The numbers of sex trafficking victims are exaggerated

Figures relating to sex work and trafficking have been fudged by mainstream media, conservative feminists and career politicians. The numbers of people who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking are far lower than what is generally reported, writes Elena Jeffreys.

A startling report by investigative journalist Nick Davies for The Guardian last October, Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution, has shocked English policy makers and created a new war of words over migration, sex work and exploitation. Numerous opinion pieces, first hand accounts and rampant moralising followed The Guardian’s coverage of the issue between October and November last year, but Davies’ articles remains an important contribution to understanding the figure-fudging in relation to sex work and trafficking.

Davies writes that politicians and the media have been exaggerating the numbers of sex workers who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking. He goes on to compare the exaggerated numbers of trafficked sex workers with other government lies including weapons of mass destruction, and the sexed up policy dossiers that rationalised UK’s hawkish actions in relation to Iraq. Continue reading

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German brothels raided in trafficking probe

Search of 600 establishments turns up 100 women from West Africa
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | 11:30 AM ET
CBC News

German authorities say they have searched around 600 brothels across the country in an effort to track down women who may have been smuggled from West Africa as part of an international human trafficking ring.

The Federal Criminal Police Office said Wednesday that Tuesday evening’s raids turned up more than 100 women from West Africa and that there were indications that some were victims of human trafficking.

German investigators say the nationwide crackdown follows investigations that suggest a network of West Africans active in Germany and other European countries is involved in prostitution, human trafficking, passport forgery and other illegal activity. Continue reading

India: Neither Victims Nor Voiceless: Sex Workers Speaking for Themselves

By Audacia Ray, RH Reality Check.
Posted January 12, 2010.

Painting a portrait of people in the sex industry as victims without voices only perpetuates their disempowerment.

Since becoming a part of the U.S. sex worker rights movement five years ago, talking about contentious issues concerning bodies, labor, money, and rights has very much become my calling. In the past year alone, I’ve been quoted on CNN about the value of virginity, talked about South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford on WNYC’s The Takeaway, and admonished the Boston Herald for its slurs toward sex workers. Suffice to say, I give my opinion freely and often loudly.

I thought I knew a lot about sex work, rights, and organizing when, in September, I set off for two weeks in India with my colleague Khushbu Srivastava, Program Officer for Asia at the International Women’s Health Coalition. But as much as I am accustomed to being an “expert,” I quickly realized that I knew next to nothing about the nuances of Indian culture and the dynamics of the local struggle for sexual rights and reproductive health. While there are many things that I learned Continue reading

Prostitution Now Outlawed In R.I., But Is That Good?

by Ian Donnis
November 15, 2009 from WRNI

Until earlier this month, Rhode Island was the only place in the country where prostitution was legal across an entire state — because of an unintended loophole in the law. But the move to close that loophole is fueling concerns that victims of the sex trade are being put at even more risk.

Back in 1980, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a law meant to speed the prosecution of streetwalkers. But in the process, legislators unwittingly decriminalized prostitution that took place indoors. This loophole didn’t attract much notice for years.

Then, in 2003, a court case made it clear that prostitutes were free from prosecution if their sex trade occurred behind closed doors. The result has been a growing number of so-called Asian spas that critics say are thinly veiled brothels. Continue reading

Prostitution in Georgian London: Harlot’s progress

Oct 15th 2009
From The Economist print edition

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. By Dan Cruickshank. Random House: 688 pages; £25. Buy from Amazon.co.uk

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

"Connoisseurs" by Thomas Rowlandson

AS MANY as one in five young women were prostitutes in 18th-century London. The Covent Garden that tourists frequent today was the centre of a vast sex trade strewn across hundreds of brothels and so-called coffee houses. Fornication in public was common and even children were routinely treated for venereal disease. A German visitor observed a nation that had overstepped all others “in immorality and addiction to debauchery”.

English society expected, even encouraged, men to pay for sex. Prejudice barred women from all but menial jobs. Prostitution at least offered financial independence: a typical harlot could earn in a month what a tradesman or clerk would earn in a year. For a few beautiful and savvy women, the gamble paid off. Lavinia Fenton, a child prostitute, married a duke. But most prostitutes were destined for disease, despair and early death. Continue reading

UK: A law which will protect women from exploitation

Letters:
UK news | The Guardian
Thursday 22 October 2009

Nick Davies follows a long tradition of saying that trafficking is not a big problem and so no action should be taken to deal with it. I have always been of the view that anyone coerced into selling their body experiences unacceptable abuse of their human rights. That is as true if 10 women are coerced, as if 100 are.

The law I have campaigned for seeks only to protect women who have been subject to such exploitation. It would make it an offence for someone to pay for sex where the person providing the sex was coerced. A previous draft of the law was claimed to put at risk prostitute women who paid a maid to help them be safe. Now there is no possible ambiguity about the proposed offence. It only occurs where a woman has been subject to exploitation such as force, threats or deception. It is sad that the Guardian has joined the campaign to protect men from prosecution where they pay women in such circumstances for sexual services.

This is rape, Continue reading

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, guardian.co.uk, 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

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