UK sees sharp rise in east European prostitutes

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Subject: UK sees sharp rise in east European prostitutes
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 12:39:36 EST


WIRE:02/17/2000 08:37:00 ET
                 UK sees sharp rise in east European prostitutes

                              LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) -
                             Increasing numbers of women from the
                             former Soviet Union are being smuggled
                             into Britain to work as prostitutes,
                             according to researchers carrying out a
                             study for the government.

                             "What we are looking at is a huge
                             increase in numbers coming in from the
                 former Eastern bloc," one of the researchers told
Reuters.

                 The trade is not on the same scale as in other European

                  countries like Italy, Belgium or Germany because
Britain
                 is an island with strict immigration controls, she
said.

                 "However, we do have a problem. It is a growing
                 problem and our report focuses on the response of
state
                 agencies to that problem and what the UK needs to do."

                 The study is being carried out by the Child and Women
                 abuse Studies Unit at the University of North London
and
                 was commissioned by the Home Office (interior
ministry)
                 to give it an idea of the extent of the problem.

                 The report is due to be published in late March.

                 Police paint a grim picture of the extent of the trade,

                  saying that six out of 10 prostitutes in London
brothels
                 have been brought in from abroad. They include women
                 from Asia, Latin America and eastern Europe.

                 Smaller centres outside London are not immune to the
                 inflow of foreign prostitutes as criminal gangs expand

                 beyond the capital.

                 WOMEN ENSLAVED

                 The women, lured by the promise of a better life, often

                 end up in servitude to men who demand repayment for
                 travel, accomodation and fees to the brothel madame.

                 As illegal immigrants they fear going to the police and
have
                  no way to escape violence and intimidation.

                 In London's Soho bar district, signs abound for
"models."
                  Prostitutes' calling cards clutter public telephone
booths
                  advertising all manner of sexual services.

                 The Home Office will decide how to tackle the problem
                 of foreign prostitutes once the study gives it an idea
of its
                  extent.

                 "There was some anecdotal knowledge, at least in
                 London, about this problem but not a clearer picture
of
                 what might be going on across the country," a
spokesman
                 told Reuters. "When the research is published we'll
take it
                 from there."

                 The researcher would not comment on media reports that
                 the study revealed that many British police forces
have no
                 strategy to tackle the gangs behind the trafficking.

                 "Prostitution is not a high priority for UK police
forces,
                  burglary is. If prostitution isn't a high priority
then
                  trafficking isn't going to be a high priority," she
said.

                 "That's not saying that police forces are falling down
on
                  their duty. It's about where the priorities lie -- and
that's
                  not just a police force issue, that's a government
issue."


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