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Human trafficking: These women deserve better

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The reality of human trafficking was laid bare during police raids in Belfast and Londonderry yesterday when six women who had been forced to work in brothels were rescued. A record book found in one house revealed that three women had seen 15 male clients the previous day.

The proceeds for those running the racket amounted to £1,500 for that day alone. It is the thugs and gangsters who run the prostitution rackets who make the big money while the poor women are forced to live a life of degradation, kept with little money and living in little better than squalor.

According to police the human traffickers who bring the women to Northern Ireland — in this case the women were Chinese nationals — promise them jobs as cleaners and nannys.

Of course the reality is far from what the women imagined and is as sordid as can be imagined. Not only are the women forced to sell their bodies, they also live in constant fear of their captors who threaten them with extreme violence.

Yesterday’s raids show how highly organised human trafficking has become. The women rescued in Belfast and Londonderry are thought to have been living recently in Britain and were lured to Northern Ireland by false jobs inserted in local newspapers. The whole operation is believed to have been organised by Chinese mafia figures. Fortunately, in this case, the police were equally well organised and co-operation between the PSNI and police forces in England have led to significant arrests and the rescue of women who had been trapped without hope.

As with every vice, it is inevitable that Northern

Ireland will also be targeted by sinister gangs. For many years the high level of security in the province due to the Troubles kept a lid on crimes such as drug abuse and prostitution. The level of scrutiny required to combat highly organised and dangerous terrorist gangs meant that ‘ordinary’ criminals were also likely to come under surveillance. Now the level of security in the province is lower, and other types of crime, including human trafficking, is on the increase.

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In the last year, 20 victims of human trafficking have been rescued in Northern Ireland. The PSNI deserve credit for that success. However, it is in

evitable that the problem is much more widespread and every successful operation by the police leaves a void which will be filled by other traffickers and gangsters. Like drug trafficking, prostitution is a very profitable crime, especially if the women engaged in prostitution are doing so through fear and, therefore, are in no position to take any significant proportion of the income generated.

Anyone looking at the dramatic pictures of the police raids in Northern Ireland, cannot help but be moved by the plight of the women caught up in the sordid trade.

Thanks to its relatively sparse population and the sense of community that still pertains in most areas of the province, many people must have their suspicions about the location of other brothels where women are being forced to sell their bodies. Such suspicions should be passed on to the police, even anonymously, so that they can rescue the women and detain the traffickers subjecting them to a life of abuse and fear. Remember they are someone’s daughter and deserve a better life


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