Spanish police have rescued 39 women and girls smuggled in from Nigeria and trafficked into sex work by a notorious Nigerian gang.
Europol says the victims were kept in “squalid conditions in caves” and intimidated with voodoo threats.
Gang members forced the women into sex work in order to pay off a 30,000 euro ($37,000; £26,000) debt.
Eighty-nine people, including a famous but as yet unnamed Nigerian DJ, have been arrested.
The DJ is said to have helped move victims to Spain and organise sexual exploitation across the country.
He was caught flying back into Spain after recording a music video.
Investigations began when an underage victim filed a complaint with the police, saying she had been pressured into trafficking by voodoo threats made in Nigeria.
Along with other victims, the girl was transferred from Nigeria to Spain via Libya and Italy.
The operation, which was carried out with police from the UK and Nigeria, is one of the biggest trafficking busts in Europe, says Europol.
The BBC has used the term ‘sex work’ again when referring to trafficked women and commercially sexually exploited girls. My previous complaint received an insultingly lazy reply (essentially: we used the term ‘sex work’ because the article was about ‘sex work’), so I made a follow-up complaint.
The BBC is publically funded, I am a UK tax payer and I pay the TV licence which helps fund the BBC, they are obliged to read and reply to all complaints so it is worth complaining, repeatedly.
Here is the email I sent, please feel free to copy or adapt:
I am writing to complain about the use of the term ‘sex work’ in an article about sex trafficking, sex slavery, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (‘Spanish police break up Nigerian sex trafficking gang’ published online 23 March 2018).
‘Sex work’ is a partisan term, it is not a neutral descriptor; under any other circumstances, coerced sex is called rape, but when the rapist hands money over to a third party controlling the rape victim, some people try to call this ‘work’. The term ‘sex work’ takes a sexual abuse and sexual exploitation issue, and reduces it to a mere labour issue.
The article in question clearly says that one of the victims of sex trafficking was an under-age girl, which means she was incapable of consenting to sex, and it is therefore entirely inappropriate to describe her rape as ‘work’.
Language matters, the meaning of words matters, the BBC is supposed to be impartial and trust-worthy; by using a contested term like ‘sex work’ in this context (the Europol report uses the terms ‘prostitution’ and ‘sexual exploitation’ only), the BBC is failing to be either of these things.
The web page to complain to the BBC is here:
The Europol report is here: