Trafficking is always an emotive issue, as to question any aspect of it means you are automatically branded as someone who denies any abuse within the sex industry, or who does not care about anyone harmed within prostitution. Tragic stories from
ex-sex workers, along with celebrity endorsement of well publicised anti-trafficking campaigns can often hide the fact that the data supporting the prevalence of trafficking is not always clear, and the agendas driving the anti trafficking
campaigns may not always be agreed upon as beneficial to sex workers.
Unfortunately it is rare that the media ever questions stories about trafficking. Why would the press do so? It allows for salacious reporting, public revulsion, blaming of foreigners and shady gangland activity. No point in questioning anything
that gives you such dramatic story angles.
Which is why it’s depressing but not surprising that with today’s excited headlines about thousands of trafficked children and women, no journalist appeared to ask questions that might have shown a different story.
It isn’t difficult; all you need to do is look at the data presented in the story and ask yourself if it makes any sense.
Many of the world's governments are in denial about the extent and seriousness of human trafficking in which women are often significant offenders, according to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The study is the first comprehensive look at the world's trade in humans, drawing on evidence from 155 countries. It warns that the failure to prosecute modern-day slave traders means that efforts to fight the practice are severely hampered. And
it draws the conclusion that in many countries most traffickers are female.
The report found many countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, failed to collect useful data on the problem.
Global conviction rates for human trafficking remain as low as 1.5 per 100,000 people. While a fifth of countries, many of them African, have no such offence on their books, the problems extend to many countries which have legislation in place:
nearly 40% of the countries examined have failed to record a single conviction.
The problem is enforcement, said Tomoya Obokata, an expert in human trafficking, at Queens University Belfast. Law enforcement officers just don't know the legislation, and they can't identify what trafficking is.
In eastern Europe and central Asia, women account for 60% of the traffickers, many of them former slaves themselves, the report said.
The British Government has seen 79 of the 217 prosecutions brought against traffickers between 2004 and 2007 result in a conviction. We are doing fine in the global context, said Dr Obokata. But the conviction rate is low when you think
of the number of victims.
Foreign police could be drafted in to help Scots forces bring human traffickers to justice, a report said today. The Scottish Government report suggested police from victims' countries could be seconded to help local officers in a bid to tackle
Injustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: This new research shows the scale of the problem and highlights the importance of genuine multi-agency working to ensure that victims of trafficking are given the support they need and those exploiting
them are brought to justice.
And The Bollox: There are 32,000 Trafficked Women in Britain
Rahila Gupta, author of Enslaved, The New British Slavery, claims in the Guardian today that there are at least 32,000 trafficked women in Britain. She writes:
"In Britain, it is estimated that 80% of the 80,000 women in prostitution are foreign nationals, most of whom have been trafficked".
Comment: Illiberal Liberals
3rd April 2009. Thanks to Alan
I never cease to be amazed by the way in which victim feminism makes this purportedly liberal newspaper so highly illiberal.
Gupta's piece is pretty typical. We have the "foreign = trafficked" myth. Then there's the inflated stats - 32,000 - or is it 80,000? - "trafficked" women.
Some time ago, Professor Julia O'Connell Davidson, who (a) is a real feminist and (b) knows what's she's talking about, exploded this bollox in a letter to the Guardian itself. O'Connell Davidson pointed out even the lower
of these figures would amount to a number of traffickees larger than the entire workforce of Debenham's throughout the UK. Additionally, when she looked at the actual number of women found in raided brothels who said they had been trafficked as a
proportion of all prostitutes in the establishments, she worked out that to arrive at the claimed figure of trafficked women there would pretty well have to be a knocking shop in every street.
Campaigners too readily accept inflated figures for trafficked women, but we must base our policy on evidence, not emotion.
To argue there is a universal truth about trafficking does science, policy and trafficked people a disservice. The figure of 80,000 sex workers (which included women, men and transsexuals) in the UK was first suggested in
1999 in a Europap-UK briefing paper. Despite its speculative nature and the author Hilary Kinnell's refusal to make claims beyond her data, the estimate of 80,000 has been widely reported as a firm figure, often applying only to women and often
in the context of claims that the sex industry is expanding rapidly (which cannot be the case if the figure of 80,000 has remained the same for 10 years).
Herein lies the difference between Rahila Gupta, the legion of no doubt well-intentioned commentators on this subject, and serious academics. The academic body of work takes time, has to be reviewed and scrutinised and as a
result the media often loses interest by the time a piece is published. The work will be debated in conferences and seminars and flaws are ironed out. Whereas the truth so confidently exhibited by Gupta, like Nick Davies's flat earth news
stories, go from press release to press agency to newsroom to Home Office to press release and so on. The result of such hyper-inflation is policy that spreads resources too thinly sometimes missing the really needy; and over-zealous campaigning
that criminalises clients, friends, maids and receptionists makes women less safe. When looking for a needle in haystack, it doesn't make sense to keep making the haystack bigger. We have reached a crisis of sorts. And at a time of crisis, when
there is a desperation to find the right policy, then a return to the slow, steady grind of the academe is necessary.
Anti prostitution campaigners at Ruhama have claimed that during 2007-08, there were 341 women directly assisted by the group, including 100 women trafficked into Ireland for prostitution, the majority from Nigeria. Six of the women were under
the age of 18.
Spokesperson Geraldine Rowley said: We supported 341 women who have been affected by prostitution in Ireland and of those 55 were new referrals who were trafficked into Ireland. Seven of those were trafficked into Northern Ireland.
There have been 151 investigations by gardai over the past 18 months into alleged trafficking but no prosecutions have taken place.
Gardai said last night that 23 potential victims of trafficking had been referred to the Garda National Immigration Bureau in 2008 and, where appropriate, these were being investigated with police forces from other jurisdictions such as the UK
and the Netherlands.
The United Nations claimed there could be around 270,000 victims of human trafficking in the European Union and urged greater efforts to combat the illegal trade.
Authorities in Europe were aware of only a tiny proportion of the victims, said the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), estimating there were 30 times more people affected than were known about.
The claims came on European Anti-Trafficking Day on Sunday, which aims to draw attention to the plight of victims of the trade who are forced to work illegally after being smuggled across borders.
Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC executive director, highlighted few human traffickers were caught and blamed police for not taking enough action. Less than one in 100,000 people were convicted for human trafficking in Europe, he said in a statement,
adding this was less than for rare crimes like kidnapping. Perhaps police are not finding the traffickers and victims because they are not looking for them, he added.
Despite a highly trumpeted New York State law in 2007 that enacted tough penalties for sex or labor trafficking, very few people have been prosecuted since it went into effect, according to state statistics.
In New York State, there have been 18 arrests and one conviction for trafficking since the law was signed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer and took effect in November 2007, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. There is one
case pending in Manhattan, one in Queens and two in the Bronx.
The situation is not all that different in New Jersey or in roughly 30 states that have laws against human trafficking — defined as using fraud or force to exploit a person for sex or labor. A federal law passed in 2000 with lifetime prison
penalties has resulted in 196 cases with convictions against 419 people, according to statistics from the United States Department of Justice.
The scale of those numbers contrasts starkly with the 14,500 to 17,500 people the State Department estimates are brought into the United States each year for forced labor or sex.
The exaggeration of numbers of trafficked sex workers and sex slaves has been going on for over a decade. Much of this stems from a general misunderstanding about the differences between sex work per se, sex slavery and trafficking…a
misunderstanding amplified by the fact that in many countries, ALL of these activities are crimes, and ALL are under the gaze of a migration-sensitive and politically astute police force, media and government trying to jockey for brownie points
among a difficult public landscape of financial crisis and celebrity sensationalism. Career politicians, conservative feminists and desperate journalists have exploited the public's penchant for stories about sex and the ethnic other to
replicated the lie that all migrant sex workers are trafficked sex slaves.
David Beckham might not be going to the World Cup in South Africa this year, but 40,000 hookers will be. That is literally what a headline on the NBC sports website claims: 40,000 hookers making their way to South Africa for World Cup.
Other media outlets have been a bit more PC: 40,000 prostitutes to enter South Africa , says the UK Daily Telegraph; 40,000 prostitutes bound for South Africa , says the New York Daily News. Apparently many of these hookers will be
trafficked into South Africa against their will, forced into a life of grimy prostitution for the satisfaction of drunken football fans.
The United States has added Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos and Maldives to its human trafficking watch list, accusing them of failing to prevent women from being forced into prostitution.
The move opens the way for the United States to cut off some civilian assistance, although it usually functions as a symbolic means to pressure countries to take action.
The report claims 12.3 million people were the victims of trafficking in 2009-2010. Previous estimates have been widely discredited, as the US seems to consider nearly all prostitutes in the world as 'trafficked'.
Bangladesh, China, India, Micronesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka remained on the list, unchanged from a year earlier. North Korea, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea remained at the bottom level of countries that do not even meet the minimum
standards on human trafficking. Malaysia stays on the list but escaped the lowest category of countries that do not meet minimum standards.
The State Department recognized improvements in Pakistan, which was taken off the watch list. Taiwan was upgraded and listed as fully compliant in efforts against human trafficking after starting new services for victims. Australia, New Zealand
and South Korea were also listed as fully compliant.
Explaining the downgrade for Singapore, the report said that some women from China, the Philippines and Thailand are tricked into coming to the city-state with promises of legitimate employment and coerced into the sex trade.
The State Department said that Thailand was a source, destination and transit point for trafficking, with ethnic minorities and citizens of neighboring countries at particular risk of sexual abuse or forced labor.
A new report by Amnesty International (and amongst others, nutters from Poppy) has revealed that no one has ever been convicted for human trafficking in Scotland, despite dozens of arrests of people in connection with prostitution.
Two years ago, 35 people were arrested during raids in which 15 suspected trafficked women were discovered. However, the report, Wrong Kind Of Victim? , says: Of the 35 who were arrested, 18 were convicted but for offences related to
immigration or prostitution. [Presumably because they weren't actually being coerced, but were working consensually and had taken liberties with prostitution law and immigration procedures]
The rather selective human rights organisation has now called for closer examination of the reasons behind Scotland's failure to secure any trafficking convictions. Amnesty's Scotland programme director, John Watson, said more than 100 people
were convicted of trafficking in England and Wales.
The UK-wide report said measures to protect victims of people smuggling are not fit for purpose and accused the British Government of breaching its obligations under European law to protect trafficked people and uphold minimum standards of
The report recommends that information-sharing protocols between the UK's police and law enforcement agencies be developed to improve the likelihood of securing convictions of traffickers in Scotland. And the Scottish Government should
establish protocols with the UK Government to collect and publish data on the extent of human trafficking north of the border.
The organisation also called for the provision of safe accommodation and support for trafficked people across Scotland.
There's just no boom boom in Joburg's sex industry. Sex workers hoping to turn a quick buck when thousands of horny soccer fans descended on the city for the World Cup say they have been disappointed.
And while some upmarket strip clubs say business has been good, others have been forced to cancel shows.
Even metered taxi drivers delivering girls to tourists say business has died down.
In the months leading up to the World Cup, there was mounting expectation that prostitution would peak. Ludicrous reports suggested that up to 40 000 sex workers would be brought into the country to satisfy the demand for sex.
On the streets this week, the winter chill and increased police visibility meant fewer sex workers on the strip. Visits during peak cruising hours, around 9pm, to the traditional red-light areas of Oxford Street, Illovo and Sandton found fewer
than 10 sex workers roaming around in skimpy skirts.
One sex worker, in her seventh year on the streets, said the tourists were boring . We have not had any luck. I usually make R4 500 a month. I was hoping I would cash in R15 000, but it has been quiet.
She had been approached by some Mexican tourists, who would have given her $500 for the night - but when she arrived at the hotel in Sandton, security refused her entry: The securities have been making our lives hard. They say they don't want
girls in their hotels.
A metered cab driver said that while he had requests at the beginning of the tournament to get girls , when he brought the girls to the men, they could not agree on a price, and the girls left: They say they're being ripped off. I've
stopped organising them girls because of this. I've not had any further requests since then.
Paula at Executive Shows, which provides exotic dancers for adult entertainment clubs, said business had been terrible. Since the World Cup began, the roughly 300 clubs across Gauteng for whom she books girls have cancelled shows: Guys would
rather watch soccer. I am counting down the days until the end.
But it's not all doom and gloom. Gigi, owner of Lollipop Lounge, said her club has been abuzz with foreigners. She said patrons usually arrived after the last game of the night. It seems they are watching the game together and then coming out
to party afterwards. After 11pm it gets busy.
People working in South Africa's sex industry expected an influx of customers during the World Cup but instead, tourists have been flocking to the country's museums.
The World Cup has been devastating, the owner of a Johannesburg escort company told CNN. We thought it was going to be a cash cow but it's chased a lot of business away. It's been the worst month in my company's history.
The escort service's madam also added that she can't wait for the fans to leave. No one is interested in sex at the moment. I think we've had three customers who travelled here for the World Cup which has seen my group's business drop by 80%.
I enjoyed watching the games, but I can't wait for everyone to just go home now.
Zobwa, a prostitute and chairperson of a group that represents 70 prostitutes in Johannesburg told CNN, People went to the bars and stadiums to watch the games and afterwards they went home. They didn't bother themselves with coming to us.
Back in March, South African officials expected 40,000 prostitutes would be flooding into the country but Zobwa said she has left the city because the money just isn't there.
On the other end, museums and art galleries have been booming with international visitors. The Apartheid Museum received three times the number of expected patrons while the Johannesburg Art Gallery has seen an extra thousand people.
The government coalition has decided against endorsing an EU directive designed to co-ordinate European efforts to combat the trade in sex slaves.
The coalition is invoking a special British right on any EU justice and home affairs measures. The directive will be decided in the EU by the system known as qualified majority voting, according to which no member state can wield a veto. But
Britain has the right to decide whether to opt in .
A Home Office spokesman said: Human trafficking is a brutal form of organised crime, and combating it is a key priority for the government. The UK already complies with most of what is required by the draft EU directive.
The government will review the UK's position once the directive has been agreed, and will continue to work constructively with European partners on matters of mutual interest. By not opting in now but reviewing our position when the directive
is agreed, we can choose to benefit from being part of a directive that is helpful but avoid being bound by measures that are against our interests.
Law enforcement agencies estimate that 2,600 foreign women have been forced into prostitution in brothels in England and Wales. Only five people were convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in the first six months of this year,
according to figures from the UK Human Trafficking Centre, compared with 33 and 34 in the previous two 12-month periods.
The number of prosecutions has remained reasonably steady, at 114 in 2008/09 and 102 in 2009/10, according to figures released by Dominic Grieve, the attorney general; but the conviction rate has dropped.
A spokesman for the CPS said the number of convictions varied for several reasons, including the fact that fewer cases may be brought to prosecutors for consideration, and that fewer defendants may be involved in each trial: We acknowledge
that it is challenging to successfully prosecute human trafficking cases, but we are committed to bringing prosecutions when there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so, he said.
While many are still coming down from the excitement of the World Cup, Zodwa Sangweni is one South African who was disappointed by how the much-hyped event turned out.
A sex worker in Johannesburg, Sangweni said despite predictions that sex business would be booming, the World Cup season was actually a bust: We didn't work well, there was no money, she said. Maybe for those who work in hotels but for
us on the streets, we didn't get any business.
Ahead of the global sporting spectacle – which has a reputation for off-the-pitch debauchery – many were speculating that the real winners of the event would be sex workers. An influx of as many as 40,000 sex workers was anticipated. However,
just as there were fewer spectators than planned, so too for sex workers.
According to Sangweni, there were no new faces in the streets of Johannesburg on which she works.
Cape Town wasn't much better, noted Dianne Massawe, Advocacy Officer at the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), who said that most Cape Town sex workers she spoke with told her business was slower than usual.
Massawe is waiting for research being conducted by Stellenbosch University to find out the real numbers of foreign workers who showed up for the World Cup, but after speaking to sex workers and looking at the number of sex advertisements in South
African publications, it looks like the influx was insignificant and overhyped.
As far as the 'Great trek' of sex workers, most foreign sex workers were already here prior to the World Cup, she said. The many Zimbabwean sex workers…are here because of unsteady economic climate in their country.
Henry Trotter, an expert on the sex trade and author of the book Sugar Girls and Seamen, which explores issues of dockside prostitution in South Africa, agreed, noting that most World Cup fans weren't interested in paid sex: Most of the
tourists were soccer fans and were here just for the soccer, he said. We may be mistaken in our stereotyping of soccer fans by assuming that they always have sex on their minds.
Trotter said he's found that there isn't much of a demand for paid sex in South Africa by foreign visitors to the country: most of the market is local men. He attributes this to the reputation South Africa has as the country with the highest HIV
and AIDS prevalence in the world.
A senior police officer in Newport, the host city of golf's Ryder Cup, says his force tolerates brothels as long as they follow strict criteria.
Supt Julian Knight says it is better to work closely with those in the sex industry to enable proper monitoring.
He told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales that the law on prostitution created a dilemma, but he had to be pragmatic.
He spoke amid the tired old bollox claims that sex trafficking from abroad could rise around the Ryder Cup, which begins on Friday.
Supt Knight told the programme: You have to be pragmatic about this. It is illegal. Society has a very Victorian moral code around this, as a result of which we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place .
The law on prostitution says that while it is not illegal to sell sex for financial gain, certain activities relating to it are. These include two or more people selling sex from the same premises.
However, rather than closing such premises down, Supt Knight believes it is more effective to work closely with those involved. The Gwent Police policy in Newport, which has been in place since 2004, is to visit brothels on an ad hoc basis, and
to develop relationships with the individuals involved. No illegal drugs
I have a list of 12 premises, he said: We know not only where they are, but also the type of individuals that are there, the type of services they offer, and the gender. That allows us, with our partner agencies, to monitor them closely
and to try to develop appropriate ways to get out of this lifestyle.
Eg Karen [not her real name] rents an apartment in Newport, from which she runs a business selling sex. Five women, including herself, work from the apartment at different times of the day. She told Eye On Wales that she has CCTV and a panic line
through to the police station.
We've got a good relationship with the police , she said: They would rather see this happening than vulnerable girls on the street. They know we don't do drugs and that we're mature. If a man doesn't want to use a condom I ask him to
leave. If he doesn't, I'd call the police and I believe they'd turn up .
Premises are tolerated as long as they do not use people who are illegal or have been trafficked, under the age of 18, have no illegal drugs, and do not generate complaints of noise, nuisance or anti-social behaviour. Failure to comply will
result in closure.
As a result, he claimed there was little evidence of any trafficking in Newport, and those who work in the off-street sex industry can report instances of violent punters without fear of being arrested.
Eye on Wales was broadcast on BBC Radio Wales at 1300 BST on Sunday 26 September, and is now available on iPlayer.
A recent Welsh Assembly report concluded that it is highly likely that the Ryder Cup will result in a surge in sex trafficking to Wales. As evidence, it pointed to how Greece licensed new brothels ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics to meet
demand and said that mega-brothels were built to satisfy sex-seeking football players and fans during Germany's 2006 World Cup.
The media has repeated the assembly's claims without question, predicting that the Ryder Cup will fuel a boom in women and children forced here from abroad to work in the Welsh sex industry .
But there is one problem with all this: the claims around the Athens Games and the World Cup in Germany in 2006 are based on myths that refuse to die.
Thousands of women from India's north-east have been hired by escort agencies for the Commonwealth Games, a rights group has claimed.
Impulse NGO Network says it fears the girls will be pushed into prostitution. The group said nearly 40,000 women were hired from seven states with promises of lucrative pay.
Authorities said they were unable to confirm the number.
Escort services advertise in newspapers and are suspected to be fronts for prostitution.
Hasina Kharbih, chairperson of Impulse NGO Network, a rights group that rescues women trafficked from north-eastern states, said they had closely monitored the large-scale hiring of women from the north-east for the Commonwealth Games. We are
indeed very worried for our girls because so many of them have been recruited for escort services. They have been lured by good money and future jobs, said Ms Kharbih.
From January of 2011, a revision to the section of the Japanese adult-entertainment law that pertains to love hotels will come into force.
The weekly tabloid, Shukan Asahi Geino, reports, that the industry will be in for a shake up. The revisions are intended to remove prostitution and porn shoots from hotel premises.
There are two types of love hotels, explains journalist Akihira Otani. Those operating under the approval of the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses and those operating as lodging entities under the conventional lodging law,
just as with any hotel or ryokan you may see.
Giso (camouflaged) love hotels operate under the conventional lodging law yet provide adult-oriented gear, such as dildos, he continues. In both cases, one can go straight to a room without being seen. This is believed to be a
contributing factor to crimes for which this revision is designed to counter.
The revised law will extend the list of requirements for love hotels to become eligible, says a reporter who covers social issues. Most notably, guests will be asked to register personal information at the front desk. Other measures mainly
deal with the establishment's facilities and layout.
Infrastructure must be in place to ensure that room fees are clearly shown and automatic room-fee payment machines are situated in every guest room, continues the source. Further, the entire building must be designed so that guests will
not be visible by staff members in common areas. These latter requirements are to specifically impact pseudo-love hotels, which contain nearly standard hotel rooms and open hallways and common areas.
A male guest laments the move. Checking in and facing the staff members defeats the whole point of the love hotel, he says. It's intended to be a discrete environment.
In recent years a motley crew of government agencies, police forces, human rights activists, feminists, religious groups and celebrities have turned human trafficking into one of the biggest issues of our time.
The anti-trafficking lobby claims that millions of people around the world – mostly women and children – are being smuggled across borders by means of threat and coercion and are forced into prostitution, bonded labour and domestic servitude. The
UK media – both broadsheet and tabloid – has slavishly accepted this narrative, filling column inches with salacious reports of foreigners trapped in cellars, used for tawdry sex and held under the threat of murder and even voodoo.
But this modern-day slavery scare is underpinned, not by hard evidence, but by speculation and prejudice. It is a moral panic which masks a fear of foreigners, of fluid borders and of women who exercise their agency by moving across the world in
the pursuit of a better life. Despite the alarmist reports, time and again the thousands of victims and perpetrators that the anti-trafficking lobby claims are out there fail to materialise.
Alarmist predictions that tens of thousands of sex workers would descend on South Africa to cater for football fans at this year's World Cup were debunked this week by a survey showing there had been no surge in prostitution.
The survey carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Cape Town-based lobby group Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) among 663 sex workers in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, found no major increase in
demand during or since the World Cup.
The survey also showed that the proportion of foreign sex workers decreased rather than increased during the tournament.
Before the World Cup, several local and international media outlets had quoted an official from South Africa's Central Drug Authority as saying that up to 40,000 foreign sex workers were expected at the tournament.
Although our survey revealed a small increase in the number of sex workers advertising online during and shortly after the World Cup, our findings do not provide evidence for the massive increase in supply of sex work around the World Cup, as
anticipated by the media, the researchers said.
The survey also found no evidence of a surge in the trafficking of women and children for sex work - as had also been predicted by some agencies.
Nonprofit organization Restore NYC is set to open the first safehouse in New York City dedicated to women who have escaped the global sex trade on Nov. 1 in Queens.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has recorded 29 arrests for sex trafficking in the state from January 2008 through September 2010; of those, 25 of the arrests have been in NYC, and only five of those 25 were sentenced.
Brothel owners are predicting booming business during the Rugby World Cup as thousands of fans look to score off the field.
And that demand is likely to fuel an influx of overseas prostitutes who will try to work here illegally.
An estimated 85,000 rugby fans are expected to come to New Zealand for the event next year. Immigration authorities say they will be on alert for prostitutes during the lead-up to the tournament.
A brothel owner told the Herald on Sunday he expected dozens, and potentially hundreds, of overseas prostitutes to 'flood' New Zealand. He said being part of a human-trafficking chain would also tarnish New Zealand's reputation.
Immigration New Zealand is aware there is likely to be increased demand for illegal workers during the tournament, as the influx of international visitors increases the demand for services.
Head of Immigration Nigel Bickle said anyone in New Zealand on a temporary permit working in the sex industry would be removed. Immigration officers spoke to people in the sex industry regularly to identify illegal workers, he said.
The small minority of people who are tempted to take advantage of this event for their own unlawful purposes are warned that we will not tolerate abuse of the immigration system and firm action will be taken against those who try, Bickle
Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark memorably applied the label Censored in his classifieds where adult advertising once
During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.
The congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding
Network. She told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.
An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states, Richardson claimed.
Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase.
In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson's disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune,
and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women's Funding Network.
None of the media that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the
research: It's junk science.
The widely reported statistics on underage prostitution that helped shutter Craigslist's adult classifieds section last year certainly sounded ominous, but a Village Voice report on the study that produced the statistics found it to be a rather
blatant example of trashy, agenda-driven research.
The study's hard numbers -- which showed a 20 percent increase in underage prostitution in New York, a 40 percent rise in Michigan and a stunning 65 percent jump in Minnesota -- were dutifully reported by news media around the country. But last
week, the Village Voice -- and its network of alternative weeklies -- featured a front-page article by Nick Pinto calling out the junk science that went into the study. It's now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to
Congress, wrote Pinto. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.
According to Pinto, the researchers' methodology went something like this: they took a bunch of photos of youthful looking women whose ages were known. They showed them to a group of people and asked them whether the women in the photos
looked to be age 18 or older. From the photos, people correctly identified the under-aged girls 38 percent of the time, so the study concluded that for every 100 'young' looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18 years of age.
Then they counted all the photos advertising sex with young looking girls on sites like Craigslist, and voila! -- a trend was born.
From my point of view, it is deeply disappointing that the Poppy Project's proven expertise in working with trafficked women has not been given proper recognition or weight by the Ministry of Justice. The project has
extensive experience; it houses women in safe, women-only properties in London, Cardiff and Sheffield and provides intensive support addressing their myriad complex emotional, psychological and practical needs.
Between March 2003 and March 2011, it received 1,869 referrals, housed and supported 334 women, and provided outreach support to a further 449, all of whom were trafficked into, and exploited in the UK. The top five country
of origin for referrals are Nigeria, China, Lithuania, Albania and Romania.
So on an average year the Poppy Project received 234 referrals, housed 42 women and provided outreach support to a further 56. Hardly evidence of massive scale trafficking
And from a previous £1.8m for 1 year funding for housing 42 women works out at £117 per bed per night].
Slavery remains as much of a problem in the UK as when it was officially abolished 200 years ago, a 'think'-tank has ludicrously claimed.
The Centre for Social Justice will launch a review of slavery and human trafficking using estimates that supposedly show at least 6,000 women have been trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution. Others are working as domestic servants
or forced labour.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, patron of the 'think'-tank, will help launch the inquiry, which will look at the role, impact and training of the police and other frontline organisations. It will also consider the effectiveness of
the National Referral Mechanism, which aims to identify victims
Gavin Poole, the CSJ's executive director, spewed:
Every slavery victim represents a family torn apart and an individual's freedom and choice destroyed. They mark the continuation of an illegal trade which, since its official abolition in 1807, has grown to devastate
many more people than it did 200 years ago.
The 15-month review, which will be led by Andrew Wallis, director of the anti-trafficking and victim support group Unseen UK, will also consider the UK's laws on prostitution, trafficking and domestic servitude.
The government is expected to publish a separate review of its anti-trafficking strategy later this month.
Amnesty International has announced two winners of its [ previously ] prestigious Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Fringe:
Sold , directed by Catherine Alexander at the Pleasance Courtyard
The Wheel , directed by Vicky Featherstone at the Traverse.
The award, given to an outstanding Fringe production carrying a human rights message, in association with Fest magazine, was presented by Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson. This year saw a record number of entries, with 92
John Watson said:
This was a year of firsts for the Freedom of Expression Award: the first time we'd had such a huge number of entries; the first comedian to be shortlisted in Mark Thomas; and our first joint winners, 'Sold' and 'The Wheel'.
With 92 productions entering for the award it's perhaps fitting that we have two winners this year. Both are superb productions in quite different ways -- but in both cases audiences are confronted with challenging
questions about human rights.
Amnesty marks its 50th birthday this year and protecting the right to freedom of expression has always been at the heart of our what we do. It's why we've always worked so closely with artists and performers and it's why
we're delighted to be giving this award today.
The judging panel said of the two productions:
The Wheel is a complex and epic story of how children can be corrupted by the ravages of war. By lurching through the centuries the way it does, it brings home the message that circumstances too often dictate how lives can
go off the rails in a brilliantly performed, masterfully directed and profound piece of work that offers no easy answers except hope.
Sold is an ambitious, fast-moving show which combines a strong overview of the whole issue of slavery in human society with a series of powerful cameos of individual stories, involving trafficking into this country now.
It's a memorable piece of agitprop drama which leaves us in no doubt that despite the increasing exposure of human trafficking in recent years, and widespread political debate on the issue, it is a problem that is not going away; in fact, if
anything, it is growing worse, demanding real action from us all.
[However the background to SOLD was that it was developed with research linked to the Human Trafficking Foundation, Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) and the Poppy Project. It looks like Amnesty
International have fallen for the campaigning hype that trafficking is far more widespread than it actually is. Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) and the Poppy Project both campaign for men to be criminalised just for paying for sex.
Hardly what I'd call champions of human rights for all].
The other shortlisted productions were: Extreme Rambling (Walking the Wall) , by Mark Thomas, at The Bongo Club; and Release , by Icon Theatre at the Pleasance Dome.
Interest groups, the media, and the U.S. government have given very high estimates of the number of persons trafficked each year into the sex industry or other labor arenas. In some instances, the numbers appear to be pulled
out of thin air, as in a Washington Post editorial (June 28, 2011) declaring that trafficking is understood today as a global phenomenon exceeding 20 million cases each year. Or consider a November 2005 episode of Oprah, in which it was
claimed that millions of children are trafficked into prostitution each year. The U.S. Government's figures are lower -- 800,000 worldwide victims (down from an estimated 4 million in 2000) and 14,500-17,500 domestic victims (down from a
high of 50,000 in 2000) -- though the sources of these figures have never been disclosed.
There is a stark difference between the official estimates and the tiny number of victims identified and rescued each year or the number of traffickers brought to justice, both domestically and internationally. Worldwide,
the State Department reported in 2010 that only 0.4% of the estimated number of victims have been officially located and assisted. No one would claim that the official estimates could possibly match the number of identified victims -- given the
obstacles to locating victims in illicit, underground markets -- but the huge disparity between the two should at least raise doubts about the alleged scale of victimization.
I had to smile at the news that the arrival of the Queen, plus assorted Heads of State, was cause for celebration by sex workers in Western Australia. Briefly, I found myself giggling at the whole new light this shone on
headlines about Her Majesty down under .
Then I sobered up. Because this, back to back with another story I covered last year in the Register, illustrates neatly and nastily the hypocrisy and couldn't-care-less attitude of politicians and journalists who publically
profess to care about women - and privately don't.
Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo by Rhacel Parrenas offers a scholarly, sociological portrait of Filipina hostesses and waitresses in Tokyo's red-light districts that is clear and compelling enough for the
lay reader. To write this book, the author herself worked as a hostess in a Tokyo nightclub.
In 2004, the U.S. State Department declared Filipina hostesses in Japan the largest group of sex trafficked persons in the world. Since receiving this global attention, the number of hostesses entering Japan has dropped by nearly 90%, from more
than 80,000 in 2004 to just over 8,000 today.
To some, this might suggest a victory for the global anti-trafficking campaign, but Rhacel Parrenas counters that this drastic decline which has stripped thousands of migrants of their livelihoods.
Parrenas worked alongside hostesses in a working-class club in Tokyo's red-light district, serving drinks, singing karaoke, and entertaining her customers, including members of the yakuza, the Japanese crime syndicate. While the common assumption
has been that these hostess bars are hotbeds of sexual trafficking, Parrenas quickly discovered a different world of working migrant women, there by choice, and, most importantly, where none were coerced into prostitution. But this is not to say
that the hostesses were not vulnerable in other ways.
Illicit Flirtations challenges our understandings of human trafficking and calls into question the U.S. policy to broadly label these women as sex trafficked. It highlights how in imposing top-down legal constraints to solve the perceived
problems--including laws that push dependence on migrant brokers, guest worker policies that bind migrants to an employer, marriage laws that limit the integration of migrants, and measures that criminalize undocumented migrants--many women
become more vulnerable to exploitation, not less.
This book gives a long overdue look into the real world of those labeled as trafficked.
US religious organisations are gearing up to save London from the mythical hoard of 40,000 trafficked sex workers that travels the world's major sporting events.
The prime movers in the Olympic initiative are Christian Brothers Investment Services, a US fund manager that specialises in investing the money of Catholic institutions.
The project is also backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a broader US Christian coalition that speaks for investors, and, in the UK, the Church Investors Group, which encompasses the investments of the Church of England
and Church of Ireland.
At the heart of their 'concerns' is the mostly mythical issue of human trafficking, which 'often' takes place for the purposes of prostitution. Major sporting or cultural events tend to bring in an influx of visitors and these periods have been
linked with increases in trafficking, prostitution and sexual assault.
At last year's football World Cup in South Africa and at the US Super Bowl this year, Christian Brothers and the Interfaith Center fired off letters to publicly-quoted hotel and leisure groups asking them to detail their policies for avoiding
association with this sex trafficking thing. After the South African campaign, hotel chains Hyatt, Accor, Carlson and NH Hoteles introduced training programmes for staff; and Accor, Carlson and NH signed up to an industry code of practice on
countering sex trafficking.
At a meeting in Paris last week, Christian investor groups from around the world agreed to work more closely together. The London campaign will be one of their first joint initiatives. The UK and Irish churches have agreed to begin writing to
UK-listed hotel groups - along similar lines to the previous South African and US campaigns.
In a statement announcing the tie-up, Richard Nunn, the chair of the Church Investors Group, said: It is important we use our voice as investors to hold companies to high ethical standards.
Hawaii is considered a paradise by many people, but at night, it becomes even more fun with the presence of tempting Eves engaged in the oldest profession in the world: prostitution.
However local officials are concerned that the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit this November could spike prostitution, and naturally, they don't want sex tourism to steal the limelight away from the numerous
attractions of the islands.
Local politicians, hoteliers and law enforcement authorities are beefing up security to combat the mythical surge of sex-trade workers who would be flying in from the mainland. According to the usual bollox from an official of the Pacific
Alliance to Stop Slavery, the APEC Leaders' Summit could pose a huge sex-trafficking problem, especially with the military population mixing-in with travelers, all of which make for attractive business opportunities for prostitutes.
According to the campaigner's propaganda, sex workers are brought in from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta by pimps, who also pick up local runaways and girls with misdemeanors and send them to work as sex slaves in other states.
Some visitors have voiced their concern about the blatant soliciting by prostitutes working the streets. Wearing their killer stiletto heels, skimpy shorts or skirts and barely-there tops, these women walk the streets and loiter along boutiques,
hotels, shopping centers and business establishments, with some even doing it a block from police substations.
Lawmakers are now proposing stiffer penalties for men who hire prostitutes within 750 feet of schools or public parks. The proposed law, said local authorities, will mainly target customers and not the sex workers, since many of them are either
supposed victims of sex traffickers or simply do it for survival.
Marauding band of trafficked sex workers booked for the London Olympics and Euro 2012
I wonder if any trafficked sex workers have ever been found at a major sporting event
Levels of human trafficking may rise during both next summer's Euro 2012 soccer championships in Poland and Ukraine, and the London Olympics, according to European Union officials.
Myria Vassiliadou, the EU's anti-trafficking coordinator, claimed sporting events are a hub for criminal gangs, adding that it appears that similar large sporting events in the past have been accompanied by a spike in prostitution and
trafficking, reported the Associated Press.
Vassiliadou, who was attending an EU conference on human trafficking, said the issue rests largely with EU nations. She added that the EU was nevertheless trying to raise awareness of the problem.
Offsite Comment: Meanwhile at the Indiana Super Bowl
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has a problem: What to do about all the forced prostitution that he's sure will be happening when Indianapolis hosts the Super Bowl this winter on February 6.
Of course, Zoeller's actual problem is that he (and his cadre of advisors and consultants) haven't yet figured out that most of the women involved in prostitution have affirmatively chosen their profession---and that all those statistics he's
been reading about the number of trafficked women and children in the U.S.---he's claiming that as many as 300,000 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 are lured into the United States' sex industry annually ---are staggeringly inflated.
Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking
London Metropolitan University
Dr Nick Mai will present his recent findings to a seminar on the relationship between migration, the sex industry and trafficking in the UK.
Those findings were published in the the report, Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry
Interviews with 100 migrant women, men and transgender people working in all of the main jobs available within the sex industry and from the most relevant areas of origin (South America, Eastern Europe, EU and South East Asia) indicate that
approximately 13 per cent of female interviewees felt that they had been subject to different perceptions and experiences of exploitation, ranging from extreme cases of trafficking to relatively more consensual arrangements. Only a minority,
amounting approximately to 6 per cent of female interviewees, felt that they had been deceived and forced into selling sex in circumstances within which they had no share of control or consent.
Contrary to the emphasis given in current public debates about cases of trafficking and exploitation, the evidence gathered in the context of this project shows a great variety of life and work trajectories within the sex industry, which were
influenced by key factors such as: social-economic background; educational aspirations and achievements; immigration status; professional and language skills; gender and sexuality; family history; and individual emotional history. Interviewees
were from privileged, average and underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds, from structured as well as problematic families and their experience of education varied between elementary to post-graduate. In the majority of cases, the decision to
migrate is based on the perception of a lack of opportunities of personal and professional development at home, with particular reference to the field of education.
Most migrants did not work in the sex industry before coming to the UK and decided to do so after a long string of work experiences in other sectors, which were seen as comparatively less rewarding both in terms of remuneration and of the working
conditions offered. The majority of interviewees were introduced to the possibility of working in the sex industry through friends and colleagues they met in other settings and decided to take up the opportunity after they saw positive examples
in their everyday lives, both when they were home and in the country of origin.
The stigma associated with sex work was the main problem for almost all interviewees, who felt that it had negative implications for their private and professional lives. Most interviewees complained that they found it difficult to reconcile
working in the sex industry and having stable romantic relationships and that having to lead a double life with their partners, families and friends impacted negatively on their wellbeing. A majority of interviewees also underlined the way the
stigma associated with sex work was implicated in legitimating violence against sex workers from a small minority of clients and from petty criminals.
Almost all interviewees felt that the most advantageous aspects of their involvement in the sex industry were the possibility of earning considerably more money than in other sectors, the availability of time and the possibility of meeting
interesting people, travelling and experiencing new and challenging situations. In most cases by working in the sex industry migrants were able to bridge an important gap in their aspirations to social mobility and felt that they were able to
enjoy better living and working conditions.
Most interviewees underlined that they enjoyed respectful and friendly relations with colleagues and clients and that by working in the sex industry they had better working and living conditions than those they encountered in other sectors of
employment (mainly in the hospitality and care sectors). The research shows that most interviewees consciously decided to work in the sexindustry and that only a minority felt that they had been forced to. The research findingsstrongly suggest
that vulnerability, particularly to trafficking and exploitation, results from migrants' socio-economic conditions, lack of information about their rights and entitlement to protection in the UK, their personal family and emotional circumstances,
but, most of all, from their immigration status in the UK.
the large majority of interviewed migrant workers in the UK sex industry are not forced nor trafficked, Dr Nick Mai
immigration status is by far the most important factor restricting their ability to exercise their rights in their professional and private lives,
working in the sex industry is often a way for migrants to avoid the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs.
by working in the sex industry, many interviewees are able to maintain dignified living standards in the UK while dramatically improving the living conditions of their families in the country of origin,
the stigmatisation of sex work is the main problem interviewees experienced while working in the sex industry and this impacted negatively on both their private and professional lives,
the combination of the stigmatisation of sex work and lack of legal immigration documentation makes interviewees more vulnerable to violence and crime,
interviewees generally describe relations with their employers and clients as characterised by mutual consent and respect, although some reported problematic clients and employers, who were disrespectful, aggressive or abusive,
the impossibility of guaranteeing indefinite leave to remain to victims of trafficking undermines the efforts of the police and other authorities against criminal organisations,
most interviewees feel that the criminalisation of clients will not stop the sex industry and that it would be pushed underground, making it more difficult for migrants working in the UK sex industry to assert their rights in relation to both
clients and employers,
All interviewees thought that decriminalising sex work and the people involved and making it easier for all migrants to become and remain documented would improve their living and working conditions and enable them to exercise their rights more
The research underlines that the current emphasis on trafficking and exploitation to explain the variety of the trajectories of migrants into the UK sex industry risks concealing their individual and shared vulnerabilities and strengths, the
understanding of which could form the basis of more effective social interventions.
Listings magazine Village Voice is under attack for running Backpage.com the on-line adult classified ads service. Advertising allows many sex workers to work in the relative safety of premises. The same people who witch-hunted Craigslist
with a big bucks campaign, have now targeted the Village Voice. They blame adult ads for promoting trafficking and the exploitation of women and children, and use false statistics to exaggerate the numbers of victims trafficked into the sex
industry. Politicians, celebrities, religious and feminist groups have all jumped on the band wagon.
One sex worker commented:
People -- not just prostitutes -- have sex for many reasons. Sometimes, for some of us, one reason is money. Craigslist provided a simple, familiar forum through which I could do my business with complete anonymity, from the safety and
convenience of my own home. I kept every penny I earned, all without the interference of an agency or other ubiquitous middle man.
In all the media hype, real victims of trafficking and others who are criminalized by poverty and immigration laws, are forced further underground and made even more vulnerable. Millions of dollars have gone to anti-trafficking groups while a
Bill to fund shelters with beds, clothing, counseling, case work and legal services for underage prostitutes has stalled.  Trafficking laws have primarily been used to target immigrant sex workers for raids and deportation, particularly women
of color. (SeeTrafficking -- A Justification for Increased Deportations and A Moralistic Crusade against Prostitution.)
Village Voice's investigative series The Truth Behind Sex Trafficking questioned the research methods and the accuracy of the statistics. They showed that figures claiming a massive increase in online child trafficking had been gathered by
researchers guessing the age of young women from their online photos. Figures of 100,000 to 300,000 US child sex slaves were found to have no scientific basis -- researchers admitted that it was a calculation of children at risk of sexual
exploitation including runaways, transgender youth and female members of gangs. Despite this admission, the figures have been relentlessly promoted by celebrities such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
36 clergy have weighed into the campaign against the Village Voice adult services section. It goes with the territory that those who believe in religious nonsense, will also be a bit gullible about the propaganda hype surrounding sex trafficking.
Anyway the clerics of the newly formed multifaith coalition of mainline Christians, Catholics, Jews, evangelical Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Humanists and other moral and religious leaders, wrote:
We agree with 51 Attorneys General. Girls and boys should not be sold for sex on Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com.
It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex. So we were surprised and stunned to realize your company, Village Voice Media, continues to publish an Adult section on its classifieds Web siteBackpage.com
that has been used as a platform for the trafficking of minors.
Arrests of adults selling minors for sex via Backpage.com have been reported by the media in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. And
these are just some of the cases that have been documented.
As moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds, we are united in calling on your publication to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com.
We appreciate your efforts to put in place new measures attempting to screen for ads featuring minors. However, we do not believe that these measures are doing enough to adequately solve the problem, and we share the opinion of the nation’s 51
Attorneys General that the best way to eradicate your company’s connection with the sex trafficking of minors is to shut down the Adult section of your Web site, as Craigslist did.
Please shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com immediately so that no minor is exploited through advertisements on your Web site.
Village Voice Media replied by outlining the steps they are taking in response to the issues raised
Here are just some of the things we are doing:
The review of all ads and images in the personals and adult sections of the site.
The implementation of key word searches to quickly identify banned advertisements and inappropriate discussions.
The significant increase in staff to quickly identify illegal ads.
The implementation of roadblocks to prevent minors from accessing mature content.
The implementation of dedicated tools on the site to educate users regarding online safety and security.
The empowerment of users to report abuse and an expeditious process to handle user complaints.
It must have been tempting to have replied instead:
Please shut down your religions immediately so that no minor is exploited through the actions and deeds of your adherents.
One can't help but think this would result in several orders of magnitude of more minors saved from exploitation.
The large majority of interviewed migrant workers in the sex industry in London are not forced nor trafficked, says a report.
The research team led by Dr Nick Mai interviewed 100 women, men and transgender people - the largest ever qualitative research into migrants working in the London sex industry.
He discovered 13% of female interviewees felt they had been exploited and only 6% of female interviewees felt they had been deceived and forced into selling sex in circumstances within which they had no share of control or consent .
The research found:
Many migrants prefer working in the sex industry rather than the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs .
Many migrants working in the sex industry send money back to their country of origin, thereby dramatically improving the living conditions of their families .
Police efforts to combat organised crime is undermined by the fact that victims of exploitation cannot be guaranteed indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 'Climate of fear'
The International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) welcomed the report. Catherine Stephens, of the IUSW, said:
We will only successfully target trafficking within the sex industry when we make policy based on evidence and in reality.
There is currently a climate of fear amongst London sex workers due to police activity, that is driven by hype and misinformation promoted by NGOs with a financial vested interest in the anti-trafficking industry, who are ideologically opposed
to commercial sex.
A Metropolitan police squad has come under fire in a highly critical report commissioned by the London mayor, Boris Johnson, for its investigations into sex trafficking in the run up to the Olympics.
The report accuses officers of a heavy handed approach to brothel raids and of failing to find victims of trafficking.
The report, Silence On Violence , from London assembly member Andrew Boff, is being considered by Johnson. It criticises the police performance and estimates that they have a success rate of less than 1% in finding trafficking victims
during brothel raids.
Police had predicted an increase in sex trafficking in the run up to the Olympics, but they have admitted that they have failed to find any evidence of a rise in the five Olympics host boroughs. That is despite a cash injection of
£ 500,000 from the Government Office for London to specifically target the crime.
The report provides an excellent summary and a more realistic understanding of where trafficking victims may actually be located, in more closed communities:
Policing of sex trafficking
The Olympics led to heightened media interest that trafficking and prostitution in London would rise. As a result, the Metropolitan Police Service has received additional funds to tackle sex trafficking. However, I found no strong evidence that
trafficking for sexual exploitation does in fact increase during sporting events nor that such trafficking or prostitution had increased in London. In fact my research found that a decrease in prostitution had been reported by police in London.
The data I have however reveals that raids have increased significantly overall in the Olympic host boroughs. This has not led to a large numbers of sex traffickers being caught nor victims found. This suggests that either sex trafficking is not
taking place on as large a scale as suggested or, more worryingly, that the way we are policing sex trafficking could be more effective.
Focusing on non-organised sex trafficking
While investigating the policing of sex trafficking I came across a new area of concern. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) unit which tackles sex trafficking focuses on organised crime – hence their focus on brothels . However
while brothel raids discovered largely eastern European and Asian victims, one sex trafficking referral centre told me that their largest group of victims were from West Africa. Other data I found also supported this. Some sex trafficking is not
organised and does not take place in brothels.
One trafficking charity said that many sex trafficking victims they work with had been sexually exploited by someone familiar to them within a closed community. I am concerned that not enough police resource is looking into this area and that
policing of sex trafficking too narrowly focuses on brothels. Evidence-based work needs to be done to work out where, when and how sex trafficking occurs and then police it accordingly.
Not prioritising crime against Sex workers
Sex workers feel that when they report crimes, police focus on their crimes related to sex work – such as having a brothel - over the crimes they originally reported against them. Therefore sex workers told me they feel that they
cannot safely report crime to the police. The service providers I spoke to, who work with sex workers, all said that they had noticed a decline in the number of sex workers reporting crimes to police.
The best policing model I found to tackle this lack of reporting was in Merseyside. This included labelling attacks against sex workers as hate crimes as a way of acknowledging that they were a minority who were disproportionately targeted by
criminals. It also included the police putting out a well-publicised message that crimes against sex workers would not go unpunished. This strategy was formed under the leadership of Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new MPS Commissioner.
Roy Greenslade pulls up anti-prostitution MEP on citing unsubstantiated claims hyping the scale of sex trafficking. The old chestnut of high proportion of migrant sex workers somehow implying a high proportion being trafficked.
Georgina Perry has been the service manager for Open Doors, a clinical, case management and outreach service for sex workers in London. She speaks of the overhyped issue of trafficking in the run up to the Olympics
A UK government report has released details estimating the extent of trafficking in the UK. 946 victims have been in contact with authorities in 2011, compared with 710 in 2010.
The report by the inter-departmental ministerial group on human trafficking states that trafficking gangs in China, Vietnam, Nigeria and eastern Europe now pose the biggest threat.
The report details two cases of people trafficked for illegal organ harvesting, which were stopped before any operation was carried out. A report from the Salvation Army said that of the 378 individuals it helped in 2011/12, 44% were trafficked
for labour exploitation, 42% for sexual exploitation and one for the purposes of organ removal.
According to the government study, 712 adult victims and 234 child victims were reported last year to the national referral mechanism, the body that identifies trafficking victims.
According to the report, Nigerians were the largest group of potential trafficking victims, and Romanians the biggest group in Europe. It estimates there were 92 organised crime groups in the UK with known involvement in human trafficking, and
142 defendants were charged with offences related to human trafficking in 2011-12.
nding trafficking is perhaps the most well-known, well-resourced, well-loved social cause of the 21st century that doesn't require its proponents' agreement on what it even is they wish to end. What is trafficking ? How many people
are trafficked ? Look beyond the surface of the fight against trafficking, and you will find misleading statistics and decades of debate over laws and protocols. As for the issue itself, the lack of agreement on how to define trafficking
hasn't slowed campaigners' fight. Rather, defining trafficking has become their fight.
Accurate statistics on trafficking are difficult to come by, which does not stop some anti-trafficking groups from using them anyway. For instance, Shared Hope International, which is aggressively pursuing anti-trafficking legislation in 41 US
states, claims at least 100,000 juveniles are victimized each year in the United States, and possibly as many as 300,000 -- a figure that has been cited (repeatedly) by CNN. In truth, the figure is an estimate from a
University of Pennsylvania report from 2001 [pdf] of how many youth are at-risk of what its authors call commercial sexual exploitation of a child , based on incidences of youth homelessness. But it was not a count of how many
youth are victims of trafficking , or involved in the sex trade.
Prostitution is often conflated with trafficking in these statistics, in part because the definition of trafficking that has been pushed to prominence refers exclusively to sexual exploitation . In fact, this conflation has found
its way into the collection of data: according to a report from the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women:
[W]hen statistics on trafficking are available, they usually refer to the number of migrant or domestic sex workers, rather than cases of trafficking.
This purposeful conflation of sex work and trafficking distinguishes the many feminist and faith-based anti-trafficking groups that focus on sex-trafficking from groups that work directly with people who are involved in forced labor of all kinds,
whether or not it involves sex work.
An academic from Queen's University Belfast has challenged claims being made about the extent of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.
Dr Graham Ellison from the university's School of Law says there have only been four proven victims of sex trafficking and three of forced labour, since figures were first published for Northern Ireland in January 2012.
He is critical of organisations aiming to rescue women from prostitution, which he dubs the rescue industry . He added:
I think there are vested interests tied up with this.
I am a bit sceptical of the number of smaller organisations popping up all over the place that have anti-trafficking at their core and which get state funding and which seem to exist for propagating this myth or something.
Asked how the public should choose which experts to believe on the subject of prostitution and trafficking, he had a simple answer:
I don't think that the research from advocacy groups, with an abolitionist [anti-prostitution] perspective, is very rigorous. And of course I think mine is very rigorous.
Dr Ellison was awarded a grant in May to begin his first piece of research on prostitution. With the help of other academics, he is comparing regulatory models of prostitution in Berlin, Prague, Belfast and Manchester as part of a study relating
to Lord Morrow's bill.
He estimates there are around 10 mainly street based male escorts in Belfast and up to 30 women. Advertising online he says there are around 500 women in Northern Ireland, mainly in Belfast, Newry and Londonderry who have been available for
sex work appointments over past two year period . Only around 20-30 are available on any given day, he says, though a small number are duplicate adverts.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice, which has done extensive work to tackle human trafficking in Northern Ireland, said 17 suspected victims have been referred to the NRM/UKHTC since the start of April 2013. Six were found not to be
victims, one has been confirmed as a victim and ten cases are pending.
Dangerous new legislation that conflates trafficking with sex work , and has the potential to impact diplomatic relations, has been introduced in the United States Congress.
Representative Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican in his first term, has introduced legislation that would amend the Trafficking in Victims Protection Act of 2000 to restrict foreign aid going to countries where prostitution is legal.
Hultgren claims that legal prostitution leads to human trafficking.
Hultgren's bill would force the State Department to take a country's prostitution laws into consideration when determining which tier it belongs to in the annual Trafficking in Persons report. The TIP report assigns countries a tier according to
how well the United States believes they are complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (a low tier can result in sanctions). Hultgren told the Washington Examiner that he is meeting with the State
Department in the next few weeks to discuss the bill, and his comments reveal that he is a little unclear on the bill's impact, and vague on its objective. He said:
I haven't felt a lot of pushback. but just some questioning of how will this impact the rankings and things. I'm not sure. But I know what we've got to do is do everything we can to protect children who are getting pulled into this, women who
are getting pulled into this.
On May 21st, the bill was introduced to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as H.R.4703. The bill's full title -- To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 relating to determinations with respect to efforts of foreign countries
to reduce demand for commercial sex acts under the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking -- aligns it to the currently fashionable end demand approach taken by many abolitionist organisations. Working to end trafficking, according
to the sponsors of this bill, is not enough; the demand for commercial sex must, too, be abolished.
The congressman is associated with Exodus Cry , a faith-based anti-sex trafficking organization, which is publicising his bill at their website and encouraging supporters to back it -- members of Exodus Cry are currently at the World Cup in
Brazil, leading prayers and outreach actions based on the debunked notion that large sporting events lead to an increase in trafficking.
US report finds that customers of adult businesses, supposedly with a high level of trafficked workers, see through the hype when the meet the girls, and judge for themselves about the prevalence of trafficking
The US has been studying why there seems to be a disparity between the hypothesised level of trafficking and examples actually found and prosecuted. A report entitled: Identifying Effective Counter-Trafficking Programs and Practices in the
U.S.: Legislative, Legal, and Public Opinion Strategies that Work. The authors summarise the report as follows:
After more than a decade of sustained efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States, it is necessary to step back and examine the effectiveness of key anti-trafficking strategies. Utilizing a multi-method approach, we examine:
The effectiveness of state-level human trafficking legislation to determine what specific legislative provisions are most effective for obtaining desired outcomes,
the characteristics of state prosecutions for human trafficking offenses to determine how state laws are being used to hold offenders accountable, and
what the public knows about human trafficking, why the public holds the beliefs that they do, and what the public expects from government anti-trafficking efforts.
Together the three parts of the study inform efforts to develop effective counter-trafficking programs and practices for legislators, law enforcement, the courts, anti-trafficking agencies, and the public.
On the subject of the findings about public opinion the report states:
Sex-related behaviors affect beliefs about human trafficking. Respondents who consumed pornography within the last year have more knowledge of human trafficking, but they think that it should be less of a government priority. Similarly,
respondents visiting a strip club within the last year reported lower levels of concern about human trafficking and thought that human trafficking should be less of a government priority than those respondents not visiting a strip club within
the last year.
Of course the report authors don't seem to realise the bleeding obvious: When eg strip club customers actually get to talk to the girls they realise that they are simply not being trafficked and that the majority of the concerns about trafficking
are made up by feminists who seek to exaggerate trafficking to further their more general anti-adult entertainment campaigns.
Londoners have been urged to look out for brothels on their street by Kevin Hyland, the anti-slavery commissioner The former policeman in charge of an anti trafficking units seemingly acknowledge that the police have failed to find many
trafficking victims when he said:
It's up to the public to come forward.
People who live in a street where there is a brothel operating will see obvious signs of numerous women arriving, young women often, they may arrive escorted, they may be there late at night, there will be people regularly coming to the door.
A lot of these premises set up on residential streets and people see these things and sometimes wonder what they should do.
They should contact the police or, if they don't feel comfortable with that, contact the local authority or one of the non-government organisations or the modern slavery helpline.
Theresa May introduced a Modern Slavery Act last year in her previous role as Home Secretary. There have been 189 slavery prosecutions since the legislation came into effect, but many of these are for slavery associated with domestic workers and
general labour exploitation.
Even more creepy than the carefully planned sting on Vaz was yesterday's call from the anti-slavery commissioner (ugh) for Londoners to shop suspected brothels to the Metropolitan Police. The sex trafficking narrative has been
escalated to a sex slavery one. The new campaign has been accompanied by hysterical language: â?¦sex workers in the capital were being beaten, raped and sometimes starved by the men controlling them in a form of human slavery that was
blighting the capital .
The coverage neglected to mention the almost total failure of the police to find sex slaves . In fact, raids on brothels have been used to arrest and humiliate sex workers, bust them for drug possession, and identify (and then deport)
illegal immigrants. In short, the sex slavery hysteria is yet another new cover for the recently merged anti-prostitution and anti-immigration movements. Rescuing has become code for harassing, criminalising and deporting .