MPs are warning that vulnerable women, largely from Eastern Europe, are being trafficked to the UK for sexual exploitation in “pop-up brothels.”
A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade argues that the crime is taking place on an “industrial scale” and was being driven by “prostitution procurement websites” such as Adultwork.
The APPG is advocating for buying sex to be criminalized and selling sex to be decriminalized in addition to a crackdown on websites advertising sexual services.
The Independent reports:
There are at least 212 active, ongoing police operations in the UK into modern slavery cases involving sexual exploitation, and it is overwhelmingly foreign national women who are being exploited in British brothels, the report found.
Greater Manchester Police had meanwhile identified 324 potential new brothel addresses since March 2015, of which the police said “the majority reflect the hotspot areas for modern slavery” in the city.
The inquiry found that organised crime groups typically advertise women to sex buyers on commercial websites such as Vivastreet or Adultwork, with one man being investigated for sex trafficking spending over £20,000 placing adverts of women on one commercial website.
The MPs want the UK to follow in the footsteps of France, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland — places that have all attempted to curb sex trafficking by criminalizing the purchase of sex.
Chair of the APPG, Gavin Shuker MP, says that “The government must act now to combat demand for sexual exploitation by criminalising paying for sex. It is money from sex buyers that lines the pockets of traffickers. Without their demand there would be no ‘supply’ of women into this ruthless trade.”
Other recommendations from the APPG report include creating a national register of landlords and issuing guidance for the short-term letting sector on preventing sex trafficking.