Women auctioned at British airports

// 7 May 2006

Women are being openly auctioned by sex traffickers at airports at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, according to research by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Independent reports:

The head of operations at Britain’s largest vice squad admitted that the police were only beginning to realise the scale of the problem, which is also linked to drugs and guns.

“There has been a significant increase in the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation,” said Detective Chief Superintendent David Eyles, the head of operations at the Metropolitan Police’s clubs and vice unit. “It is only since we started to tackle the problem [in an operation that was started in January] that it has become clear it’s a national and international phenomenon.

There is one dischordant note in this story:

Vice officers have discovered that many of the foreign women who work in brothels come to Britain specifically to work in the sex industry, rather than being innocent victims. The women buy forged documents from the traffickers and some are smuggled into the country, while others come as tourists but do not leave.

Det Chief Supt Eyles said that the women can make huge amounts of money – from £5,000 to £10,000 a week.

Most of the money is used to pay off the traffickers and the brothel owners or sent back to the families of the prostitutes.

Just because women trafficked into the country may have done so on the understanding that they were going to work in the sex trade, this does not mean that they are not victims in this picture. Having been sold like cattle (or slaves), they are then often, as the Independent says, “abused, gang raped, imprisoned in tiny rooms and made to have sex with up to 40 men a day”.

It is hard to see how any one would volunteer for this, and it muddies the water for the newspaper to say they are not innocent or victims. Setting aside the debate about victim culture, this can’t help but marginalise the suffering of women who have been, essentially, kidnapped and raped.

The debate about trafficking is already coloured by this country’s unfortunately negative attitude to migrants, never mind if you add in more stuff about prostitution and the sex trade. Just because you don’t adhere to the Daily Mail’s idea of innocent victimhood, does not mean it’s any less horrible when something like this happens to you.

Have Your say

Comments are closed on this post

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds