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Fighting the good fight

By Miriam Rune

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the launch of the United Nations International Blue Heart Campaign Against Human Trafficking, of which Liberation Kilt Co has been a private partner since 2015. An awareness-raising initiative from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Blue Heart campaign seeks to fight human trafficking and support victims of what has become the fastest growing international crime.

The Blue Heart represents “the sadness of those trafficked while reminding us of the cold-heartedness of those who buy and sell fellow human beings”. Use of the UN blue colour demonstrates the UN’s commitment to combatting this crime against human dignity. By wearing the Blue Heart, everyone can show solidarity with the victims of human trafficking and raise awareness of the cause. The Blue Heart Campaign website details how to ‘wear’ the Blue Heart and show your support.

Human trafficking is a shameful crime that robs people of their dignity, their human rights and their future. Despite growing awareness, human trafficking is the globe’s fastest growing organised crime and the second largest source of illegal income worldwide, exceeded only by drugs trafficking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the human trafficking industry is worth approximately $150 billion. According to the charity Stop the Traffik, 600,000 – 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year.

The UK is one of the most prominent destination countries for people to be trafficked into Europe. This is a global problem that requires vigilance and action to put an end to the exploitation of at least 20.9 million people. Stop the Traffik offers advice on spotting the signs of human trafficking, as well as suggestions for how to take action against human trafficking.

Liberation Kilt Co’s contribution to the cause is the Blueheart tartan, official tartan of the UN campaign. Woven in Scotland, the Blueheart symbolises the collective heartbeat of trafficking victims, the black lines on the tartan intersecting to form a cage.

Earlier this year, the first products featuring the Blueheart tartan went on sale, offering people alternative ways to show their support for the campaign. Ethical pet clothing designers Lulu & Robbie launched their first range of stylish dog jackets that put animal welfare first.

Twenty per cent of the net profits from the sale of Blueheart fabric goes to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund supporting NGOs helping trafficking victims and fighting traffickers in the courts. Liberation Kilt Company is in talks with brands interested in incorporating the tartan into their product lines.

Meanwhile under the direction of Juliana Sissons, fashion designer-in-residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum, students at Manchester School of Art and the University of Brighton are to design an eclectic range of printed, woven and knitted textiles to complement the Blueheart tartan. Their final collections will be presented in May to a panel of judges including Liberation Kilt Co and the Ethical Fashion Forum.

University of Brighton students designing anti-trafficking textiles, spring 2016

A graduate of the University of St. Andrews, the writer is a Glasgow-based arts publicist

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