24 February 2015
When you hear the term ‘people trafficking’ you probably imagine people being loaded onto lorries, boats or trains and smuggled into the UK from poorer parts of the world.
And though it’s true that hundreds, maybe even thousands of men, women and children from Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America are trafficked into the UK and forced to work as domestic servants, labourers and sex workers every year, a lot of British women are trafficked too, and they don’t even need to leave the country to become victims.
What is trafficking?
Though most of us are more familiar with the idea of international human trafficking, in the eyes of the law, trafficking is the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion”.
This means that if a sex worker is under the control of a gang or a dominant person and is driven from place to place to meet clients, kept against their will, controlled by the threat of violence or recruited through force, they are the victim of trafficking whether they are from the UK, the EU or anywhere else in the world.
In some cases, the women themselves may not realised they have been trafficked or will be so under the control of the traffickers they are unable to tell the police or social services the extent of the exploitation even if they want to.
What help is available to trafficked women?
As it’s difficult to keep track of the movement of people within the UK, finding out just how many British women are trafficked within the country every year is almost impossible, but the number is likely to be substantial.
In fact, there’s a reasonably good chance you know someone who’s been a victim or trafficking or has a friend or relative who has suffered at the hands of traffickers.
Luckily, as more and more people begin to understand the true meaning of trafficking, the number of resources and the amount of help available to victims also increases, providing women who have been forced or coerced into the sex industry with a variety of organisations and groups they can call on for help.
Doorway Women’s Services was set up specifically to help sex workers in the Norfolk area. With a large part of their operations dedicated to helping the victims of trafficking, Doorway Women’s Services help women who have been trafficked and helps them to put their lives back together once their ordeal is over. If you would like to talk to someone about how Doorway can support you around this issue please call free on 0808 800 1030.