Stamp out the sex slave trade

ANOTHER busy month and as a passionate football fan, I was glad to be one of the first MEPs to add my backing to a campaign to pressure action to stop trafficking of woman and children as sex slaves up to the forthcoming World Cup in Germany.

ANOTHER busy month and as a passionate football fan, I was glad to be one of the first MEPs to add my backing to a campaign to pressure action to stop trafficking of woman and children as sex slaves up to the forthcoming World Cup in Germany.

During a meeting last week in the European Parliament I heard direct evidence stating that thousands of women and children, many of them under 16 are already being trafficked into Germany to meet the demand for prostitution during the competition.

The World Cup is a competition to be enjoyed by all, and whether you support Ipswich, Colchester, or any other of our clubs, local rivalries will be left behind this summer as we all back England to do well and enjoy the games in Germany, but we must make sure that we are protecting the women and children who are being exploited away from the eyes of the cameras.

This week local clubs have also acted to stop racism in the terraces in the lead up to the World Cup and are calling on football clubs across Europe to follow suit.


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In my continued efforts to make sure that our region gets its fair share of EU support, I will be going back to University this week, not to attend lectures or visit the library but instead to sit down in Colchester with the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Essex to examine how we can capture and best use a share of the Union's £46 billion in research funding from 2007-2013. I will be fighting to ensure that we get our share of this massive budget when under debate in the European Parliament.

We are leaders in research in this region and actually are one of the biggest benefactors in Europe of current research funding. If we look at the challenges that we face today and need to overcome - our ageing population, maintaining the quality of life, sustaining strong economic performance, and preserving our environment, we can see that research is not just for men and women in white coats, but the work going on in the University of Essex has an important role to play in everyone's life.

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Finally this week sees the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, the ongoing campaign to try to ensure that farmers in the poorest countries actually see their fair share of the cash from the money you pay. I spent some time meeting shoppers in Co-op stores to talk to them about Fairtrade and offer tastes of the range of products now available. I was also delighted to see a banana producer from the pacific islands visiting Ipswich and Colchester as part of the campaign to promote fair-trade.

The Fairtrade movement is growing every year and as we come closer to Easter and the traditional eggs I would encourage everyone to give Fairtrade a fair try, the chocolate is particularly divine!

RICHARD Howitt is Labour Euro MP for the East of England. rhowitt@europarl.eu.int

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