Expose yourself to Sex Trafficking.
According to the Home Office, 13,000 people could be working in the UK as slaves. Although an exact figure is unknown, the most common form of modern day slavery is sexual exploitation of girls and women.
Young and vulnerable women are duped by promises of loving relationships that can soon turn into threats, coercion, forced addiction and prostitution.
Vulnerable women come to the UK with the promise of a brighter future, an opportunity to escape poverty, civil unrest and/or persecution. There could be a fictitious job offer in the UK – a chambermaid or a hotel worker – that would ostensibly allow them to earn money to send back to their families.
Their dreams are snatched from them by networks of organised human trafficking gangs who exploit women for profit.
For women trafficked from overseas, their passports, identify documents and any savings they have are taken from them. They are put to work in brothels and saunas or on the streets. Their captors will beat them and say they will be punished more if they try to leave, talk or ask for help.
This process is known as human trafficking and whilst many readers will be aware of the term, very few will realise the extent of the problem here in the UK and the need for long-term and sustainable programmes that support victims of sex trafficking.
Like any form of trade, human trafficking cannot exist without sufficient demand. The unpalatable truth in the UK is that this is a home-grown problem. A survey by Natsal revealed that one in ten British men has paid for sex. In addition, 3.6% of 6000 men surveyed admitted going to prostitutes in the past five years.
The issue of human trafficking to fuel the sex industry in obvious. What is not so obvious is the reason for a lack of authority-led long-term support for the victims of human trafficking.
The government, police and organisations such as Hope for Justice, Unseen and City Hearts focus their efforts on the discovery and recovery of all trafficked victims; however, currently in the UK, there is no provision for long term care for survivors of all forms of trafficking, including those who have been forced into selling their bodies.
In the rare number of cases where a victim of sexual exploitation manages to break free, where they are recognised as a victim if they provide consent, they will be referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The same applies to victims rescued by the police.
The NRM is a mechanism through which the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) collect data about victims. This information contributes to building a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.
Through the NRM process, a victim will be taken to safe accommodation (a safe house), run by the Salvation Army, for 45 days. During this time, they will await a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision to establish if they are a victim of human trafficking. By their own admission, the Home Office recognise that: “Support is not intended to provide rehabilitation, which could take years.”
It’s clear that there is no long-term state-sponsored plan to help deal with the problems that trafficked victims must cope with for the rest of their lives.
This issue has been debated by the founder of ITGB, Alison Ellis, for years, but despite the Home Office’s recognition that support should be provided following conclusive identification; there are no plans or funding to support victims. After 45 days, they are on their own, without any ongoing support, no money, and no protection from their original captors. Consequently, many women re-enter the NRM system at a cost to the state that could have been negated by long-term rehabilitation.
The UK Government’s 2011 human trafficking strategy states that most adult victims trafficked to the UK come from China, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. ITGB agrees with these findings, but recognises the truly international scale of the problem, with more and more victims from African countries and Romania. Within our own borders, UK women trafficked are currently ranked second overall in numbers. Women that use ITGB’s services may speak different languages and have different cultural norms, but they often share a background of extreme poverty and lack of opportunities.
In addition, women trafficked for sexual exploitation may have experienced violence prior to being trafficked, may have innocently made wrong life choices, or been coerced by the promise of love or a better life; all of which may have contributed to their vulnerability to being trafficked and may put them at greater risk of mental health disorders later.
In the first instance, the point of contact for all modern slavery crimes should be the local police force. If you have information about modern slavery crimes, those who are committing such crimes or where victims are at risk, dial 999 for an immediate response.
If you hold information that could lead to the identification, discovery and recovery of victims in the UK, you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.