[Stop-traffic] News/UK: HELP FOR `SEX SLAVE' WOMEN TO ESCAPE PIMPS.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/UK: HELP FOR `SEX SLAVE' WOMEN TO ESCAPE PIMPS.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 14:43:25 EDT


7-2-00 UK: HELP FOR `SEX SLAVE' WOMEN TO ESCAPE PIMPS.
By JO DILLON POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT.
HUNDREDS OF women imported into Britain for a life of prostitution will be
given help to escape their pimps under new government plans.
Ministers are horrified at the escalating practice of trafficking women for
sex, vowing to clamp down on the "ruthless" criminal gangs that carry out
the trade.
It is feared that up to 700 women a year are being smuggled into Britain to
work in a network of "off-street" brothels in London and other major
cities.
This week, Home Office Minister Barbara Roche is to speak at the first
British conference on the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation.
She will unveil plans being considered by the Government to set up a
special unit to provide protection for foreign women who have been brought
to Britain, are indebted to those that brought them here and have nowhere
else to turn. The new body, with Government backing, would work with the
police to find trafficked women and give them the support they need.
The Home Office is also committed to working with the authorities in other
countries to halt the supply of women.
The conference, at the Barbican in London on Thursday, will discuss the
findings of a Home Office-commissioned report into the crime by academics
at the University of North London.
It discovered that women are being brought into Britain via ever-changing
routes from South America, South-east Asia, Central and Eastern Europe and
East and West Africa.
Some are abducted, others are deceived into thinking they are coming to a
rich Western country where they can find legitimate work or will be
employed in entertainment, dancing or stripping. On arrival, they can find
themselves without papers, under virtual house-arrest and in debt for
between #5,000 and #15,000. The women see precious little of their takings
and are effectively trapped and sometimes prevented from escaping by
physical and sexual violence.
Ms Roche told the Independent on Sunday last night: "It is a very worrying
area. There are other countries which are seeing worse examples than we
are, but it is a growing problem here and there are pretty ruthless gangs
involved, preying on vulnerable women kept in awful conditions."
The Minister said the Government would be working closely with the police
to stamp out this new brand of organised crime and was in touch with the
authorities in other countries to try to stem the tide of women being
trafficked for sex.
"Some of the gangs which were once involved with drugs are now turning to
trafficking people," she said.
The report showed that 71 women had been identified as having being
trafficked into prostitution in the UK in 1998 but, with police approval,
it estimated a "hidden" total of 10 times that number being trafficked each
year.
A special body to provide support for women wanting to escape exploitation
is also under consideration. Ms Roche said: "The idea is to set up a
special unit to cater for women that have found themselves in this
position."
The Minister said she was "extremely concerned" about the problem, saying
the conference would be the first step to ensuring there was "proper
concerted action" to tackle it.
(c) Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited 2000. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, distributed or exploited in any way.
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 02/07/2000 P10
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