UK: Sex trafficking is no illusion

Nick Davies argues that the problem of sex trafficking has been exaggerated. This is the last thing trafficked women need

Comments (362)
Rahila Gupta,, Tuesday 20 October 2009 11.00 BST

An article on trafficking into the sex trade has been written by the investigative reporter Nick Davies, whose reputation will lend authority to it – although it is a hugely selective piece of reporting of the available research.

The article purports to show that so few women are trafficked into the sex trade that the policy, services and funding focus on it is completely misplaced. The debate on trafficking is bedevilled by the lack of credible data – but the parallels are not with the weapons of mass destruction case, as Davies suggests, which was ultimately verifiable, but with other subterranean issues such as domestic violence or rape. The widely accepted statistic that one in four women experience violence, for example, is based largely on anecdotal evidence and extrapolations from local surveys. It could be similarly taken apart by anyone who wanted to assert that the case was overblown, because ultimately the numbers are unknowable. Continue reading


UK: Trafficking: we can learn from victims

A report in today’s Guardian suggests sex trafficking has been exaggerated; but it must not be reduced to a numbers game
Comments (89)
Helen Bamber, Tuesday 20 October 2009 22.30 BST

Knowledge about the wider picture of trafficking can be accumulated only over time and gleaned from a detailed and dedicated approach to the cases of individual victims. This requires improved systems for protection and assistance, which is the only way that frightened and vulnerable trafficked people are enabled to come forward. So the comparison made in today’s report between the existence of trafficking victims and that of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was overblown and inappropriate.

At the Helen Bamber Foundation we provide psychological care and treatment to survivors of torture, genocide and those who have suffered gross human rights violations including those who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labour. But the referral of these women, men and children to us for clinical services or documentation of injuries relies upon whether individuals come into contact with a small number of specialised Continue reading

UK: Sex trafficking: a futile war of statistics

The descent of a Newsnight discussion on the sex trade into a shouting match shows how difficult it is to debate the issue
Comments (130)
Denis MacShane, Wednesday 21 October 2009 16.30 BST

Anyone see the ding-dong between Jeremy Paxman and Denis MacShane on Newsnight? I was there. It was an utterly weird experience to be in the dock, under Paxo’s hostile interrogation, because I have spent some time in the House of Commons campaigning against the sex slave trade.

I honestly don’t know how many girls are trafficked into Britain. I once quoted a Daily Mirror report in the Commons. Its headline talked of 25,000 women and was based, so the paper reported, on Home Office and Amnesty International statistics.

This week the Guardian front-paged a report that came to close to arguing trafficking does not exist. The Mirror and the Guardian are both good papers with good journalists. Which is correct? Continue reading

UK: Have sex traffic levels been exaggerated?

The Guardian newspaper has said that the problem of sex trafficking has been exaggerated and that the number of people who have been brought into the UK and forced against their will into prostitution is much smaller than claimed.

Jeremy Paxman talks to former minister for Europe, Dennis McShane, and Nikki Adams, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, about who is right.

See Video Here

UK: A bad bill for sex workers

A lack of trafficking evidence highlights the flaws in a policing and crime bill that fails to distinguish between types of sex work

Elizabeth Pisani, Wednesday 21 October 2009 10.00 BST

Last night, I went to a play about sex trafficking at the Arcola theatre. The programme notes: “While elements of It Felt Empty When the Heart Went At First But It Is Alright Now are inspired by real-life events, all characters, their names and incidents portrayed are entirely fictitious.”

In his article Sex, lies and trafficking, Nick Davies has made clear the extent to which this policy-inspired-by-stories approach has infiltrated the government’s attitude to sex work. It’s fine to take the truly horrid real-life events experienced by a small number of women who have been rescued from enforced prostitution by a crusading NGO and weave those events into a moving drama. It is absolutely not fine to weave those same handful of stories into public policy. Continue reading