Children trafficked into Britain are to be given personal advocates in a bid to stop gangs hauling them back into prostitution and crime after they have been taken into care, the home secretary, Theresa May, will announce this week.
Hundreds of trafficked children go missing from children’s homes each year, with traffickers easily picking up their victims and forcing them into sex work, cannabis cultivation and domestic servitude. The Guardian exposed one children’s home by Heathrow where 77 Chinese children disappeared in a three-year period; only four were ever found again, two in a West Midlands brothel. A parliamentary report two years ago estimated that six out of 10 child trafficking victims disappear from local authority care.
The Home Office scheme will be tested in two six-month trials and will see advocates assess victims’ needs, help with language barriers, and represent them at meetings with care and immigration officials, the department confirmed.
But the proposal stops short of the system of legal “guardianship” called for by children’s charities, which would grant guardians powers equivalent to a parent. This would enable the guardian to take police forces, immigration centres and councils to court if they fail to keep children safe from traffickers and so would provide a bigger incentive for the state to protect trafficked children, campaigners said.
At least 549 children were trafficked in the UK in 2012, one in four of all victims of trafficking, a government attempt to assess the extent of the problem last year revealed. Of these, 70 children were aged nine or under, and Vietnam and Nigeria were the most prevalent source countries. Sexual exploitation was the fate of more than a quarter of victims; a similar amout were forced into crime – largely cannabis farming and benefit fraud – while 35 became domestic servants. One child was a victim of organ harvesting.
It is not possible to be truly balanced in one’s views of an abuser and an abused woman. As Dr. Judith Herman explains eloquently in her masterwork Trauma and Recovery, “neutrality” actually serves the interests of the perpetrator much more than those of the victim and so is not neutral. Although an abuser prefers to have you wholeheartedly on his side, he will settle contentedly for your decision to take a middle stance. To him, that means you see the couple’s problems as partly her fault and partly his fault, which means it isn’t abuse.
Why Does He Do That: Inside The Mind of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft