Monday, 27 January 2020

The Unvarnished Truth

I thought I knew all about people trafficking. I heard someone speak about it once, and they gave out keys to remind us to pray about the people caught up in it. 

I turned my key into an earring. People ask about it, and that's a good reminder to me to pray. But I don't meet the victims, do I? 
I mean, aren't these people picking brussels sprouts in freezing field in Lincolnshire, watched over by cruel gangmasters.
Or maybe involved in cannabis cultivation in disused warehouses somewhere near Manchester
And those trapped in the sex-trade, kept prisoner in seedy brothels in Bristol or London or Liverpool...
And then I read an article in the Guardian last week about the true cost of a manicure.  I have only had two professional manicures in my entire life. Once on holiday in Spain, nearly twenty years ago - and the second was just after I came here, in a beauty salon in Ferndown. It was for a special event - and cost me around £25. ["an arm and a leg" - for 10 fancy fingernails]
Most Beauty Salons in the UK charge that sort of price - but in recent years, there have been dozens of smaller "Nail Bars" popping up in High Streets in towns across the land. And you can nip out in your lunch hour from work, and get a quick set of acrylic/gel nails done for a tenner, cash, no appointment needed. In, out, job done, back to the office...
And the girl attending to you is clearly foreign, smiles, but doesn't say much - and certainly doesn't engage you in the usual salon chit-chat [going on holiday then? doing anything special this weekend? do you fancy a different colour this time? how are the grandchildren?....] She looks tired, but you wonder if she was "out on the town herself last night, she's young and perhaps a little shy round people.
She's quite possibly one of the many young women [probably from somewhere like Vietnam] who has been trafficked to the UK, and forced into this trade.
I was really distressed when I read the article. Ferndown has 3 Salons, all upmarket, with chatty, experienced staff,dealing mostly with the more affluent ladies [those trendy grannies with blue or maybe pink tips to their hair, and dresses from "East" or "Phase Eight" - but not me!] 
But I know that as I have driven through London I have passed these smaller Nail Bars nestling between Cash Converters, and the One-Stop. 
Because they are quicker, and cheaper, and accessible, they have become very popular. But many [not all] of them are a front for the traffickers. And the girls working there are afraid, and intimidated by the managing staff, and unable to seek help...
The Stop The Traffik website has a very helpful page about this. I'm glad that Southwark [the borough where Liz lives] is taking a very pro-active attitude towards this awful issue. But in many cities there just aren't enough enforcement officers available, and a serious shortage of interpreters [as the Guardian points out] to enable these terrified young women to get the help they need. 
This may have little or no relevance to you if you are down a quiet lane in Suffolk, or in a cottage in Cornwall, or watching your country being devastated by bush fires - but I am flagging it up anyway, just in case someone following my blog can make a difference. 
You may be reading this, and realising that you pass such a place on your daily commute, or that when you admired a work colleague's nails, she told you how inexpensive it was at that 'little place on the High Street, with the charming Asian girls'. Please, if you suspect something dodgy, check out the Stop The Traffik webpage, and then alert the authorities.
 If my daughter was taken away to another country and we lost contact, and I suspected she had been trafficked, I'd be praying every night for somebody to help her. 
Wouldn't you?


  1. Modern slavery; how sad. :(

  2. Having never been to a nail bar I had no idea about any of this.
    There are some truly hideous nails out there. How anyone can think that two inch talons with which you tap the keypad of the computer are beautiful beats me. They make me cringe.
    Modern slavery, the dark side of human nature at its worst and a life that is no doubt nothing like what the poor people were promised.

  3. Thank you for mentioning this. I wonder about the manicure shops in my area of California...? I've only been to one in my city, and not for a long time, but reading what you say makes it seem suspicious. I'm going to look into it.

    1. Thank you Gretchen. If just ONE person escapes from slavery, this blog will have achieved something. Please do tell us what happens...


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