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Friday, October 25th, 2013

As I Was Saying ……

Maria?I make no apology for revisiting the topic of the previous entry here. After all, Anti Slavery Day is still fresh in the memory and the news in the intervening days has done much to keep the topic warm.

Interest in the “blonde-haired, green-eyed, pale-skinned little girl” named Maria, removed by police from a Roma family in Greece has attracted keen interest. Who knows, at this stage, whether that couple were legitimately caring for Maria or whether she was being held for slavery or trade, but the proven lack of any family relationship or documentation of legitimate guardianship has rung loud warning bells.

The most concerning fact of all is that police received ‘thousands of calls from all over the world” indicating possible true identities of “Maria”. Some, probably a good number, of those calls will be vexatious, but even a modest percentage reveals a horrendous level of missing, because they have been snatched from their families, or traded, because they have been sold by their families, children.

A news report this week said that, across Europe, about 12,000 children go missing in suspicious and uncertain circumstances (ie them running away or being removed by a parent who does not have custody is ruled out) every year.

For us in Britain, the discovery of Maria was of some poignance, because it emerged alongside renewed activity in the case of Madeleine McCann, underlining hope that she may yet be alive. If she is, and she is fortunate she will be with caring people who wanted a daughter and have used illegal channels to fulfil their wish.

Regrettably, there will be many more like Ariel Castro and Wolfgang Priklopil at large and holding kidnapped youngsters hidden in bondage through their childhood years.

Slavery is a scourge in our society and the kidnap and traffic of children just one appalling facet of it. We should all, at least, understand the issues, be alert and add our voices to a chorus that demands more be done.