The conviction today (Tuesday, May 14) of Oxford men for trafficking teenagers across our city is a wake-up call for everybody.
OXCAT (Oxford Community Against Trafficking) praised the victims for their bravery in ensuring these brutal men faced justice. But the case has pulled into sharp focus the horror of human trafficking in our neighbourhoods and communities.
Andy Dipper, an OXCAT spokesman, said: “The decade-long catalogue of torment and abuse suffered by these young women has been horrifying.
“But it has been going on right under our noses; in our streets, outside our schools and behind closed doors in Oxford homes and hotels.
“This is not an isolated case, more and more incidents are being uncovered across the country. We cannot stand for this kind of abuse in modern day Britain… we encourage everyone to Open Your Eyes.”
OXCAT was set up to highlight the problem of men and women trafficked into domestic servitude, criminal activity or sexual exploitation.
The group has just a few volunteers, but provides training to taxi drivers, school children and hotel staff to raise awareness of human trafficking.
It is today calling on everyone to #OpenYourEyes to spot signs of trafficking in your village, town or city, in your school or workplace.
Catherine Bearder, a Member of the European Parliament for Oxford, said: “OXCAT’s message is powerful and it is time we all listened. Trafficking is happening in this city and we cannot allow the suffering to continue.”
OXCAT is calling on Twitter users to spread the hashtag #OpenYourEyes and encourage followers to spot the signs of trafficking.