Category Archives: (Commercial) sexual exploitation of children

The Guardian is STILL calling commercially raped children ‘sex workers’

The Guardian, yet again, is calling a commercially raped child a ‘sex worker’.

In this article on Cyntoia Brown, who was first trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation at the age of sixteen, the first paragraph says this:

Celebrities including Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Kim Kardashian West are calling for freedom from prison for a woman who was 16 years old when she killed a man who hired her as a sex worker.

At this point I can’t believe this is an accident; this is very deliberate, partisan language, “hired her as a sex worker”, not even “hired her for sex”, as if the situation was just a bug in the otherwise benign system of ‘sex work’.

I have written to the Guardian many times on this subject, and not ever received a reply (the Observer does better). Please feel free to use or adapt the below template:

Dear editor,

I am writing to you, yet again, to complain about your use of the term ‘sex work’ in relation to a commercially sexually exploited child (in the article ‘Cyntoia Brown: celebrities call for victim of sex trafficking to be freed’ published online today).

Brown was sixteen years old when she was commercially raped (and had been sexually abused from a younger age), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises anyone under the age of eighteen as a child, regardless of local age of consent laws. In New Zealand, where the sex industry has been decriminalised, only people over the age of eighteen can legally consent to ‘sex work’, so there is no justification to refer to Brown as a ‘sex worker’.

This use of language is harmful, it invisibilises the abusive system in which Brown was exploited, and invisibilises the role sex buyers play in this system. By calling Brown a ‘sex worker’ you sanitise the man who paid to rape her as someone merely engaging in a commercial transaction, rather than a predator who targeted the most vulnerable children.

The Guardian keeps asking for subscribers, I will not give you a penny while you continue to sanitise the harm done to vulnerable children, young people, and adults by uncritically using the term ‘sex work’ to describe commercial sexual exploitation.

Yours sincerely,
Abi

guardian.readers@theguardian.com
international@theguardian.com

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“Law to change to make sex between coaches and 16- and 17-year-olds illegal”

Changes to the law are set to make it illegal for sport coaches to have sex with 16- and 17-year-old children in their care in the wake of abuse and athlete welfare scandals across sport.

The sports minister, Tracey Crouch, informed parliament that the Ministry of Justice had agreed changes to the law which would bring the sport industry into line with other sectors. It is illegal for teachers to sleep with pupils under the age of 18 and for care workers to have sex with 16- and 17-year-olds but at present the same strictures do not apply in sport.

Anne Tiivas, the head of the NSPCC’s child protection in sport unit, said: “We know that some sports coaches spend years grooming young people and then, as soon as their 16th birthday comes around, they target them for sex. Ever since the football abuse scandal broke we have been strongly urging government to close this loophole that leaves children in sports and other out-of-school clubs vulnerable to adults who want to prey on them.”

It is almost exactly a year since Andy Woodward’s interview with the Guardian, which led to hundreds of his fellow victims coming forward and the uncovering of football’s sex abuse scandal. There have also been allegations of inappropriate relationships between coaches and athletes in canoeing and archery.

Speaking at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary questions session, Crouch said: “A year ago, Andy Woodward reported historic allegations of sexual abuse in football. It was very brave of him to do so. I’m pleased to announce that I have secured ministerial agreement to change the law on positions of trust to include sports coaches.”

Full article here

QotD: “LGBT charity criticised over staff guidelines allowing sex with clients”

A leading Yorkshire LGBT charity working with child abuse victims and vulnerable young adults has prompted criticism for allowing staff to embark on sexual relationships with clients.

Charities and experts in victims’ welfare said they were “astonished” at the wording of guidance on how staff at Yorkshire MESMAC can conduct themselves with the people that use their service across the county.

The charity offers a range of services including sexual health information, free HIV testing and counselling for LGBT young people and adults. One of its services, the Blast project, works with young men and boys who have faced sexual exploitation.

The charity’s “workers’ conduct policy” says: “Sexual relationships are acceptable with service users initially met during work time, but this would be inappropriate if the service user has entered into a 1-2-1 or ongoing support relationship with the worker.”

The rules do not relate to the charity’s work with children. After the Guardian approached Yorkshire MESMAC it said that it would be redrafting the policy.

The chief executive of the Survivors Trust, a national agency providing support for victims of rape and sexual violence, Fay Maxted, said: “I am astonished at how it [the policy] has been written and the advice it contains about personal sexual relationships with service users. The nearest example I can think of this that would be appropriate or acceptable is around relationships with ex-service users and even then with caution.

“The policy doesn’t sufficiently protect service users from workers who may exploit their position to gain access to vulnerable people. In fact, it’s a charter for workers to seek out service users they want to have a relationship with.”

The policy also states: “It is not acceptable for workers to use work time to further relationships they may wish to pursue in their own time, for example by exchanging telephone numbers or other personal contact information.”

Dr Alec Grant, who retired earlier this year as reader in narrative mental health at the University of Brighton, said: “The policy provides workers with contradictory guidelines: on the one hand they are told that it is not acceptable to turn work relationships into personal ones. They are then informed that they can pursue sexual relationships with service users met during work time, providing they are not in either a one-to-one or a supportive relationship.”

He added: “Sex between workers and service users would be a sackable offence in other third-sector charity organisations.”

All charities have a policy in place around sexual relationships between their staff and clients, often clearly restricting or banning it. Most experts in the sector argue that such relationships blur private and professional roles and may make maintaining confidentiality difficult.

Full article here

QotD: “Rape and slavery was lure for UK ISIS recruits with history of sexual violence”

Men with a history of sexual violence and domestic abuse joined Islamic State because of the organisation’s systemic use of rape and slavery as a form of terrorism, according to new analysis.

The promotion and sanctioning of sexual violence by the extremist group was a pivotal means of “attracting, retaining, mobilising and rewarding fighters” as well as punishing kaffir, or disbelievers, says a report to be released by the Henry Jackson Society.

Enshrining a theology of rape, the sexual exploitation of women alongside trafficking helped fund the caliphate and was used to lure men from deeply conservative Muslim societies, where casual sex is taboo and dating prohibited.

In addition, forced inseminations and forced pregnancies – along with forced conversions – were officially endorsed to help secure the next generation of jihadis, a tactic also replicated by Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Analysis of ISIS members from Europe and the US found that a cohort had a history of domestic and sexual violence, suggesting a “relationship between committing terrorist attacks and having a history of physical and/or sexual violence”.

One Briton, Ondogo Ahmed, from north London, was given an eight-year custodial sentence for raping a 16-year-old girl in the UK but fled to Syria while out of prison on licence in 2013.

Another was Siddhartha Dhar, a father of four from London, who has been described as a central player in Isis’s brutal persecution of the Yazidis, a religious minority whose followers the group permitted its members to rape.

Testimony from one victim, Nihad Barakat, 18, revealed how Dhar, a former bouncy castle salesman from Walthamstow, east London, routinely participated in the group’s systemic trafficking and abuse of Yazidi teenage girls and enslaved some himself. “These cases indicate an existence of a type of terrorism that is sexually motivated, in which individuals with prior records of sexual violence are attracted by the sexual brutality carried out by members of Islamic State,” said Nikita Malik, the report’s author.

Although Malik said more work was required to establish a definitive link between an individual’s history of domestic violence and subsequent involvement in terrorism, evidence existed to indicate a potential correlation. One of the men involved in July’s London Bridge attack, Rachid Redouane, 30, was reportedly abusive and controlling, and his girlfriend eventually fled to a unit for victims of domestic violence. The Westminster attacker Khalid Masood, 52, is another who has been described as violent and controlling, this time towards his second wife.

ISIS has repeatedly promoted and attempted to legitimise a theology of rape, occasionally through its Dabiq magazine and Al Hayat media channel. One edition of Dabiq justified the rape of Yazidi women in Iraq by dismissing them as “pagans”. The extremist group also set up a department dedicated to “war spoils” and issued guidelines to codify slavery.

Markets selling sex slaves were relatively common in territory controlled by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at the calpihate’s height, while the group’s franchise in Libya has also played a role in human trafficking. One account contained in the report describes how Isis members would touch the chests of girls to see whether they had grown breasts. If they had done so they could be raped, according to the report – which will be released in parliament – and if not they would be examined three months later. Among a number of harrowing case studies are accounts of how a 10-year-old Libyan child was raped by traffickers linked to ISIS.

Apart from subjugation and spreading terror, another key reason for Isis exploiting sex trafficking is financial gain. Ransom payments directly linked to the threat or use of sexual violence and paid out by governments and individuals earned, according to the report, between £7.7m and £23m last year, at a time of lowering revenues for the group.

Full article here

It’s unsurprising to note that the report (or the article on it at least), makes the link to “deeply conservative Muslim societies”, but not to our own, western, misogyny. Hardcore pornography was easily available to any ISIS fighter who grew up in the west, plus bootleg pornography is available throughout the global south.

And as Namia Akhtar reported, Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were porn users:

Nonetheless, Sexlamists in their private lives are obsessed with pornography (in a February 17, 2015 article, New York Post reported that Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden found a fairly extensive stash of modern pornography in his possession), they communicate through it (media sources reported that terrorist cells embedded secret coded messages into shared pornography and onto pedophile websites) and justify their own salacious carnal practices on religious grounds. Al-Qaeda leaders, such as Osama Bin Laden and Anwar Al-waki, had also indulged in notorious promiscuity. Adultery and fornication are strictly prohibited in Islam, but in terror groups abhorrent sexual practices reign supreme. Daesh, for instance, has issued fatwas justifying rapes of Yazidi women to make them Muslims. Rape is the mechanism of Daesh to achieve their strategic objectives, since it humiliates and shames respective communities.

QotD: “Harriet Harman hits out at unions for backing decriminalised sex work”

Harriet Harman has accused two major unions of “legitimising exploitation” after they backed the decriminalisation of sex work.

Aslef and the GMB will on Wednesday urge the Trades Union Congress conference to decriminalise prostitution, claiming it would improve safety for the thousands of men and women who work in the sex industry. The unions want the TUC and the government to back the launch of a scheme where sex workers have full legal protection.

Opponents say the move could increase sexism and violence against women, legitimise grooming and make schoolgirls grow up seeing prostitution as a “career choice”.

The former deputy Labour leader tweeted her opposition to the motion and urged TUC delegates to vote it down:

[…]

The Aslef motion, which is backed by the GMB, demands the overturning of legislation which “forces sex workers to work alone, leaving workers vulnerable to crime and the threat of losing access to their families”.

It says “austerity measures since 2010 have led to an increase in the number of people working in the sex industry”, and claims that many people would not choose to work in the sex industry and do so “because of economic necessity rather than criminal coercion”.

It says “sex workers should have the same rights as those in other industries”.

The motion supports the New Zealand model of “full decriminalisation which would give sex workers protections as workers in law”.

At a fraught TUC fringe meeting on Monday, sex workers pushed the case for decriminalisation – saying the current law infringed their human rights by preventing them from setting up brothels. They were criticised by campaigners who said prostitution demeaned women.

One critic argued that the New Zealand model would mean women could set up small brothels without any registration. She said: “That is the model you want for this country: to bring prostitution to every street corner so all our daughters can choose to work there. What about the right of women not to be prostituted?”

A delegate from the National Education Union said thousands of schoolgirls were being groomed. “The problem is if you say it’s a job like every other … sex working will be presented as a viable option, a career choice,” he said.

Full article here

Newcastle child sexual exploitation network convicted

The BBC has managed to report on this better (although I still had to change the headline from ‘child sex’ to ‘child sexual exploitation’):

Eighteen people have been convicted of abusing girls in Newcastle who were plied with alcohol and drugs before being forced to have sex.

The vulnerable victims, some as young as 14, were exploited by a “cynical organisation”, a court heard.

The 17 men and one woman were convicted of rape, supplying drugs and conspiracy to incite prostitution.

Over the course of four trials, 20 young women gave evidence covering a period from 2011 to 2014.

These trials involved 26 defendants, who were mostly Asian, facing a total of more than 100 charges and 22 victims.

Those prosecuted were from the Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish communities and mainly British-born, with most living in the West End of Newcastle.

Of the 26, three people have been jailed. The rest will be sentenced next month.

Continue reading here

An absolute low from the Guardian

In an article describing how underage girls and vulnerable women in Newcastle were groomed using drugs and alcohol, then trafficked and pimped, we have this paragraph:

Although many of the defendants were charged with conspiracy to incite prostitution for gain, there is no suggestion that any of the victims were sex workers.

It’s disgusting. It implies that there is a separate class of underage girls and vulnerable women who are unexploitable, because they are ‘sex workers’. It implies that some women and girls can be complicit in their own exploitation, that if any of those women and girls laid claim to a certain ‘identity’ (or had that ‘identity’ applied to them, as happened in Rochdale), then they wouldn’t have been victims of exploitation.

It is also implying that there is a separate realm of ‘sex work’ which has no connection to paedophilia, grooming, exploitation and forced prostitution.

I will be emailing the editor (guardian.readers@theguardian.com) and the journalist (frances.perraudin@theguardian.com), not that it ever does any good. Frances Perraudin is also on twitter (@fperraudin) if any reader of this blog would like to let her know that she is throwing vulnerable women and girls under the bus.

“Romanian couple jailed for trafficking girl, 14, into prostitution in UK”

A Romanian couple have been jailed for trafficking a 14-year-old girl and other women into prostitution in the UK, in the first prosecution for child sex trafficking under the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.

Romelia Florentina Radu, 32, and Petre Niculescu, 39, were each sentenced to 14 years in prison after they pleaded guilty to trafficking the child and eight women.

A third Romanian national, George Maracineanu, 47, who persuaded a woman to come to the UK, promising her love and work before handing her over to the couple, was jailed for two years and eight months.

The criminal network run by Radu and Niculescu was dismantled by the Metropolitan police and Romanian police after an eight-month joint operation.

The trial at Kingston crown court in Surrey heard that the group preyed on women from impoverished backgrounds, telling some they would be given work in shops or restaurants.

“The defendants benefited criminally from the sexual exploitation of a number of women,” prosecution counsel Caroline Haughey told the court. “They beguiled and deceived their way into their lives and them put them to work on the streets.”

In the case of the pair’s youngest victim, they “deliberately and callously stole her childhood,” she said.

The pair had operated in the UK since 2013 and lured the 14-year-old, one of nine siblings from a poor family, in 2016 after promising her a job as a waitress.

But on the night she arrived in the UK, she was told to change into “sexy” clothes and put on heavy makeup, because “she had the face of a child”, said Haughey.

The court heard that the girl was forced to have sex with men every day for four months.

In a victim impact statement, the girl said: “I was forced to have sex continuously. Many times it was painful and I was disgusted.”

She said she lived in permanent fear and was told not to tell anyone her age or her real name. “They would swear at me and threaten me with violence. They would tell me that they are going to hurt my family and that they would set fire to the front of my door,” she said.

Met police became aware of the gang after one of the victims, a 41-year-old woman, went to a north London police station. She told officers she had been recruited by Maracineanu, who had promised they would earn money together to buy a house in Romania.

The court heard that other women had been controlled by the couple, recruited through friends and family with the promise of a better life. One had been offered work as a prostitute when she was 14. Four years later, she agreed to go with Radu for unspecified work in the UK, but when she arrived was told she would be working as a prostitute.

Others knew they would be working as prostitutes and were told they would share takings. But when they had arrived in the UK thye found themselves in debt bondage – told by the couple they owed money for their travel costs, as well as their “patch” of the street and rent in the flats they used in Paddington, west London. While the women could earn at least £250-300 a night, they were often given as little as £20-30 a day.

They described physical and mental abuse. In a victim impact statement, one of the women said: “Once [Niculescu] beat me really badly. He punched me and then hit me many times with the pole from the hoover… I was covered in blood. I still have a scar because of what happened that day.”

Another described being beaten by a man who refused to pay for sex. “The client was under the influence of drugs and beat me for an hour, both during and after sex,” she said. “He slapped me all over my body, including my face. I was praying to God to escape alive.”

DC Alison Hines said all the women had been subjected to various levels of abuse. “All of them were threatened that their families would be harmed, their houses would be burned down, or they would be beaten up,” she said. “The fact that they were willing to give evidence against their traffickers is incredibly brave.”

Damaris Lakin, a prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service London’s complex casework unit, said: “All three suspects initially denied controlling these women and girls for prostitution. The bravery of these women in providing evidence and supporting this prosecution has helped stop a dangerous criminal network taking advantage of vulnerable young girls.”

(Source)

“Hiding in Plain Sight: The Life and Crimes of Dr John Davies”

Julie Bindel is using Byline to raise funds for her investigation into John Davies:

Teflon John: The Man Who Hid In Plain Sight

This is the story of suspected baby trafficker, pimp, kidnapper, and major charity fraudster John Davies.

It is also the story of a world renowned academic, missionary, gold-hearted philanthropist, and expert in combatting trafficking in women and children.

Which of these two descriptions is true?

After an investigation lasting almost 20 years, Julie Bindel knows the answer. But will you believe her? Or might you prefer the version peddled by Davies and his supporters since the rumours began to circle back in the 1980s?

The intensive 18-month stage of this long-term investigation has been self-funded by Julie. She now needs to secure production costs to make a ten-part series.

The estimated cost per episode is approximately £500. The remaining funds will go to promotion and distribution in order to disseminate the story of John Davies far and wide. Julie is confident that on hearing the evidence against Davies, more victims and witnesses will come forward.

Once the first two episodes are funded, the team will begin to produce them.

Once properly underway, with regular donations coming in, we aim to produce a 20 minute podcast on a regular basis, covering the ten major phases of the story.

Please help fund this vital investigation, where there will be attempts to silence Bindel’s reporting and allow the podcast team to start producing.

You can listen to a taster of this story here: https://t.co/i4BmmJzM69

Julie Bindel is a British journalist, researcher and feminist campaigner. She has written hundreds of articles published by The Guardian, The Independent, The New Statesmen and other news agencies in Britain and around the world.

She has appeared in countless television interviews and debates in defence of feminist perspectives of male violence, and is a co-founder of the law reform group Justice for Women https://www.justiceforwomen.org.uk/

Bindel is sole author of the forthcoming book, ‘The pimping of prostitution – Abolishing the Sex Work Myth’ (Palgrave McMillan, 2017).

Bindel has devoted her working and non-working life to campaigning against male violence – going after the men who murder, stalk, abuse, terrorise and rape women and girls. Equally, she has exposed the structures, cultural, legal and political practises and ideas which lend themselves to the epidemic of male violence, particular the very idea that the bodies of women and girls are things to be bought, sold, acquired and taken in service of male power and privilege.

Read more at:https://www.byline.com/project/68

QotD: “Rape victims to be spared ordeal of cross-examination in court”

New measures to spare alleged rape victims from facing live cross-examination in court will be rolled out as part of changes being made by the justice secretary.

Liz Truss announced that from September victims in England and Wales would be able to provide evidence in prerecorded cross-examinations to be played to the jury once a trial begins.

The rule applying to all adult sexual offences is being introduced following the success of pilot schemes using prerecorded evidence in cases of child sexual abuse.

It was found that defendants, when confronted with the strength of the evidence against them before the trial, were more likely to enter an early guilty plea, reducing the trauma for victims, speeding up the justice process and saving money.

The move comes amid changes that include a crackdown on paedophiles grooming children on social media with a new offence of “sexual communication with a child” to be brought in. It will mean those convicted face a jail sentence of up to two years and an automatic listing on the sex offender register.

Truss said the changes to rape trials would prevent victims facing the trauma of confronting their attackers without reducing the right to a fair trial.

She told the Sunday Times: “There is more we can do to help alleged victims in these cases give the best possible evidence they can give in an environment that is much more suitable than open court. We’ve been trialling this for children in cases of sex abuses.”

She added: “What this has led to is a much higher level of early guilty pleas. That has a huge amount of benefit. It resolves the case much earlier for the victim. It reduces the level of trauma for the victim. I want to see that being the standard offer in those cases and that will give more victims the confidence to come forward.”

Rape prosecutions are at record levels and the court system is struggling to cope with the high caseloads.

Domestic abuse, rape, sexual offences and child sex abuse account for 19% of the Crown Prosecution Service’s total caseload – more than double the figure six years ago.

The volume of rape referrals to the CPS from the police rose to 6,855 in 2015-16 – up 11% on the previous year. Of those referred, 3,910 resulted in charges and 1,300 in convictions. However, campaigners claim only 6% of all reported cases result in a conviction for the perpetrator.

[…]

Lisa Avalos, a professor of law at the University of Arkansas who has carried out comparative work on rape prosecutions between Britain and the US, said false allegations of rape make up just 2-3% of all rape allegations according to a study commissioned by the Home Office.

Avalos, an expert on gender-based violence, said: “The overwhelming problem here is rape, it is not false allegations of rape. Studies have shown the majority of false allegations of rape involve unnamed perpetrators so the concerns some organisations have about reputational damage to identifiable individuals are substantially overstated.”

She added: “Concern with false allegation masks another problem, namely that disbelieved rape victims have been wrongly accused of false reporting. Approaching rape victims with scepticism enables rape and discourages victims from coming forward.”

Avalos said that if rape cases were properly investigated in the first place, false allegations would never come to court.

She said: “There are massive failures to properly investigate rapes with police officers only referring between 10% and 30% of all reported cases to prosecutors. There are some international organisations that are putting out excellent rape investigation guidelines but such guidance is yet to be embraced by the UK.”

Full article here