HUMAN trafficking - a modern version of slavery - is one of the world's fastest growing industries, involving more than 2.4 million people worldwide, half of which are children sold-on for a life of forced labour, sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude and the removal of organs.

Runaways, street children, orphans or young people put up for sale by their parents - usually under false pretences - are candidates for human trafficking.

This week, a Stop The Traffik (STT) UK Tour has visited Bolton with the aim of raising awareness of illegal trafficking.

The STT tour has already held a multi-media presentation at Claremont Church on St George's Road as part of its campaign.

According to Rosemary Holden, spokeswoman for the Bolton Stop The Traffik organisation, the presentation's primary aim was: "To make people aware of the human trafficking that is taking place, today, here and now, and the devastation it is causing in millions of lives."

The organisers of the STT presentation in Bolton agree and say: "While 2007 is the year in which we commemorate and celebrate the anniversary of the end of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, we want to draw attention to the challenges we face at present with ongoing travesties such as human trafficking."

Between 600,000 and 800,000 men, women and children are being trafficked across international borders, making up £3.5 mllion per year in criminal revenue.

Rosemary said it was an issue that needed more public understanding, and added: "This is an issue that needs more publicity - as much as possible so that as many people as possible learn the facts."

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, human trafficking is the third largest source of income for international crime rings with trafficking groups swapping their cargo from drugs to human beings.

Anti-Slavery - the only charity in the UK to work exclusively against slavery and related abuses - has reported human trafficking as the fastest growing means by which people are caught in the trap of slavery.

But STT says it is time for change. The campaign hopes to prevent the sale of people, prosecute the traffickers and protect the victims. By setting up projects around the world - India, China, Cambodia, Nigeria and Estonia - it aims to build relationships with women and children and their male stakeholders, their pimps, customers and boys.

By building drop-in centres and half-way homes in red light areas, it hopes to build a bridge between society and the over-saturated red light areas and promote to the male stakeholders the worth of each individual life. STT also hopes to capture people's imaginations and infuse their desire to participate.

The tour is part of the STT global coalition of organisers, working together to address this illegal worldwide operation.

The coalition covers more than 40 countries including Australia, Canada, China, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, USA and many others. Together, they want to press the governments and UN to bring about change in legislation, with the hope of protecting all humans from trafficking.

According to Rosemary: "There are so many people joining the campaign and organising events big and small that can only draw attention to the seriousness of the problem."

Working alongside the STT presentation at Claremont is Fairtrade Bolton - an organisation of which Bolton comedian Dave Spikey, Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce and Radio One DJ Sara Cox are great supporters of.

Jim Hollyman, co-ordinator at Fairtrade in Bolton, said: "Supporting the event of course is one thing Bolton folk could do. There are also many other events being organised this year in Bolton concerning the 200th commemoration of the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, which began the abolition of the slave trade in the British colonies."

To get involved and help Stop The Traffik, visit the STT website at, and sign the online Global Declaration for individuals. "Also, get a group involved - a workgroup, youth group, church group, sports group - and organise a prayer vigil for Saturday, March 24," Rosemary added.