The keynote speaker for this week’s Tip of the Iceberg conference, Andrew Wallis, has just appeared on RNZ National’s Nine to Noon programme with host Kathryn Ryan to talk about modern slavery. He told Ryan that despite slavery being illegal, there are more people in slavery than the entire history of the Transatlantic slave trade. Official numbers differ, as it is a very difficult situation to quantify, but regardless of the number, Wallis stated, “how many slaves are acceptable?”
Wallis presented shocking statistics and anecdotes of exploitation and trade in human beings as commodities, with the profit from the global trafficking industry now estimated to be at $150 billion. “Technically there’s no difference between an individual in the Transatlantic slave trade and an individual who is exploited now, because they have become a commodity to be traded – so in the UK, we decided we should just call it modern slavery,” Wallis stated on the programme. “Why does modern slavery exist? In essence there’s a demand for it – and you and I have created that demand. We have an insatiable demand for cheap goods. You and I are attached to slaves right now without even trying. There’s about 40 to 60 slaves in the world supply chain today that are furnishing our lifestyle.”
Wallis is CEO of Unseen, a multi award-winning UK charity working towards a world without slavery. He is joined at the Tip of the Iceberg Conference at Wellington Cathedral of Paul this week by Unseen’s Executive Director, Justine Currell, both of whom have been instrumental in the passing of the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. Both Wallis and Currell are joined by speakers from many facets of government, academia and industry to share insights into trafficking, exploitation and slavery in New Zealand and what is being done to combat it.
Registration for the conference is still open, however those who register from now on will not be able to gain security clearance in time for the opening at Parliament, and will be welcome to join the conference from 10:15am on the first day, in the Cathedral.
For full information, go to movementonline.org.nz/tipoftheiceberg.