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REX/Elena Perlino
UK News

Christian charity hails 'historic' trafficking laws

The result of the vote on Thursday evening means that in the past year England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all voted for new legislation to tackle modern day slavery.

Human trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Policy Officer at Christian Action Research & Education (CARE), Louise Gleich said: "This completes the set for the whole of the UK. It means as a nation we are much more aware of this issue and we are much more equipped to tackle it going forward."

CARE was one of the first Christian charities to start campaigning on this issue and since 2006 has been at the forefront on advocating for better support for victims and specialist support especially for child victims.

In April 2014 a special committee of parliamentarians said they backed Theresa May's Modern Slavery Bill but recommended major changes be made, including more protection for children, enhanced legal support and compensation for victims.

It also said criminal offences should be simplified to help get convictions.

Ms Gleich said these aims have been achieved in the UK-wide legislation: "In all parts of the UK we have guarantees of protecting and providing special advice for children who have been victims of trafficking. This puts support for victims on a new plane."

However, CARE thinks that one country is leading the way: "Northern Ireland introduced a clause to criminalise paying for sex. The rest of the UK needs to start looking at that and how we address demand for paid sex, which has such a role in driving demand for trafficking."

In April 2015 Holyrood's justice committee said the buying of sex should not be criminalised under any legislation aimed at tackling human trafficking.

The committee's view was that the legislation was not right for addressing the issue.

There have been several high-profile instances of possible human trafficking this year, including the discovery of 71 bodies in the back of a lorry in Austria in August.

Louise Gleich argues that the issue goes to the heart of God's creation.

"It is about the dignity of the individual, their worth and recognition in the eyes of God and how we need to value them as a human being. The kind of exploitation that people who have been trafficked experience is the king of thing that needs to be stopped."

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