An inquiry into ‘pop-up’ brothels by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade (1) has concluded that the Government’s strategy to end sex trafficking is failing, with the UK currently a low risk destination for traffickers. The cross-party group launched its investigation following growing reports of organised crime groups establishing so-called ‘pop-up’ brothels – premises rented for short periods of time to sexually exploit women in. The inquiry, which took evidence from half of all police forces in England and Wales, found the practice to be widespread, enabled by ‘prostitution procurement websites’ such as Adultwork, and driven by a minority of UK men who pay for sex.
Evidence obtained by the APPG on Prostitution, published in the report ‘Behind closed doors: organised sexual exploitation in England and Wales’, reveals there are at least 212 active, ongoing police operations in the UK into modern slavery cases involving sexual exploitation. It is also overwhelmingly foreign national women who are being exploited in British brothels:
The inquiry’s key recommendations to Government include:
1) Follow the U.S.’ lead (2) by preventing websites advertising and profiting from prostitution:
2) Criminalise paying for sex and decriminalise selling sex in order to tackle the demand from sex buyers that drives sex trafficking:
Additional recommendations in the inquiry report on how to combat organised sexual exploitation are:
Gavin Shuker MP, chair of the APPG on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade, said:
“The sexual exploitation of women in ‘pop-up’ brothels by organised crime groups is taking place on an industrial scale across England and Wales. A revolving door of vulnerable women, predominantly from Eastern Europe, are being supplied by trafficking gangs into residential properties and hotels in order to be sexually exploited by UK men.
“Commercial websites that advertise prostitution enable this trade, making sizeable profits and directly benefitting from the exploitation of others. But it is the minority of men in the UK who pay to sexually access women’s bodies who are funding sex trafficking and driving this form of modern day slavery.
“Right now the traffickers are winning. The UK is currently a low risk destination for organised crime groups seeking to sexually exploit vulnerable women. The Government must act now to combat demand for sexual exploitation by criminalising paying for sex. It is money from sex buyers that lines the pockets of traffickers. Without their demand there would be no ‘supply’ of women into this ruthless trade. Organised crime groups should also be disrupted by cracking down on the prostitution websites they use to advertise women to sex buyers. The scale on which organised sexual exploitation is taking place in this country is a national scandal. But it can – and must – be stopped.”
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Notes to editors
1) The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade is a cross-party group working to end commercial sexual exploitation. The officers of the group are: Gavin Shuker MP (Chair), Jess Phillips MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP, Sarah Champion MP, and Lord McColl.
2) Since the U.S. federal government adopted the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), websites including Adultwork and Craigslist have stopped hosting prostitution adverts in the U.S. Further details: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2018/04/11/trump-signs-fosta-bill-targeting-online-sex-trafficking-enables-states-and-victims-to-pursue-websites/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ef446e0737c2
3) See: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/11235794/One-in-10-British-men-have-paid-for-sex.html
4) ‘Study on the gender dimension of trafficking in human beings’, European Commission, European Union, 2016. Accessed at: https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/antitrafficking/files/study_on_the_gender_dimension_of_trafficking_in_human_beings._final_report.pdf