Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New initiatives on prostitution in the UK

News from the UK of government proposals to crack down on the clients of prostitutes, with the aim of protecting trafficked women. Some controversy over whether it will actually achieve that goal. See the Associated Press story.


Jo Marshall said...
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Jo Marshall said...

There is a risk that criminalizing clients who visit prostitutes in the UK may well push the industry further underground. I have a real concern about this.

My organization (that I cannot name as publicity would be detrimental to our work) helps to free young vulnerable women that have been trafficked. We take direct action to get women out of brothels, cabaret clubs, and flats in mainland Europe. We use what ever means are required. It is hard enough identifying trafficked women, particularly those under 18 that have been raped and forced into the industry, but if we push the industry further underground in the UK and other countries it will be harder to locate the most vulnerable women and young girls. This is because we rely on prostitutes to help us identify and contact those that have truly been trafficked. These women are true heroes who save lives every year at great personal risk, without them we could not save as many as we do.

The Swedish model is being hailed a huge success, but I also know prostitution still goes on in Sweden. The environment has become more dangerous for those women still operating as the industry is pushed further underground and the traffickers and pimps become more desperate. We believe those women and young girls that are trafficked to Sweden are in even more danger as it has become far more difficult to locate them.

We must think carefully about what our aims are. My organization is very clear what we want, which is an end to sex trafficking; full stop. We still believe it is the right of women (and men) to choose what they do with their bodies, as long it is really a free choice.

The worst case scenario is that we push prostitution further under ground, making it impossible to track down and rescue very young and very vulnerable women and girls that have been trafficked and are raped every single day of their lives.

Michelle said...

Hi Jo:
Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. I'd seen similar comment elsewhere in the press shortly after this initiative was announced (hence my comment on "controversy"). You've laid it out well. Human trafficking is a terrible thing, and sex trafficking is particularly shameful. Good luck with your work protecting exploited women and girls.