#24hours7cities

P1010693#24hours7cities? At 12.25pm tomorrow (UK time), I’ll attempt to smash the current Guinness World Record for Visiting Most Number of Capital Cities. The record stands at six; tomorrow I’m attempting seven. Oh, and the small print is that it has to be done in 24hours. Erm, hence #24hours7cities on Twitter.

Why bother? Put simply, in the words of Sir George Mallory when asked why he was attempting Everest’s summit, ‘because it’s there’. A challenge is a challenge; If we didn’t strive to break new ground and push ourselves, we’d still be cleaning our teeth with sticks.

Human Trafficking

P1010690But once I’d decided to challenge this Guinness World Record – set last autumn by journalist Sarah Warwick – I realised it was an opportunity. A high profile opportunity to bring an unconscionable issue into the limelight: human trafficking. It’s an issue that has resonated with me ever since I learnt of its worldwide prevalence. For more details of the World Record, and my donation page to ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), click here.

So, tomorrow, let’s pray that the gods of happenstance decide trains run on time. The – ahem – track record has been promising lately.

A big thank you to Amy Laker at the Eurostar press office for agreeing to start the stopwatch at London’s St Pancras International Terminal tomorrow. And another huge thank you to the team at ITMI. Without their unbounded support, none of this would have been possible. (Google ‘Barnaby Davies human trafficking’ and you’ll see just how instrumental ITMI has been in reaching news broadcasters around the world.)

European Travel

Easy challenge? Good old wholesome fun? A little jaunt round Europe’s cultural capitals, same as usual? In a word, no, although the travel itself is not the really taxing part; the teaser is satisfying Guinness World Record stringent guidelines.

P1010692The big cheeses are not to be fobbed off with a few travel receipts and one’s code of honour. They require incontrovertible evidence: log book, high quality photographs, and 24 hour video footage – pretty tricky when on the move with no guaranteed power sources. Neither can one just hop in a taxi – owing to a delayed train, perhaps – and say, ‘Buckingham Palace, James, and don’t spare the horses.’ Scheduled transport only, is what this record is about.

#24hours7cities

Wish me luck, folks. And please donate to ECPAT if you can. If you’re unable to, that’s OK; #24hours7cities is about boosting public awareness of human trafficking as well as raising funds. If you’re reading this – and hopefully sharing via social media – we’re half way there.

Here we go, then! Let’s hope there aren’t ‘the wrong kind leaves on the track’ tomorrow…

Human Trafficking in 2014..

P1010109In 1888 it all finished, right? After the transportation of approximately 12 million Africans to the Americas, Brazil was the last country to finally outlaw slavery. That was the end of official, legal slavery, sure. But, boy, has it flourished ever since, and it’s still thriving today. In a big way.

Are we talking about the stereotypical notion of Asian sex workers arriving by container in the west? That’s certainly happening, but, according to the Bureau of Statistics, for example, 83% of sex trafficking victims in the US are American citizens. Women – and men, too – are sold around the world for between £500 and £8000 in what has become a billion dollar industry.

Human trafficking for sex, however, is perhaps something you’re already dimly, if uncomfortably, aware of. Sickened by, but at least cognisant of. Unfortunately, modern-day slavery doesn’t stop there. People are trafficked for indentured labour, too. And even for their organs. FOR THEIR ORGANS. And this is happening right now in 2014.

Human Trafficking Statistics

jessops7 067You might want to know a few numbers – garnered from the Polaris Project – to give you an idea of just how big this issue is.

According to research there, 161 countries worldwide have been identified as affected by trafficking; an estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year; and an estimated 1 million children are exploited by the global commercial sex trade every year. As a father myself, that last statistic makes me cry.

But matters aren’t completely helpless. Awareness is key. Does the accompanying adult seem to know the child on your flight? This is one of many signs to look out for, and there are 24-hour country-specific helplines to call if you are suspicious somebody is travelling against his or her will.

P1010488Fortunately, there is now an opportunity to highlight this heinous issue, if national media get involved. My Guinness World Record attempt in travel on April 15th aims to bring awareness of human trafficking to a wider audience. Let’s hope together, through being informed, we can combat this.