Legislating P4P

 2009: April-June



27th June   

Update: American Mean Mindedness...

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Rhode Island passes law to criminalise the buying of sex
Link Here  full story: Prostitution in Rhode Island...Indoor prostitution criminalised

Rhode Island logo The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill outlawing indoor prostitution.

Lawmakers approved the measure saying it gives law enforcement the tools necessary to prosecute indoor prostitution because current law only prohibits soliciting sex outside.

The bill, which now goes to the House, would fine first-time offenders $250. Subsequent violations would carry more repessive penalties.

It would also be a misdemeanor for landlords and property owners to allow prostitution on their premises. That offense would carry a fine of up to $1,000.

Similar legislation passed the House in May by a 62-8 vote.

 

20th June   

Mean Minded Police...

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Calls to criminalise the buying of sex in Vietnam
Link Here

Vietnam flag The Vietnamese Government should invest more capital for prostitution prevention activities and impose stiff fines on men who pay for the service, ministry officials have said.

Tran Van Quang of the Crime Investigation Police Department (PC14) under the Ministry of Public Security said a new law should impose fines on men who seek services from prostitutes.

Higher fines should be imposed on serial violators, added Quang, who spoke recently at a conference on preventing prostitution held in Ho Chi Minh City.

Quang said the fight against prostitution was becoming more difficult, partly because many prostitutes no longer need a mediator to find customers. Many of them use the internet and cellphones to call customers and work day jobs in massage parlours, hairdresser shops or fake cafes to disguise their real jobs. Others work in discos, karaoke bars and hotels.

Authorities estimate that there are a total of 40,000 prostitutes nationwide, with most of them working in Ha Noi, HCM City and neighbouring provinces. According to PC14, last year 866 prostitution cases were uncovered in 54 out of Viet Nam's 64 provinces. More than 4,000 people were apprehended and taken to rehabilitation centres.

 

19th June   

Decriminalising Mini Brothels...

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Baroness Miller suggests a few good amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill
Link Here

House of Lords logo There are several proposed amendments to the policing and crime bill to be debated in Lords Committee.

Baroness Miller Of Chilthorne Domer suggests a new clause decriminalising associated workers in brothels

33B Associated workers in brothels

For the purposes of section 33 and 33A, a person who is not directly involved in the provision of sexual services is not to be treated as assisting in the management of a brothel by reason only of being employed in a brothel.

She also suggests removing flats with 2 working girls from the definition of a brothel:

33B Definition of a brothel

(1) Premises shall not be regarded as a brothel where—
(a) no more than two prostitutes, with or without a maid, are working together or separately on any given day; and
(b) each prostitute retains control over her or his individual earnings from the prostitution carried out at the premises.

She also sensibly suggests that human rights should be considered before issuing closure orders on brothels

In making a closure order, the court must consider the effect of making the order on the human rights of any person who owns or resides in the premises, and anyone else likely to be affected by the order.

 

17th June   

Noble Lords...

Tory opposition amendments to Labour's paying for sex prosecution lottery
Link Here

House of Lords logo Planned laws to tackle prostitution could be considerably weakened by amendments tabled by Conservative frontbenchers in the House of Lords.

The Government proposes to criminalise men who pay for sex with women being exploited by someone else, whether they know about her situation or not. This is known as a 'strict liability' offence.

However, Baroness Hanham and Viscount Bridgeman have now tabled amendments which would significantly reduce the power of the new law.

Under the amendments, a man would only be guilty if he knows, or ought to know that the woman he had paid for sex was being exploited.

 The new amendments are expected to be subject to debate when the Bill reaches Committee Stage in the House of Lords later this month.

Policing & Crime Bill Part 2
Sexual offences and sex establishments
Prostitution

13 Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc: England and Wales

Add Section 53A to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 

53A Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a)  A makes or promises payment for the sexual services of a prostitute (B),

(b) a third person (C) has used force, deception or threats of a kind likely to induce or encourage B to provide the sexual services or which A has made or promised payment, and

(c) C acted for or in the expectation of gain for C or another person (apart from A or B).

(2) The following are irrelevant—

(a)  where in the world the sexual services are to be provided and whether those services are provided,

(b) whether A is, or ought to be, aware that C has used force, deception or threats.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(4) For the purposes of this section “force” includes coercion by threats or other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability.

 

13th June   

A Question of Extras...

Finland police ask what acts are considered paying for sex
Link Here

Finland flag Authorities are calling for legal clarification to laws governing sex crimes. Police want clear rules discerning which types of acts that provide sexual gratification are legal and which are not. This has been a grey area of quasi-legality, say officials.

Prostitution is not illegal in Finland, but human trafficking and procurement are against the law.

Finnish courts are now being forced to take a stand on what exactly qualifies as a sexual act.

The Vaasa District Court recently handed down a guilty verdict in a suit involving the procurement of sexual acts. The court ruled that the defendants' establishment sold sexual acts not involving intercourse in addition to striptease and massages.

The court sentenced the business owners to three months' conditional imprisonment. They also forfeited profits from the illegal activities to the state.

The men who purchased sexual services were not charged in the Vaasa procurement trial.

There are some 100 places across the country where sexual acts, but not full-blown sex are for sale. Private striptease rooms are housed in bars, sex shops and in massage parlours.

 

12th June   

Cold Hearted...

Irish Senate motion calling for the criminalisation of buyers of sex
Link Here

Ireland The independent Irish Senator, Rónán Mullen, has called for the prosecution of men who pay for sex.

Mullen has moved a motion in the Seanad (Senate) calling for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex.

Currently, it is illegal to solicit or pay for sex in a public place. Under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, it is also an offence to solicit a trafficked person for the purpose of prostitution.

Mullen said Ireland should be a cold house for traffickers of women for prostitution, and stringent laws needed to be introduced to act as a deterrent. He claimed criminalisation would curtail demand for the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and such measures have been introduced successfully in Scandinavia: In order to safeguard the welfare and dignity of sex industry victims, legislation must be robust. It is inconsistent to criminalise the activities of one set of abusers, the pimps and traffickers, without criminalising the actions of another set, the users.

The motion is supported by both Ruhama, an organisation which campaigns against prostitution, and by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

 

10th June   

Pandering to Man Haters...

Noxious MacTaggart adds more nastiness to buying sex lottery
Link Here

The Government has accepted an amendment to its planned prostitution law.

Last month the Government announced it was changing the wording of the offence from controlled for gain to subjected to force, deception or threats.

Mean minded women's groups said this was a watering-down of the offence.

Since then, the Government has accepted a clarifying amendment proposed by Fiona Mactaggart MP. Her explanatory clause reads: For the purposes of this section ‘force' includes coercion by threats or other psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability.

During a House of Commons debate on the revised wording, Miss Mactaggart mentioned a meeting she had with Tim Brain, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on prostitution and sex crimes. Having initially said that the new offence would be too complex to effectively police, he now feels, according to Miss Mactaggart, that the offence is enforceable, even in its initial wording.

The Government's Policing and Crime Bill was introduced under former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. New Home Secretary Alan Johnson has yet to comment on the Bill's provisions.

Policing & Crime Bill Part 2
Sexual offences and sex establishments
Prostitution

13 Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc: England and Wales

Add Section 53A to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 

53A Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a)  A makes or promises payment for the sexual services of a prostitute (B),

(b) a third person (C) has used force, deception or threats of a kind likely to induce or encourage B to provide the sexual services or which A has made or promised payment, and

(c) C acted for or in the expectation of gain for C or another person (apart from A or B).

(2) The following are irrelevant—

(a)  where in the world the sexual services are to be provided and whether those services are provided,

(b) whether A is, or ought to be, aware that C has used force, deception or threats.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(4) For the purposes of this section “force” includes coercion by threats orother psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability.

 

25th May   

Pay and Pray...

The state of play for the prostitution lottery bill after 3rd Reading in the Commons
Link Here
Justice Lottery

  British justice still reduced to a lottery

The prostitution lottery clause has now been amended on 3rd Reading in the House of Commons.

There was quite a long debate about this clause with sufficient dissention about the nasty concept of strict liability to at least cause a vote.

The expenses milking Denis McShane (Labour), Fiona McTaggart (Labour) and John Gummer (Conservative) led the nasty brigade.

An amendment to limit the offence to those that know, or ought to know that the prostitute had been forced was unfortunately defeated by 285 to 201.

Some notable names for the amendment were-

  • from the Shadow front bench-Hague, Letwin, Duncan, Grieve, Green, Fox, Pickles
  • Shadow justice minister Garnier, as well as David Davis
  • interestingly, Brazier and Richard Shepherd
  • Ruffley (Tory) from the crime bill committee
  • Lib dems like Heath, Howarth, Cable
  • from Labour, the likes of Diane Abbott, Glenda Jackson, Clare Short, and Kate Hoey.

The next debate is at the 2nd Reading in the House of Lords on 3rd June 2009.

The current state of the paying for sex clause is:

Policing & Crime Bill Part 2
Sexual offences and sex establishments
Prostitution

13 Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc: England and Wales

Add Section 53A to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 

53A Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force etc.

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a)  A makes or promises payment for the sexual services of a prostitute (B),

(b) a third person (C) has used force, deception or threats of a kind likely to induce or encourage B to provide the sexual services or which A has made or promised payment, and

(c) C acted for or in the expectation of gain for C or another person (apart from A or B).

(2) The following are irrelevant—

(a)  where in the world the sexual services are to be provided and whether those services are provided,

(b) whether A is, or ought to be, aware that C has used force, deception or threats.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(4) For the purposes of this section “force” includes coercion by threats orother psychological means including exploitation of vulnerability.

The bill also contains the requirement that strip joints and lap dancing venues require a license from the local authority. This allows moral decisions to hide behind such justifications as being appropriate to an area. The clause excusing venues performances that are slightly less than monthly continues.

 

20th May   

Lottery Justice Continues...

Home office narrows definition ban on buying sex to those more clearly subjected to force
Link Here
Justice Lottery

  British justice still reduced to a lottery

Home Office ministers have made changes to legislation to criminalise men who pay for sex with women who are forced into prostitution.

Jacqui Smith, the expenses milking home­secretary, has backtracked little by narrowing the wording of the new offence so it covers women subjected to force, deception or threats rather than anyone controlled for gain by a third party.

A Home Office spokeswoman said it did not believe it would make the offence too narrow: Our amendments will ensure that they are and that the offence is much clearer, allowing it to operate more effectively to bring to justice those who exploit vulnerable women.

Ministers said they were responding to concerns raised by Liberal Democrats and Conservatives that the term controlled for gain could apply in wider circumstances than the new offence was aimed to cover.

The strict liability clause that men can be prosecuted even if there is no indication that a girl has been subjected to force remains. So the law is still a human rights abusing lottery. An amendment to remove the strict liability clause was defeated in a vote.

But even so the government assisted Poppy and Eaves had a good whinge in that the law doesn't cover so many transactions as they would like to see

 

17th May   

Updated: American Mean Mindedness...

Rhode Island nears law to criminalise the buying of sex
Link Here  full story: Prostitution in Rhode Island...Indoor prostitution criminalised

Rhode Island logo The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee have approved a bill to criminalize prostitution that occurs indoors, with a full vote on the House floor expected soon.

The bill, which the committee approved in an 8-to-4 vote,  seeks to rewrite a nearly 30-year-old law that outlaws streetwalkers and soliciting for prostitution outdoors, but has no prohibition against prostitution that occurs indoors.

Rhode Island is the only state, except for certain counties in Nevada, that has no prohibition against indoor prostitution.

Supporters of the bill include state and local police, who claim that it’s needed to investigate and prosecute cases where prostitutes may be coerced or forced into prostitution, generally defined as human trafficking.

Opponents of the bill generally fall into two categories: those such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes what it views as an intrusion into peoples’ privacy, and those such as members of Brown University Students Against Human Trafficking, who say that criminalizing indoor prostitution will mean prosecuting prostitutes, who they view as victims.

The amended version of the prostitution bill (H-5044 Sub A) includes exemptions for women who were “forced” into prostitution. Under the bill approved last night, anyone found guilty of prostitution or of procuring the services of a prostitute (both misdemeanors) would face imprisonment of up to six months, and a fine of $250 to $1,000. For a subsequent offense, they could face up to a year in prison and a fine of $500 to $1,000.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr said: I’m very confident we’ll pass it on the floor of the House.

Update: Mean Minded Representatives

17th May 2009. See article from boston.com

Rhode Island House lawmakers have voted 62-8 to criminalize the solicitation of sexual acts behind closed doors. It now heads for a vote in the Senate, where identical legislation is pending.

The push comes in response to years of whinges by police that Rhode Island's law essentially permitted brothels to operate in plain sight.

It's a black eye for Rhode Island, and I believe it's time we close the loophole, said Rep. Joanne Giannini who sponsored the bill ending the distinction between indoor and outdoor prostitution.

If it becomes law, prostitutes could be punished by a prison term of up to six months in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine for a first offense. Subsequent convictions would carry a prison term of up to one year and similar fines.

Those convicted of hiring a prostitute would face the same penalties.

 

14th May   

Law Reform...

South Africa consults on the legality of prostitution
Link Here

South Africa flag Should adult prostitution be decriminalised totally or not?

This is one of the questions being posed by the South African Law Reform Commission in a discussion paper which has been released for public comment.

Other options contained in the document include the partial criminalisation of some forms of adult prostitution or the regulation of adult prostitution and prostitution-related acts.

Under current legislation, voluntary selling and buying of adult sex and related acts are all criminal offences.

All the proposed options presuppose the criminalisation of under-aged and coerced prostitution and trafficking of people for the purpose of prostitution, says the statement.

The release of the discussion paper will be followed by a report on adult prostitution which will contain the final recommendations of the commission. It will also include legislative proposals relating to adult prostitution.

Copies of the summary on adult prostitution are available free of charge from the offices of the Law Reform Commission. The closing date for public comment is June 30.

 

11th May   

Norway's Loss is Denmark's Gain...

More brothels in north Denmark
Link Here

Denmark flag The number of brothels in northern Jutland is increasing after Norway has banned buying sexual services.

Itchy Norwegians may be one of the reasons why the Northern Jutland police have registered an unusual increase in the number of brothels in the northernmost reaches of Denmark.

Norway banned the purchase of sexual services from January 1 this year and police believe this may have caused an increasing number of Norwegians to take ferries from Norway to Hirtshals and Frederikshavn in Denmark.

We have observed that eight new brothels have opened in the northernmost part of the region after Norway’s ban on January 1. That is a lot up here. We don’t know for certain whether it’s because of more Norwegian customers, but we assume that the Norwegian ban is playing its part, says Dep. Chief Sup. Frank Olsen of the North Jutland Police Force.

Apart from the increase in the number of brothels, there has also been an increase in the number of foreign prostitutes in the region.

But we don’t know whether they’ve moved their sex business from Norway as, to be honest, they’re not very talkative, Olsen says.

The National Comissioner’s Office says other police regions have not noted any major change in the prostitution market elsewhere in the country following the Norwegian ban.

 

28th April   

Offsite: Trafficking in Propaganda...

More evidence that trafficking is a myth
Link Here

Trafficking Bollox At the beginning of April, just days before the European Convention on Action against Human Trafficking came into force in Britain, academics, sex workers and activists from around the world took part in a five-day Sex Workers Open University in east London.

On the first day of film screenings, workshops and discussions on issues related to the sex industry, trafficking was a recurring theme. Participants were keen to debunk the myths of global people smuggling and forced prostitution. The head of the Danish Sex Workers’ Interests Organisation claimed that very few who work in the sex industry have been trafficked. Nick Mai, a senior research fellow in Migrations and Immigrations at London Metropolitan University, asserted that, although anti-trafficking legislation is rolled out in the name of protecting migrants and women, it ultimately amounts to anti-migration legislation . A representative from the British Collective of Prostitutes said anti-trafficking campaigners use inflated figures and exploit public concern to push through legislation.

...Read full article

 

21st April   

Rights Abusing Laws from Expenses Abusing Politicians...

Ban on buying sex lottery criticised by parliament's Human Rights Committee
Link Here

House of Commons logo The government's law to make the buying of sex a lottery where customers could be guilty of an offence without any reasonable chance of being able to ascertain whether the girl has been pimped or trafficked or not.

Now parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights said the offence is extremely broadly drafted and noted that it applies whether or not the person alleged to have committed the offence knew or ought to have known that any of the prostitute's activities were controlled for gain.

The report said the proposed offence raises issues about whether the interference with the right to respect for private life, which includes sexual conduct, is sufficiently certain to satisfy the European Court of Human Rights requirement that such interferences be 'prescribed by law'.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker has insisted that the proposal is the most effective way of ensuring that those who pay for sex consider the circumstances of the prostitute who will be providing the sexual services. This is because it places the risk on the sex buyer of paying for sex with someone who is being controlled for gain.

But the committee said it was disappointed the government had not published any evidence to demonstrates the need for the new offence.

We conclude that the fact that the offence is one of strict liability will make it difficult for an individual to know how to regulate his conduct given that his knowledge is not an element of the offence, said the report.

We have concerns about the breadth of the new offence and its potential impact beyond the group that the government seeks to target.

In our view, the proposed offence has the potential to put women into more exploitative or unsafe situations, may not address the problem which the offence aims to target (namely exploitative prostitution) and may discourage reporting of such prostitution.

The report added that an absence of sufficient clarity about the circumstances which would be caught by the offence makes it difficult for an individual to know how to regulate his conduct so as to avoid criminality and, as such, the offence in its current form is overbroad and lacks certainty.

It welcomed a government agreement to consider a free hotline to report concerns about trafficked women, but questioned if those who used the services of the prostitutes would call the hotline if they would inevitably be admitting a criminal offence.

 

20th April   

Ban Tens of Thousands from enjoying sex...

To protect the 58 women trafficked to Ireland per year
Link Here

Trafficking Bollox 102 women and girls were identified as having been trafficked into Ireland for the sex industry in a 21-month period, new research has found.

Authors of the report, Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution – The Experiences of Migrant Women In Ireland , said of the 102, identified by 10 welfare groups and service-providers between January 2007 and September 2008, 11 were children when trafficked.

The report was commissioned by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and written by policy analysts Monica O’Connor and Jane Pillinger, uses the UN definition of trafficking . This is: The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, [or] the abuse of power of a position of vulnerability . . . to achieve the consent of a person for the purpose of exploitation.

Consent is irrelevant, according to the UN, as the vast majority of people trafficked for prostitution see little or no viable alternative at the time.

The report inevitably calls for the criminalisation of men who buy sex, as Sweden has done and as Norway is about to.

The Irish prostitution industry is worth €180 million, with one in 15 Irish men who are buying sex, according to the report.

Drawing on surveys by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency and by escort agencies, it finds the men who buy sex tend to be highly educated, on middle incomes and in professional occupations. Some 61% of them are married or in relationships. A significant proportion are buying sex at lunchtime or straight after work. They are paying between €150 for half an hour and €250 for an hour.

 

13th April   

Update: Repealing Social Order Maintenance Law...

Bill proposed in Taiwan to end the prosecution of sex workers
Link Here  full story: Sex Work in Taiwan...Campaigning for legal prostitution in Taiwan

Taiwan flag Taiwan Legislator Cheng Li-wen has announced a plan to push for revising the existing rules to decriminalize the sex trade for adults in order to eradicate sexual discrimination and protect workers' rights.

Cheng, a female lawmaker of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), said her plan has won endorsement from more than 10 colleagues of the same party, meaning the proposal of changing the rules has passed the threshold for becoming a bill that would be discussed on the parliament floor.

The proposal aims to delete Article 80 of the existing Social Order Maintenance Law, under which prostitutes are punished. Prostitutes face detention of three days or a fine of up to NT$30,000 if they are caught providing sex services. They are also required to attend training courses to learn vocational skills for a period of six to 12 months if they were convicted three times in the same year.

Cheng said scrapping the rule will legalize the legitimate rights of sex workers who provide the service between two mutually consenting adults.

Since prostitution is illegal under the current rules, sex workers are often abused. When this happens, they dare not turn to police for help, she said. Cheng said at least 5,000 sex workers are victimized by the backward rules each year, affecting the livelihood of a same number of families.

All of the 18 people representing the women's groups, housewives, sex workers, and scholars, unanimously agreed that the sex trade should not be penalized, when they attended a series of four-day public hearings on the issue held by the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) last November, pointed out Cheng.

Update: Official Promises

12th May 2009. See article from chinapost.com.tw

An organization representing sex workers once again protested for the legalization of prostitution yesterday at the Ministry of the Interior, resulting in an official promising to announce the ministry's stance by the 18th.

Four months since its last appeal, the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COWAS) returned to the ministry in demand of an official timeline.

An official from the ministry met with the collective and said that the ministry is ready to publish its directives on the issue by the 18th.

 

6th April   

Trafficking in Bad Laws...

Police chiefs warn about Smith's nasty prostitution law
Link Here

ACPO logo Jacqui Smith's mean minded new prostitution laws were in disarray last night after police warned they may be unable to gather the evidence needed to prosecute men who pay for sex.

Under the Home Secretary's plans, men who sleep with prostitutes face a criminal record and a fine of £1,000 - unless they can prove the woman is working of her own free will.

If she has been trafficked into the UK or is working for a pimp, the men could even face rape charges.

But chief constable Tim Brain, spokesman on vice for the Association of Chief Police Officers, has warned the Home Office that it will be tough to build such a case.

Dr Brain, who heads Gloucestershire Police, said: It will have, we are concerned, some difficulties in successfully prosecuting.

The idea that men should be responsible - to have a wider knowledge of the harm that they can cause by paying for sex in such circumstances - is an absolutely sound principle.

Our concern is around gaining sufficiency of evidence to merit a suitable number of prosecutions to act as a deterrent.'

 

5th April   

Updated: The Good, the Bad, and the Bollox...

Trafficking in Scotland is an over-hyped problem
Link Here  full story: Trafficking Hype...Trafficking figures hopelessly over exaggerated

The Good:  Little evidence of widespread trafficking

Scottish Government logo Agencies have identified 79 alleged victims of human trafficking in Scotland between April 2007 and March 2008, most of whom were women said to be forced into prostitution.

But the only Scottish human trafficking case brought to the courts collapsed in 2007 due to a lack of evidence.

The government-published report pointed out there had been some successful human trafficking prosecutions in England and Wales, resulting in some of the largest sentences in Europe.

The Bad: Lack of evidence isn't going stop politicians claiming a widespread problem

See article from dailyrecord.co.uk

Foreign police could be drafted in to help Scots forces bring human traffickers to justice, a report said today. The Scottish Government report suggested police from victims' countries could be seconded to help local officers in a bid to tackle the problem.

Injustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: This new research shows the scale of the problem and highlights the importance of genuine multi-agency working to ensure that victims of trafficking are given the support they need and those exploiting them are brought to justice.

And The Bollox: There are 32,000 Trafficked Women in Britain

See article from guardian.co.uk

Trafficking Bollox Rahila Gupta, author of  Enslaved, The New British Slavery, claims in the Guardian today that there are at least 32,000 trafficked women in Britain. She writes:

"In Britain, it is estimated that 80% of the 80,000 women in prostitution are foreign nationals, most of whom have been trafficked".

Comment: Illiberal Liberals

3rd April 2009. Thanks to Alan

I never cease to be amazed by the way in which victim feminism makes this purportedly liberal newspaper so highly illiberal.

Gupta's piece is pretty typical. We have the "foreign = trafficked" myth. Then there's the inflated stats - 32,000 - or is it 80,000? - "trafficked" women.

Some time ago, Professor Julia O'Connell Davidson, who (a) is a real feminist and (b) knows what's she's talking about, exploded this bollox in a letter to the Guardian itself. O'Connell Davidson pointed out even the lower of these figures would amount to a number of traffickees larger than the entire workforce of Debenham's throughout the UK. Additionally, when she looked at the actual number of women found in raided brothels who said they had been trafficked as a proportion of all prostitutes in the establishments, she worked out that to arrive at the claimed figure of trafficked women there would pretty well have to be a knocking shop in every street.

Offsite: Red mist obscures red light statistics

5th April 2009. See article from guardian.co.uk by Belinda Brooks-Gordon

Price of Sex book Campaigners too readily accept inflated figures for trafficked women, but we must base our policy on evidence, not emotion.

To argue there is a universal truth about trafficking does science, policy and trafficked people a disservice. The figure of 80,000 sex workers (which included women, men and transsexuals) in the UK was first suggested in 1999 in a Europap-UK briefing paper. Despite its speculative nature and the author Hilary Kinnell's refusal to make claims beyond her data, the estimate of 80,000 has been widely reported as a firm figure, often applying only to women and often in the context of claims that the sex industry is expanding rapidly (which cannot be the case if the figure of 80,000 has remained the same for 10 years).

Herein lies the difference between Rahila Gupta, the legion of no doubt well-intentioned commentators on this subject, and serious academics. The academic body of work takes time, has to be reviewed and scrutinised and as a result the media often loses interest by the time a piece is published. The work will be debated in conferences and seminars and flaws are ironed out. Whereas the truth so confidently exhibited by Gupta, like Nick Davies's flat earth news stories, go from press release to press agency to newsroom to Home Office to press release and so on. The result of such hyper-inflation is policy that spreads resources too thinly sometimes missing the really needy; and over-zealous campaigning that criminalises clients, friends, maids and receptionists makes women less safe. When looking for a needle in haystack, it doesn't make sense to keep making the haystack bigger. We have reached a crisis of sorts. And at a time of crisis, when there is a desperation to find the right policy, then a return to the slow, steady grind of the academe is necessary.

...Read full article