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Press releases archive


Stars across the globe raise their hands to stop child trafficking

New research out today shows one in five British adults still don’t believe that children are trafficked to the UK. In reality, hundreds of children from over 50 countries – some as young as 11 years old – are exploited in the UK every year. A petition calling for the UK Government to put the safety and wellbeing of young victims of trafficking at the heart of their plans launches today spearheaded by ECPAT UK and The Body Shop with the support of stars from around the world including Rob Lowe, Matt LeBlanc, Yoko Ono, Joanna Lumley, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson and Sir Ben Kingsley.

While trafficking for sexual exploitation remains the most common form of child trafficking in the UK, children are also trafficked to the country for other types of abuse including labour exploitation, forced participation in criminal activities, forced marriage, illegal adoption and domestic servitude. Even children who are not trafficked for the explicit purpose of sexual exploitation are vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse because of the dangerous and hidden circumstances in which they are kept.

Going Missing

If they’re lucky enough to escape their torment, children identified in the UK often remain at risk while their case is being investigated. There is no standard approach to accommodating these children who could be put in foster care at one end of the scale but could be living with limited adult support in a hostel or B&B at the other. Previous research has shown more than half of these children (55%)* go missing from local authority care and are never found. They may disappear because their trafficker has regained control over them or run away from fear of being found by their traffickers - either way, these defenceless children are in highly vulnerable situations.

Additional research commissioned by The Body Shop to support the launch of the petition shows almost all (98%) adults in Britain think that every child in the UK has the right to feel safe and protected and more than two fifths (44%) think the way we currently deal with identified trafficked children isn’t acceptable. 86% want a system of guardianship introduced so that every identified child has someone to take parental responsibility for them and look after their best interests.

The Petition

To combat this crisis, The Body Shop and ECPAT have partnered in a three year global campaign to stop the trafficking of children and young people, uphold their rights to be protected from exploitation and inspire long-term change to strengthen the protection offered to these children and young people. Together, they are spearheading an international petition calling on Governments across the globe to put child trafficking on their agenda and banish this modern day slave trade.

In the UK, we are specifically calling on the Government to offer greater care and protection to child victims of trafficking by ensuring every child is provided with a guardian to look after them.

  • A system of guardianship would mean that every child victim of trafficking would have someone with parental responsibility to care and support them.

  • A guardian would protect each child and prevent them from facing further exploitation and harm from their traffickers.

Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK said, “Children who have been trafficked will often have faced appalling situations of exploitation and abuse. They desperately need the support of a designated adult who, in the absence of a parent, can take decisions on the child’s behalf and ensure they have access to safe accommodation, education and the medical, practical and legal support they need to help rebuild their lives. We are delighted that The Body Shop is joining with ECPAT UK to call for a system of guardianship to be introduced in the UK."

Sign the petition right now at or sign in any The Body Shop store from today.

Jan Buckingham, Values Director at The Body Shop said, “We are launching this petition, which will be presented to UK Government in 2011, because we do not believe enough is being done to stop sex trafficking and protect young victims. We want everyone to play their part to help stamp out this terrible violation of children’s rights and protect victims of this horrific crime found on our shores.”

The Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People Petition will be activated in some 66 countries around the world. The UK section will be delivered to the Prime Minister in 2011.

High Profile Supporters

The campaign has already secured a raft of high level support from the UK and beyond with stars such as Rob Lowe, Matt LeBlanc, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Joanna Lumley, Yoko Ono, Naomi Campbell, Sir Ben Kingsley, Claudia Winkleman, Jo Wood, Martine McCutcheon, Craig David and Gordon Banks all submitting their handprints to support the campaign.

On Wednesday, an army of Lollipop ladies and gentlemen from around the capital gathered outside Westminster to publically show their support. School Crossing Patrol Officers already stop traffic for children’s safety. Now, throughout London and the UK, they are getting together to help safeguard and protect vulnerable children currently being trafficked and sexually exploited in the UK.

How Can You Help?

  • Sign the petition at any The Body Shop store or online at

  • Spread the word – join the ECPAT UK Facebook group or follow #ECPATUK on Twitter and change your profile picture/ Twibbon to your handprint or hand in the ‘stop’ position to show you’ve signed the petition and supported the campaign

  • Buy the hand cream – all proceeds** from the sales of The Body Shop ‘Soft Hands, Kind Hearts’ hand cream (50ml/ RRP: £3.50) goes to support ECPAT projects.

14th July 2010


Notes to Editors
Consumer research was undertaken by Opinion Matters amongst 1,038 adults between 28th and 29th June 2010.
*Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre 2009
**Proceeds equate to £2.36 per 50ml hand cream (RRP: £3.50) and go to support ECPAT projects.

Christine Beddoe
Director, ECPAT UK
Tel: 020 7233 9887 or 07906 341 889


Copyright © ECPAT UK 2015.

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ECPAT UK is the leading expert voice on child trafficking in the UK and we offer a comprehensive training programme focused on safeguarding young people from trafficking, modern slavery, and transnational abuse. To find out more visit our training page

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