Britain Cracks Down on Human Trafficking
November 30, 2007
Government research suggests that 4,000 women working as prostitutes may have been brought to Britain for that purpose. The real number, however, may be double that.
In response, authorities say they are instituting a crackdown on traffickers, and they hope to halt the practice entirely. In raids last year, police made more than 200 arrests and freed 84 women and teenage girls from brothels and massage parlors.
"We need to make this, the UK, a hostile environment for traffickers where if they are involved in trafficking activity, it's a high-risk, low-profit crime," said Detective Chief Superintendent Nick Kinsella, head of Britain's Human Trafficking Center.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Swedish government says it has seen a substantial drop in trafficking since the 1999 passage of a law that targets customers with a fine or up to six months in prison. The UN is asking other countries to consider following the Swedish model.
"I think we have to tackle the situation head-on," said Sister Patricia Mulhall, a Roman Catholic nun who works with the UN to fight human trafficking. "Look at the demanders and challenge the social behavior."
One woman, who insisted on anonymity, related from her therapist's office how she escaped the Rwandan genocide only to find herself a sex slave in Britain. When failing health decreased her value to her captor, he sent her on her way with devastating news: "He said, 'I have HIV and I'm pretty sure I have infected you as well.' I went to a clinic and found out I was HIV-positive, which leads to AIDS, and I totally lost my mind," she said.
Voice of America News
11.27.2007; Mandy Clark