1. The campaign to make it a crime to pay for sex
– the fictional story of Neil Chapman, Bernard Kassin and Liliana Petreanu – is
set in London, England, in autumn 2008. The Labour Party was in
Government, and had been since 1997. Harriet Harman, Leader of the
House of Commons, Minister for Women and Deputy Leader of the Labour
Party, had been campaigning to make it illegal to pay for sex, even
with a consenting adult.
This idea had been promoted by women’s groups
for several years. Ms Harman’s key supporters were the Labour MPs
Dennis MacShane, Fiona Mactaggart and Barbara Follett.
On 17 July 2007, in the House of Commons, Ms Harman expressed
her concern about human trafficking, and read out some local newspaper
small ads for foreign prostitutes, just like those that tempt Neil. Ms
Harman said, “We need to think of the demand side of the problem… the
men, the fathers, the sons, the brothers, the husbands who are reading
those ads and who are fuelling the demand side of global sexual
exploitation of women.” She seemed to imply that the prostitutes’
clients were at fault rather than traffickers.
On 20 December 2007, on the BBC Radio 4 Today
programme, Ms Harman again said that the Government must “tackle the
demand side” of prostitution, “as they've done in Sweden.” The
Government set up a review to study the subject, but seems to have
decided its conclusions at the outset: answering a question in
Parliament on 7 February 2008, Barbara Follett again referred to
“tackling the demand side,” and on 20 June 2008 Ms Follett said, “Men
who pay for sex fuel the evil trade of sex trafficking.”
The Government commissioned an Ipsos-Mori poll in summer 2008
to demonstrate public support for plans to criminalise “men who pay
for sex”. The results, released September 2008, showed 58% would
support making it illegal to pay for sex “if it would help reduce the
numbers of women and children being trafficked into the UK for sexual
exploitation.” The 58% was then much quoted without the proviso. That
criminalising prostitutes’ clients would prevent trafficking was a
cornerstone of Ms Harman’s argument. After publication of the poll
figures, she even claimed, “We know that paying for sex fuels the
demand for trafficked women and children.” The new crime was intended
to form part of the Policing and Crime Bill, then being drafted.
Making it completely illegal to pay for sex was
controversial, and widely discussed in the UK media in 2008. Had this
become law, not only Neil’s encounter with Liliana, but also his
arrangement with Joy-Belle, in which she offers him sex in exchange
for free rides in his van, arguably would be a criminal offence,
depending on the definition of ‘payment’.
17Jul 2007 –
Feb 2008 –
Jul 2007 –
Dec 2007 –
Sep 2008 –
26 Dec 2012 –
Jun 2008 – www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-news-1.nsf/0/35318A7F5ADB7E148025746E003476C5?OpenDocument
Criminalising prostitutes’ clients
(i) The Policing and Crime Bill 2008
her Labour Party Conference speech on 21 September 2008, Home
Secretary Jacqui Smith did not go as far as Harriet Harman had wished,
saying: “We will start work to outlaw paying for sex with someone
forced into prostitution at another’s will.”
The Government’s review, published November 2008, recommended
that sex with a ‘controlled’ woman be a strict liability offence; in
other words that ignorance be no defence: the client would be guilty
even if he did not know the woman was coerced. The Policing and Crime
Bill was then introduced to Parliament by Jacqui Smith (who was
subsequently shown to have made a Parliamentary expenses claim for the
cost of pay-per-view pornographic films watched by her husband, and so
herself may have been accused of paying for sexual services). It
proposed making it a strict liability offence to pay for sex with a
“person controlled for gain”, that is, someone coerced into providing
sexual services for someone else’s benefit.
Neil believes from press reports at that time that the Bill has
already become law. After paying to have sex with Liliana thinking she
is a willing partner, only to discover she is being coerced, Neil
fears that if he tells the police about her he will be charged with a
serious offence under the new legislation.
The Bill is online at:
Report by Liberty, the
civil liberties organisation, expressing its concerns about the Bill:
(ii) The Policing and Crime Act 2009
The Policing and Crime
Act 2009 is online at:
fact, it was not until the following year that the Policing and Crime
Act 2009 was passed, and the offence of paying for sex with a “person
controlled for gain” did not come into force until April 2010. Since
that date, anyone who pays for sex with a “person controlled for gain”
is guilty even if they did not know and had no reason to believe that
the person was coerced. He is guilty of the offence (“making or
promising payment”) regardless of whether sex actually takes place.
in The Slave is now a reality. He would now be unable to
tell the police about Liliana without being charged with a crime
himself, just like real-life prostitutes’ clients who have information
but cannot inform the authorities.
3. The anti-prostitution campaign since the passing of the 2009 Act
While the Policing and
Crime Act made it illegal to pay for sex with a controlled
person, it did not make it illegal to pay for sex with a consenting
adult. The campaign to make this a crime too has continued. At the
start of 2013, Labour MP Gavin Shuker (chair of the All-party
Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade), Labour
MSP Rhoda Grant in the Scottish Parliament, and Democratic Unionist
peer Lord Morrow in Northern Ireland have all advocated legislation to
stop men and women making such transactions. They continue to
use the argument that this would reduce the trafficking of women into
Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade 
Members of the
4. How many women are held in forced prostitution?
It is impossible to know how many women (or men) are held captive as
forced prostitutes. The number may be large or it may be small, since
- obviously - it cannot be known how many remain undetected. No statistics have been collected,
nor could they be.
made-up statistics about the number of trafficked, coerced women have
been a consistent feature of the argument put forward by those
campaigning to make it a crime to pay for sex.
November 2007, the Labour MP Denis MacShane stated in the House of
Commons that “According to Home Office estimates, there are 25,000 sex
slaves in the UK.” The figure had no basis in fact, and nor was it a
Home Office estimate. In January 2008, he repeated the figure in the
Commons, citing an article in the Daily Mirror as his source. The
Daily Mirror story, written by the paper’s crime correspondent Jeff
Edwards and published 19 October 2005, was headlined 25,000 Sex
Slaves on the Streets of Britain but provided no evidence for this
number. It remains unclear who gave Jeff Edwards the bogus statistic.
November 2008, the Labour MP and former Home Office minister Fiona MacTaggart stated that “Something like 80% of women in prostitution
are controlled by their drug dealer, or their pimp or their
trafficker.” This figure had no foundation in data gathered by any
agency, nor in any research.
A recording of Ms MacTaggart making this
statement was played on the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less
on 11 January 2009, which looks at the accuracy of published
statistics. The programme’s presenter Tim Harford went on to
Ms MacTaggart's claim and disprove it. When confronted by Mr Harford
during the programme, Ms MacTaggart defended herself by asserting that
the figure was based on studies quoted in the Home Office report
Paying The Price [a consultation paper on prostitution in the UK,
July 2004]. This also was not true, according to Tim Harford and his
team, who said they were unable to find the figure in Paying The
Sensationalist numbers, perhaps intended to
shock or stir people into giving donations, are published by numerous
pressure groups and charities worldwide - including the UN. According
to Yuri Fedotov, former Russian ambassador to the UK and now head of
the UN Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC],
“80 per cent of trafficking victims are sex slaves”.
UNODC's website states as if it were a fact that
“2.4 million people suffer the misery of this humiliating and
degrading crime.” UNODC's Global Report on Trafficking
in Persons 2012 contains a vast array of similar data not supported by any research.
They appear to be nothing more than guesses or estimates aggregated from
information provided to UNODC voluntarily by institutions in
a few of its participating countries.
In October 2012, the UK's first Annual Report of the
Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking stated that
in the previous year
“946 potential victims of human trafficking were
referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)”. This
misleading figure is immediately followed by the comment that the
Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) Baseline Assessment suggests that
there could be over 2,000 potential victims of human trafficking in
the UK, based on information collected from a variety of other
Yet subsequently the report reveals
“the number of
convictions on a principal offence basis
[i.e. where trafficking was the more
in England and Wales for
2011 was 8.” The total number of convictions for sexual exploitation
was 49. It is not made clear why, since the number of successful
prosecutions is so low, the estimated number of undiscovered victims
is so high.
of respect for accuracy and truth surely harms rather than helps women in forced
prostitution. In particular, when claims like those of MacShane and MacTaggart are
exposed, it risks creating the impression that because the scale
of the problem has been exaggerated, its seriousness is
perhaps also less.
article 19 Oct 2005 used as a source by Denis MacShane:
proceedings 26 Nov 2007: Denis MacShane:
proceedings 16 Jan 2008: Denis MacShane:
BBC Radio 4 More or
Less, 11 Jan 2009, can be heard at:
Daily Telegraph article 4 Apr 2012: "2.4 million victims of human
UNODC Blue Heart campaign :
UN Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012:
UK Annual Report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human
5. Law-enforcement before April 2010
In The Slave,
Liliana is the victim of serious criminal offences.
There was no need for any new legislation to save her. Crimes on which
police could have acted to rescue Liliana, with no need for other
witnesses, included kidnapping, abduction, false imprisonment, rape,
and trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation.
Discovering Liliana held prisoner in a busy street, Neil wonders how
such a thing is allowed to continue. The answer appears to be that the
police, UK Border Agency and Home Office,
under the Labour Government,
a tolerant, laissez-faire attitude to
brothels, immigration offences and law-breaking in general. According
to a parliamentary answer by Vernon Coaker, Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (26 Nov 2007),
between 2003 and 2007 there were 67 arrests for trafficking women for
contradiction to this apparent everyday indifference to crime, police
periodically staged attention-grabbing ‘operations’. In 2006, they
carried out the 4-month Operation Pentameter against sex trafficking.
88 women and girls were found and most deported to their country of
origin, 134 people were charged with crimes (mainly immigration
offences, not trafficking) and the UK Human Trafficking Centre was
set up (see below).
October 2007 to July 2008, a larger police operation, Operation
Pentameter 2, detained 167 trafficked women and girls (the youngest
was 14 years old) and arrested 528 people – but only 22 for human
trafficking, of whom just 15 were found guilty, and of these only 5
were convicted of trafficking women against their will and forcing
them to work as prostitutes.
footage of police undertaking surveillance and raids in Pentameter 2
became a thrilling 3-part Channel 4 series broadcast in August 2010,
The Hunt for Britain's Sex Traffickers.
come to mind about such high-profile operations. For example, was
there evidence of trafficked women being held at the targeted
premises? If so, why hadn’t they been raided already? If there was no
evidence, how were the premises selected? Was it perhaps on the
suspicion of high-value seizable assets? What provision was in place
during raids to deal with the immediate care needs of traumatised
victims? It appears from the programmes that there was none.
of law enforcement before, after and in-between such TV-drama
operations? It seems that, in keeping with long-standing Home Office
guidance, if police have been aware of a brothel they turned a blind
eye unless a complaint is made by a member of the public.
example, at exactly the same time that The Slave is set and in
exactly the same neighbourhood, police in Golders Green
(London NW11) raided a
brothel in an alley directly opposite Golders Green Police Station! The brothel had been in business for years. It was
finally raided in September 2008 – but only because a nearby resident
complained after a noisy disturbance!
proceedings, 26 Nov 2007:
UK Action Plan on
Tackling Human Trafficking, and updates:
information drawn from:
and news reports:
close brothel opposite station. By Kevin Bradford, 2 Oct 2008 –
politics with sex workers. By Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, 16 Oct 2008 –
in the Bedroom. By Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, 21 Nov 2008 –
The Hunt for Britain's Sex Traffickers (TV programme, 2010)
is online at
6. Law-enforcement since April 2010
Neil believes the
police cannot find out about his visit to Liliana unless he tells
them. The police agree that this is the position: Police chiefs questioned by the Home Affairs
Select Committee in 2009 doubted the feasibility of arresting men for
paying for sex with a person controlled for gain, if it were a strict
liability offence, unless they were caught in the act or subsequently
admitted to the crime.
implementation of the 2009 Act, there was a more concerted police
effort to raid sex establishments. A Metropolitan Police specialist
crime directorate, SCD9 or Human Exploitation and Organised Crime
Command, was set up in April 2010 to (among other things) investigate
the trafficking of adults for sexual exploitation where there is a
link to an organised criminal network. This clearly ignores women
trafficked other than by organised gangs. However, at least this team,
comprising several different units including the Trafficking and
Prostitution Unit, targets traffickers rather than men who pay for
SCD9’s report into the first year of its activities stated that 19
people had been charged with human trafficking, and 201 victims
rescued. It is not clear how many successful prosecutions resulted, if
any, or what subsequently became of the women rescued. No similar
report was published in 2012.
raids on brothels in Northern Ireland in 2011, NI Police stated that
73 trafficking victims had been rescued since 2009, but no traffickers
had been successfully prosecuted. As for the ‘clients’, it appeared
that they were simply asked not to use trafficked women in future!
of men arrested for paying for sex with a controlled person appears
extremely low. By early 2013, the only figures available refer to
2010. A written exchange in July 2011 between Dennis MacShane MP and
Lynne Featherstone MP (on behalf of the Home Secretary) gave the
number arrested under the relevant section of the Act in the period
April-December 2010 as 49 in total, and the number found guilty as 43.
the police attitude to trafficking victims seemingly improved, at
least during that period. According to Detective Inspector Kevin
Hyland of the Trafficking and Prostitution Unit, in an interview for
the Catholic media at the Bishops’ Conference of England Wales in
2011, “Support… and rescue of the victim is the most important part of
the work we do… The welfare of the victim comes first.”
in 2012 (by London Assembly Member Andrew Boff), to the office of the
London Mayor, was highly critical of police methods of visiting
brothels without evidence of any crime being committed and simply
asking the workers if they are there of their own free will; any
enslaved women cannot answer honestly. Boff’s report also deals with
the disparate and unverified estimates of the number of coerced women,
and the ambiguous use of the expression ‘sex trafficking’ to include
both willing and forced prostitutes. Andrew Boff recommend better use
of information from sex workers. This assumes the women have access to
In reality, coerced women have no
access to the police. The
absence of any witness evidence provided either by the women or by the prostitutes’ clients –
who, since the 2009 Act, no longer inform police about clandestine premises
or coerced women they have encountered – is an obstacle
to successful prosecutions of traffickers.
Home Affairs Select
Committee Report (May 2009): The Trade in Human Beings: Human
Trafficking in the UK –
answers, 5 Jul 2011
[Data provided by
the Ministry of Justice on the number of persons proceeded against and
found guilty at all courts, under Section 53A(1) of the Sexual
Offences Act 2003 in England and Wales in 2010 (latest available)]
N. Ireland brothel
raids 2011 (BBC reports)
Interview with DI
Kevin Hyland at Bishops’ Conference 2011 (click link to MP3 file)
Andrew Boff report
to London Mayor (2012)
7. Criminalising prostitutes’ clients – the Swedish experience
approach has become the touchstone for activists who want to stamp out
prostitution. In 1999, Sweden criminalised all payment for sex. The stated
justification for this move was that human trafficking was driven by
of prostitution - i.e., that it could be ended by removing
the demand for prostitutes. Accordingly, Sweden concentrated on
clients. After the law came into effect street
prostitution substantially fell, with nearly all sexual services
moving into private premises.
Because prostitution became a more clandestine activity, the result
has been difficult to assess. Data remains incomplete and
inconclusive. Neither of the two obvious possible outcomes – either
that sex slavery has been reduced in Sweden, or that it has not – has
In 2008 the Chancellor of Justice Anna Skarhed
conducted the Swedish Government’s official investigation into the
effects of the law. Her report, published July 2010 and updated
January 2011, stated that the overall number of prostitutes in Sweden
had not declined, but that the law had nonetheless been effective. To
make it more effective still she proposed an increase in the jail
The Skarhed Report
(English title: Prohibiting the purchase of sexual services. An
8. Criminalising prostitutes’ clients – the “Swedish” effect on other
The Swedish law
made the criminalisation of prostitutes’ clients a political issue in
the other Nordic countries. Norway followed Sweden’s example in 2009,
and took the further step of making it a crime for a Norwegian citizen
to pay for sex anywhere in the world. (Also in 2009, the UK enacted
the Policing and Crime Act – see above.) In the same year, Iceland
passed a law similar to Sweden’s, and in 2010, Iceland also made
striptease illegal. As far as I know, there has not yet been any
official study in Norway or Iceland into the effectiveness of the law.
adopted the opposite approach. In 1999, prostitution was fully
decriminalised in Denmark. In 2011, Finland joined Denmark in
rejecting a Swedish-style ban on paying for sex. However, Danish
advocates of criminalisation campaign actively and are reportedly
confident of eventual success.
Pro Sentret [ie. Prostitutes’ Centre], Oslo’s resource service for
current and former prostitutes, recorded a steady increase in
the number of prostitutes in the city over the period 2009-2011. In 2012, Anniken
Hauglie, social policy advisor to the Norwegian Conservative Party
parliamentary group, recommended Norway to repeal its law against
paying for sex. In July 2012, the Global Commission on HIV and the
Law, an independent body set up by the UN Development Programme,
advised against the Swedish approach and recommended that all
countries decriminalise private consensual adult sex, including those
where payment takes place.
in 2012 and 2013 several jurisdictions (including Ireland, Scotland, France and
Western Australia) began investigating the possibility of adopting Swedish-style
criminalisation of all transactions involving sex.
Prostitution Policy Reform
funded by Swedish Research Council)
The Local, Norwegian news in English (22 Jun 2012)
Report by UNRIC
on HIV and the Law
New South Wales
(Australia) sex workers’ website
9. European Union and human trafficking
Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights states ‘No one
shall be held in slavery or servitude.’ Yet all over Europe, this is
human trafficking and allocating funds to prevent it, the European
Union has in practice facilitated trafficking, including sex slavery,
especially since 2004.
A founding principle of the EU is the free
movement of goods and people within the Union. The EU (until 2010)
defined the trafficking of human beings as the transport of people
into the EU from non-member countries, rather than within
the Union itself. The Schengen Agreement of 1985 removed border
controls between most EU countries, further assisting the illegal
transportation of people.
The EU has
not collected any official data on the scale of human trafficking, but
there is general agreement that trafficking women for sex increased
after the fall of Communism in 1989, and flourished particularly from
2004, when the EU admitted eight former Soviet Bloc countries (two
more were admitted in 2007). The result has been a huge demographic
movement as millions of individuals sought to profit from the economic
disparity between eastern and western Europe.
Directive of 2004 required that trafficking victims cooperate with the
authorities in order to qualify for help. This often placed them in
great danger, and aided traffickers. Not until 2010, when it appointed
an Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, did the EU recommend that trafficking
victims be cared for rather than prosecuted. However the emphasis of
the EU’s approach continues to be limited to exhortation, merely
urging the source countries to
discourage the trade in women; it has in any case no power to enforce laws
in the destination countries where women
are held captive.
Reports of European
Conference on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings,
European Parliament, Brussels, Sep 2002. Summary of current European
Union position on human trafficking:
10. Israel’s successful approach – targeting the traffickers
The UK has not taken advantage of Israel’s experience in successfully
combating human trafficking and forced prostitution since 2006. Israel’s approach has been to
target the traffickers, care for the women, and use witness evidence provided by clients.
In Israel, prostitution is legal, but groups of prostitutes, pimping
and brothels are illegal, as is coercion. Brothels have been tolerated
as long as there is no coercion.
prostitution became a problem in Israel after the collapse of the
Soviet bloc in 1989. During the early 1990s, about one million Jewish
refugees from the former Soviet Union arrived in Israel. The number of
prostitutes in the country greatly increased. They were popularly
referred to as “Russian prostitutes”, although it was later shown that
the majority were from the Ukraine and Moldova, both now independent
countries. The assumption that most clients were also “Russians”
somehow made them seem irrelevant to the larger society.
Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (chaired by Zahava Gal-On, herself
from the USSR) was set up in 2004 to investigate the phenomenon. Its
report, published in 2005, stated that “Words are not strong enough to
describe the horror” of what the Committee encountered during the
The Committee estimated that about 10,000 women, mainly from
the former Soviet Union, had been smuggled into Israel as forced
prostitutes held in about 400 locations, and that they were being
bought and sold by criminal gangs. It is not clear if this data is open
to question, but it brought about a radical shift in public
Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women was set up to monitor the
problem and report to government.
In 2006, Knesset (Israel’s
Parliament) passed the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons
(Legislative Amendments) Law, better known as the Anti-Trafficking
Law, to target those who traffic and enslave people whether for sex or
other purposes. The new law imposed penalties of up to 16 years jail
for trafficking an adult, 16 years for slavery, and 20 years for
trafficking a minor. Convicted traffickers were also required to pay
compensation to their victims. The National Anti-Trafficking Unit was
formed to coordinate police, NGOs and other agencies to facilitate
victims of forced prostitution are provided with a one-year visa and
may reside voluntarily at protected shelters, funded by the state but
run by charities or NGOs, which offer counselling, medical care and,
where needed, employment training. The stay can be extended by the
courts – in 2010 a victim was given a two-year visa.
Anti-Trafficking Law was applied with rigour. Police and immigration
officers actively sought out possible coercion offences, encouraging
clients to come forward. Scores of trials resulted, with sometimes
long sentences handed down. According to the Knesset Subcommittee on
Trafficking in Women, the numbers of coerced women rapidly declined.
2012, the US Government’s annual worldwide report ‘Trafficking in
Persons’ raised Israel to a Tier 1 country (i.e. one of the 32 nations
fully compliant with minimum best practice standards to eradicate
trafficking). Its report stated, “Some isolated cases of women … are
subjected to forced prostitution in Israel, although the number of
women affected continues to decline since the passage and
implementation of Israel’s 2006 anti-trafficking law.”
The chair of
the Knesset Subcommittee on Trafficking in Women, Orit Zuaretz (also
originally from the USSR), concurred, saying that “The sex trade as we
knew it is practically eliminated.”
Ms Zuaretz also said that there were still [in 2012]
“incidents of women-trafficking and some held as slaves.” The problem
of forced prostitution is therefore not eradicated. NGOs informally
reported that prostitutes they encounter now are Israelis not brought
from abroad, yet some do appear to be coerced. Meanwhile, in 2012
there were a further 18 investigations into human trafficking,
resulting in 15 convictions with prison sentences of between 8 months
and 5 years.
Prostitution between consenting adults remains fully legal in Israel.
This situation is threatened by some Christian and Leftist groups, notably the Jerusalem Institute of
Justice (www.jij.org.il) and Atzum (http://atzum.org), who campaign to
prohibit all payment for sex (along Swedish lines). In February 2012,
in support of this campaign, MKs Orit Zuaretz and Zahava Gal-On introduced a bill into
the Knesset. It passed the first reading, and might then have been reviewed
by a parliamentary committee and re-presented for debate, but this was not done
in time before the Knesset was dissolved and new elections held in January 2013.
Zahava Gal-On was re-elected, but hopefully her attempt to
has been halted.
of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Trafficking in Women
Situation in 2007
as described by BBC News
Trafficking in Persons report 2012
Haartez news report
Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
11. Why would Liliana be Moldovan?
In The Slave, the traffickers are Albanian and Bosnian,
while their victims are mainly Moldovan. This is a typical situation
Moldova is one of
Europe’s principal places of origin of trafficked women. It’s a small
former Soviet republic that became an independent country in 1991 when
the USSR disintegrated. Its capital is Chişinău (also written Kishinev;
pronounced “Kishinau” locally, or “Kishinyov” in Russian). Rural and
undeveloped, Moldova has by far the lowest GDP in Europe, with a
brutalised past, an internal breakaway region, a weak sense of
nationhood, serious problems of unemployment and poverty, and a legacy
of corruption and Communist-era bureaucracy. The national language is
Romanian (locally known as Moldovan), which in Moldova, from 1940 to
1989, was written in Cyrillic, after which it reverted to the Latin
alphabet. Russian is Moldova’s official second language.
had previously been part of Romania (formerly Bessarabia). For
economic and political reasons, the USSR separated this territory from
the rest of Romania in 1940, and added a part of western Ukraine on
the east bank of River Dniester. Moldova’s very rural economy was
wholly dependent on the USSR, to which it supplied wine.
Post-Soviet Moldova struggled to become a democracy and a candidate
for membership of the European Union. In consequence it suffered
catastrophic trade sanctions by Russia. Between 1990 and 1999, GDP
fell by over 60%. The slender portion of Moldova lying east of the
River Dniester, known as Transnistria (formerly part of the Ukraine),
achieved a de-facto secession under a pro-Russian government.
problems led to an exodus of its people in search of even the most
meagre livelihood elsewhere, most going to Russia, Turkey and into EU
countries. Young women, whether as paid-for ‘wives’ or as sex workers,
became one of Moldova’s sources of revenue.
census of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova, in 1989, numbered
the population as 4.3 million. The first census of the independent
Republic of Moldova, in 2004, showed that the total had fallen by then
to 3.8 million including Transnistria. In the years since, the economy
has made a steady recovery, with GDP standing at about half the level
before independence, and the society has become less chaotic, but
net emigration has continued. The UN estimated the country’s population in
2009 as 3.6 million, and falling at 0.6% each year.
EU website on
Republic of Moldova
Bureau of Statistics
12. Missing Persons – recapturing escaped slaves
In The Slave,
attempt to find out where she is by putting up Missing Person flyers.
Describing someone as a ‘missing person’ can be an effective way to
recapture her (or him). Around London I have seen several unofficial
posters and notices like the ones Neil sees.
wording of the Missing Person poster featuring Neil himself is closely
based on a real notice I saw taped to the wall of Golders Green
underground station in June 2011. The wording of the Liliana poster
closely follows the wording of a real half-page advertisement I saw in
a north London newspaper in June 2007.
2012 I took to Hampstead police station a sheet of A4 paper, on which
was printed a picture of a “missing” young woman wanted by anonymous
people using a mobile phone number. It said she was dangerous and had
to be returned to them for her own safety. Several of these sheets had
been taped or stapled to signboards and lamposts around Hampstead
Heath. The police saw nothing suspicious in it, and declined to
investigate or even call the number.
13. Legal approach to rescued victims of trafficking
- a change in 2013?
In The Slave,
Neil fears that if
Liliana were to fall into the hands of the police, she would not be
freed, but rather would be arrested, detained and deported. His concerns are
When discovered by the police,
trafficked women forced into prostitution have generally
been charged with immigration offences, found guilty, and punished. As well as prolonging their
misery, this helped kidnappers track them down and recapture them.
Traffickers closely follow the legal proceedings against their slaves.
Most trafficked women are eventually deported back to the place where they were
first captured. The Poppy Project reported to the Home Affairs Select
Committee that 21% of their clients had been re-trafficked after being
deported, some within a short time of arriving back in their home
In a real case
similar to Liliana’s, when police discovered a Moldovan woman
imprisoned in a London brothel in 2003 they arrested her for being in
possession of false documents which the traffickers were using to move
her around. For this offence she was imprisoned in Holloway prison for
three months, and then held in Oakington Detention Centre before being
deported back to Moldova. In prison, she was visited several times by
the traffickers, who were never arrested or investigated for any
offence. On her arrival in Moldova, they at once recaptured her,
assaulted her and returned her to the UK to continue as their prisoner
in a brothel just as before.
Up to that
point, nothing unusual had occurred. The case became unusual only when the
woman was arrested for a second time by London police in 2007. She was
imprisoned in Yarls Wood detention centre, but this time ended up in
the care of the Poppy Project (see below). On their advice she brought
an action for damages against the Home Office for returning her to
I am not
able to give the woman’s own name for legal reasons. Her case was
heard by Mrs Justice Cox at the High Court in London on 11 April 2011.
At that date (and at the time of writing this, over two years
later), the police had not arrested her traffickers. The woman
received a payment in damages from the Home Office. Her solicitor was
Harriet Wistrich, of Birnberg Peirce and Partners, London. Steven
Kovats QC, acting for the Home Office, claimed that the treatment of
trafficking victims had since been improved.
In June 2013, the UK's Court of Appeal heard the appeals of four
unconnected trafficking victims who had all been found guilty in lower
courts of committing crimes while held as slaves. Three were young men
held as forced labour by drugs gangs. The fourth was a woman in her
30s held in forced prostitution, who had been found guilty of being in
possession of a false identity document.
The appeal judges
quashed all four convictions, and advised UK courts that
forced to commit criminal acts should be regarded as victims of
crime rather than perpetrators (while not immune from prosecution if
they voluntarily commit crimes). Speaking on behalf of the Appeal
Court, the Lord Chief Justice said:
“The criminality, or putting it another way, the
culpability, of any victim of trafficking may be significantly
diminished, and in some cases effectively extinguished... because no
realistic alternative was available to the exploited victim but to
comply with the dominant force of another individual, or group of
Few trafficked women arrested and
found guilty of immigration or passport offences are likely to find
their way to the Appeal Court. But it is to be hoped that the Appeal
Court's advice will eventually cause the police and Crown Prosecution
Service to stop charging trafficked women with such crimes.
Committee Report: The Trade in Human Beings: Human Trafficking in the
BBC News, April
Appeal Court's guidance on prosecution of
trafficking victims (summary), June 2013
14. Working to end human trafficking and slavery
International, founded as the Anti-Slavery Society in 1839, is one of
the world's most authoritative and effective voices lobbying governments,
assisting victims and highlighting the suffering of trafficked people
exploited, oppressed and enslaved in all industries around the world.
The focus tends to be on forced manual and domestic labour, but they
also work to help victims of sex trafficking.
Stop the Traffik also campaigns effectively to end the worldwide trafficking
and slavery of men, women and children, not just for sex but in other
industries. An imaginative initiative is their website enabling
business travellers to provide information if they encounter people
they suspect have been trafficked.
The UK Human
Trafficking Centre is part of SOCA – the Serious Organised Crime
Agency formed in 2006 to investigate serious crimes. It collaborates
with other organisations to gather and coordinate evidence of human
trafficking, and deals with victims, with a view to deciding whether
they should remain temporarily in the UK to assist a prosecution, be
returned to their own country immediately, or be referred to another
organisation for care before deportation.
15. EAVES and the Poppy Project
EAVES is a charity
which describes itself as a feminist organisation and a member of the
End Violence Against Women Campaign. Its purpose is to help and
rehabilitate women over 18 years of age escaping from violent
situations, and campaign on their behalf. EAVES set up the Poppy
Project (see below), and has been instrumental in establishing that
trafficking victims are entitled to care and support, and should not
be detained and prosecuted.
in addition to its work with trafficking victims, EAVES campaigns
to make prostitution illegal, taking an extreme anti-male (or anti-client)
position. Its Information Sheet on Prostitution (published
December 2008) baldly stated (Part V) that “Men who pay for sex tend
to view it as an entitlement, ‘assisted masturbation with no strings’
with women who are ‘abnormal’ or ‘dirty’ to whom they can do anything
without penalty.” Their literature contained vitriolic condemnation of
men who pay for sex, even with willing partners, with a suggestion
that they have “sociopathic tendencies”. These information sheets have
since been removed from their website and replaced with a report on
their ‘research’ into prostitutes’
clients, which uses a statistically insignificant sample of 103
self-selected men (who were paid to participate), and produces conclusions that seem to have been
(Eaves report: Men Who Buy Sex).
Project was started in 2003 as part of the work of EAVES to provide accommodation and help to trafficked women
freed from exploitation (not just sex slavery). Between March 2003 and
October 2007, the Poppy Project assisted 55 trafficked women who were
being held in detention centres on immigration offences. From 2007
to 2011, the Poppy Project provided its services on behalf of the Home
Office with Government funding and links to the police. In 2011,
the Poppy Project lost the Government contract to care for trafficking
victims, which was given instead to The Salvation Army (see below).
16. Caring for rescued trafficking victims in the UK
The Salvation Army,
with Government funding, offers accommodation, care and broad-ranging
assistance for victims of abuse or cruelty, including freed
trafficking victims. Although its primary purpose is as an
international missionising Nonconformist Protestant organisation, the
Salvation Army offers assistance without regard to the religion of
those referred to them.
The Poppy Project, now dependent on charitable
donations, continues to care for victims of sexual exploitation and
trafficking. To contact Poppy or make referrals, call 020 7735 2062.
provides rescued women with places of safety, medical care, therapy
and counselling, as well as legal and other advice following their
ordeal, and also runs educational sessions for service providers.
STOP campaigns for legal action against human
traffickers, and provides care and support to victims, also assisting
them in acting as witnesses to enable prosecutions. Their helpline is
0844 800 33 14.
organisations offering immediate assistance to trafficking victims
include: City Hearts
(www.city-hearts.co.uk – provides accommodation and support for people rescued from
the Medaille Trust
(www.medaille.co.uk – Catholic organisation offering safe housing and physical and
psychological help for trafficking victims);
– protects child victims);
and the Helen Bamber Foundation
(www.helenbamber.org – helps victims of torture).
– end –
The Slave – Afterword © Andrew Sanger 2013
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