On sex trafficking


by Sunny
20th July, 2007 at 5:22 pm    

PP contributor Cath Elliot wrote a brilliant article for CIF today, taking apart James Harkin’s frankly obtuse article on sex trafficking yesterday. She says:

Sex trafficking is now the third most profitable illegal trade in the world after arms and drugs. Let’s not mince words here; it is the slave trade of the 21st century.

But his condemnation of feminist campaigners as “self-righteous drones” for campaigning against trafficking, reveals a stunning lack of awareness about the nature of both sex trafficking, and of the continuing oppression and subjugation of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Sex equality






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  1. Jagdeep — on 20th July, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

    My wife’s cousin was involved with an investigation into an Eastern European run brothel ring in the West Midlands. Girls brought here on the lie that they’d be getting waitress or au pair work, made to work on a dirty mattress for 12 to 15 hours servicing up to 20 or 30 men a day, beaten up, told that if they tried to escape they’d have pornographic photographs of them sent to their families to bring shame on them. All of this happening in every major town and city in Britain. It’s a big problem and not enough is made of it. All for the sake of men wanting sex. It’s not just a lark on your mates stag night, this stuff is dark.

  2. Ramiie — on 20th July, 2007 at 6:39 pm  

    [troll]
    Lazy comparisons to the atlantic slave trade is robbing it of its place as a singularly unique example of babarity more potent (but less disussed) than the jewish holococaust.No other atrocity in human history can compare with the legal redefinition of an entire race as lower animals – for three hundred years. Mr Sunny, can I ask you to be more cicumspect when discussing African history?

  3. sid — on 20th July, 2007 at 7:15 pm  

    Does that mean sex trafficking is a nothing in your world?

  4. Clairwil — on 20th July, 2007 at 10:08 pm  

    Jagdeep,
    What baffles me is why anyone would want to have sex is such squalid and miserable circumstances (I’m referring to the punters obviously). Given how widespread this trade is we’re not talking about ‘weirdos’ but ordinary men with wives, daughters and sisters who find it acceptable to pay to have sex an obviously abused woman. Let’s not kid ourselves women forced to have sex with upwards of 30 men a day and kept against their will in a strange country by gangsters are hardly going to be in a state where any punter could delude themselves that they were a willing participant.

    ‘All of this happening in every major town and city in Britain. It’s a big problem and not enough is made of it’

    Indeed I was talking to a woman from an Immigration advice organisation a while back and she’s reported a huge increase in young foreign girls being dumped in the centre of Glasgow having caught stds or got pregnant after a stint in the sex industry. Just as worrying though almost invisible as an issue was the number of teenage boys mainly black African she was dealing with who’d been trafficked for ‘work’ in illegal pornography and prostitution.

  5. Bert Preast — on 21st July, 2007 at 12:19 pm  

    Quite a lot of sex workers in Spain, mostly from Central and South America but seeing more from Russia and Eastern Europe these days.

    While brothels are technically illegal, in practice my local one is an 8 story hotel with over a hundred rooms and giant neon signs. It even has a cashpoint at the entrance. You see the girls at the beach bar during their time off, and they certainly don’t come across as being coerced in any way. By contrast, the streetwalkers on the local industrial estate look a bit of a mess.

    Basically my view is that underground brothels need stamping on big time, but it’s like the war on drugs and every bit as unwinnable. There will always be a demand, and it’s better to accept that and get it out in the open where the girls (and boys) can work somewhere that’s inspected to ensure it meets standards of treatment found in all other industries.

  6. Nyrone — on 22nd July, 2007 at 11:41 pm  

    @Clairwill

    ‘What baffles me is why anyone would want to have sex is such squalid and miserable circumstances.’

    Let me introduce you to my ‘heart of darkness’ theory.
    That..we struggle to understand these individuals (customers), because they are floating up the river into the black, oily, heart of darkness while the rest of us watch them fading into the distance from the sidelines.
    How can we truly emphasise with someone that is almost non-human? That no longer feels any kind of guilt from knowingly having sex with a slave. They will lock themselves off in states of self-delusional paralysis, before admitting to being wrong.
    The ‘act’ becomes a ‘bad’ thing for them to discuss externally with people in the outside world, but in their own mind, it remains delecious and guilt-free.
    They are lost in the jungle, where ‘morality’ is a superflous word spoken by others in interviews and books..
    They need to cum, that’s all there is to it.

    I feel that some human beings are torn so far away from themselves in trying to ‘live’ in this world, that they literally change from human beings into selfish pleasure-seeking robots, able to cosmetically ‘comprehend’ the grieviences of the womens-rights campaigners, but unwilling to give it the time of day or listen to it in their souls.

    I used to think that if a man knew the girl he was paying for sex was a flat-bound slave, that he would leave or report it to the police…I simply don’t believe this is the case anymore. I think the man will make up a thousand reasons to convince himself that somehow it is ok for him to do what he is doing and that ‘this world was rotten when I got here’.

    An empty man needs to scratch his itch to feel a little more full, how tragic for our sisters and mothers forced to be a hole for some man’s animosity towards himself and existence.

  7. sonia — on 23rd July, 2007 at 2:17 am  

    glad this has made it to PP#s attention

  8. Jagdeep — on 24th July, 2007 at 9:07 pm  

    Clairwill — I guess some mens sexuality overrides moral concerns. The ‘Pretty Woman’ fantasy of the happy hooker, escorting rich men by choice, earning a prosperous living in Mayfair and Kensington, probably only applies in a few percent of women who are in the trade. The majority do it out of pitiful nessescity, either economic or drug related, or are basically slaves like the eastern European women working in saunas across the country.

    A survey was done recently about how use of prostitutes has increased significantly in the past few years — it is just more socially acceptable than in the past and so the demand is creating the problem and the moral responsibility for this slavery resides with the men. And their sexuality is very brutal if it contributes without conscience to this kind of slavery. That it is happening in every town in the country is shocking — even more shocking is that statistically you probably know a man who has visited one of these places.

  9. Jagdeep — on 24th July, 2007 at 9:16 pm  

    How has it become more acceptable amongst men to seek out women for sex by transaction? It’s a broad question but it might have something to do with the general libertarian values that become linked to ‘anything goes’ attitude. The moral blindness displayed in the idiotic article by James Harkin is symptomatic of this in some ways, amongst other things. Add the rise of the laddish ‘Loaded’ and internet porn culture, in which sexuality is rampantly viewed in terms of commodity, and you have this rise in prostitution, led by pimps enslaving teenage girls and women to service the need. And yes it is a form of modern slavery, and it doesnt get talked about enough.

  10. Don — on 24th July, 2007 at 9:48 pm  

    Jagdeep, Victorian London was notoriously rife with prostitution. Whatever the background culture, if you have a very large number of vulnerable people with no effective support system, the result will be the same. Exploitative labour and prostitution.

  11. Cath — on 24th July, 2007 at 9:57 pm  

    Hi Jagdeep, I completely agree. Despite years of feminist campaigning against the commodification of women, it seems to have become even more a part of today’s society. There is an argument that as women gain more and more freedoms in the workplace and in society at large, the male backlash ensures that there are constant reminders to us that our rightful place is still purely as objects for men’s sexual gratification…..

    Hi Sunny. Thanks for the mention.

  12. Jagdeep — on 24th July, 2007 at 10:27 pm  

    Don, would you say that it is more culturally acceptable, less taboo, for a man to visit a prostitute nowadays than it was in the past? Anecdotally, I think it is. There seems to have been an exponential rise in men paying for sex in the last decade or so. You can read about it here:

    Why are more men using prostitutes?

    There are suggestions in that article about other possible factors, including the possibility that survey respondents are just more open and honest these days, but it still seems to be a big problem, and there seems to be significantly less social stigma attached to a man using a prostitute than there was in the past.

  13. Jagdeep — on 24th July, 2007 at 10:34 pm  

    Just suggesting things Don, you understand. It’s a complex issue.

  14. Jagdeep — on 24th July, 2007 at 10:43 pm  

    Good response to Mr Jarkin’s article Cath. The thing about the commodification of sex is an argument I make especially in answer to Clairwill’s question about why the men who visit prostitutes don’t feel for the women they visit, especially when they could morally deduce that their status and employment is unwonted. Lapdance for £10, porn on the internet at the click of a switch —-> sex for money is just the endgame of this. To those that use the service, they don’t have to worry for the circumstances of the provider any more than they do for the lady at the strip club that they went to at their mates stag do, or the hardcore movie they downloaded the night before.

    Talking about the morality of sexual commodity is a tricky issue because it can lead to accusations or implications of puritanism and arguments that can be speculative and suggest censorship or moral censure and ultimately the utility of moral judgments. It’s complex but the thing I’m getting at is that the whole thing is more troublesome than we allow ourselves to admit.

  15. Don — on 25th July, 2007 at 12:06 am  

    Jagdeep,
    I entirely agree that the situation is getting disturbingly worse, but on the trafficing aspect I think the priority has to be for the system to get off its arse.

    We’re always being told, probably rightly, that we are the most heavily surveyed, monitored and controlled country in whatever category. But this sex-slavery widespread in the hearts of our city and the response is at least inadequate.

    I really meant that in many ways Victorian London is worth considering as a model. In terms of the quite sudden increase in the number of dislocated, vulnerable and disenfranchised people. The rich/poor divide. The ‘surplus women’. The Victorians, to their credit, set about creating a system that could respond to that. We seem to have let it slide.

    I notice that in the article you linked to, it said 10% of men admit to having paid for sex, but that in 1948, it was 25%. I’m guessing that may be related to the fact that in the immediate post-war years there were a lot of dislocated and vulnerable people, and more women than men.

    I didn’t mean to imply you were a puritan. Hell, I’m increasingly that way inclined myself – don’t care for people who think an FCUK logo is appropriate in front of children.

    If I believed in god, I’d be chapel.

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