Sex Slaves Sold in British Airports
Sydney Morning Herald, 6/5/06 - Women are being sold off in "slave auctions" in the arrivals lounges of British airports, say authorities desperate to crack down on the burgeoning trade in trafficking humans.
The Crown Prosecution Service said foreign women were being sold as sex workers as soon as they arrived, and police are appealing to men who frequent brothels to contact them in confidence if they believe the prostitutes may be there against their will.
In one instance a slave auction took place outside a coffee shop in the arrivals hall of London-Gatwick airport, and it is believed similar auctions have taken place at airports across the country.
The arrivals-lounge auction was one of several "airport crimes" due to be examined at a Crown Prosecution Service conference yesterday. Others include children abandoned in baggage reclaim areas with no identity papers, "distraction" thefts and pick-pocketing by criminals working in teams, and burglaries by criminals who read the addresses on baggage labels and break in on the likelihood that homes will be empty.
A Home Office report five years ago estimated that the number of victims of human trafficking in Britain was 1400. But the present figure could be double that, said Tim Brain, the chief constable of Gloucestershire, who heads Operation Pentameter, a multi-agency task force set up in February to combat trafficking.
The prosecution service conference coincides with criticisms levelled at the Government by children's charities, who believe its response to the trafficking of children is "completely inadequate". "There is no co-ordination of trafficking crime units. There is an ad hoc approach across the country," said Christine Beddoe, the director of a coalition of children's charities called End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking. "There is a total inadequacy in social services support … no guidance and training for health workers in knowing how to identify a trafficked child."
Trafficking of Women Rising in South Asia
UPI, 5/23/06 - Human trafficking remains a serious problem in South Asia, with 100,000 people sold every year, experts said at a U.N.-sponsored meeting in Kathmandu Monday.
The majority of victims are young women and girls, speakers said on the opening day of a three-day conference sponsored by the United Nations Development Program's office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Many women and girls are sold into prostitution, but there are other purposes as well, Radio Nepal reported, quoting participants. They may be sold into labor, forced marriage, or pornography rings. Some are purchased for their organs, which are sold to people seeking transplants.
The meeting was held to highlight gender issues and human rights, and to encourage inter-regional cooperation in sharing information aimed at preventing the exploitation of women and girls.
Civil leaders, government and U.N. officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Nepal are participating in the conference.
Need to End Corruption and Strengthen Law Enforcement
Voice of America, 5/22/06 - A conference in Bangkok is promoting greater regional cooperation in the fight against human trafficking in the Mekong River region. Speakers called on regional governments to end corruption and strengthen law enforcement.
Speakers at the opening session of the conference Monday warned that corruption and weak law enforcement are hampering efforts to combat human trafficking.
Melanne Verveer, chair of the U.S.-based group Vital Voices Global Partnership, said law enforcement agencies in the so-called Greater Mekong Sub-region, or GMS, are not doing their job.
"Law enforcement turns a blind eye," she said. "In countries with weak law enforcement, victims are not protected and their rights are violated. Justice needs to be exacted and the traffickers and the organized crime syndicates that are behind them need to be prosecuted."
The Asian Development Bank has estimated that 700,000 people are trafficked annually in the region, for forced labor or the sex trade.
Thailand is a source of human victims, as well as a transit point and a destination. The Thai Government has introduced laws on the prevention and suppression of the traffic, but Watana Muangsook, the social development and human security minister, says more regional cooperation is needed.
"Human trafficking is not just a problem of a single country but it is a cross-border crime," he said. "Even though the Thai Government had put our best efforts by all means, we still need the collaboration and participation from all countries within and outside the GMS region."
Other Asia countries involved in the trafficking of humans include Afghanistan, India, China, Taiwan, Burma, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Women Sentenced to Prison for Prostitution and Trafficking
Sify News, New Delhi, 5/17/06 - A Delhi court on Wednesday sentenced two Azerbaijani women and two Indian nationals to six-year rigorous imprisonment after convicting them for prostitution and immoral trafficking.
Metropolitan magistrate Ashutosh Kumar found Satbir Singh, Harpal and two Azerbaijani nationals -- Mehriben and Shalala -- guilty of prostitution and immoral trafficking.
Six other Azerbaijani women, though found guilty, were released as they had been under judicial custody for three-and-a-half months in the case.
The six were ordered to pay Rs 500 each as fine.
UK's Crackdown on Human Traffickers
ITV, 4/21/06 - Police across the country have launched an operation to tackle human trafficking.
Dubbed Operation Pentameter, the crackdown is targeting criminal gangs who lure vulnerable young women into the UK before forcing them to work as prostitutes.
Various locations have already been subjected to surveillance, and a number of brothels are expected to be shut down over the next few weeks.
More than 50 suspected human traffickers have also been arrested.
Crimestoppers is a partner in the operation, and they have released a film which aims to educate men who look at internet pornography about the horrific realities of sex trafficking.
The Traffic Signs film starts out by showing typically voyeuristic images, but then cuts to a voiceover explaining the appalling treatment trafficked women are subjected to.
It ends with a message from national crime prevention charity Crimestoppers, encouraging the viewer to contact the charity if they have any information about women who are being exploited and forced to work in the sex industry against their will.
The idea is that men who would normally be using the internet to look at porn or escort websites will download the film, thinking it is a pornographic movie.
It has been distributed online, on blog and video-sharing websites. A fake pornography site, which contains a link to the film, is also being set up.
Mick Laurie, chief executive of Crimestoppers, said the victims of sex trafficking suffered "horrific abuse".
He said: "They are held against their will and often forced to see up to 40 clients a day.
"The only other people who may know what is happening to them are the men who use their services, who would obviously not want to contact the police.
"We are appealing to them to give us information if they are suspicious about women they have seen in these circumstances."
However, a spokesperson for the Poppy Project, a support group for the victims of sex trafficking, criticised the campaign's tactics.
She said it was unrealistic to expect the kind of men who believed women were "commodities" to suddenly become the "knight in shining armour".
"It is not going to work and nor should it work," she said.
"Most men that use brothels do not go looking for a trafficked or a non-trafficked woman, they want someone to have sex with. These are men who believe women are commodities.
"Why should we be asking men who go to brothels only to report those women who they think are foreign trafficked when we know all prostitution is abuse. We will never reduce the demand for prostitution if we allow men a get-out clause.
"All women in prostitution deserve our support and all men who are part of the demand side of this problem should be re-educated.
"What they (Crimestoppers) should be doing is stopping thousands of men from ruining women's lives and re-educating them so that they do not bring their sons to visit a brothel on their 18th birthday as a kind of initiation ceremony.
"It won't work and it is really the wrong message."
5000 a year Trafficked into UK and Forced to be Prostitutes
Sunday Herald, 5/20/06 - More than 5000 women and underage girls are being trafficked into the UK every year and forced to work as prostitutes.
Yet the British government is refusing to sign international legislation which would help rescued victims recover and ensure more prosecutions of the gangsters behind this wave of modern-day slavery.
Some of the highest-ranking police officers in Scotland and the Metropolitan Police have been joined by survivors of sex trafficking, human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, and health professionals in demanding that the government sign the Council of Europe’s Convention On Action Against Trafficking In Human Beings.
This week is the first anniversary of the convention, and some 27 European nations have already become signatories – but in Britain the issue has become entangled in the politically difficult immigration debate. The UK government argues that signing the convention would lead to a rise in illegal immigration, a claim disputed by Britain’s police chiefs.
Crucially, the European convention guarantees victims a 30-day "breathing period", once they have been rescued, which sees them placed in a safe house and given medical, psychological and legal support. The convention also guarantees a UK residence permit to victims so they are not compelled to return to their home country by UK immigration.
Women saved from trafficking have been deported from Britain despite their status as victims of serious and organised crime. According to senior police officers running Operation Pentameter, which is targeting sex traffickers in the UK, deportation leads to failed prosecutions as the women are no longer in Britain to give evidence.
Deportation can also mean women, or their families, are targeted for violent retribution by trafficking gangs once they return home. There are also cases of women being captured for a second time by gangs when they are deported home and trafficked again.
Victims of trafficking are lured to the UK with false promises of jobs. Nearly all come from the most impoverished parts of eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
Invariably, the women are beaten, raped and held captive to enforce their compliance. The money they earn as prostitutes goes to the gangsters who trafficked them. Medical experts say the women are as traumatised as victims of torture or war. The police say the crimes are on a par with rape and paedophilia.
The Sunday Herald has followed the police’s anti-trafficking operation for months and today publishes an in-depth investigative report on Operation Pentameter as it draws to a close. The operation, which began in February and wraps up at the end of May, has rescued 75 trafficked women, made 150 arrests and raided more than 500 premises.
It has been a staggering success in law enforcement terms, but has also revealed the terrifying levels of sex trafficking in the UK. Senior officers who led the operation say they had no idea the crime was so prevalent.
Officers working within Operation Pentameter estimated the number of women falling victim to traffickers and smuggled into the UK at 5000 a year.
One of the most senior officers running Operation Pentameter said: "We want to see the UK sign the convention. We need a proper legal framework that protects victims from the outset."
The Home Office, despite describing sex trafficking as a "vile trade", said it was still considering whether or not to sign the convention. Officials say they fear the convention could become a "pull factor" in encouraging illegal immigration.
Pornstudent Comment ...
Trafficked Women, Prostitution and Porn
Thousands of women a year are forced to be prostitutes. Forced sex is rape. If they could find a market, I assume their kidnappers would also use their victims to make porn. There is, of course, a market for porn. Much of porn, therefore, is footage of women being raped.
Many of the trafficked are forced to do labor. We might be wearing some shoes or hanging a holiday decoration that was made by a kidnapped child. Don't we get suspicious when things are so cheap? Much of what we buy is made under conditions that are illegal in our own countries.
Consumers of porn, shoes and everything else might unknowingly be enjoying the product of a trafficked human. The label doesn't say, "Made in China by a kidnapped child" or "Trafficked Women Porn Video". What can consumers do? We can buy from companies that make the effort to ensure the stuff they sell isn't made by a child or slave labor. Since it doesn't say on the label, we have to research the companies.
In UK's Crackdown on Human Traffickers, Operation Pentameter uses a short movie that those looking for online porn might find and watch. The film starts like a regular porn movie but then becomes an informative clip on the awful realities of sex trafficking. It asks the viewer to report any information they might have about women who are being forced to work in the sex industry.
Some said it was unrealistic to expect people who look for porn to help the women being trafficked for sex. They think all prostitutes are being abused and that by asking men to just report the women who are being trafficked gives the message that some prostitution is OK.
"The operation, which began in February and wraps up at the end of May, has rescued 75 trafficked women, made 150 arrests and raided more than 500 premises." - The Sunday Herald
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