Victims of Sex Trafficking in European Countries

by admin on September 12, 2010

The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings was adopted on 16 May 2005. The aim of the convention is to prevent and combat the trafficking in human beings. Last year, police forces across Britain and the Irish Republic launched a crackdown on human trafficking3. These actions so far have had little or no effect.  In order to stamp out sex trafficking, we have to exercise our moral and social duty as a civilised society and the government should review law enforcement policy in protecting victims. 

MyHealthnet organisation wishes to work with other groups in providing education, supporting and highlighting the long term psychosexual, socioeconomic and mental health impact of sex trafficking.  These voiceless victims have been subjected to horrendous abuse, they are mostly from impoverished countries and desperate to come to the UK to make a better life for themselves. This makes them easy targets for traffickers who take them all over Europe to work in the sex industry.  As a civilised society we must not be disaffected, but lobby politicians and policy making bodies to commit the necessary resources over an extended period in order to solve this problem. 

Victims of sex trafficking often make wrong choices through promises of a better life or marriage or work in modelling, clubs and restaurants.  Some of them may be aware of the job in the sex and drugs industries but may not know the extent of involvement they have to undergo in order to earn enough money to pay back their ‘sponsors’ in order to buy back their freedom. Other victims have been lured or convinced by family members and friends who have sold them out to traffickers in exchange for money. 

Despite this awareness, there remains a wall of silence as to whom these faceless victims are; they are too terrified to fight back for fear of reprisal usually taken out on close friends and families.  Examples of such of reprisals include – sexual abuse, attacking the victim’s family members by burning their properties, beating, ill treating old people, mental torture and physical attacks and sometimes death. These attacks are carried out until the traffickers feel that the punishment meted out has more than compensated for their investment.

It is well known that sex trafficking promotes chronic physical, mental and psychosexual ill health. It increases the level of morbidity and mortality in those exposed to the potential risks of enslaved labour, unsafe sex and back street abortion.  Some of these victims experience social difficulties in maintaining intimate and non-intimate relationships and are often not able to achieve or reach their goals in life. 

Although there have been few cases of successful prosecution of sex traffickers, not enough has been done through the legal system when compared to the number of victims involved.  Both the developed and the developing countries have failed the victims of sex trafficking which are mostly young women and children.

Political maladministration in some countries, immigration status, poor level of education and socio-economic status are factors affecting victims’ ability to seek help.  The current immigration and law enforcement agencies inaction in addressing this issue nationally and internationally leaves victims at risk and empowers sex traffickers in their trade.  The international media has been useful in bringing victims account of the situation into the public arena; mainstream TV could do same for broader coverage at local and national level.  Regular highlights of this shocking and appalling situation will raise public awareness.  At present, no country has taken a lead or shown specific interest in dealing with this matter.  Our government should act now, show innovation in border and immigration detection and policing in countries affected by sex trafficking; and collaborate with VSO to provide required services.

MyHealthnet continues to explore ways of helping victims in reducing the impact of this social ill in our society.  This in turn will reduce the cost of managing the victims which is costing the tax payers millions of pounds. MyHealthnet yearly conference will continue to address sex trafficking issues, supporting and promoting sexual and psychosexual health and well being issues for survivors and their families.

If you are a victim / survivor of sex trafficking wishing to contact us, take part in research or other send email to info@myhealthnet.org.uk.

References

U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
UK Home Office
Source http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7024646.stm


About the Author:
Clara Sogunro-Koko CEO Consultant and Dr Catherine Chima-Okereke Medical Adviser – MyHealthnet (1.8.2008)
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