Mon, 22 May, 2017
In new revelations, it was found that gang masters had put 4,000 new victims into the street to work as prostitutes last year. Adults, as well as children, were forced into the industry as sex slaves where some were unpaid for their work. The ‘UK Slavery Map’ showed victims in different areas. While there were a dozen victims in rural Surrey area, the Greater Manchester saw 80 more victims. The Midlands area had over 180 victims, Hampshire had 23 and one boroughs in London – Tower Hamlets recorded 17 victims that included men, women, and children forced to work as prostitutes. In total, 3,805 people have been identified as possible victims of sexual exploitation and abuse in 2016 alone.
According to Home Office estimates, there were between 10,000 to 13,000 UK victims of sex slavery. Even though Theresa May pledged to stop such exploitation, the anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland said the authorities are unable to do anything. He said that that they were failing the victims by allowing the perpetrators to slip through the net. He urged more victims to come forward so that they can be provided with all the support that they need.
In recent reports by the National Crime Agency, it showed that the number of victims of slavery and trafficking has almost doubled since 2014. Thousands of such individuals were trapped in the system during which the officials were trying to categorise them as victims. In 2015, then Home Secretary, Theresa May, introduced the Modern Slavery Act so that such exploitation can be stopped and slave masters can be put into jail. In spite of all the efforts, the numbers of victims have grown over the years. Police units have been set up across the UK to catch these gangs that are kidnapping and exploiting people.
(Photo: Getty Images Europe)
Mr. Hyland said that the authorities need to learn from their past mistakes. In the past, the processes to identify victims were lengthy, the different agencies did not share all the information that they had, and the victims were not believed. He said that these mistakes resulted in their efforts failing and that has to change. The authorities need to professionalise the entire process if they want to make a difference to the victims who were mainly British, Vietnamese and Albanian nationals. The sex slave industry is a multi-billion industry.
Victims of trafficking shared their stories with the authorities and other agencies. The Nigerian slave masters were using black magic to trap victims and trafficked them to Europe to work as sex slaves. Many of them were sexually abused and kept in the coffin by fake spiritualists. Once these women arrive in the UK, they are raped by gang members who are dressed as policemen. Thus, they are scared to report their abuse to real police officers.
On the other hand, child charity ECPAT blamed the government for not allotting enough investment to protect child victims of abuse. Kate Roberts from the Human Trafficking Foundation said that the officials were unable to help the victims. Many of those identified as victims were asked to leave the country that makes it difficult for others to come forward in fear of being deported. The Director of anti-trafficking and modern slavery for the Salvation Army, Anne Read, urged the public to report any suspicious activity to the concerned authorities.
In one heart-breaking case, a rape victim revealed how she was trafficked by gang masters from Lithuania with the promise of work to the UK and then forced into prostitution to pay back a debt of £5,000. When she arrived in the UK, she was taken to a property in the UK by an Albanian gangster and asked to have sex with his accomplices. After being raped by them for two days, she managed to flee. She was then tracked down by the gang, beaten and sent off to a house in Chelsea. There she was forced to have sex day and night. Once her debt was paid, she was set free and went to a pub to work.
(Photo: Gazette Live)
She was told by one of her friend’s boyfriend that he could arrange work for her in England and she took a bus to travel to England. She was then in an abusive relationship with a man for eight years and then was later jailed for fraud. The victim said that the prison felt like a palace since people here cared for her. She met counselors and realized that she was a victim of trafficking. She is currently 29 years old with two young children and lives in a safe house called Ella’s House that is run by Kahaila, a charity that helps sexually exploited women. She wants to become a counselor herself and wants to help other victims.