Going Dutch On The Answers To Human Trafficking

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

I friend of mine wrote an article for a national newspaper recently where he was looking at the various Policing Models around Prostitution.

This is his draft article that has yet to be published.

I’m not sure what name he uses when he is writing so we will just call him ‘Jim’

traffic calm

I’m out in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, on the hunt. It’s Friday evening, the light is vanishing behind gabled rooflines and the still canal waters are darkening. Day tourists are making way for stag parties and night crawlers. It’s a question of strength in numbers: we’re a group of five. It took some time to put this together over email and the Internet, but the dominant types we’re after won’t be found in the famous window rooms – they’ll be working behind the scenes, hidden from view.

I’m actually out with an under-cover team from the Dutch National Crime Squad. It’s an operation involving more than fifty undercover officers trying to arrest pimps and traffickers, backed by twenty uniformed bike riders who will intercept those identified. It’s an impressive turn out for a night when the Dutch national football team is playing and a loss would spell trouble in the city’s bars and clubs. We were briefed two hours ago at the Amsterdam Regional Police Headquarters, and have now arrived at the Red Light District in time for the prostitutes’ shift change. The day workers are leaving, night ones arriving. It’s the ‘boyfriends’, bodyguards and drivers collecting and dropping them off who form the target of this operation.

Leading us is Henk Werson, the most senior anti-trafficking cop in Holland. He’s a clear-eyed and shave-headed former psychologist. He looks almost Buddhist, or like a biker maybe. Both even. “I do sometimes just have to hit the open road on my Yamaha 900,” he confides. He speaks fluent English with a soft Dutch accent, but now we’re out on the streets he’s more silent, intently focused on his surrounding. It’s what lies at the heart of all good investigative cop work: the details.

Women are tapping at the UV-lit windows, trying to draw our attention. They’re doing nothing illegal. Their premises are licensed and health-controlled, it’s a safe environment for all and, proponents argue, an evolved approach to the world’s ever-evolving oldest profession. The prostitutes act out of free will, and the better ones are doing nicely from it. How nicely? Caroline, one of Henk’s colleagues, informs me that a prostitute can earn a couple of thousand euros a night. That’s equivalent to half-a-million euros of annualized pre-tax income, I calculate. Just who is the mug in this game, I’m beginning to wonder? I also wonder how much of this they keep for themselves?

British men are best represented among foreign visitors to the Red Light District, according to Mariska Majoor of the nearby Prostitution Information Center. “We have a lot of people from France, Italy, Russia and Eastern Europe, but the UK is definitely number one in numbers.” Perhaps there are just more British visitors to Holland in general, I wonder. After all, the two countries share distinct cultural and historical similarities, as maritime trading nations straddling the North Sea. It’s a history that has shaped both London and Amsterdam into trading and now trafficking hubs.

We’ve turned down the narrow side street Molensteeg, known as ‘Little Hungary’. Dutch prostitutes are a dwindling minority; some 90% of the women working here are from elsewhere. Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are the lead source countries.

We pass a window: a dark-featured woman in a black bikini strikes a provocative pose. Caroline enters the cabin with another undercover officer. Under law, they can check the woman’s papers and proof of age. This check is to determine whether she is working “out of free will”. Henk and I hold back, to see if anyone outside responds to our presence.

After a few minutes, we enter the cabin too. The harsh top light has been turned on. The cabin is tiny, too small for us all. The woman looked to be in her early twenties under the soft UV glow, but in the harsher light she looks older. Henk is asking about a pale bruise on her leg. It’s an old one, she responds. Later Henk tells me that the pimps are using violence less: “It’s too easy for us to spot, and it’s considered bad for business. They are using more psychological methods now, usually blackmail – the stigma of prostitution in the women’s home countries, it only takes one camera phone photo.”

Caroline and Henk are satisfied with Irena’s answers, for now. If they’d become suspicious, the conversation would have turned to money. “If she can’t account for where it is, then we step up the questions and surveillance. Who is coming to visit her? Is he driving away in a brand new Mercedes? Where does he go, which other women does he see?”

We proceed to Nieumarkt, a brick plaza on the border of the Red Light District. This is as close as cars can get to narrow streets such as Molensteeg – Little Hungary – and it’s the pick-up and drop-off point during shift changes. It’s dark, cold and drizzling. I’m suddenly aware of numerous undercover men and women with earpieces. They are noting and relaying license plates to the police ‘back office’ team. The back office in turn runs checks and relays identifying information to the uniformed bike riders waiting on the ring road and other routes out of Amsterdam.

But there’s a problem, one of the plain-clothed men tells me. Kevin is a young senior officer wearing a tan-lather jacket that conceals his service weapon. “The pick-up points are moving further out.” He’s just followed a girl to the Amrath Hotel, a luxury, gothic behemoth near the central train station, five minutes’ walk away. “It means they [the traffickers] fear to enter the Red Light District itself, the women’s place of work, which is good. But it also means the borders are widening.” It’s a constant refrain of the evening: just how smart, resourceful and determined these bodyguards, ‘boyfriends’ and drivers are – or more accurately, the men behind them.

The number of registered trafficking victims in Holland has risen sharply in recently years, to 1,222 in 2011, according to CoMensha, an NGO. These numbers cover all forms or trafficking, including forced labour, but the majority involve sex trafficking. Holland now has a network of 40 shelters – including one here in Amsterdam, which I was unable to visit. It was reassuring to know that the victims’ secrecy and security was taken this seriously given the measures pimps and traffickers will take to recover their investments. Would they hesitate to pose as a foreign reporter?

And what of these ongoing threats to victims, when it comes to obtaining witness testimony and convictions? “I always say with drugs crime, we do not require the drugs to testify, and with theft, we do not require the stolen goods to testify,” Henk says emphatically. “We build the case away from the victims, and their evidence becomes the icing on the cake, if we get it.”

By following the money, Henk and his team are able to put tough money laundering legislation to work. “We can stop anyone, anywhere on the street, and if they have more than 1,000 euros we will question them.” Questioning can quickly broaden. Concurrently, his team will start working the case – the CCTV, undercover officers’ notes and phone records that establish relations between suspect and the women.

Overall, it’s an approach that garnered some two hundred convictions last year alone. In the UK, there were eight. What can we learn from it, as the UK government uses Anti-Slavery Day to talk up its record on dealing with human trafficking?

Roddy Llewellyn is a recently retired Detective Sergeant who set up the UK’s first human trafficking team at the Metropolitan Police. “There’s no doubt that they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to certain policing techniques, but they have a big advantage in the legislative framework they operate within.”

There are no juries in Holland, just a judge presiding over cases brought to trial. In the UK, police and prosecutors need to prove to a jury that a sexual offence has occurred before convictions can be obtained for trafficking in human beings involving sexual exploitation. This is notoriously difficult. Being a prostitute is also legal in the UK; it is the offering of prostitution services that is illegal – and, since 2009, the buying of prostitution services where the buyer knows the seller to be a victim of trafficking. The latter offence is particularly hard to prove.

“You’re talking about a situation, invariably taking place in private, where a prostitute confesses to a punter that she’s a trafficked victim and they go ahead anyway and you can then obtain testimony to prove as much,” comments retired Detective Sergeant Roddy Llewellyn. “It hardly ever happens. To be clear, I’m not a supporter of legalising prostitution, but equally I don’t think the answer is to prosecute potential victims of trafficking.”

Back in Holland, Henk and his colleagues are quick to acknowledge the challenges of doing this work elsewhere. “Whatever you think about the legalisation of prostitution, the size of business it has become and the people it brings here, at least we can see into it and can do something about it.”

The UK may not be ready to adopt the Dutch model of full legalisation, but, in the week of Anti-Slavery Day, it is an opportune time to re-consider how the focus could move from proving prostitution to targeting the real villains more comprehensively, as Henk Werson’s team is doing on the streets of Amsterdam.

Freedom Talk Radio Interview

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

For those who are interested or suffer from insomnia I have now been scheduled to discuss This Topic live on Freedom Talk Radio.

I don’t know exactly what we are going to discuss but it is live and could go anywhere!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/freedom-talk-radio-2013/2014/03/26/freedom-talk-radio-sonia-poulton-roddy-llewellyn-slave-detective

Let me know what you think if you listen in? You may even want to take part? I’m not sure if they field questions but I’m open for anything.

The Growing Trend of Sex Tourist.

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

In my 200th Blog I ask:-

What drives a man to consider flying to a another country, engage in sexual acts with children in an attempt to usurp the law?

sexual-exploitation-ads

What is it that drives persons who should be looking after children abuse them?

I’m not sure if this is a growing trend or it has always been lingering in the shadows of human deprivation.

In the link above a teacher was stopped flying to Belize to have sex with a 13yr old and a 15yr old girl.

It would have been his 10th trip to the country since June 2011.

Belize refused Thompson entry, however, and when he returned to Miami, he was arrested on a charge of enticing a minor for sex. He could face up to life in prison if convicted. He was initially stopped on his way out of The USA but no evidence could be gained of any offences.

Belize, a TIER 2 TIP, Country, recently outlawed the commercial exploitation of children.

We are in the free world so of course he should be allowed to travel! Should he?

Thousands of men from Europe travel to Asia every year with the sole purpose of engaging in sexual acts with children. These men are doing irreparable damage to the next generation of man kind. Do we just accept this kind of behaviour.

How do we prevent it?

There are at least two issues here of course. Put simply, sex tourism is when someone travels with the primary purpose of paying for sex at their intended destination. But it is split into adult sex tourism and child sex tourism.

Child sex tourism is a lot more complex, and more difficult to pin down. Some of the victims are child prostitutes, some are essentially slaves and others are “groomed” by rich Westerners posing as good Samaritans.

Who would submit their own child to this?

High profile persons such as fallen pop star Gary Glitter and the death of Jimmy Savile with the revelations that he abused children have raised this issue’s profile.

“Upon hearing the sentence – the minimum permissible under local laws in Vietnam - Glitter once again protested his innocence and accused the media of waging a conspiracy against him.”

One of the major problems is that the onus to stop child sex tourism usually falls on the country in which the abuse takes place. These countries usually have poor, underfunded police forces that simply cannot afford to monitor suspicious foreigners 24 hours a day.

A common call is that the responsibility should be shifted to the richer countries from where the offenders come from, but there is often the issue of evidence.

There is also the issue of monitoring the internet where these people prey on the vulnerable.

Civil rights groups have been questioning the legality of authorities watching what we look at on the internet.

If my computer knows what I’m shopping for then shouldn’t we use this technology in the fight against this type of crime?

David Wendel Thompson communicated on Facebook with the two girls they said he targeted in Belize.

“I will make sure u always have money,” Thompson reportedly wrote on Facebook to the 13-year-old. “it hurts i want to do so much for u, i need u to give back a little … and i always want to be special to u so let me b your first.”

Authorities said David Wendel Thompson sent a similar message to the 15-year-old, saying, “i just want to be ur first thats my present so i can be special to u.”

Child protection charities are warning that sex tourism is spreading with an estimated 250,000 people travelling abroad for sex with minors every year.

We can do more and take the battle to these people. Air Canada haven’t shied away from the subject. They have spear-headed a video that is played on flights to such destinations.

“A  significant  barrier  to  putting  an  end  to  the  sexual  victimization  of  children  is  silence  and ignorance,”  a spokes person said. “The  impact  of a corporation with Air Canada’s profile speaking  out  on  this  issue  can’t  be  underestimated.”

As Brazil prepares to host the World Cup this summer, Fortaleza, one of the host cities, is under the spotlight for its reputation as the country’s capital of sex tourism and the sexual exploitation of children. With around 6,000 foreign fans expected to arrive, and Brazilians travelling to matches nationwide, there is a real fear of a huge surge in the sex trafficking of minors.

Sexual violence is the second most reported crime against children in Brazil, with most victims aged between 10 and 14. Fortaleza has received more complaints, or denuncias, to a special toll-free telephone line than any other city.

Once again we need to MAKE this type of crime completely unacceptable. It is indeed up to us to raise the issue and ask what can be done by governments and private industry to ‘target harden’ our children.

 

I subject myself to Q&A’s

Greetings from The Slave Detective.

I often get requests to be interviewed or persons doing their post-graduate studies wish me to answer questions.

Those that know me or read my blog know that what I am looking to do is highlight the plight of persons trafficked. Educate the masses.

Basel 1

There are many grey areas in the field of Human Trafficking. There are many factors that feature in how trafficking happens and why. I do not profess to have all the answers but I will be subjecting (if this is the right word) myself to a radio interview on the 26th March. I belive this is a live event so no doubt there will be more tricky questions for me.

http://www.freedomtalkradio.net/

Here is the last set of Q & A’s I took part in.

Are there disagreements on how to stop modern day slavery, AKA human trafficking? If so, what are the views?

Fundamentally there is little disagreement that Human Trafficking exists. In relation to how to deal with the problem there is a wide gulf of opinion. This opinion very much depends on your interpretation of Human Trafficking and the different laws.

My view is that education is the first key to prevention. The primary object of an efficient Police service is prevention.

Education is required at all levels. In source countries we need to be education the possible victims, the community leaders, the Police to identify trafficker’s methods and the legislators and public who lack understanding of what Human Trafficking is.

In Transit countries we need to be educating the border force, the legislators and the public so they ensure their Country leaders do not turn a blind eye to the problem…effectively it is someone else’s problem, they are not our citizens and they are just passing through so it will be gone very soon. Thus allowing Traffickers almost free haven.

In the destination countries we need to educate employers, persons who use the services of possible trafficked persons and persons with the money in their pocket…spending power. The list is endless but if people don’t understand how trafficking affects them and their daily life they believe there isn’t a problem.

The biggest problem here is that in this period of austerity when you get asked how you would like your taxes spent Human Trafficking doesn’t feature in the mind set.

Prevention takes many forms. This varies from education, awareness to punishment of offenders and advertising the consequences of this punishment. ie legislation to seize assets

Are there disagreements regarding the punishment for those involved in human trafficking?

I read that the Dutch increased prison terms. How do other countries compare?

The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP report) is a global overview of the different methods of punishment of offenders worldwide. The TIP grades countries on their response to dealing with trafficking at all levels.

Each country has its own legislation but is guided by the UNODC (United Nations office of Drugs and Crime) who through the UN offer guidance.

Questions related to UN issues

As this probably varies by country: would you have knowledge of how other countries punish slave traffickers?

I suggest you read the TIP report. See on line.

Does the UN have a standard by which these criminals are punished?

The Palermo Protocol of 2000 General Assembly resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000, is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime.

Are they punished as international human rights violators? If not, how do you feel about that?

The UN does not have the power to prosecute globally. They are a group of countries that create resolutions to advise countries. The UN only prosecutes War Crimes as far as I am aware. Then they will appoint a country to investigate.

Human Trafficking is domestically dealt with. The TIP Report grades countries response to Trafficking which is then raised by the UN to apply pressure through the UN Protocols. The UN votes on sanctions against countries that ignore their ruling. The sanctions have to unanimously voted upon. This makes in very difficult to place sanctions on countries like Saudi Arabia who are one of the worse graded countries.

I think it is very difficult to create universal legislation due to the different types of Policing/Court procedures. Also several of the UN countries depend heavily on their cheap labour and would resist global legislation.

How many human trafficking victims are sexually exploited? (A percentage would be great.)

Sexual Exploitation is notoriously difficult to quantify as is any human trafficking stats. Many have tried. I liken it to attempting to work out how many drugs dealers and drugs users there are in the world. When I was dealing with Trafficking cases 95% of all our cases were for sexual exploitation. That is not to say that this is reflective of the number of offenses committed. We never dealt with one Organ Harvesting case but this is a serious problem in places like India and China.

If the UN were to make prostitution illegal worldwide (or at least in member states) do you think human trafficking would decrease?

Firstly this is unlikely due to my previous answer. It is unlikely to be even attempted even if the UN could legislate.

Secondly even countries like the US are unable to legislate in their own country to make prostitution unlawful.

Comparing and contrasting Sweden and The Netherlands approach to the issue. Human Trafficking has significantly decreased in Sweden. Many say this is because Sweden is ignoring the problem as Prostitution is unlawful. Are victims afraid to come forward because they will be labelled as Criminals?

I have just written a blog on this very subject looking at two examples of persons riding along with the Police in these countries. Read my blog when it is posted. Slavedetective.wordpress.com

Other mentions are:- http://slavedetective.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/what-are-peoples-perception-of-human-trafficking/

How do you feel about the fact that the UN is resistant to make prostitution illegal for all member countries?

This is not strictly the truth. The UN is made up of member countries. In order for the UN to create a resolution on the subject they must have unanimous agreement.

Questions of a More Personal Nature

Was there a particular moment in your life when you decided to become a rescuer of slaves and to seek out and arrest the perpetrators?

In 2006 I was asked to set up the Human Trafficking Team at New Scotland Yard. This was the first dedicated Human Trafficking Team in The UK. This was as a result of a National Operation call ‘Pentameter’ which was set up to lift the stone on Human Trafficking. The UK set up legislation to target Human Trafficking in 2004. Before this time the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 was the only law that dealt with this and was not fit for purpose. The Unit was set up to test and enforce the new legislation in London.

Before this I was part of a Serious Organise Crime Team targeting Organised Criminal Gangs Smuggling persons into the UK. My proactive policing experience on serious organised crime was what they wanted from me.

What drives (compels) you to do what you do?

In 2010 Government spending cuts reduced the Policing Budget. Up until this time The Government had funded the unit. The Unit was closed due to lack of funding.

In 2009 my unit was heralded as the centre of excellence for dealing with Human Trafficking in The UK and revered throughout Europe and beyond. I could not see the problem of Human Trafficking being ignored so I began to write a book on how we dealt with our cases and the problems encountered. The blog and lecturing/consulting followed on from this.

Leading the team combating HT was a ‘path finding’ experience. Many of the things that we did on the team had never been done before. Empowering victims was the driving force.

What is the youngest victim you and your team have rescued to date?

The Metropolitan Police has a designated Child Protection Team that specifically deals with Child Protection Issues. They had a small unit called Op PALADIN that tackled Child Trafficking. We assisted them on cases where children as young as 10 were trafficked. This unit now has closed down.

Op GOLF dealt in trafficking of babies from Romania as begging tools. Go to my Blog page and word search GOLF or see the links to it down the side.

The youngest Sexual Exploitation case my team dealt with was a 16yr old female who lost her virginity to traffickers. The leader of the gang was sentenced to 14yrs. Op Bactrian http://slavedetective.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/open-for-christmas/ or again search my page.

Would you share with me a story that might emotionally move people to action?

I have many. Probably the case where two young ladies were subject to Ju Ju ceremonies, possibly when they were 14yrs old. They were recruited in Africa and trafficked to The UK for Sexual Exploitation. One was locked in a coffin to reinforce the Ju Ju Ceremony.

Put Ju Ju into my blog page.

I’ve checked out the UN’s and US’ information on what is being done but you have been directly in the trenches so:

Is modern day slavery good for any country?

The short answer is no. Many countries do rely on certain aspects of trafficking to support their economy. Countries where the general population is inherently poor and easily exploited.

The ‘Fair Trade’ movement have targeted several of these countries and have been successful in bringing about a fair wage for workers who were trafficked for labour. This has been to target the profit margin of the corporations and shame them into action.

Strangely this has now become more acceptable and has not pushed up the prices to the consumer by much.

Some people sell their children because they cannot economically afford to care for them: Is it feasible to send the rescued slave back to his or her family? Wouldn’t they be forced to sell the same child, potentially?

The issue is far more complicated than you first consider. Education is the key. By selling their children they are removing the next generation of workers for their region. Do poor people have children to sell them on?

A Romania Child Trafficking case we dealt with was where the poor community sold 1,107 children. 168 of them were criminally active in The UK with over 2,000 criminal convictions for various offences like shoplifting, begging, pick-pocketing and other forms of street crime. See Op GOLF.

The issues of what to do with the children had to be taken individually in each case for the best interest of each child. Some were returned home and some taken into care and thrived without committing further crime. The cost of this action is a hefty one.

I understand the goal is to return victims to their home countries: what if that is not possible?

Provisions are in place to assist victims of Human Trafficking to find the best solution for each individual person. If they choose to remain in the country where they were rescued support systems are put in place for them. If they choose to return they are assisted in any way that they require. The best solution has to also include a lawful solution ie be decided in a court of law (not criminal law). In the UK we have The National Referral Mechanism or NRM which is a process that officially identifies ‘Victims of Trafficking’ and creates a strategy to deal with each one.

What is being done to help those that suffer from Stockholm’s Syndrome?

There is an extensive network of support agencies for survivors of Trafficking. A research program called ‘stolen smiles’ is a great place to read.

http://genderviolence.lshtm.ac.uk/files/Stolen-Smiles-Summary.pdf

It is also recognised that persons still working in prostitution or other forms of trafficking and have been ‘promoted’ within the network maybe ‘Stockholmed’.

Was there any particular high point when you freed someone and returned them home?

The Empowerment of a survivor is one of the most satisfying aspects of dealing with Human Trafficking Cases.

Would you please describe the story and moment?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/diary-of-a-call-girl-1929226.html was a case where we rescued five victims one of whom was believed to have been murdered in Holland. She was also being used as a house slave where the traffickers boss (female) even spat out her chewing gum into her hand. This survivor had been keeping a diary and persuaded the first girl (the one believed to have been murdered) to escape with her. They went to their Embassy whom I had worked with previously and recognised that they might be trafficked. I interviewed them initially and the sense of relief on their faces when the realised that someone believed them and would take action was empowering. Being with them right through the process to the conviction of the gang was amazing. This is just one of the 68 cases dealt with in three years. See Op SHAWM on my blog.

The Audio of a Victims Account.

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

A real treat for you today.

Attached is an audio file of an African Victim accounts about Ju Ju.

She describes what a Ju Ju ceremony is and how the ritual is performed.

My thanks to my colleagues in Switzerland and the brave lady who agreed to be interviewed. I have met her and I know she is real.

It begins in Swiss/German but after a couple of minutes swaps to English. It is worth the wait.

Listen to it here.

Sex-trafficking-report-007

In The Interest of a Balanced Argument

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

There are many that discuss Prostitution and Human trafficking in the same breath. Those that read my blogs (currently 17,628 of you) will know that many of my posts are about this very subject.

Sex shop Soho

One of my readers sent me this article.

Before you read it though consider this. When I, in my line of duty, entered brothels in the UK I rarely found an english speaking sex worker. The Pimps and madams who ran the brothels obviously spoke very well. I doubt many of the working girls in this article are ones who lobby for change!

Melissa is also based in the USA which have totally different problems to those in the UK.

Melissa Gira Grant was one of the first webcam girls, before becoming a journalist. She talks to Liz Hoggard about the proposed changes to the UK’s prostitution laws.

American journalist Melissa Gira Grant wants to change the way we think about prostitution and sex work. Rather than dwelling on the “sex” part, Grant suggests we focus on “work”. By doing so, she argues, sex workers become neither corrupters, nor victims who need rescuing, but workers who need access to healthcare, a safe work environment and protection from abuse and exploitation.

A former sex worker herself (she was one of the first “webcam girls”), Gira Grant, 36, believes it’s possible to be anti-sex work but pro-sex workers’ rights. She has written extensively about sex, politics, labour and technology for the Guardian, Glamour, Wired, Jezebel and the Washington Post, and published Take This Book, an ebook on the Occupy Wall Street People’s Library, and Coming and Crying, an anthology of true stories about sex.

And now, just as prostitution is at the forefront of the news again with the proposed introduction to the UK of the Nordic model of criminalising clients and pimps instead of prostitutes, she is publishing her new book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work.

Born in Boston, she studied comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts and is a graduate of the National Sexual Resource Centre’s Institute on Sexuality, Health, and Inequality at San Francisco State University. Today she lives and blogs in Brooklyn.

The sex industry is an endless source of fascination for the mainstream media. But rarely do dispatches come from sex workers themselves. What do you believe your new book adds to the debate? When I first started looking for things to read about sex work in the late 1990s, most of the books that had been published were memoirs, though there were a couple of great anthologies of political essays written by sex workers that I just found so valuable. But in the past few years there haven’t been as many books like that, so I wanted to write something about sex work post-2000, to update that literature. Most of the stories about sex workers that I came across in the press focused on sex workers’ behaviour – or, even worse, treating sex workers as a problem to be solved. It made me think that what needed to be done was invert the question, and take the people who were shaping and controlling the lives of sex workers (police, press, policy makers) and to put the focus on them. And to ask questions about their motivations, beliefs and values, and also what they stood to gain from the kinds of stories they shared about sex work, and the kinds of policing and sex policy they were introducing around sex work – particularly with the absence of sex workers involved. These people I focus on are presumed to be the experts on sex work, even though in most cases they haven’t done sex work themselves. It happens all the time that politicians will convene and debate laws about sex work without actually having sex workers participate.

You say: “I’m not ashamed of my experiences as a sex worker — I don’t harbour trauma, and I don’t have problems talking about them.” So why don’t you reveal more about this aspect of your own life in the book? I would still like to write a memoir, but this book is more a political memoir. It’s talking about the experiences that I had in activist communities, and also about my experience as a journalist. There is me in there. But it’s not the peepshow me that generally the sex work memoir is restricted to.

Why did you get into sex work? For money.

How did you get into journalism? My very first memories are of writing. It’s my own writing that in some ways motivated the experiences I had in sex work. I wouldn’t say I got into sex work because I wanted to write about it. I got into sex work because I wanted to afford to be a writer. It’s an incredibly underpaid profession and ever more precarious. And it’s only been in the last four years that I’ve focused on journalism as my livelihood and haven’t done sex work. It was being part of sex-worker movement communities that gave me access to all these brilliant people and allowed me to be part of a world that I thought was so under-represented. I don’t think anyone goes into activism without personal experience.

How easy was it to write about sex work for the mainstream media when you first started? Initially I was writing for a predominantly male readership about technology for Valleywag, the Gawker media blog, which pushed all the typical debates about prostitution to the side, to focus on the much more material and present issue, which is how is the internet changing the sex industry? And that opened up the space to look at a very different set of stories.

People talk about a transition from the red-light district to the online red-light district, and the way the internet allows sex workers to operate their own businesses, without having to have a third party, and to share information anonymously. I find it fascinating how websites such as Craigslist used to make sex work visible online. If you were looking for an apartment or at the gigs sections on the front page, erotic services were right next to them, which made quite a statement and I think provoked some anxiety that it was just treated as another service on the site.

What do you think of the results of a year-long UK parliamentary inquiry into sex work where MPs have called for the introduction of the “Nordic” or “Scandinavian” model of prostitution, whereby clients and pimps are criminalised rather than the women themselves? First, I think people need to be very clear what they’re talking about – we call it the Nordic/Scandinavian model – but there’s one law in Sweden, there’s a law in Norway and one in Iceland, and they differ from one another..

In Norway, where the buyer of sex is considered criminal, there are reports of sex workers facing increased violence on the streets, and reports that sex workers have less ability to choose which customers they see and which they don’t because when the customer is fearful of arrest they’re not necessarily going to adhere to the safety protocols that sex workers have developed. So it still puts sex workers in an adversarial relationship with the police. And as long as their work is considered criminal, it can’t actually be considered real work. I think the bottom line for me is: sex workers aren’t supporting these proposals that are currently in front of the UK, or those in front of the European Parliament – in fact they stand quite opposed to these measures.

The people who are most likely to experience harm from them are the people standing up and saying: “We don’t want this.”

You think that part of the problem is the way we conflate prostitution with “sex trafficking”… We know from experts in labour exploitation that forced labour in the sex industry is just one part of all of the kinds of forced labour that people experience. There are other industries such as domestic work and agricultural work where there are greater instances of forced labour. However, the lion’s share of the conversation about trafficking is about what’s referred to as “sex trafficking”. And I think that’s because the proponents of that view don’t actually believe that sex work can be considered work. They assume it must be devoid of choice and consent and therefore all sex work is equivalent to trafficking. It’s only been in the last 15 years that we’ve talked about trafficking in this way, and in particular we use these very sensational narratives that employ images of women in sex work to tell the story of everybody involved in trafficking. Even survivors of sex trafficking say that sort of imagery doesn’t speak to their experience, that it feels objectifying and dehumanising. And I think that could make it much harder to support and identify people who are trafficked and who do need help.

Who were your role models growing up? I feel I was very lucky as a young person to have images of women playing with their sexuality like the riot grrrls. It was a powerful thing.

Do you tell partners about your past? I remember a friend saying: “You put everything out there”, because I had a personal blog at the time and I thought: “Just because I tell you things people aren’t supposed to talk about in public, doesn’t mean you know me. I’m just offering you a window into my life, I’m not offering you my whole life.” But, yes, it’s a relief because I don’t have the sense of getting to know someone, whether it’s a friend, a colleague or a partner, and then someday something is going to come out that will damage the whole thing, because I feel like I am quite an open person. But on the other hand there’s no substitute for actually building intimacy over time, right?

Are we using the most of Technology?

Greetings from The Slave Detective,

So ……. Are we using the most of Technology?

computer crime

I have seen recent articles highlighting new programmes that purport to be able to assist in the battle against Human Trafficking.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DAPRA) has launched a programme aimed at developing the next generation of task-orientated search engines that will help index and organise “mission-critical publically available information” on the web and deep web. The first domain it wants to target with this new technology, it says, is human trafficking.

It is great that the boffins that are out there are using their brain power to target this global problem.

The truth of the matter though is unless this problem is a priority in our lives, and in the lives of the people who task investigators and law enforcement, such fantastic computer programmes are unlikely to be used to target the organised criminal networks that are profiting from this misery.

‘Policing Today’ agree that Technology is the way forward. They printed an article by Gordon Harrison, Industry Consultant, Public Security, SAS.

I disagree with some of the content about how the recent new anti-slavery legislation will give the police and judiciary extra powers to be more effective.  Mr Harrison seems to have way to much faith in how Government Agencies in The UK Police Human Trafficking.

The fact is that the technology is there to assist is correct.

The Police now have an ‘On Line Training Package via NCALT.

This has replaced the more expensive presentations where persons, who have dealt with Human Trafficking, pass on their learning personally. The NCALT training package can give you a certificate to show you are trained in Human Trafficking. How do you achieve this cettificate?

Tick the box to say you have READ the package. You don’t even have to read or understand it!!!

CTIPmobile2

The first step towards tackling a problem is to understand it better.

Yet, there is currently limited, reliable, nationwide data on human trafficking.

Most information about human trafficking is fragmented and anecdotal, and even this is rarely shared across organizations.

Accordingly, it is difficult to paint a complete picture of the scope of trafficking in the world, to fully understand the networks behind trafficking, and to identify the best ways to fight it.

What we all agee though is that ‘Partnership’ is the best way forward filtering information and intelligence not only within Government agencies but in the community.

We can all do something about Human Trafficking. Lets start by making it a Government and Policing Priority.

At the moment both these agencies are paying lips service to the problem helping Organise Criminal Networks stay one step ahead of any technology that is produced because without the persons using this technology it is useless.

You can be assured the these OCN’s are using technology to the best of its ability to suit their purpose.

child traffick