Category Archives: Prostitution

Ninotchka Rosca: If your intersectionality isnt women-centered then it is not feminism

Following on from this previous post (and the original blogger does cite the source, I just missed it in the tags), here is the quote and its source:

Ninotchka Rosca was interviewd by Feminist Current last year, and the podcast is available here.

In this episode, I speak with Ninotchka Rosca, an incredibly accomplished activist and writer from the Phillippines. She is the author of six books, including two bestselling novels — The State of War and Twice Blessed (which won the 1993 American Book Award for Excellence in Literature) — a two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and has written for numerous magazines and websites. She was a political prisoner under the dictatorial government of Ferdinand Marcos and went on to work with Amnesty International and the PEN American Center, drafting statements on women and human rights at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the UN’s World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. A powerful anti-prostitution advocate, Ninotchka was press secretary of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery which convicted Japan’s wartime era leadership for enslaving and exploiting Asian “comfort women.”

Ninotchka founded and was the first chairperson of Gabriela Network, a US-based organization of women and women’s rights advocates supporting the Philippine women’s movement, which eventually became AF3IRM, a transnational feminist organization. AF3IRM’s national summit will be held on October 21st in New York City, and will look at the foundational ideas of American feminism — concepts and wisdom drawn from the tribal societies of this continent, particularly the Iroquois, with whom pioneers of the American women’s movement were in touch.

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QotD: “We must stop abuse by criminalising punters”

A court in Lancashire last month jailed six men and one woman for their part in a sex trafficking ring. The group had been bringing women from Romania, and sexually exploiting them in a network of brothels around the UK. The court heard the key to this gang’s operation was the use of a classified ads website – Vivastreet – on which they advertised women to sex buyers.

The group didn’t have to worry about disguising the prostitution adverts they were placing; Vivastreet openly hosts and charges for “escorts” listings. During the investigation, one of the suspects was found to have spent more than £25,000 on advertising victims on the site. Yet Detective Sergeant Stuart Peall, who led the investigation, discovered that, astonishingly, when one man placed what amounted to more than £25,000-worth of prostitution adverts – for multiple women – the web company did not respond by calling the police, or even by refusing his requests. Instead, Peall says, they gave the suspect “his own account manager”.

Vivastreet is one of the “prostitution procurement websites” identified in a recent inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group on prostitution as enabling industrial-scale sexual exploitation. Along with its competitor, Adultwork, the site allows users to shop for sexual access to women’s bodies. It is free to use for the sex buyer, who can search profiles according to his location and contact the person being advertised (or the person selling them) via a mobile number listed in the profile. The profits come from fees charged to those placing the adverts.

Vivastreet’s French business was interrupted on 4 June when the Paris prosecutor opened an investigation into Vivastreet France for aggravated pimping. Last week, Vivastreet France shut down its prostitution adverts. This comes in the wake of Adultwork and similar sites dropping prostitution adverts in the US after a new law holding web companies criminally and civilly liable for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking came into force in April. In Britain, prostitution advertising websites continue to operate, the UK’s patchy and inadequate laws against commercial sexual exploitation leaving sufficient leeway for them to profiteer openly.

France has led the way by taking action on prostitution websites under comprehensive anti-pimping laws and, crucially, tackling the demand underpinning them – by criminalising paying for sex, and decriminalising selling sex. It is time the British government did the same and finally woke up to the sexual abuse scandal playing out in brothels across the country.

Kat Banyard

QotD: “Outlaw prostitution websites to protect enslaved and trafficked women, say MPs”

Ministers will come under intense pressure from a cross-party group of MPs this week to follow the US by banning so-called “prostitution websites” amid mounting evidence that they are enabling a huge growth in sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women to the UK for profit.

Members of the all-party group on prostitution have secured a parliamentary debate during which they will demand that the Home Office acts to make websites such as Vivastreet and Adultwork accountable under law for encouraging and profiting from sexual exploitation.

The websites make money by placing advertisements on behalf of gangs and individuals running networks of women, many of whom are trafficked from abroad. Vivastreet operates in 19 countries and is owned by an offshore holding company based in Jersey. Adultwork is registered in Panama.

A recent inquiry by the all-party group heard evidence from the Joint Slavery and Trafficking Analysis Centre – a multi-agency intelligence unit set up by the police, the government, and the National Crime Agency – which concluded that “adult services websites represent the most significant enabler of sexual exploitation in the UK”.

This was because the sites are at the heart of a money-spinning online industry that allows running networks of women to connect with men who want to buy sex. Investigators believe much of the profit made by those managing the women is then used to fund a wider network under which vulnerable women are sought out abroad and systematically trafficked to the UK.

Amid rising outrage about the use of such websites, US President Donald Trump signed a bill earlier this year that gives federal and state prosecutors greater power to act against platforms that make money out of such advertisements. The bill also enables victims and state attorneys general to file lawsuits against the sites.

The MPs say it is now crucial that the Home Office follows the US and changes the law in the UK to make such websites directly accountable under law for encouraging exploitation and trafficking. They will demand swift action from Theresa May, who made action to stamp out modern slavery a top priority of her time at the Home Office and reiterated the same commitment on entering Downing Street.

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham and a member of the all-party group, said she would attend the debate and press whichever Home Office minister represents the government to follow America’s swift action. “UK legislation needs to be radically overhauled to keep pace with the changing face of prostitution,” Champion said. “We need to update our laws to make websites legally accountable for facilitating and profiting from sexual exploitation. The idea that commercial prostitution sites make it safer for women is not true.”

Diane Martin, who was awarded a CBE for services to vulnerable women and survived trafficking and prostitution in her late teens, now supports exploited women. “As a survivor, my perspective means firsthand experience of the realities of prostitution,” she said. “My years of supporting hundreds women to exit prostitution has also only strengthened my fervent belief that we are failing some of the most vulnerable women in society unless we address the demand of the buyers and the greed of the pimps.

“Currently, UK legislation is inadequate to deal with this. I want to call on MPs, and all with the power to make positive change, to see the reality of prostitution, to be on the side of the most vulnerable and to adopt an approach where pimps, brothel owners and third-party exploiters are not tolerated.”

This article was published in the Observer, which is editorially independent from the Guardian, but shares its website.

It’s almost laughable how much the Guardian is dedicated to the ideology of ‘sex work’, and calling commercially raped women and children ‘sex workers’: the Observer places the article under the category ‘prostitution’, while on the front page of the Guardian, it is under the category ‘sex workers’, and the word ‘prostitution’ has been taken out of the headline.

QotD: “‘Voodoo’ nurse Josephine Iyamu guilty of sex trafficking”

A London-based nurse has been convicted of trafficking five Nigerian women into Germany to work as prostitutes after subjecting them to “voodoo” rituals.

Josephine Iyamu forced the women to swear oaths to hand over money to her during “juju” ceremonies.

Iyamu, 51, formerly of Bermondsey, was convicted of five counts of arranging or facilitating travel for sexual exploitation at Birmingham Crown Court.

Jurors also found her guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The rituals saw the women forced to eat chicken hearts, drink blood containing worms, and have powder rubbed into cuts, the court heard.

Iyamu is the first person to be convicted under Modern Slavery Act laws passed in 2015, allowing prosecutions of British citizens for overseas sexual trafficking.

She was born in Liberia, but became a British citizen in 2009 having been allowed to stay in the UK due to her nursing qualifications.

Her husband, 60-year-old Efe Ali-Imaghodor, was acquitted of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice.

Iyamu declared a modest income of around £14,500 in 2016/17 from her work as an NHS agency nurse, the court heard.

But after her arrest last year investigators found she was able to afford to spend thousands on air travel and a large home in Benin City, Nigeria.

Prosecutor Simon Davis said by performing rituals Iyamu gained psychological control over the women.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Iyamu had “enlisted the help of a voodoo priest” to put the women through a “juju” ceremony which was “designed to exert control” over them.

The victims and their families were threatened with serious harm if they broke their oath to Iyamu, according to the NCA.

The court heard Iyamu was “willing to put the women at risk of serious injury and or death as they made their journey from Nigeria to Europe”.

They were too afraid to challenge her or fail to pay her back tens of thousands of Euros she charged them to be trafficked into Germany, the court was told.

Opening the case, Mr Davis said: “The debts incurred by the women were enforced through fear.

“Each of the women were put through what is known to some as a voodoo ceremony.”

From the BBC

Gatekeeping Decriminalization of Prostitution: The Ubiquitous Influence of the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective

[…]

Read the full article here

QotD: “Women should say goodbye to a sexist Left”

Part of New York’s radical press, the Rat combined left-wing politics with nudie covers and pornographic cartoons – directed, of course, by a male staff. In January 1970, a group of feminists ousted the editorial team and turned the paper over to their own concerns. This was where Robin Morgan first published her essay Goodbye to All That, a ferocious blast against the sexism of the left: “Goodbye to the male-dominated peace movement… Goodbye to the illusion of strength when you run hand in hand with your oppressors… Goodbye to Hip culture and the so-called Sexual Revolution.”

Morgan didn’t imagine that the men considered the Rat takeover significant. (“What the hell, let the chicks do an issue; maybe it’ll satisfy ’em for a while, it’s a good controversy, and it’ll maybe sell papers” runs an unoverheard conversation that I’m sure took place at some point last week,” she wrote.) But to the feminists, it mattered because Rat represented the “good guys who think they know what Women’s Lib, as they so chummily call it, is all about – who then proceed to degrade and destroy women by almost everything they say and do.” Rat stood for the political world where Stokely Carmichael could joke that “the only position for women” in activism “is prone”, and where Eldridge Cleaver could write about raping women as an “insurrectionary act” against the “white man’s law”. What Morgan took aim at in Goodbye to All That is what today I’d call ‘brocialism’ – a dismissive portmanteau of ‘bro’ and ‘socialism’ which describes the meeting place between left-wing ideology and virulent machismo.

Brocialism is the politics of the left that puts women last. Brocialism is when it just so happens, coincidentally, that the politicians who attract the most hatred for being ‘right-wing’ are also the female ones. Brocialism is saying we’ll get around to sex equality, but the revolution comes first.

Brocialism is sneering at middle-class women for hiring cleaners, but not at middle-class men who expect their wives to pick up their dirty boxers for free. Brocialism is the men who call themselves feminists, but seem to be more interested in telling women what they’re doing wrong than in giving up any of their own power. Brocialism is blaming the EU for depressing men’s wages – but not acknowledging that the EU has driven workers’ rights for women.

Brocialism is Owen Jones telling women who disagree with them that they’re on the “wrong side of history”. It’s Russell Brand offering a revolution in which women figure firstly as “your bird”. It’s the American Democrats who were so wedded to Sanders over Clinton that they ultimately helped to ensure that Trump won. It’s the men who sexually assaulted women in the Occupy camps, and the kangaroo rape trials of the Socialist Workers Party. It’s the abuse and death threats thrown by Corbyn supporters at female MPs deemed insufficiently loyal to the cause, such as Luciana Berger or Thangam Debbonaire. It’s Jeremy Corbyn wanting to overthrow capitalism, until it comes to women being prostituted, when he says that the only “civilised” option is a free market.

It’s also a tediously old phenomenon. When Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Men in 1790, it was because she was wholly committed to revolution. She followed it with A Vindication of the Rights of Women in 1792 because she’d realised that revolution was a male-only affair. “Consider,” she pleaded, “whether, when men contend for their freedom, and to be allowed to judge for themselves, respecting their own happiness, it be not inconsistent and unjust to subjugate women.” It was not considered. As historian Rachel Hewitt explains, the woman question in the 18th century was fought mainly between the reactionary position that “a woman was the property of one man” and the radical belief that “she was the property of many”.

The same false choice persists. From the right, low-income women are coerced to remain chastely within the family (Iain Duncan Smith designed Universal Credit so that it would be paid to a single recipient in each household in order to “prevent family breakdown”, or, rather, stop women from leaving). From the left, the men at the top of the Labour Party propose full decriminalisation of prostitution – that is, not only ending the unjust criminalisation of women in prostitution, but also lifting all sanctions on the pimps and punters who exploit and endanger those women. For women, this means either having one master, or having several. There is no alternative here to subjugation.

Yet left-wing politics is supposed to offer alternatives. As the Scottish socialist Alasdair Gray wrote, it’s animated by a belief in possibility: “Our nations are not built instinctively by our bodies, like beehives; they are works of art, like ships, carpets and gardens. The possible shapes of them are endless.” Feminism shares that belief, which is why the movement’s key thinkers and activists have often (though not always) come from a radical or socialist background: because feminism is, ultimately, a radical project and a redistributive one. It is about claiming rights and recognition for labour: the unpaid domestic labour that’s worth 56% of GDP and of which women do 60% more than men; the labour of bearing and caring for children, without which there would be no people and no economy at all.

It is about taking away from men the unjust power they assert over women, and giving women authority over themselves. It is difficult to articulate just how transformative that would be. The sex-class system is so entrenched that people still clutch at the belief – despite all evidence – that something in our essential nature makes women domesticated and decorative, and men bold and competitive.

In The Dialectic of Sex, Shulamith Firestone described how “so profound a change cannot be easily fit into traditional categories of thought… not because these categories do not apply but because they are not big enough: radical feminism bursts though them. If there were another word more all-embracing than revolution we would use it.”

And this is why the left has ultimately so often failed to give feminism a home: because, whatever their position on the left-right spectrum, too many men have been and still are unwilling to surrender the dominance they have over women. Feminism has always stood against right-wing chauvinism, but frustration with the macho left has helped to form much of the women’s movement’s most important theory and activism.

Sarah Ditum, continue reading here

QotD: “Peter Stringfellow normalised sleaze – that’s nothing to celebrate”

Peter Stringfellow exploited women’s objectified bodies for profit, as though they were cuts of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop, and while it would be unseemly to rejoice in his death I do not mourn him, either. He was a pimp. The feminist writer Julie Bindel recalled that she called him a pimp to his face during a radio debate and that he went “berserk” and “demanded she apologise”. I find the prissiness of this astonishing: that this unsavoury sleaze could demean and degrade women so openly for so many years and then be upset to be called on it.

But that’s the thing: the “calling out”, as it’s called today, is considered rude. For some people, alerting them to their prejudices and/or exploitative practices is somehow seen as bad manners. I have no doubt that I will be in for a whole world of internet abuse for writing this piece. If I don’t get at least one rape threat it will be a miracle. There is a certain kind of man who loathes feminists who refuse to silently and passively accept a culture in which young women are paid to take their clothes off for male entertainment. When Suzanne Moore called Hugh Hefner a pimp, he threatened to sue. And yet somehow we’re the snowflakes.

Like Hefner and Paul Raymond, Stringfellow normalised sleaze. He took a sexually repressed society and began to turn it into a pornified one. I grew up in the “post-feminist” 1990s, the peak of laddism, when the corporate sex industry was such a standard part of capitalist consumption that if you challenged it, you were immediately dismissed as a hairy bra-burner with no sense of humour. Women were expected to laugh along when men boasted about getting wrecked and ending up in Stringfellows or Spearmint Rhino. There the foulness was packaged in hard, glossy surroundings; the sleaze was wrapped in shiny. But visit the kind of joint where all you had to do was pop a quid in a pint glass and you would see the industry for what it was.

It all paved the way for the dominance of pornography, for the conduct described by so many women as part of #MeToo and “grabbing them by the pussy”. The objectification rife in strip clubs bled into lads’ mags, a more contemporary version of the old man on the bus pretending to juggle teenage girls’ breasts. It made itself known in the boys at university who thought a grope was a greeting. The idea of consent workshops was mocked, but the lines had become so blurred they were necessary. Feminism was decades old but we were still being treated like meat. Even in this age of #MeToo, it’s still rarely heard just quite how disgusting young women find being drooled over by pervy older men, which happens to us from puberty onwards.

And as Moore wrote last year, part of Hefner’s Playboy mythology was “the idea that women do this sort of thing willingly”. But we all know that for the majority of women in the sex industry, it’s not so much a choice as a way of surviving. A stripper I spoke to once told me that the entire time that she was dancing for male gratification, she would repeat the mantra “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you” in her head. It was her way of coping. And yet, we continue to be told how innocent it all was, how liberating for women. As with Hefner’s death, the accolades and the RIPs come in from men, the pally anecdotes about his “sense of humour”. We hear the eulogising on the Today programme and by ex-lad male journalists who don’t realise how it makes them sound. So for the avoidance of all doubt, before I log off social media for a week: I see you, we see you. You’re disgusting, too. And that stripper’s mantra? She’s not the only one making use of it.

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

QotD: “Claims about social benefits of sex robots greatly overstated, say experts”

Sex robots are coming, but the argument that they could bring health benefits, including offering paedophiles a “safe” outlet for their sexual desires, is not based on evidence, say researchers.

The market for anthropomorphic dolls with a range of orifices for sexual pleasure – the majority of which are female in form, and often boast large breasts, tiny waists and sultry looks – is on the rise, with such dummies selling for thousands of pounds a piece.

While some are simple sex dolls, others are sexbots that can move and talk, some with a choice of nipples and dishwasher-proof labia. Indeed the industry is churning out ever more realistic mannequins featuring artificial intelligence, lubrication systems and even vaginas that can mimic an orgasm.

“Our conclusion is that there are a lot of health claims with no evidence” said Susan Bewley, professor of women’s health at Kings College London and co-author of the new research.

Some have suggested that such claims might be more about normalising the use of such dolls than providing actual health benefits.

“In a way [this research] is a sort of academic plea [not to] make false claims, and if there is something genuine in this beyond the creation and marketing of a new device, then let’s study it properly,” said Bewley.

While some argue sexbots are simply the next step in a booming $30bn sex tech industry, others say they are a world apart from the humble vibrator and have serious social implications.

The latest study is not the first to look at sexbots: last year a report by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics also raised questions about the potential benefits and harms of such devices, noting there are already sex-doll brothels in Asia.

Writing in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, Bewley and co-author Dr Chantal Cox-George searched databases of scientific papers but found none that studied the health impacts of sex robots.

However the hunt, together with discussions with experts in the field, revealed that the anthropomorphic dolls are being hailed as providing a host of benefits including, offering sexual companionship to lonely or marginalised individuals, and potentially helping to treat sex offenders and paedophiles.
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Looking into the debates around such topics, the authors highlight a number of issues, including who is legally responsible for injuries and infections from sexbots, and that rather than protecting sex workers, the dolls might fuel exploitation of humans.

And while Bewley notes robots are being explored for use in health and social care, she and Cox-George say its unclear if robots could help in the bedroom, for example aiding people with sexual dysfunction or who are lonely, noting such robots might cause a rift with human partners or even that robots’ lack of emotion might cause distress. “While a human may genuinely desire a sexbot, reciprocation can only be artificially mimicked,” they write.

As for the idea that sexbots could help to treat paedophiles and protect real children – one company already produces childlike dolls – the team say there is no evidence for the claims, noting that it might normalise such acts and even increase the risk of sexual assault and rape for children and adults. “It is a powerful idea. It might be true, it might be untrue – but the fact that someone who is selling these dolls is saying this, [means] you have to take [it] with a big pinch of salt,” said Bewley.

Last year a childlike sex doll intercepted by UK border police led to the arrest of the man who ordered it after the force discovered he had child abuse images on his computer.

The team note there are further questions, including whether sexbots, with their exaggerated forms based in fantasy, could influence what is deemed attractive in actual women – while there are also concerns that some sexbots come with a non-consensual mode, potentially allowing users the opportunity to act out rape.

Prof Oliver Bendel, an expert in machine ethics from the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, who was not involved in the study, said he is not in favour of banning the development of sexbots or “love dolls” and that the technology will remain niche, with most people preferring sex with other humans.

But Bendel agreed research is needed. That said, there is a problem. “Most universities in Europe don’t want anything to do with this topic. Most scientists find the subject repulsive,” he said, adding that researchers might find it hard to recruit study participants.

“It’s an old human dream to have artificial love partners. Pygmalion created a female sculpture and laid down with her. Aphrodite brought the sculpture to life,” he said. “It is interesting for science and business to create artificial people. But we must not leave the people alone with the machines.”

(source)

QotD: “Let’s criminalise the men buying sex, and spare the women they exploit”

“You know when you buy something and it doesn’t work properly, the first thing you will do is pick it up and shake it. The same principle applies to prostitution. If your mouth isn’t open wide enough or your throat isn’t deep enough. So you are always at risk of being raped or abused if the buyer feels he is not getting what he paid for.”

Mia de Faoite spent six years in prostitution. During those years she was raped numerous times, including a vicious gang rape, and physical assaults were a common occurrence. She is one of many survivors and activists working to smash the myth of the happy hooker, the smiling professional escort offering “sex work” to grateful, respectful men. It’s a powerful image that is promoted relentlessly by the vastly wealthy sex industry to normalise prostitution. But an important report published on Monday makes clear that this violence and coercion is not an unintended and manageable consequence of an otherwise empowering profession. It is the whole modus operandi.

Behind Closed Doors, an inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on prostitution and the global sex trade, shows the real scale and story of sexual exploitation of women across the UK. It shows that organised crime groups dominate the off-street sex trade; that the women exploited in British brothels are mainly foreign national women; and that traffickers and other third-party exploiters are moving vulnerable women around “pop-up” brothels in residential properties in a bid to avoid police detection and maintain control over the women – while obtaining as much money as possible from sex buyers. And it shows that all of this is facilitated by commercial websites, where women are advertised to potential “buyers”, so that the one in 10 men who purchase sex can “click and collect” from their iPhone.

The Women’s Equality party is currently the only UK political party that wants to end demand by criminalising the purchase of sex and to help women leave the industry by decriminalising the selling of sex. The WEP is very pleased therefore to see these recommendations at the top of this APPG report, and we pledge to work with MPs from all parties to make this a reality.

The APPG report also makes other important points that I, as leader of the WEP, have argued time and time again: the sex trade is overwhelmingly driven by men for men, and the vast majority of women do not work in it of their free will. In 2017 there were 1,185 referrals of potential victims of sexual exploitation to the national referral mechanism; 94% were female. Those women, the report says, have often experienced childhood and adult trauma including abuse and known homelessness, and have learning disabilities. Those women are not choosing this as a job. The report found organised crime groups recruit those women using coercive control – deception, debt bondage, sexual and physical violence, threats, surveillance and isolation. The same tactics stop women from telling anyone what is happening to them.

As Detective Sergeant Stuart Peall, Lancashire police, said: “From what we can evidence there nearly always appears to be a man or some sort of control involved. The females we encounter very rarely pay for their own advertisements. They also don’t pay for their own flights into the UK. There is clear organisation from what have seen on our large covert operations.”

Prostitution hurts us all. Every one of us. It happens because women are not equal to men. Because women are more likely to be poor as a result of the structures that deny us equal opportunities, which include a cycle of violence encompassing prostitution. Not one woman can be free and equal to men so long as any woman is sold by and to them. As long as we normalise the idea that “some” women can be ordered and thrown about like a product from Amazon, then all women live in a world where the threat of violence keeps us in our place.

The APPG’s report is a heartbreaking wake-up call. It cites a conversation between two traffickers discussing how they plan to sexually exploit the girlfriend of one of these men. It features the words of a woman trafficked from eastern Europe to be abused by men in the UK. And it quotes a police offer whose team was told by a sex buyer that some of the women in a brothel he had visited appeared visibly frightened – but that he had paid for sex anyway.

Why do men pay for sex? “Society says they can and the law says they can,” says Mia. “You must ask yourself, what are they buying? It’s power. It’s a very powerful thing to have control of somebody’s body in that way. It’s a power fix and they know it.”

The WEP believes we must change the law with immediate effect so that women never risk being prosecuted for selling sex. The WEP wants a national conversation about the realities of the sex trade and the inseparable link between prostitution, trafficking and coercion. The WEP wants to establish and fund support for survivors of the sex industry, including exit services for women involved in it. The WEP wants to criminalise the purchase of sex, in order to curb demand. And the WEP wishes to ensure that trafficked women have a legal right to remain in the UK and access to tailored support services. Because the WEP wants a world that is equal. Because an equal world is better for everybody.

Sophie Walker

QotD: “Sexual exploitation of women in ‘pop-up brothels’ is widespread, report says”

Vulnerable women are being sexually exploited on an industrial scale in “pop-up brothels” run by trafficking gangs, according to a report.

The brothels, often set up in residential properties using short-term leases, allow gangs to keep a step ahead of police and retain control over the women, the all-party parliamentary group on prostitution and the global sex trade said.

The APPG [All-Party Parliamentary Group] called for the UK to follow the lead of other European countries by criminalising people who pay for sex, but decriminalising the selling of sex, in an attempt to cut demand.

It also said the government should stop websites advertising and profiting from [prostitution].

Gavin Shuker, the Labour MP for Luton South and APPG chairman, said: “A revolving door of vulnerable women, predominantly from eastern Europe, are being supplied by trafficking gangs into residential properties and hotels in order to be sexually exploited by UK men.

“Commercial websites that advertise prostitution enable this trade, making sizeable profits and directly benefiting from the exploitation of others.

“But it is the minority of men in the UK who pay to sexually access women’s bodies who are funding sex trafficking and driving this form of modern-day slavery.

“Right now, the traffickers are winning. The UK is currently a low-risk destination for organised crime groups seeking to sexually exploit vulnerable women.”

The report, Behind Closed Doors: Organised Sexual Exploitation in England and Wales, found sexual exploitation of women by organised crime was “widespread”.

It said there were at least 212 active police operations in the UK into modern slavery cases featuring sexual exploitation, “overwhelmingly” involving foreign nationals working in brothels.

About 85% of the victims were foreign, with Romanians making up the biggest proportion.

Romanians were also the largest nationality group among suspects, with Britons the second-biggest.

The report also suggested a national register of landlords and new guidance for the short-term letting sector to help prevent sexual exploitation.

It noted: “A handful of explicit prostitution procurement websites enable this trade, making sizeable profits, directly benefiting from the exploitation of others.

“But rental landlords, online booking companies and hotel sites all indirectly profit from the practice, as exploiters take advantage of poor safeguards to hire new sites for pop-ups.”

(source)