent it. But there’s something else. It’s the sex trade in our country which helps to drive the trafficking in human beings. If we are part of that market ourselves, then we are helping to create the demand for trafficked girls.”

Catherine Bearder, MEP for South East England, said: “Most people don’t realise the scale of human trafficking in this country. The UK is the biggest market for trafficked victims in Europe. The police officers and human trafficking charities I speak to always stress how important active community engagement is in the fight against trafficking.”



For more information see

Doorpost What’s on around Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

Comment Angela Tilby - Why the recssion should not stop us singing salvation songs. PAGE 19

God in the Life of The Revd David Gifford PAGE 20

#229 : November 2011