The scale of sex slavery in Britain


by Rumbold
29th May, 2009 at 8:46 am    

After our discussion on this thread, I decided to look at the scale of slavery/exploitation (most often in terms of sex), that still exists in Britain. An article from 2008 paints a shocking (though, sadly not surprising) picture:

“Up to 18,000 females, including girls as young as 14, are working in brothels across Britain after being smuggled into the country to meet the booming demand for prostitutes…

Most victims are foreign, with least 85 per cent of the women working as prostitutes coming from countries including Brazil, China, Lithuania and Thailand. Many victims are lured to Britain with false promises of work in bars or nightclubs only to be sold for up to £5,000, often at airports or service stations, to pimps and brothel-keepers.”

As Rahila Gupta put it:

” Trafficking is a lucrative activity, estimated to be worth $32bn globally per year. It is the selling of women and children into the sex industry that usually takes the limelight, eclipsing those trafficked into Britain to do work that is dirty, difficult and dangerous – construction, care work, cleaning and agriculture – for little or no pay.”


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  1. Jim — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:04 am  

    If 18,000 females are being forced to work in brothels across the country!!! Just how hard can it be to find them and release then? Not very hard at all I suspect so why don’t the cops do something about it.

  2. Jim — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:06 am  

    18,000. Thinking about it I don’t believe it.

  3. douglas clark — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:22 am  

    Rumbold,

    Funnily enough I share Jims’ doubts about that figure. And, if it is true, what the heck are the cops doing about it? From the article they have released approx 154 women and 13 girls. If they know that there are 18,000 involved that is a very poor start I’d have thought.

    Perhaps it isn’t a priority? I’d have thought it should be the priority.

  4. James Dobbs — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:28 am  

    Yes well, blame the Labour Government. They decided unchecked immigration and unguarded borders was a great idea. I don’t suppose it occurred to them that sex slaves wouldn’t get to vote!

  5. fug — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:48 am  

    what about the rampant sex tourism thats assosiated with white tourists generally around the world?

    whats that all about? i wonder if its liberal and liberating enough to be the subject of a documentary…

  6. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:51 am  

    Douglas and Jim:

    Well, the illegal nature of it makes it difficult to estimate. And I suspect it is quite easy to hide women in various homes and buildings, especially when police need a warrant to search places.

    I agree though that it might not be accurate. The methodology would be interesting to see.

  7. Stephen Whitehead — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:59 am  

    Last year the Radio 4′s More or Less ran an interesting article about how difficult it is to get reliable figures about prostitution and sex trafficking. The related article is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7819984.stm

    Without knowing the methodology (or even the source) for the 18000 figure I’d approach it with caution – though I think we can agree that even one woman in sexual slavery in modern day Britain is too many.

  8. douglas clark — on 29th May, 2009 at 10:11 am  

    Rumbold,

    If we take the number at face value it is a blot on our society. My point, such as it was, is that if it is true we should be expecting our police force to be taking far more stringent measures. Which they don’t seem to be doing.

    That is the issue.

    I’d expect, viz comments elsewhere on this site by others, that the nature of the control that the pimps have is down to the fear that illegals have of being treated unfairly by the state. And, disastrously, that seems to be justified.

    Least, that’s what I think.

  9. Ingrid — on 29th May, 2009 at 1:12 pm  

    James, are you having a laugh?
    The “unchecked immigration and unguarded borders” would in this case only apply to Lithuanians thanks to the EU, the policies regarding entry and permission to stay in the country if you are from overseas (which would include Brazil, China and Thailand) are very different. The problem of trafficking is surely alot more complex than that.

  10. Tim Worstall — on 29th May, 2009 at 1:21 pm  

    Erm, helloo?

    That someone has been smuggled into the country and that they then work in a brothel does not mean that they are a victim.

    These figures are therefore entirely bollocks. We had this over at Liberal Conspiracy a few weeks back.

    1) There are some people who are indeed sex slaves. This is rape along with a number of other crimes. Vile, appalling, those who do it let’s lock them up and throw away the key.

    2) There are a number of people who have voluntarily entered the sex trade (apply your own definition of “voluntary” here….through economic circumstance, addiction,actual enjoyment whatever).

    Some of these people who have volunatirly entered the trade were not, by birth, UK citizens. You cannot get a visa to come here by saying that you want to work as a tart. You can, however, get fake docs, or have yourself smuggled, so that you can come to hte UK to work as a tart.

    What the article is doing is saying that those who have voluntarily, but by illegal means, come to the UK to screw strangers for money are in fact sex slaves.

    Which they ain’t. They are people who have broken the law to come here, a rather different matter.

    Gary Becker saw through all of this decades ago. He pointed out that entering prostitution tends to diminish your social capital. Thus people tend to do it not at home. In earlier days it might have been on the other side of town. Now, with Easyjet, why not another country?

    To repeat, “trafficked” is a description of how someone got here, ie illegally. That does not mean that it’s involuntary. Sex slavery is indeed involuntary and it’s a tiny fraction of the number being trafficked.

  11. sonia — on 29th May, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

    Depends on what you think ‘voluntary’ really means – how many choices do these women have, and plus did they think they were going to be prostitutes here, or were they told they would have other jobs?

    the reality is that traffickers make promises to people and those people aren’t in positions (because they are illegal) to say when they have arrived, hang on, i didn’t want to be a prostitute.

    so yes, there is victimisation here, both in the lack of opportunities, and then in the reality. Of course there is a difference between kidnapping someone and someone ‘voluntarily’ putting themselves in a situation where they are taken advantage of..but

    still a BIG problem anyway.

  12. chavscum — on 29th May, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    There’s an estate in Edmonton, where Albanian pimps would hold Lithuanian and other nationalities in council properties and drive them to various massage parlours around London. Locals complained to the council and the Police, but seemingly nobody gave a monkey’s. Not sure, if it still goes on, as my relative moved away to a less ‘diverse’ area. I think its one of those “benefits of mass immigration” we keep getting told about. I suppose if shagging 15yr old Lithuanian sex slaves is your thing, then its a “benefit”.

  13. backatchya — on 29th May, 2009 at 3:39 pm  

    chavscum
    “There’s an estate in Edmonton, where Albanian pimps would hold Lithuanian and other nationalities in council properties and drive them to various massage parlours around London.”

    Bloody foreigners coming ere taking our jobs

    ” Locals complained to the council and the Police, but seemingly nobody gave a monkey’s. Not sure, if it still goes on, as my relative moved away to a less ‘diverse’ area.”

    Albanians and Lithuanians are both white.Give them
    a generation and you wont be able to tell them from other white people. Leaving you another group to direct your impotent hate and project the failure youve made of your life onto. You are an idiot.

    “I think its one of those “benefits of mass immigration” we keep getting told about. I suppose if shagging 15yr old Lithuanian sex slaves is your thing, then its a “benefit”.

    What are the benefits of the white working class then?
    Other than taking our benefits that is.
    And binge drinking, hooliganism, BNP voting and teenage pregnancy. Or being as your name says “chav scum”

    BTW who do you think these poor slaves’ clients are?

  14. chavscum — on 29th May, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    Thanks for confirming, yet again, that racism and prejudice is an ingrained characteristic of many among the disciples of the Left.

  15. Cabalamat — on 29th May, 2009 at 5:42 pm  

    I smell bullshit. “Up to” is a bullshit form of “less than” — as in “up to 8 Mb broadband”, meaning you’ll definitely get less.

    I expect there are less than 18000 sex slaves in Britain. As others have commented, it’s hard to know the extent of illegal activity.

  16. Don — on 29th May, 2009 at 7:04 pm  

    The ‘slaves’ aspect is going to lead to quibbles about terminological inexactitude so maybe ‘exploited’ would be more useful. And we can’t know the figures, but it is reasonable to accept that it is demonstrably hundreds and almost certainly thousands of women and girls in situations in which they are regularly raped – because even a tart can be raped. Tens of thousands? Don’t know, but the numbers are just a distraction.

    The fact that some women come into the country aware that they are entering the sex industry does not mean that the conditions they are subsequently subjected to are not abusive, exploitative and need to be addressed urgently.

    As for those who come here expecting legitimate work and are then forced into sex-work, Tim seems convinced it’s a tiny fragment but I don’t have access to the data he’s working from so I can’t say.

    Frankly I don’t think it is a priority for the authorities, apart from some high-profile showboating. Rescue too many and it’s expensive, time-consuming, there’s no clear understanding of how to treat the rescued and it’s squalid. So do enough to deflect criticism, make a few statements and always remember that they’re here illegally.

    If you are here you are entitled to a fair deal, same as the rest of us. If you are here illegally that fair deal may involve you being expelled, but in the meanwhile you get the same right to fairness, justice, protection and basic decency as everybody else.

  17. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2009 at 7:30 pm  

    Stephen Whitehead:

    Thank you for that article. Very interesting.

    Douglas:

    Agreed. I know that the police have only finite resources, but you would think that this would be a higher priority than arresting protesters.

    Tim Worstall:

    Firstly, stop referring to women as tarts. If you have a point to make, you should make it without misogynistic language.

    As Sonia says, the use of voluntary is very problematic. You acknowledge this, to a certain extent, but I would be interested to know how you know that only a tiny proportion of women have been forced/pressured into it. Does our society accept prostitutes? No, not really. So most women involved in it are really on the margins.

    Sadly, you appear to be confusing the idea that women should be able to sell their bodies if they want to with the reality on the ground for the vast majority of women.

    Chavscum:

    Yes, most sex slaves are trafficked in. We should stamp it out. I am glad that you recognise it is a problem.

    Excellent points Don (#17)

  18. Don — on 29th May, 2009 at 7:43 pm  

    Yes, that was a very useful article, Stephen. From the BBC, but who else would do that? (heh, Rumbold.)

    Interesting site. Look forward to more contributions.

  19. Rumbold — on 29th May, 2009 at 8:12 pm  

    “From the BBC, but who else would do that?”

    Fox News? Heh.

  20. Refresh — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:20 pm  

    ‘Firstly, stop referring to women as tarts.’

    Well said Rumbold!

    Backatchya

    ‘What are the benefits of the white working class then?
    Other than taking our benefits that is.
    And binge drinking, hooliganism, BNP voting and teenage pregnancy. Or being as your name says “chav scum”’

    I am shocked to read such views. Believe it or not benefits are taken, drawn or whatever you want to call it, by those that know how to do it and its NOT the working class. As the expenses crisis in Westminster is clearly showing.

    However irritating Chavscum may be, your comments are uncalled for.

  21. Refresh — on 29th May, 2009 at 9:28 pm  

    And since we are on the subject of slavery, the so called benefit system does not allow people to walk out of an abusive employer/employee relationship without penalty. Resignations or being sacked means being penalised by the state where they withold financial support.

  22. Tim Worstall — on 29th May, 2009 at 10:48 pm  

    “Tim Worstall:

    Firstly, stop referring to women as tarts. If you have a point to make, you should make it without misogynistic language.”

    Do stop being a twat.

    “Tart” is a synonym for “prostitute”, “slapper”, “escort girl” “lady of the night” and any other number of phrases. I did not use it, as most do not use it, as a synonym for “woman”, “female”…..as you can see above, I used the phrase as it is meant to be used. Tarts are those who rent out their gonads. That you think I use it to refer to women in general I think tells us more about you than me.

    “The fact that some women come into the country aware that they are entering the sex industry does not mean that the conditions they are subsequently subjected to are not abusive, exploitative and need to be addressed urgently.”

    True, but it does mean that those who enter the country to voluntarily take part in the sex industry should not be considered to be sex slaves.

    “The ’slaves’ aspect is going to lead to quibbles about terminological inexactitude so maybe ‘exploited’ would be more useful.”

    No, it wouldn’t. Slavery is abhorrent and worthy of abolition with all the power the State has available to bear.

    Exploitation is, at least I am told, an inevitable part of labour in a capitalist society.

    A tad different, no?

    “but I would be interested to know how you know that only a tiny proportion of women have been forced/pressured into it.”

    That when police forces went to investigate, they found that most tarts were there voluntarily? That some (150 I think, of tens of thousands looked at) were indeed slaves, who were rightly rescued, but that the vast majority were renting out their bodies because they wished to?

    You know, this evidence shit?

  23. The Common Humanist — on 30th May, 2009 at 1:26 am  

    Tim,

    “”That someone has been smuggled into the country and that they then work in a brothel does not mean that they are a victim.”"

    Yeah..er…fuck dem slags I mean, these only like wot, eastern euros or turks or som esuch gash, innit. They got a hole, they got what comming for em, bitches.

    But obviously this…evidence shit? Before judgement? Just maybe?

    Or were you being just a typical tory male cunt?

    Hard to tell………..

  24. Golam Murtaza — on 30th May, 2009 at 8:28 am  

    This thread has degenerated a bit. Shame – a subject like this deserves better.

  25. Amrit — on 30th May, 2009 at 1:17 pm  

    *would like to introduce Tim Worstall to some sex workers so he can call them ‘tarts’ to their faces and see what happens*

    TCH, I heart you. For the third or fourth time now? MWAH.

    Do stop being a twat.

    Gosh! Advice you might try taking, o ‘pendant’ one.

    “Tart” is a synonym for “prostitute”, “slapper”, “escort girl” “lady of the night” and any other number of phrases. Tarts are those who rent out their gonads.

    Wow, a male economist is an expert on the matter of what female sex workers want to call themselves, despite the prevalence of articles, blogs, unions, etc. where they have repeatedly said they want to be called ‘prostitutes’ or ‘sex workers’? I’m sure they’d just LOVE to be called ‘slappers,’ too.

    I also love how you think your definition of ‘tart’ is absolutely correct. The OED doesn’t agree:

    tart

    • noun
    informal, derogatory

    a prostitute or promiscuous woman.

    I helpfully highlighted the misogyny for you.

  26. Rumbold — on 30th May, 2009 at 1:55 pm  

    Thanks Refresh.

    Tim Worstall:

    “Do stop being a twat.”

    I am trying. I even went on a course.

    ““Tart” is a synonym for “prostitute”, “slapper”, “escort girl” “lady of the night” and any other number of phrases.”

    In the same way that ‘Paki’ is a synonym for ‘Pakistani’. They are both terms of abuse. Their original usage might have been non-judgement, but now they are not used in a neutral way.

    “That you think I use it to refer to women in general I think tells us more about you than me.”

    I didn’t say ‘women in general’. I said ‘women’. You shouldn’t refer to any women as tarts.

    “Exploitation is, at least I am told, an inevitable part of labour in a capitalist society.”

    Eh? Not really. In a free market, people should be able to offer their services without anyone else pressuring them. Obviously people will make a decision based on external factors, such as skills.

    The problem is you don’t really understand the nature of prostitution in this country. You see things in purely economic and reductionist terms; people either offer their labour freely or they don’t. But there are so many shades of grey, especially in the sex industry.

  27. Tim Worstall — on 30th May, 2009 at 2:30 pm  

    “Wow, a male economist is an expert on the matter of what female sex workers want to call themselves”

    1) I’m not an economist.

    2) I don’t care what female sex workers want to call themselves. Why should I? The language is full of syonoyms and I’ll use those that I wish to, thank you.

    ” • noun
    informal, derogatory

    a prostitute or promiscuous woman.

    I helpfully highlighted the misogyny for you.”

    Perhaps you’d care to look up what misogyny means? Netierh “informal” nor ” derogatory” mean that use of the word prostitute or any synonym are being misogynistic. The insult (if you want to call it something that strong) is not about the sex or gender of the person, it’s about what they do. It is therefore being “tartist” or “prostitutist”, not misogynist.

    ““”That someone has been smuggled into the country and that they then work in a brothel does not mean that they are a victim.””

    Yeah..er…fuck dem slags I mean, these only like wot, eastern euros or turks or som esuch gash, innit. They got a hole, they got what comming for em, bitches.

    But obviously this…evidence shit? Before judgement? Just maybe?”

    You’re committing a horrible error of logic. You see the films of those people at Sangatte? If they get into the UK then they will have been smuggled. Imagine if one of them then becomes a prostitute then I am stating that they have been both smuggled and that they are working as a prostitute. This does not mean that they have been smuggled in order to be a prostitute. And it most certainly does not mean that they have been smuggled and as a result they are being forced, against their will, to work as a prostitute.

    There are people out there who volunteer their money to smugglers to that they will be smuggled. People who pay to be smuggled. That doesn’t make them victims in my book.

    “I didn’t say ‘women in general’. I said ‘women’. You shouldn’t refer to any women as tarts.”

    Not sure that language has changed that much. Tarts is, at least where and when I come from, a relatively innocuous synonym, not a more insulting one.

    ““Exploitation is, at least I am told, an inevitable part of labour in a capitalist society.””

    Apologies, an attempt at irony, however lumpen.

  28. Amrit — on 30th May, 2009 at 3:04 pm  

    Perhaps you’d care to look up what misogyny means? Netierh “informal” nor ” derogatory” mean that use of the word prostitute or any synonym are being misogynistic.

    ‘Neither.’

    The insult (if you want to call it something that strong) is not about the sex or gender of the person, it’s about what they do. It is therefore being “tartist” or “prostitutist”, not misogynist.

    Wow, what a desperate attempt at self-justification! SURE, it’s not about the gender, not at ALL. That’s why male prostitutes, or promiscuous men are often referred to as ‘tarts’… Oh wait. The dictionary said woman, did it not?

    I’m sure that ‘where you come from’, misogynist (aka woman-unfriendly) language is perfectly OK, just because you think it is, but sadly this ain’t your backwater and so you’ll be called on it.

    I admire your naivety though. I’d have to go back 10 years to have such a lovely rosy view of the world, where ‘smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’ mean the same thing and everything is either voluntary or not. Sadly, that little caveat – that there are ‘shades of grey’ – eventually kicked in.

    Pray tell, are you coming to the PP meet-up? I’d LOVE to put a little question to you there! Beijos.

  29. Cath Elliott — on 30th May, 2009 at 3:07 pm  

    Tim Worstall

    “Do stop being a twat.

    “Tart” is a synonym for “prostitute”, “slapper”, “escort girl” “lady of the night” and any other number of phrases. I did not use it, as most do not use it, as a synonym for “woman”, “female”…..as you can see above, I used the phrase as it is meant to be used. Tarts are those who rent out their gonads. That you think I use it to refer to women in general I think tells us more about you than me.”

    My dictionary (The A-Z of Non-Sexist Language by Margaret Doyle. Tim, perhaps you should invest in a copy?) defines Tart as:

    “Now a derogatory term for a woman considered to be promiscuous, this term originally was an endearment, related to “sweetheart”. Now it perpetuates the notion that women dress provocatively (as prostitutes are thought to) to lure and entrap men. Avoid.”

    Jane Mills in Womanwords writes:

    “At first, tart was used of any loved woman, but by 1904 had degenerated and was used of a fast, loose, immoral or unchaste one. This shift in meaning is not surprising in a society which evaluates women as sexual objects.

    Tart is absolutely a gendered insult: it’s a judgemental term centred on a woman’s perceived promiscuity. It’s not a job descriptor or a synonym for sex worker, it’s a sexist, misogynist label that perpetuates the virgin/whore dichotomy “in which women who do not adhere to a saintly standard of moral purity (Abrahamic) are considered “whores”
    Wikipedia

    Incidentally, “do stop being a twat” is also a sexist insult. Mind you, so’s Dickhead.

  30. Rumbold — on 30th May, 2009 at 3:14 pm  

    Thanks for the elucidation Cath. Tim, you just aren’t getting the fundamental point. Yes, a few women are genuinely content to work as prostitutes, and are their own free agents. But for the vast majority of females, this isn’t the case. Whether they are actually chained up, or pressured into it by threats of violence, most of these women aren’t free agents, so the usual rules do not apply.

  31. Tim Worstall — on 31st May, 2009 at 12:41 pm  

    “Tim, you just aren’t getting the fundamental point. Yes, a few women are genuinely content to work as prostitutes, and are their own free agents. But for the vast majority of females, this isn’t the case. Whether they are actually chained up, or pressured into it by threats of violence, most of these women aren’t free agents, so the usual rules do not apply.”

    My most basic point is that it is you that has this the wrong way around.

    There are indeed some who are forced into prostitution through violence and even slavery. This is vile and should be rooted out and the perpetrators punished. As I’ve already suggested.

    However, the vast majority of those renting out their gonads (whether male or female) are doing so not because of the threat of violence nor because they are slaves.

    One oft quoted figures is that there are 80,000 prostitutes in the country. When the police launched a massive series of raids looking for the sex slaves, those there involuntarily, I think I’m right in recalling that they found somewhere between 100 and 200 who were so.

    I take 99% or more to be the vast majority. Strange that you don’t.

  32. Don — on 31st May, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

    Tim,

    1,300 premises raided, 250 rescued. I don’t know how many women were encountered in total by the police but it obviously wasn’t 80,000. Unless the average number of women in each establishment was 20 then your figure of 1% doesn’t work.

    I would guess that the average would be closer to 3 or 4, making the proportion closer to 5%. But that’s based on guesswork and one police operation.

    Oh, and I think you’ll find gonads are not actually what the punters are after.

  33. Rumbold — on 31st May, 2009 at 8:31 pm  

    Tim Worstall:

    “However, the vast majority of those renting out their gonads (whether male or female) are doing so not because of the threat of violence nor because they are slaves.

    One oft quoted figures is that there are 80,000 prostitutes in the country. When the police launched a massive series of raids looking for the sex slaves, those there involuntarily, I think I’m right in recalling that they found somewhere between 100 and 200 who were so.”

    Don says what I would have said. Moroever, we know that there are plenty of women who might not be slaves, but have been forced into the trade by violence, or threats of violence. Therefore they might not actually be held captive- they might even have their own accomodation, but they know if they try and leave the trade they will get seriously hurt. Would you co-operate with the police if that was your situation? I don’t think I would, as I would be too scared.

  34. douglas clark — on 2nd June, 2009 at 12:31 am  

    Rumbold @ 33,

    You should not, I think, give up on a good point so easily,

    Moroever, we know that there are plenty of women who might not be slaves,

    my ‘but’:

    but have been forced into the trade by violence, or threats of violence.

    I’d have thought that the latter half of your arguement was a reasonable definition of slavery. How else in someone coerced into servitude?

    I’d hazard it is through threats and violence.

    I find Tim Worsthall an apologist for that sort of viewpoint. Anything lacking actual chains is OK with him.

    I suspect he is also in favour of torture lite, a favourite theme for loons everywhere. Waterboarding? Don’t ya love it?

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