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Not For Sale: raising awareness, ending exploitation

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The following is the foreword for the book Not For Sale: raising awareness, ending exploitation recently published.

For further details visit: http://www.mph.org.uk/

 

I welcome this important book. Its combination of factual pieces, reflections, poetry and true stories will improve understanding of human trafficking and encourage more people to get involved in putting a stop to it.

 

Before becoming an MP I worked with young people who had been sexually abused, the combination of that dreadful wrong with the transporting of people across frontiers is sickening. One of the important parts of my job as Minister for Women and Equality over the past two years was raising awareness of the nature of this awful crime and strengthening our support systems for the victims of it.

 

There are a large number of different ways women are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation, such as: 

  • fictitious advertisements in the country of origin,
  • fictitious advertisements for marriages,
  • kidnapping, often where regions are devastated by war and the collapse of economic and social infrastructures,    
  • girls sold by their families,
  • grooming of adolescent girls by so called “boyfriends” who are part of the criminal trafficking network, and
  • women locked into paying off serial debt bondage. 

Once in the hands of their “minders”, women face an appalling future. These exploited young women are kept in conditions akin to slavery. Here in the UK we do have tough sentences for traffickers and the law is rigorously enforced against those who commit sexual crimes against women involved in prostitution. But if the demand did not exist, the numbers involved in trafficking would be greatly reduced.

 

This book asks the important question of why we continue to regard the buying and selling of sex as acceptable. Wherever there are prostitutes, there will be trafficked women. We shouldn’t accept that prostitution is the ‘oldest profession’ and therefore it will always be with us!

 

No young girl starts out in life thinking that she would like to be a prostitute when she grows up. Women end up in prostitution through many routes. We can do more to tackle the reasons that women become prostitutes, but we also have to focus on the men who exploit women.

 

Changing attitudes is never easy but campaigns do work. We can look back 200 years to the campaign that led to the abolition of the slave trade, or the Jubilee 2000 campaign that put pressure on governments to take debt relief seriously for the poorest nations of the earth.

 

Our Christian beliefs must surely mean we have to assert everyone’s humanity? How can it be right for anyone to buy sex? Isn’t it time we made it illegal?

 

I want to congratulate CHASTE, the Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking across Europe and the Reverend Dr Carrie Pemberton, who have been working to raise awareness of the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. This book is a valuable addition to this work.

 

Meg Munn, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley

Minister for Women and Equality May 2005 June 2007


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