Legislation which criminalises the purchaser of sexual services rather than the seller has been passed in the Dáil by 94 votes to six.
There were three abstentions.
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill also strengthens laws to combat child pornography and prevent the sexual grooming of children. And it amends provisions on incest and indecent exposure.
[…] Provisions in the Bill also include prohibition of the wearing of wigs and gowns in proceedings involving children and the prohibition on the cross-examination of victims of sexual offences by an accused, which will apply once the Bill is commenced.
Today a historic precedent was set when the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, which includes laws to criminalise the purchase of sex and ensure vulnerable women, children and men in prostitution can access support, passed its final hurdle in Seanad Éireann and will now be part of the Irish Statute Book.
The 70+ partners of Turn Off the Red Light, which have been tirelessly campaigning in support of this crucial legislation are united in their welcome for
the new legislation, which will better protect vulnerable women, children and men who are being sexually exploited.
Denise Charlton, Chair of Turn Off the Red Light,said: “From the very beginning this Bill has been about protecting and supporting those most vulnerable to sexual exploitation, violence and abuse. It focuses on the perpetrators of sexual crime
– the pimps and traffickers who enable abuse and exploitation to continue, and who benefit from it financially.
“We commend the Tánaiste, Minister Frances Fitzgerald, for championing this Bill as it progressed through the Oireachtas. By supporting it, the Irish Government is making a clear statement that it will stand up for the most vulnerable in our society.
“The inclusion of a review period in this legislation affirms the Government’s commitment to making sure the legislation has a real impact for those it seeks to support. We look forward to working with the Government in the coming months to ensure this happens.”
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD this evening welcomed the passage of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 through both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Speaking this evening the Tánaiste said –
‘This is one of the most comprehensive and wide ranging piece of sexual offences legislation ever to be introduced and has been a priority for me as Minister for Justice and Equality. It is an essential piece of legislation that brings additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. It contains the right laws for these times, laws that will protect victims of the most vicious and depraved crimes.
The provisions of this Bill enhance and update laws to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. It widens the range of offences associated with child pornography to ensure that no one who participates in any way in the creation, distribution, viewing or sharing of such abhorrent material can escape the law.
Also, the Bill provides greater clarity in relation to the definition of sexual consent for the first time.’
The Bill contains:
· New criminal offences to protect children against grooming;
· New measures to protect children from online predators;
· New and strengthened offences to tackle child pornography;
· New provisions to be introduced regarding evidence by victims, particularly children;
· New offences addressing public indecency;
· A provision in relation to harassment Orders to protect victims of convicted sex offenders;
· Provisions maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and for a new “proximity of age” defence;
· A provision to criminalise the purchase of sexual services.
· A statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts
Concluding, the Tánaiste said, ‘I would like to acknowledge the support and invaluable contributions from my parliamentary colleagues and from civic society, in particular from those people and organisations who made submissions and representations to me and my Department.’
This Bill brings Irish law into line with a number of international legal instruments and implements the recommendations of a number of Oireachtas committees.
SPACE International is delighted to join its voice with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Ruhama, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Children’s Rights Alliance, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Men’s Development Network, Irish Nurses and Midwives Association and all of the other organisations that make up the seventy-two members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, in welcoming the passing of the Sexual Offences Bill in the Republic of Ireland.
SPACE International’s Irish members, both publicly known and anonymous, have worked extraordinarily hard alongside many others to campaign for the passing of this Bill since 2011, and it is with great joy that we can finally welcome the criminalisation of the demand for paid sexual access to human beings.
We are relieved and gladdened that the Irish government has finally fully recognised the abusive reality of prostitution and committed to criminalise those who exploit others for their own sexual gratification. This is an important and historical moment for Ireland. We have, for the first time since the foundation of the state, recognised the legal rights of prostituted persons to live free of sexual exploitation.
SPACE recognises the highly gendered nature of the sex trade and welcomes the societal change that this legislation will bring about, in particular its positive effect on the goal of gender equality, and is committed to continuing the conversation with regard to social supports for prostituted persons so that they may exit prostitution if they so wish with the full support of the State.
Kitty Stryker is a phoney and a fake radical who has co-opted the language of radical feminism, and shills for the sex industry while providing a fig-leaf for the BDSM ‘community’.
On twitter a few days ago, she said “I swear to god I wish we could just put the TERFs and Nazis on a goddamn boat together and send them into the sea.”
When someone else added “or we could put them in concentration camps? Maybe before they went into ovens? Lol” Stryker merely complained that that was “in bad taste”.
Sryker has changed her twitter handle to “Punch Nazis”, and added a later tweet about ‘terfs’ drowning, so it’s clear she has no problem with violence against women, when they are women she disagrees with politically.
This isn’t the first time Stryker has demonstrated that she sees women she doesn’t like as not fully human, in this tweet I screen capped a while back, we can see her wondering if radical feminists are actually real people, the ‘kill all terfs’ rhetoric follows on easily.
Stryker is also an intellectual coward, who ran away from conversations on this blog she wasn’t winning, and now won’t even engage, but she does keep an eye on me, as she tweeted about my previous post more than once.
Here’s a clue for you Stryker, ‘terfs’ don’t exist, there are no ‘terf’ organisations, there are no ‘terf’ leaders, there are no women calling themselves ‘terfs’ except ironically, it’s a term trans activists made up in order to intimidate women into unquestioning silence and obedience.
Stryker also likes lying about the Nordic (Abolitionist) Model, claiming that it made it easier for the police to arrest her – tell me Stryker, how does decriminalising ‘sex workers’ make it easier for the police to arrest them?
She’s doing this still, implying that under the Nordic Model, the police are more dangerous to ‘sex workers’, deliberately and cynically obscuring the fact that the Nordic Model means decriminalising the prostitute her (or him) self.
[EDIT 19/Feb/17: If decriminalising ‘sex workers’ under the Nordic Model doesn’t make the police ‘safe’, then how will decriminalising the whole of the sex industry make the police ‘safe’?]
The first loyalty of sex industry advocates is to the sex industry itself, always.
Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution in the state after the speaker of the House introduced a bill that would also legalize buying sex and acting as a pimp.
The proposal also would end a state law that says police officers cannot have sex with prostitutes in the course of investigations.
Transgender activist Tracy Ryan said she is trying to convince state lawmakers to pass the bill because transgender women are overrepresented in the sex trade and therefore disproportionately affected by criminalization laws.
House Speaker Joseph Souki said in an interview that he does not have a position on the bill and he introduced it as a favor for Ryan.
“I don’t like seeing people sent to jail that don’t belong there,” Ryan said.
But long-time anti-sex trafficking advocate Kathryn Xian said legalizing the selling, promoting or buying of sex would make it harder to police the industry.
“If this bill passes and everything was no crime whatsoever, then abuses against women and children would just shoot through the freaking roof,” Xian said. “It would be exponentially harder to prove violence in the industry. It would be almost impossible to prove any sort of labor abuse.”
Asked about the part of the bill that strikes language preventing police from having sex with prostitutes during investigations, Souki said: “No, again I have nothing to say about the bill.”
Hawaii has an unusual history with prostitution investigations. Until 2014, it was legal for police officers to have sex with prostitutes as part of investigations, but state lawmakers changed that after The Associated Press highlighted the loophole in a story.
The Honolulu Police Department did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment about the bill.
Ryan wants to preserve the law preventing police from having sex with prostitutes to arrest them if the bill does not pass, but “if they can’t arrest them anyway because it’s no longer illegal, it’s a moot point,” she said.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said the bill would make it harder to address global sex trafficking because “it would be more difficult to find the bad actors, more difficult to get witnesses to make cases.”
Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of the LGBT caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said transgender women are overrepresented compared with other women in the sex trade because the discrimination they face leads some to feel it’s the only kind of work they can get.
Golojuch personally supports the idea of decriminalizing prostitution, but he said he and the caucus had not yet taken an official position on the bill.
“My dream job would be union organizer for consensual sex workers,” Golojuch said. “It would be great for people who want to do that work to unionize them and empower them so that they are taken care of.”
Not everyone thinks legalizing prostitution would benefit sex workers.
“By normalizing sexual exploitation and recasting it as a career choice that has no harms attached, we’re creating a setting and a system where we are OK with objectifying women, where we’re OK with buying other human beings’ bodies, and that has effects that are far-reaching in terms of how women are treated,” said Khara Jabola, chapter coordinator of Af3irm Hawaii, a feminist group.
The bill and another to decriminalize marijuana may be part of a push to reduce the prison population, House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said.
But any decriminalization bills are unlikely to pass before the Legislature gets a report from a working group that has been meeting on the topic. That report isn’t expected before the session ends, Saiki said.
Two brothers who trafficked vulnerable men from Poland to work in a Sports Direct warehouse have been jailed for six years each under the Modern Slavery Act.
Erwin Markowski, 38, and his brother Krystian, 35, lured 18 men from Poland to work at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse, Nottingham crown court heard.
Poor working conditions at the factory, including body searches and pay below the legal minimum were exposed by an undercover Guardian investigation in 2015.
The duo employed a “spotter” in Poland to identify vulnerable people who could be sent to the UK on the promise of work. When the men arrived, the Markowski brothers opened bank accounts on their behalf and withdrew most of their income from working at Shirebrook.
The workers, who had their passports taken from them, were left with about £90 from weekly takehome pay that should have been £265, the court heard. The brothers, who made £35,000 from the scheme, were caught after one of the victims tipped off police, triggering a raid on a home in the city.
The victim said he had been living in the house with 10 other men, who were also working at Sports Direct. Judge Steven Coupland said the men were “filled with false promises of a good life in the UK where they would be assisted […] to receive a decent job, pay and decent accommodation”.
He said the arrangement “became a planned and systematic scheme to traffic human beings into the UK in order for you to control them and benefit from their hard work, making substantial sums of money, living in good conditions while they received very little and lived in poorer conditions”.
DC Sarah Fearn of Nottinghamshire police said victims were left feeling “used, distressed and manipulated”.
Rhode Island chapter of Amnesty International has broken with Amnesty International and Amnesty International USA, on the issue of sex trafficking
Group 49 of Amnesty International paused in its petitioning on behalf of political prisoners to talk about sex trafficking Sunday.
Group 49, the Rhode Island chapter, has broken with its parent organizations, Amnesty International and Amnesty International USA, on the issue of sex trafficking. The parent organizations in 2015 adopted a policy, in the words of Rhode Island coordinator Marcia Lieberman, “to decriminalize all aspects of prostitution.”
As guest speaker Cherie Jimenez put it at a Group 49 gathering Sunday, “If we want equality between men and women, we have to end this” organized prostitution. Although legalization is a fashionable “neo-liberal” approach, prostitution is “not an empowering experience” for girls and women, she said.
“It’s made me a little crazy and a little angry,” she confided to her audience. “Because it’s been around forever is not a basis for its continuance.” Jimenez said she has never met a sex-trade practitioner who wanted to stick with it.
Jimenez, who is in her 50s and used to be a prostitute herself, is founder and director of the EVA Center in Boston – as in Education, Vision and Advocacy – which offers peer counseling, housing and other support for women seeking to leave the commercial sex industry.
She said women who go into prostitution believe they do not have options because, in the United States, they usually are products of a public social-services system that does not do enough for them.
“We have so many flawed … systems,” she said, such as indifferent group homes that take in children from dysfunctional domestic situations but cannot overcome their behavioral problems.
“Why isn’t this a human rights violation?” she demanded to know.
After digressing to discuss sex trafficking, the 29th annual Write-a-thon resumed in the parish house of the First Unitarian Church on College Hill, with about 35 volunteers sitting at long tables hand-writing letters on behalf of at least 10 selected prisoners of conscience around the world. The letters were deposited in a glass container, to display the writers’ progress.
As usual, participants lit a large candle draped in barbed wire – the symbolic “candle of hope.”
Regarding sex trafficking, Group 49 officer Merritt Meyer, of Bristol, said decriminalization increases trafficking because it increases the market.
“It’s not just a job,” Lieberman protested.
She said various members of the group have communicated their disagreement to the parent organizations.
A second speaker, Providence police Capt. Michael E. Correia, commanding officer of the detective bureau, summarized how his department underwent a pronounced change and now goes after prostitution by treating prostitutes as victims rather than perpetrators of crime.
“The victim isn’t just someone who signs a witness statement,” Correia said, but is someone deserving of help. The police do not handcuff suspected prostitutes and they introduce them to advocates like Jimenez, hoping the suspects will cooperate later in prosecutions of their pimps.
As part of the change, the police dropped the use of the word “john” as a euphemism for a prostitute’s customer.
“They’re not johns,” he declared. “That’s an antiseptic name. They’re sex buyers.”
Correia acknowledged that the revised approach is difficult to justify to higher-ups in the department because resources are often used in cases with no accompanying arrests to “clear” the cases statistically.
Child trafficking victims and unaccompanied children are going missing from local authority care at an “alarming” rate according to a new report, which reveals that in one year, nearly 30% of all UK child trafficking victims and 13% of unaccompanied children disappeared from care services.
New research by child trafficking NGO Ecpat UK and the charity Missing People has found that 167 of the 590 children suspected or identified as child trafficking victims in the year from September 2014 to 2015 vanished from foster and care homes across the country.
An additional 593 of the 4,744 unaccompanied children placed under the protection of local authorities also went missing at least once in the same time period. Of the 760 trafficked or unaccompanied children who disappeared from care, 207 have never been found.
The new data, drawn largely from freedom of information requests to 217 local authorities across the UK, shows that Thurrock, Hillingdon, Croydon, Kent County Council and Surrey had the highest numbers of trafficked and unaccompanied children who were unaccounted for. One local authority reported that 22 child trafficking victims had gone missing in the recorded time period.
The majority of child trafficking victims who vanished from care are from Vietnam, Albania and the UK. Most of the unaccompanied children who went missing are from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Albania and Vietnam.
Despite the high numbers, Ecpat says that the real scale of the UK’s missing child trafficking victims is still not accurately reflected in the data.
Chloe Setter, Ecpat UK’s head of advocacy and policy, said there was “huge concern” that only 45 of the 217 local authorities asked for information were able or willing to provide data on the numbers of children whose whereabouts were still unknown.
“I think what is most alarming about this survey isn’t the data we’ve received, it is the data that we haven’t,” said Setter.
“Twenty per cent of the local authorities we contacted could not even report how many children in their care were [formally] identified or suspected of being trafficked. Only 10 local authorities could report the nationalities of the trafficked children who had disappeared. It is unacceptable that we can’t get a clear picture on how many exploited children are simply falling off the radar and, in the case of trafficked children, presumed to be back in the hands of their exploiters. These are hundreds of children who have simply vanished from places where they should have been protected.”
The report also underscores issues with identification and recording practices. Despite London being a prime destination for human traffickers, 10 of 33 local authorities reported zero trafficked children, and an additional four local authorities were unable to provide any information.
“There has to be an improved data recording system put in place for trafficked and missing children,” said Setter. “Many of the authorities we asked couldn’t even search for these children in their existing databases.”
The report cites various reasons for the children going missing, from the failure of the government to identify trafficked children, to the influence and control of traffickers, lack of trust in adults and lack of consistent support. Poor protection measures, as well as asylum and immigration concerns, were also noted.
Ecpat and Missing Children say that in order to stem the flow of exploited children disappearing from care services, the child protection system must be expanded to introduce specific training on child trafficking and unaccompanied children and investment in appropriate accommodation and support services.
Lynne Chitty, UK care director at the anti-trafficking charity Love146, said she was not surprised by the findings of the report and expected the numbers to continue to rise if urgent safeguarding policies were not implemented immediately.
“Every week we see children going missing, most within 24 hours of arriving in care, and we know child trafficking victims are largely going back to their traffickers,” she said. “Many are in debt bondage or have been given a number to call as soon as they get taken into care. They aren’t getting the protection, services or support they need to stop them from believing that their traffickers are the only option for them here.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “It is vital that children in care are protected from harm. We have already strengthened regulations on children’s homes, and local authorities have a duty to tell us about all incidents of young people going missing.
“But we know trafficked and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are especially vulnerable. That’s why we have commissioned specialist training for those caring for them, committed to an independent advocate in each area to help champion their rights and outlined clear plans for a new government strategy to look at their particular needs, including reviewing the accommodation available.”
Three men have been jailed for their part in an inner-city sex ring involving the abuse, rape and trafficking of young girls.
Victims as young as 14 were subjected to sexual abuse that was “degrading, violent and horrible” in Bristol. Some of the girls were given drugs and alcohol and “pestered again and again” for sex by the men, who were mostly older teenagers.
Bristol crown court heard that the rapes became “routine” and the men regarded some of the victims, who cannot be named, as “cheap and easy”.
Three men – Sakariya Sheikh, 23, Mohammed Dahir, 24, and Abdirashid Abdulahi, 23 – were convicted of 14 charges relating to four girls.
Judge Peter Blair QC jailed Sheikh for 16 years, and Dahir and Abdulahi both for eight years, after a seven-week trial. “You have brought shame upon your families and upon yourselves,” the judge told them. “You are not worthy of very much further attention in this courtroom. My attention is focused upon the victims of your crimes.
“They were four children trying to find their way in life, some of them struggling with difficult issues at home. You used your older age, your personal freedom and your relative stronger power to manipulate and coerce them into becoming for you little more than objects to satisfy you sexually.”
The judge said the abuse had left the victims feeling “worthless”.
“Their pain goes on and so it will for you now,” he told the defendants. “They are at long last receiving some measure of justice from your convictions. Their very brave and difficult decision to give evidence against you has been vindicated and I pay tribute to them.”
Seven men went on trial accused of 46 charges. Three were acquitted after the jury failed to reach verdicts and another man was found not guilty of the two charges against him.
The trial, which came after an investigation codenamed Operation Button, was the third in a series of prosecutions of Somali men for child sexual exploitation and drug offences.
In two earlier trials in 2014, after an investigation codenamed Operation Brooke, 14 men were jailed for more than 100 years between them. Sheikh, Abdulahi and Dahir – were also found guilty in Operation Brooke.
During the latest trial, jurors heard that a 15-year-old girl was simultaneously raped by Sheikh and another man in March 2013. The majority of the offences happened between 2011 and 2012 against girls who had travelled to Bristol by train to meet the men.
Anna Vigars, prosecuting, said the victims “suffered sexual abuse, some of it violent, degrading and horrible, some of it less so”.
Speaking after the case, DS Lisa Jones, of Avon and Somerset police, said the offences had inflicted “long-term pain and torment” on the victims.
“These defendants befriended these vulnerable young people who were still at school, grooming and sexually exploiting them,” she said. “Their systematic abuse over a number of years slowly eroded their confidence and made them think these crimes were normal behaviour.”
In a statement issued through police, the Bristol Somali community said it was “deeply appalled” by the case. “Our deepest sympathy wholeheartedly goes out to the victims and their families who are undoubtedly experiencing extreme pain at the moment,” it said. “Our community, a Muslim and black minority ethnic community, in Bristol would like to underline that we sincerely condemn the nature of these crimes.”
More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit bars in the US that operate largely beyond the reach of law enforcement, according to the anti-slavery group Polaris.
Half of the trafficking cases in cantinas – a type of bar popular in Mexico and the American south-west – arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population, said Polaris in a study that tracked calls to its trafficking hotlines from over the past decade.
Cantinas, social gathering spots popular in Latino communities, may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices. Women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons, the study’s author, Tessa Couture, said.
Cantinas may limit who enters and may not be open to the general public, the report said.
Hotlines run by Polaris received reports of 201 cases of sex and labour trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 US states, between 2007 and 2016. More than half the victims were underage, said Polaris.
At one illicit cantina in Houston, some women were forced to have sex as often as 50 times a day, according to the study. The cantina owner, convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year.
While cases of trafficking in brothels have been the subject of high-profile prosecutions, only a small number of prosecutions have focused on cantinas, mostly in Houston.
Cases can be hard to investigate and prosecute because traffickers and owners may hide their ownership of cantinas or alcohol licenses, and because victims are too scared to testify in court, afraid that traffickers will retaliate by hurting their families.
“Those organised crime networks reaching back into Mexico and Central America are very real. People know that there’s a very real possibility their families will be hurt,” Couture said.
Many traffickers are involved in drug cartels or gangs, and victims were often lured to the US with job offers or other false promises, Polaris said.
Both traffickers and victims in the illicit cantinas tended to be from Mexico or Central America, according to the study.
Typically, the women and girls are intimidated by threats and abuse or forced into deep debt. Most reported being kept isolated, confined and monitored by their traffickers, said Polaris. Of those who escaped, a third were helped by potential buyers of sex who discovered the victim’s circumstances, the report found.
Cantina-style cases were reported in California, Washington, New York and elsewhere. Polaris recommended increased training for law enforcement and service providers such as healthcare workers, better information sharing among law enforcement and government agencies, and more funding for investigations and prosecutions.
Prosecutors from around the world say the fight against sex trafficking is moving online as traffickers use popular websites to advertise sexual services.
They talked Friday about how they can crack down on the problem at an international sex trafficking summit in Waikiki that drew prosecutors from Asia, the US and Canada.
The challenges each nation faces are similar, and victims are often unwilling to cooperate with investigators because they have endured a history of abuse, said Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County’s district attorney.
“Most of this is underground,” Lacey said. “It’s not like in the 80s and 90s where women were on the street. It’s all done by social media, cellphones, emails, text messages.”
Michael Ramos, president of the National District Attorneys Association, said he plans to push for legislation in the US to make it illegal to use websites to solicit illegal sex and to hold internet companies accountable for sex trafficking on their platforms.
“There should be some place that says you need to do a better job with the content that’s on your promotional site,” Ramos said. “It’s just so easy right now … Instead of having prostitutes out on the corner like they used to in a red light district, now they just go online, they hit a button, and it’s like ordering a pizza.”
Other law enforcement officers, such as Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, said websites that allow sex ads have helped officers catch traffickers by identifying locations where there is a problem.
Sonia Paquet, a Canadian prosecutor, talked about how prostitution is illegal but there is little enforcement. She said online reviews of establishments are out in the open, and she pulled up one on her phone.
“If we go on the internet site, we see the girls naked,” Paquet said. “They are from everywhere around the world.”
Prosecutors from the US, Canada, China, Japan, Palau, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand attended the summit.
QotD: Victims of commercial sexual exploitation as young as 16 who were taken to Ibiza for the tourist sex trade then beaten with brooms and sticks if they didn’t bring in €1,000 a day have been rescued by police
[Victims of commercial sexual exploitation] as young as 16 who were taken to Ibiza for the tourist sex trade then beaten with brooms and sticks if they didn’t bring in €1,000 a day have been rescued by police.
The victims, who were lured to the Spanish mainland with fake promises of jobs, were forced to work 14 hours a day.
One of the women, police have revealed, was just 16 years of age.
All 21 are Nigerian and were working in the exclusive districts of Ibiza.
A major operation carried out by the Spanish police in association with the Office of Criminal Investigation in Germany and Europol has led to the arrest of 24 suspects.
‘The network captured very young victims among the lower classes of the major Nigerian cities, deceiving them with false job offers in Spain.
‘Once in our country, they were forced into prostitution in marathon days, being beaten if they did not earn the money demanded by the gang,’ said a police spokesman.
Investigators said Ibiza was chosen for the summer because of the high influx of tourists, with the gang totalling controlling the streets of the exclusive areas.
They were kept in one apartment and only allowed out occasionally to buy food or to keep an appointment with a client.
‘If they didn’t earn 1,000 euros a day, they would be forced to kneel for hours and beaten with sticks and brooms,’ said the spokesman.
Police found that 17 women were forced to share one apartment of just 30 square metres, with three to four girls sleeping in one single bed.
The vulnerable women were given employment offers ‘too good to refuse’ in view of their poor circumstances but once captured, were unable to escape.
They were subjected to voodoo rituals and sworn to loyalty contracts under the threat of family members being killed.
The women were smuggled into Europe on boats and planes and were only told their job offer was false when they arrived in Spain.
They were then told they would have to pay up to 50,000 pounds to be freed and could do so through prostitution.
Those arrested included two women said to be the ringleaders who had ‘years of experience’ in recruiting vulnerable girls.
Police said they took elaborate steps to avoid detection, often moving the women from house to house.
One of the gang was arrested in Germany where he had tried to hide and five others were found to be members of the 1960s cult called ‘Supreme Eiye Confraternity’.
The money earned from prostitution was sent to Nigeria via Madrid where a bar was used as the front.
Seven properties were raided in Spain and Germany and 20 bank accounts blocked.