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Sex Exploitation Across UK is 'National Scandal', Gov't Strategy 'Failing' – MPs

© AP Photo / Franka BrunsIn this May 8, 2009 file picture , Eva, left, and Dana, right (full names not given) pose inside a brothel in Berlin
In this May 8, 2009 file picture , Eva, left, and Dana, right (full names not given) pose inside a brothel in Berlin - Sputnik International
New research by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade has determined that sex trafficking is taking place on an “industrial scale” across England and Wales.

APPG’s inquiry claimed “pop-up brothels” were widespread in England and Wales, as trafficking gangs have exploited hundreds of “vulnerable women,” predominantly from Eastern Europe. MPs found out that it has been enabled by “prostitution procurement websites,” such as Vivastreet or Adultwork, and are now calling for the criminalization of paying for sex.

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The report found that there are at least 212 ongoing police operations in the United Kingdom into sexual exploitation cases; Leicestershire police visited 156 brothels, containing 421 women in the two years up to December 2017 – 86 percent of whom appeared to be from Romania, while Northumbria Police raided 81 brothels, encountering 259 women in the two years up to April 2018, three quarters of whom were Romanian.

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According to the inquiry's findings, one man is under investigation for sex trafficking, spending over £20,000 (approximately $27,000) placing ads of women on a commercial website.

MPs have suggested that the government ban these websites from adverstising and profiting from prostitution in order to solve the problem. Tackling the demand for sex buyers, among other things, has been put on the table by the parliamentarians, saying it was essential to criminalize paying for sex and decriminalize the selling of sex.

“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 criminalizing paying for sex. It is money from sex buyers that lines the pockets of traffickers,” said Gavin Shuker, chair of the APPG.

He also added that sexual exploitation of women by organized crime groups was taking place on an “industrial scale,” with a "revolving door of vulnerable women being supplied by trafficking gangs in pop-up brothels.

“Without their demand there would be no ‘supply’ of women into this ruthless trade. Organized 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.”

The leader of the Women's Equality Party, Sophie Walker, in turn, has emphasized that «organized crime groups dominate the off-street prostitution trade and make money by trafficking, threatening and coercing women – most of whom are non-UK nationals.”

“Demand from sex buyers makes the sex trade profitable for traffickers and pimps and other third parties like the websites identified by the APPG. That is why, along with removing the threat of prosecution for women who sell sex and funding exit services for those involved in prostitution, a sex buyer’s law is needed to address this form of modern slavery," she added.

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