This is so frustrating, because these reports are important (and I will still quote them), but why this insistence on calling sex slavery ‘work’? A raped child is not a worker, a raped adult is not a worker, rape is not a labour issue, it is a sex abuse issue.
Criminal gangs are taking advantage of Europe’s migration crisis to force more people into [commercial sexual exploitation] and other types of slavery, according to an EU report on human trafficking.
Children have become a preferred target for traffickers, the report warns, amid growing concern over the fate of unaccompanied child refugees who have disappeared from official view since arriving in Europe.
Almost 96,000 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in Europe in 2015, about one-fifth of the total number of child refugees. But at least 10,000 unaccompanied children have dropped off the radar of official agencies since arriving in Europe, the EU police agency reported in January. German authorities reported earlier this year that 4,700 children had been lost to officials, while up to 10 children a week are reported missing in Sweden.
The report from the European commission, which will be published on Thursday, does not attempt to estimate how many may have fallen victim to criminal gangs, but warns that the phenomenon of child trafficking “has been exacerbated by the ongoing migration crisis”. Children are at high risk of being doubly victimised, it says, because they are treated as perpetrators of crimes if they are found by the authorities.
“Organised crime groups choose to traffic children as they are easy to recruit and quick to replace, they can also keep under their control child victims relatively cheaply and discreetly,” states an EU working document seen by the Guardian. Trafficked children aged between six months and 10 years are bought and sold for sums ranging from €4,000 (£3,000) to €8,000, although amounts of up to €40,000 have been reported in some cases.
EU authorities registered 15,846 victims of human trafficking in 2013-14, including 2,375 children, but the report’s authors believe the true number of victims is far higher. More than two-thirds (67%) of people were trafficked into [commercial sexual exploitation]; about one-fifth (21%) were put into forced labour, often as agricultural workers, a form of slavery that disproportionately affected men. The remainder of trafficking victims faced an equally grim catalogue of exploitation, ranging from domestic servitude to forced begging.
Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat MEP, said official statistics on this “vile trade” were just the tip of the iceberg. Victims of trafficking come to official attention when they are arrested or escape, she said. “Very, very few are rescued by the authorities and for me that is shocking.” Too often, police forces “see the crime, not the person, they see them as illegal immigrants”.
The MEP, who spearheaded an anti-trafficking resolution in the European parliament last month, said EU authorities needed to do more to rescue victims and help them recover.
EU law requires countries to provide victims of trafficking with at least 30 days of recovery, including accommodation, medical treatment and legal advice. The UK offers a 45-day “reflection period”, when the person cannot be deported.
The MEP would like to see a longer period for recovery. Highlighting the plight of people sold into in sex slavery she said: “We are much better now at treating people who are raped and give them the protection of the law, but these girls have been raped night after night after night. I think we should be prepared to give them longer support of reflection and more support in rebuilding their lives.”
She also urged governments to get to grips with the migration crisis. “When the migrants land on Europe’s shores, when they are not properly looked after, they are absolutely ripe victims for the traffickers.”
I am emailing the Guardian again, feel free to use as a template.
I am writing to you, yet again, to complain about the use of the term ‘sex work’ in relation to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (in the article “Human traffickers ‘using migration crisis’ to force more people into slavery” published 19/May/2016).
A raped child is not a ‘worker’, and child rape is not a ‘labour’ issue, calling child rape ‘sex work’ minimises and obfuscates commercialised child sex abuse, and helps legitimise the global sex industry within which such abuse takes place.
There is nothing in the Guardian style guide insisting on calling prostitution or sex slavery ‘sex work’. The guide does say that ‘child pornography’ should be referred to as child abuse images. Therefore a recording of a ‘child sex worker’ doing ‘sex work’ would be an image of abuse, but the creation of that abuse image would just be ‘work’, which is nonsensical.
Earlier this year, Stephen Pritchard, the Observer’s readers editor, altered an article on child exploitation (“10,000 refugee children are missing, says Europol”, published 30/Jan/2016) to remove the term ‘sex work’, stating: “This article was amended on 11 February 2016 to remove the term “sex work” relating to children. Children caught up in the sex trade are victims of abuse.” I hope you will follow the precedent he has set.