We can prevent sex trafficking if we educate others about its causes and harmful effects.
"I was shocked to hear how much it happens in the UK. We always think of our country as liberal, but to hear that such human rights violations are happening here . . I was surprised"
Talk to your friends and colleagues about sex trafficking and what you can do to help tackle it.
Data collected from assisted women trafficked for sexual exploitation revealed that Lithuania, Nigeria, and Moldova were the leading sources of trafficking victims in the UK in 2008. Inadequate protection measures for these victims can result in their re-trafficking throughout the UK.
"He said, if you don’t do this and you go away from me, I am going to kill your family – I am going to kill your son, so. I have to accept what I am doing because I was very scared."
Trafficking victims may not come forward due to the fear for safety of their loved ones, concerns about their own detention / immigration status and stigmatisation.
Trafficked women have very different experiences while in the trafficking setting. Some are held captive, unremittingly assaulted and horribly violated. Others are less abused physically, but are psychologically tormented, and live in fear of harm to themselves and their family members.
"Often the girls were very young, 18-22. They had finished school. They were from disadvantaged families, families with abusive fathers. The girls didn’t really have a choice"
Women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation have no choice. Many have their loved ones threatened, as well as themselves, facing extreme violence and torture.
A 2009 report by the UK government’s Home Affairs Select Committee estimated that there are 5,000 trafficked women in the UK, although the End Violence against Women Campaign (EVAW) has said the number is closer to 10,000.
"I believe it’s impossible to forget something like this and it will haunt one for the rest of one’s life."
Sex trafficking is a horrific form of slavery that is going on now in the UK. More must urgently be done.
Nearly eight in every ten women (76%) had been physically assaulted by traffickers, pimps, madams, brothel and club owners, clients, or their boyfriends.
"It was just me you know, eight men, so it was very scary. I was scared."
Sex trafficking victims suffer horrendous long-term abuse.
As of October 2009, Operation Maxim Human Trafficking Team had convicted 17 sex traffickers, with 18 people currently awaiting trial and 6 still wanted. The testimony of survivors has been absolutely crucial in ensuring these convictions.
"They told me they would cut me into pieces and send me back like that. Every single day I heard the threat ‘I'll kill you bitch’."
Prosecutions are often low as sex trafficking is such a complex crime. Significant expertise and experience is needed by police.
Women who have been forced into prostitution report working as many as 12-14 hours per day, serving as many as 20 to 30 clients and being permitted few hours of sleep or rest.
"I think of such men who pay for sex that they are no real men. I don’t believe normal men would want to buy women for sex."
It's deeply harmful to the women & girls who are victims of sex trafficking. Beyond the physical abuse, they often suffer acute depression & post-traumatic stress disorder.
Legalisation of prostitution makes it easier for traffickers to operate. The Mayor of Amsterdam says "it is impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that is not open to abuse by organised crime"
"Does anyone really want to have sex with someone who actually hates you? Who is actually being forced at the threat of serious violence to her or her family to do that. I can’t see anyone wanting to do that if the knew about it."
There is a need to make those purchasing sex responsible for their actions.
Traffickers maintained control over women by creating an unpredictable and unsafe environment to keep women continually "on edge". Threats were reported by 89% of the women. These included threats of death, beatings, increased debt, harm to their children and families, and re-trafficking.
"I was locked in the basement with my friend. We were only free to work, and when the boss was drunk he would rape me."
Victims of forced prostitution suffer poverty, deception & coercion. 9 out of 10 surveyed women working in prostitution would like to exit but feel unable to do so.
Women were asked if they were physically forced or coerced by fear or threats to have sex or do something sexual. Nine out of ten women in this study (90%) reported having been physically forced or intimidated into sex or doing something sexual.
"Once she’s here the first thing that will happen is she’ll get a smack in the face, passport will go, and then typically if you want to break someone you rape them, you rape them a lot."
"I feel like they’ve taken my smile and I can never have it back."
You can help tackle sex trafficking.
A key way to tackle sex trafficking is to "change the attitudes and opinion of men who use prostitutes... to get the message across that traffcked women are not consenting to sexual activities"
Report any information you have that will help lead to the identification and recovery of victims in the UK.
London police estimate that 70% of the 88,000 women involved in prostitution in England and Wales are under the control of traffickers
"If men stopped paying for sex, if they understood and stopped there would be no trafficking, there would be no demand for girls, there would be no money in it."
If you pay for sex with a woman, it’s now increasingly likely she’s been trafficked.Think twice before you pay for sex. Know the risks – to yourself and others.
Loss of freedom is a defining feature of trafficking, as nearly one in nine women were adamant that they were "never free" (77%) or "seldom free" (10%) to do as they wished. Of those reporting being "always" free (3%), their statements commonly revealed a different reality
"It’s very rare you can escape from the pimps, very difficult you know. You can’t. The days you just have to work, you can’t get away from them. You just want to kill yourself.”
Many victims turn to alcohol and drugs to deal with the mental and physical effects of sex trafficking.
It is very difficult to assess the number of women who are trafficked globally or into the UK for sexual exploitation because of the hidden and very sensitive nature of this criminal trade.
"At any moment they can be beaten up or even killed... "
Organised crime networks are extremely sophisticated. The fluidity of European borders has made it easier to transport people for sex trafficking in a hidden way.
The root cause of sex trafficking is poverty. Many women leave home because of a lack of jobs and educational opportunities.
"When I arrived here it was not the dream I’d been expecting, it was a very bad dream for me."
Traffickers offer victims educational and employment opportunities that they think will allow them to support themselves and their families.
Clause 14 of the Policing & Crime Bill criminalises those who pay for sexual acts with an individual who has been exploited.
"What happens to her when you go? How many more men? How many days? How many weeks? How many years? What happens to her at the end?"
Now resources need to be made available to ensure this law is implemented in full
From 2003 – 2008 there were 1098 referrals of sex trafficking survivors to the UK's governemnt specialised shelter - the Poppy project. In 2008 it received 293 referrals, but it was only able to accommodate 41 due to budget constraints and limited capacity.
Many sex trafficking survivors face risks to their life and safety if they ar returned to their own country.
The UK has a legal obligation to protect and support victims of sex trafficking in line with the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. A victim-centred approach also increases the number of trafficking prosecutions.
Sex with a trafficked women is rape and offenders can be prosecuted under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.
"You think you’re giving twenty quid, forty quid, fifty quid, sixty quid, a hundred quid, I don’t know…two hundred pound to a girl, feel good about it. But she didn’t get any of that money; she didn’t see a penny of it – the girl that you liked. The man got it, the bloke got it, the geezer at the door got it, the geezer upstairs that you didn’t see, he got it, the guy that bought her over got it. He owns her. The owner gets the money, not the girl."
Women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation receive no gain and no profit.
Sweden criminalised the purchase or attempted purchase of sexual services in January 1999. The percentage of men in Sweden that purchase sexual acts has fallen from 13.6 to 7.8%. Sweden now has the lowest number of victims of trafficking in Europe
The number of men purchasing sex has doubled in the last 10 years
More must be done in the UK to criminalise those paying for sexual services with trafficking victims.
More than 80% of trafficking victims are women, girls, and children, who are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This may be prostitution, lap dancing, pornography or several other types of exploitation.
“I think anyone who is prepared to pay for sex should consider the possibility of a woman doing it not through her choice"
Sex trafficking is a hidden crime. Trafficked women do not work the streets, they are hidden in brothels, massage parlours and saunas.