- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Aug 22 2010 by Ciaran Jones, Wales On Sunday
Nearly 100 trafficked women from Eastern Europe and Asia are thought to be working in Welsh brothels, according to a new police report detailing the extent of people trafficking in Wales.
The figures were released by Britain’s top cops as they revealed that an estimated 2,600 women have been trafficked in to England and Wales to work in the sex industry.
The Setting the Record report from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) found that about 17,000 of the estimated 30,000 women working in off-street prostitution are migrants.
Of those migrants, 2,600 were deemed to have been trafficked, while 9,200 were identified as vulnerable migrants who may be further victims of trafficking.
But Jeff Farrar, assistant chief constable of Gwent Police and Acpo Cymru’s lead on protecting vulnerable people and human trafficking, said the picture in Wales was not reflected by the overall statistics in the report.
There are estimated to be 479 women working in off-street prostitution in Wales. Of these, an estimated 55 are Asian, with a further 40 from Eastern Europe and another 48 whose origins are unknown, as well as 337 who are British.
Mr Farrar said: “The figures indicate 10% or more across the whole of the UK of women working as off-street prostitutes are potentially trafficked individuals.
“But in Wales the number is a lot less. Over 95% of young women working in off-street prostitution in Wales are local.
“That doesn’t mean trafficking is not a concern but the scale in Wales does not reflect what we are seeing nationally. On our most recent intelligence in the case there are less than 30 of the 500 working as off-street prostitutes that might be considered as trafficked.”
Njida, from Nigeria, said she was brought to Wales by a woman and forced to have sex with men against her will.
She said: “When we arrived in the UK she took me to a house where she told me that I would have to have sex with men for money as it had cost her a lot to bring me to the UK and she needed to earn the money back.
“I did not want to do it. I never wanted to be a prostitute. But from that day I was locked in a room for months and forced to do it. The men who came to have sex with were incredibly violent and I was terrified.”
Assembly Member Joyce Watson – who chaired a cross-party working group looking at trafficking in the sex trade earlier this year – said women were being enslaved in the industry.
She said: “Trafficking is a modern-day slavery which is happening near us now, and not just in our big cities.”
Mr Farrar said the police currently have no intelligence to suggest organised gangs are bringing women to Wales to work as prostitutes.
He said: “In Wales it is on a very, very, very low scale and we have not picked up at all any indication of co-ordinated organised crime groups, but I am not saying it doesn’t exist.”
But Dr Mwenya Chimba, development, research and information manager at charity Bawso (Black Association of Women Step Out), which runs a trafficking project, said victims felt unable to come forward because they would be blamed by the authorities for their plight.
She said: “It is not even a case of being blamed by their families. Even the systems here blame them. The attitude is: ‘They knew what they came for so they deserve what they get’.”
She added: “Everyone is looking for a better way of life – they may be coming from a Third World country and hoping to get a better life. Some apply for legitimate jobs, and some are brought in to work as au pairs or house helps – every woman has a different story to tell.
“None has come here knowing she was going to be working in the sex industry.”
Njida’s name has been changed. Her case study was supplied by the Human Trafficking in Wales website.