Day Eight Human Trafficking – SI of Arendal Norway

On this International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, as part of our ‪#‎16daysofactivsm,
we hear from Eva Wiksen Næser, SI of Arendal – Grimstad on the wonderful work taking place in Norway, spreading awareness of Human Trafficking.

"We started out by wanting to enlighten young people on human trafficking, by getting the performance of the play on the subject, "What do they write home about?" included in the so-called "Cultural Schoolbag-programme". This programme offers sixth form college students a variety of cultural experiences, concerts, plays, visits to museums and exhibitions and classroom visits by authors and artists.  We wanted this play to be included in the proposed list of cultural activities. Every school in Norway gets a choice from this list every year.  To make ‘our’ play known, we informed the Cultural Schoolbag administrators about it; how well it was written, how well performed, and how engaging it was, particularly as the performers invited the audience to take part in a discussion at the end. When it was confirmed that the play was to appear on the list, we prepared a folder about it, with information about human trafficking and also about human rights.  We pointed out the relevance it had to the various school subjects.  We also gave out information about our organisation and our work to combat human trafficking.  We were allowed to visit schools, distribute our folder and talk to the relevant teachers.

Photo: The members of the panel at an open seminar. Left to Right: Leif R. Vagle, former head of the Police Department for Organised Crime in Southern Norway; former child labourers Hafso Ahmed Hussein from Somalia and Reza Afzali from Afghanistan who are now students at the Adult Education Centre in Arendal; Tor Åge Christiansen, representing The Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions; Berit Bulien Jørgensen, social worker Liv Bente Sunde, social worker and Irene Sande, child welfare services, both come from the team in Kristiansand which helps victims of human trafficking. (Eva Wiksen Næser in the background on the right!)

"When we spoke to teachers and others about human trafficking, we realised that people in our area thought that this practice only occurred in big cities, not in our more rural area with relatively small towns. We therefore decided to enlighten the public at large about the occurrence of human trafficking in our area, and try and motivate other NGOs, organisations, local authorities, social workers, churches, politicians and our local university, to also work against the practice.  We contacted the police, social workers and the Federation of trade unions.  They all confirmed that human trafficking does indeed take place here, right on our own doorstep.  Furthermore they were eager to contribute at a seminar.  We just had to arrange one, even though it seemed rather an ambitious project.  We booked the county authorities’ conference hall for 11 February,  and set to work on the financing of the seminar and an open performance of the play on human trafficking, and the publicising of both the seminar and performance. We contacted our Soroptimist union, and Inner Wheel and Rotary in our area, to help us with the organising and financing of our project. We had a marketing plan too and we shared the contact and invitation list amongst ourselves, wrote press releases and articles, contacted journalists and reporters at newspapers, together with radio and television stations.  We made flyers and posters and established Facebook pages. The newspapers published our articles, the radio and television stations interviewed us, together with the panellists at our seminar, and other key persons on the subject; we were able to reach a great many people with our information.

Photo: Project leader, Eva Wiksen Næser and the audience 

We are pleased to report that ten schools chose ‘our’ play as their cultural experience.  The students discussed its content eagerly with the actors/storytellers after the performance, and some discussed it with us too. 140 people attended our open seminar at which the panellists gave both interesting and engaging short lectures. These were followed by intense discussion in which the panellists and audience participated. We chose to include interviews with two former child labourers, Hafso from Somalia and Reza from Afghanistan in the programme. The audience was moved by their life stories and the newspapers gave them much attention.

Photo: The two actors and storytellers in the performance, Beathe Frostad and Sara Birgitte Øfsti

At the open performance of the play, a local vicar who is strongly engaged on the subject, held a very telling appeal about human trafficking.  At both events, Soroptimist International Arendal-Grimstad provided information about our organisation and sold our union’s purple ribbon badge, which shows abhorrence of human trafficking and violence against women and girls.
As many people attended our seminar and the open performance, read articles which we or the journalists had written, and heard and saw the practice discussed on radio and television, we hope to have made a contribution towards the prevention of human trafficking.


Photo: Anja Laland aged 15 in the audience, addressing the panel


* This Project was completed in May this year however the Club is still engaging in work against human trafficking. The clubs latest project is ‘Helping Victims of human trafficking in Southern Norway’. The Norwegian Union is continuing its work combatting human trafficking in Noway. Together with the two actors they are hoping to make a new play on trafficking and are optimistic that they will have an ‘opening night’ of this new play next autumn 2016.

“It is an honour to be included in this years 16 days campaign. And it is  so important that all Soroptimists  – world wide  – do all we can to combat human trafficking. It concerns all of us”.




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