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SI Epsom’s work in the interest of safety for women and girls


Human Trafficking Conference

Saturday 11th September 2010

Leatherhead Leisure Centre

Two of our members had attended an Amnesty International UK evening devoted to the problem of Human Trafficking.  Moved by what they saw and inspired to ‘do something’, the decision to stage a local conference on the subject was taken.

Our aim was to inform delegates – not only about the horrifying statitistics of this global trade in human lives, but also highlight the wonderful work of a wide range of charities and initiatives that strive to stop the trade and/or support the victims.  We hope delegates were inspired to make a difference too.

The day was jam packed with information and unfortuntaely space doesn’t allow us to report everything word for word.  However, the following conference reports have very kindly been submitted by two of the delegates.  I urge you to read them.


There were approx 130 delegates.

Following a welcome by Barbara Watts, President, SI Epsom and District the Rt. Hon Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell and Minister of State for Department of Work and Pensions gave the introduction.

He commended the Club for organising the conference on such a subject, which was one of the four big international crimes (trafficking, drugs, arms and animals).  It was the most brutal as it was the exploitation of the least able:

·       into the sex trade against the victims’ wishes

·       using children

·       labour slaves (domestic servitude, cannabis farming etc).

Gangs were operating in several European countries.  It takes joint effort to fight back on traffickers.

He said that the Government, through the all-party Parliamentary Group on the Trafficking of women and children, until recently chaired by Anthony Steen, MP, was doing much to raise the awareness of the scourge of human trafficking in the UK.

He could not comprehend that traffickers were trafficking women and children from their own towns and families.  The UK welfare systems were being exploited; in particular disabled were being brought in to the country to abuse the disabled benefits system.

Victims were being trafficked to more than one country – to the UK, onto Spain and Italy etc.

What can we do?  We need to challenge those in authority including MPs.

Those who are passionate about the subject should keep talking and keep up the pressure.

Be ‘eyes and ears’ as it could be happening next door.

The community should say ‘we won’t have it here’.

Hilary Ratcliffe, Federation Programme Director for Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland, chaired the day.

The morning was entitled ‘Trafficking – what’s the problem?’

She introduced the following speakers:

i)    Pauline Monk, SI Poole – The Purple Teardrop Campaign(working to end human trafficking), who said that Chris Grayling had encapsulated everything.  Trafficking was big business being a question of supply and demand.

The need was to reduce the demand for women and girls and support the charities helping those who had been rescued.

She said that although the official trafficking definition was long and complex the essence was ‘does the person have the freedom to walk away from the situation’.

Trafficking was now a £32 million illicit industry worldwide with markets for supplying travel documents, arranging transport and recruiting victims.  Poor communities were targeted with an estimate of approx 1.2 million people being trafficked annually (2007 figures).  80% of those were women and girls into the sex industry; 50% of which were children.  The demand in recent years has increased by 3 to 11%.

There are lots of adverts in newspapers, magazines, shops, toilets, telephone boxes etc.  Why should these be allowed?  Currently there is no enforceable legislation.

The nature of contemporary slavery on the UK is sex exploitation and forced labour.

Undoubtedly in 2012 with the Olympic Games being held in the UK there will be an increase.

Figures from the National Referral Mechanism (set up under the European Convention on Trafficking) give that 59 to 80% are from non-EU countries.  But, victims are only included if they volunteer to go onto the system.

Recent Police operations have included Pentameter 2 (in Dorset) and Operation Icefall (in Surrey – resulting in 7 women being rescued from a £1million business).

There are only a few safe houses in the UK:

·       Poppy Project with 54 beds

·       Salvation Army with 6 beds

·       Medaille Trust with 6 beds

These have assisted 95 people in the last three years from the 700 victims rescued.  There is a great disparity.

ii)   Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children), who said that ECPAT was part of an international network of 70 countries.  It was established in the UK in 1993.

ECPAT works with the parliamentary cross party group on child trafficking.

There is no centralised data in the UK about child trafficking.  There had been several scoping studies (eg in rural Walesand Northern Ireland) where cases had been identified, thus proving that such activities do not only happen in large conurbations.

The first prosecution of child domestic servitude in the UK was against an accountant and his teacher wife!

There is the issue of what happens to the children when they get older – they are usually abandoned, are vulnerable and certainly have no documents.  They will have been groomed to tell a different story.  If they are found in an immigration raid they are likely to be thrown into a detention centre and then deported.  Support to such victims is very patchy.  There is no foster care.  They are put into semi-independent accommodation if they are over 16.  There are no safe houses for children.  Safe accommodation has not been fully debated.  ECPAT would like to see foster care for up to 18 years old.

There is a current Early Day Motion (EDM 513 – GUARDIANSHIP FOR CHILD VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING).  The new Government has decided not to opt onto the new EU Directive against sex trafficking as it feels that they have done sufficient at this time.  The UK could opt in at a later date.  The Directive goes further than the 2008 Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

iii)  Jane Coppock, Barnardo’s, runs sexual exploitation support in Croydon, but also covers the whole of London.  There are two others – Hampshire and in the north.

Barnardo’s works in various partnerships and accepts referrals from anyone and everywhere.  Its main aim is to raise awareness covering in schools, in the media, in faith groups.

Safe accommodation is the most important for such victims.

Barnardo’s hopes that the current spending cuts do not affect the service too much.

Be vigilant.    

iv)  A Det. Con. From the Metropolitan Police SCD9 (Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit), who is an undercover Police Officer and has worked against trafficking for 20 years.  He took part in Operation Icefall.

He reported that the current debt bondage was much lower than years ago, when it would have been £30k (which meant that the woman/girl would have had to earn £60k).

He works with organisations in other countries to help when the trafficked victims are repatriated.  They are helped to be re-housed, given support etc.  He also helps to raise awareness.  The police also work with the airlines and ferry companies.

An investigation starts with intelligence being received, followed by observation and surveillance including going through rubbish bins to find luggage labels, flight tickets etc.  Visits as clients are made (with payment) which are all recorded where the women/girls are talked to about how they could be helped.   When an arrest is made the victims are rescued and taken to a reception centre, where further information is gathered.  If they are to give evidence they are brought back to the UK, travelling with a police officer and case worker.

There must be something wrong still as after 20 years the situation is worse!

The morning closed with a Question and Answer Session, with questions about:

·     Diplomatic immunity

·     Exposure of those who pay for sex

·     SARCs – the Sexual Assault Referral Centres, which all local authorities should have

·     Children being ‘lost’ from children’s homes

·     Living in a culture of disbelief and apathy

·     No Pentameter 3

·     Using EDM to write to MPs to urge them to write to the Minister

·     Research need into ritual killings

·     Need for National Curriculum content on trafficking for secondary schools

·     18th October to be UK National Anti-Slavery Day

The afternoon was entitled ‘So what can we do about it?’

i)        Film ‘Two Little Girls’ produced by Ruth Beni and Maggie Baxter

The short film directed by Ruth Beni had been produced for WOMANKIND, which  works to secure women’s rights and make their voices heard, initially to be used in Albania through distribution to schools, community groups, woman’s organisations and churches.  The animated film follows the stories of two young women who are cruelly deceived by loved ones and are trafficked into prostitution against their will.

Their stories reflect the two most common ways Eastern European women and girls are tricked and lured from their homes by people they know and trust.

The film’s impact is maximised as it starts with a fairytale feel but ends in stark monochrome reality to emphasise its serious message.

ii)         The Body Shop global anti-trafficking petition was presented by Zoe Cook   and JessieMacNeil-Brown from the Body Shop, which is partnering with ECPAT.  It is a 3 year campaign to stop sex trafficking of children and young people and was launched at St Pancras International railway station in 2009, which is a hub for trafficking.  It has gathered support in more than 40 countries.
2009 also saw the launch of The Body Shop Soft Hands Kind Heart Hand Cream. Proceeds from each hand cream sold are donated to ECPAT and other organisations that support victims of trafficking and help to fund prevention programmes. £1m has already been raised.

In summer 2010 a petition was launched calling upon governments to implement strict anti-trafficking policies and legislation including a system of guardian ship, and dedicate more resources to help victims of trafficking.  In 2011 they anticipate presenting the petitions to the United Nations.

iii)        Purple Teardrop Campaign petition is planning a series of lobbies aimed at improving current legislation and or the identification, protection and support of victims of human trafficking.  A petition to Parliament is being launched to ban, advertising for sexual exploitation for gain and profit.

iv)        Peter Cox, Chair of Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT), explained that CCAT was founded four years ago and now has 1000 members (50 of which are active participants).  Its aim is to raise awareness, campaign decision makers, educate, understand and do more and assist in setting up more CATs.

CCAT are vigilant in Croydon and look for possible houses – lots of pizza boxes outside is usually a sure sign.  Premium price adverts are phoned (by male members).

There is a lot of talk politically but with very little action.

v)         Anne-Marie Izenring, Women’s Director of Central Asia Ladies Ministry (CALM), said that she was encouraged (in a negative way) as the position appeared not to be much better in the UK as in central Asia.

She reported that:

·       AIDS is growing rapidly in central Asia

·       Abortion is the main birth control under communism

·       Baby trafficking is on the increase for adoption rings and also for body parts

·       There was bride/wife napping

·       ‘shame’ issues were big in central Asia within Islam communities

·       There are no safe houses

·       Uzbekistan trafficked women and girls to Thailand, Turkey, Dubai, India

·       Most of the traffickers were women

·       Street children were living in the sewers and were vulnerable to being trafficked

·       Central Asian men were addicted to pornography and that is why they visited prostitutes

A short Q & A followed.

In summing up the day, Hilary Ratcliffe, urged delegates to:

·        Be the eyes and ears in the community

·        Don’t walk away from the problem

·        Sign EDM 513 and write to their MP

·        Combat disbelief and apathy

·        Remember the UK Anti-slavery Day on  18th October and don’t forget the UN Anti-slavery Day on 25th November

·        Sign the Body Shop petition

To end the day, Hattie, a young student the read the poem ‘Red Light Child’  written by Malika Ndlovu (commissioned for the Western Cape launch of the 2010 Red Light Campaign against Child Trafficking)


Joyce Boorman

SI Ipswich and District

18 September 2010


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The following is an account of the morning session:



Soroptimist International of Epsom and District

Trafficking Conference

11th September 2010.



Barbara Watts (President SI Epsom & District) welcomed everyone to the conference.  Approximately 140 women and men attended from various organisations.  There was a short introduction by Hilary Ratcliffe (Federation Programme Director, SIGBI).


During the morning session the speakers were:


(1)  The Rt  Hon Chris Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell

(2)  Pauline Monk, SI Poole and Purple Teardrop Campaign

(3)  Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children)

(4)  Jane Coppock, Barnardo’s

(5)  A Det. Cons. From the  Met. Police SCD9 (Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit)


In opening the Conference, Chris Grayling thanked Barbara and the Soroptimist team for organising the event.  He said that trafficking is one of the biggest international crimes, together with drugs, illegal animal products, etc. and is probably one of the most brutal of them.  He outlined the sorts of trafficking that take place, e.g. for prostitution and slave labour and where it takes place.  He said that    communities need to begin to fight back.  He had met a group of people in Rumania who have been trafficking children from their own town, sometimes from their own families, for domestic slavery and to exploit our welfare system.  He said he could not understand how they could do this to members of their own family.  One gang was operating in the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy – it is a very complicated web.  The cost to the women, children and possibly disabled people is appalling.  We need to be aware of what is going on in our local community.


He said that we want two things to come out of the day:  firstly, do not forget this important issue and the other thing is to get the local community to say ‘”We will not have trafficking going on here.”


Pauline Monk talked about the Purple Teardrop Campaign.  She said that trafficking is big business and she stressed that we need to act to reduce the demand for the abuse of women and children.  The money raised by the sale of badges for the Purple Teardrop Campaign goes to help the victims.


She said that of the definitions of trafficking, the most descriptive is modern-day slavery.  From the UN Convention against trans-national organised crime, a good bench-mark is whether the person can walk away; if they cannot, they are being enslaved.  She told the story of Marta as an example of the way in which women can be tricked into coming here.


The global situation: sex trafficking is arguably the most lucrative industry world-wide.  There are other jobs connected with trafficking, e.g. marketing and producing false documents.  Forced labour goes into what we buy.  Statistics are difficult to obtain for a number of reasons, but it is believed that 1.2 million people are trafficked annually inside their own country or internationally; 2.45 million trafficking victims are in exploitative conditions; 80% are women and girls.


The reasons why sex trafficking is increasing are:

  1. Demand:

the number of men paying for sex has increased.  This demand is being increased by the proliferation of advertisements in newspapers and elsewhere that publicise women and girls  for sex. Sex for sale is publicised on the internet.  We do not allow drug dealers or people selling guns to advertise in local papers, but we encourage demand for trafficking by allowing advertisements for sex.


2. Lack of evidence for prosecution:  it is not an offence to be a prostitute but is an offence to keep a brothel or to make a financial gain from prostitution.  It is difficult to collect evidence.


The nature of contemporary slavery in Britain is mainly for sexual exploitation or forced labour.  Trafficking may increase during the 2012 Olympics unless preventative measures are in place. The statistics we have are only made up from women who have agreed to go through a national referral system, but they do show a gender balance of 74% women.  Locally, Operation Pentameter was carried out in Dorset and Operation Icefall in Surrey.  In the UK safe houses are run by the Poppy Project, the Salvation Army and Medaille Trust.


Christine Beddoe said that ECPAT, which was established in Thailand in 1990, is a campaigning organisation which is persistent and robust.  They advise the all-party parliamentary campaign on trafficking.  Both boys and girls are victims of child trafficking.  As there is no centralised data collection system, we just do not know the nature and scale of the problem.  The numbers going through the National Referral System are very small but research projects done in the past show that professionals were aware of over 80 children in the north known or suspected to have been trafficked.  Elsewhere, similar figures have been shown and it does not just happen in urban areas.


The majority of children trafficked in the UK are exploited into domestic servitude as house slaves.  They may be sleeping in a shed, they are made to work from dawn to dusk.  With sex trafficking, we can say the traffickers are criminals, but often people using children are operational professionals, such as accountants and teachers.  It could be taking place in our street.  Many of these children are abandoned when they get to 16 or 18 and have no papers; they may go on to become sex slaves.


The services dealing with them are extremely patchy and the system failure in the United Kingdom is unbelievable.  There is no safe accommodation for children.  ECPAT would like foster accommodation to be available for all trafficked children and is putting forward Early Day Motion 513 about guardianship of trafficked children.  The current government has chosen has chosen not to opt onto the EU Directive on Trafficking which extends the definition to include other things.  We should be a European or even a world leader in tackling trafficking, but we are not.


Jane Coppock runs sexual exploitation awareness meetings in Croydon for Barnardo’s.  They are a specialist service which sadly consists of only one support worker in that borough because of the difficulty in attracting funding.  Barnardo’s currently has three centres in the UK and they believe effective communication is vital.  They provide awareness training for schools, GPs, faith groups and children’s services and use a child-centred approach.  One of the biggest issues is safe accommodation. Jane read the story of Mariam, a real story from a child in Hampshire, who was forced into slavery by family members.


A Police Officer with 25 years service and 20 years working with trafficked women spoke about his work.  In the early 1990s women were being trafficked from Brazil.  Today they come from a wide range of countries. There is a set price of £20 for sex in Soho today and the women often have debt bondage of £60,000 to pay off.  When rescued, some women do want to go home and the Police arrange to have somebody to meet them on their arrival in their own countries to give them support.  We heard about a case in Hounslow where the traffickers received 18-year sentences.  The Police are doing as much as they can to raising awareness of trafficking issues.  Domestic servitude is rife but may be a sensitive issue because of there are often diplomatic connections.


The Police Officer talked about how an investigation is carried out.  They receive intelligence from an informer or look for advertisements at the back of newspapers.  If necessary advertisements are translated to find out what is being offered.  They then set up surveillance operations and if necessary visit the women as clients – paying, but without using their services.  Credit cards are an acceptable form of payment as well as cash.   Once they have acquired enough evidence, they take the women to a safe and secure location and treat them sensitively and appropriately.  Where they can get further evidence through disclosures from the victims about the traffickers and the way in which they operate, it can enable the Police to achieve more meaningful sentences for the traffickers when they are sent for trial.


Trafficked women may return to their home countries, but they are escorted them back to the UK to give evidence to the court. The Police Officer said that he wanted to prevent these women being trafficked in the first place – we need to make people more aware.  We really need to work with the countries of origin and the airlines to improve the current situation.



Question and Answer Session.


The following answers were given to questions from the floor:


·         There is not in general a problem with prosecuting a professional person; a doctor’s wife was recently prosecuted.  Where there is diplomatic immunity, prosecutions become very difficult.

·         The police have a duty of care to everybody, including families, which is why not every prosecution is publicised.  Demand is a massive problem, kept up by advertisements.  In the Republic of Ireland there is legislation to outlaw any advertising or promotion of sexual services.  The most useful thing for people attending the conference to do would be to get advertising banned.

·         There were about 64 safe houses in all.

·         One of the really important things is to be vigilant about the impact of cuts in financial resources and law enforcement.

·         We need to ask local authorities to make sure we keep provision of SARC.

·         The difficulty of losing children from care: leaflets have been published in Ireland and are to be distributed in the countries from which the children come.  There is sometimes a communication issue and we need to work together.  Most of the children have no family in the UK, so there is nobody to follow up any ongoing investigation; although it remains on the books, there is no-one working in the child’s best interests.

·         Sir Paul Beresford urged everyone to write to his or her MP setting out their concerns regarding paedophilia, along the lines of an Early Day Motion.

·         The UK is doing a lot of work with Roma children.  The new EU legislation (which the UK government has opted out of) gives the possibility of working across borders.  The UK Government believes it is already doing enough and did not opt in because it is doing pretty well (from the Home Office website).

·         Annual Anti-slavery Day is to be held on the 18th October this year.


Last year, SI Members were invited to an exclusive LexisNexis private screening of the film ‘Holly.  The following is a brief report.  We came away knowing that our Conference would be even more meaningful.


Prince Charles Cinema

1st December 2009

Marlene Teiwel and Barbara Watts, members of SI Epsom, attended the premiere screening of the film, which was sponsored by LexisNexis. The event was a positive initiative by the company to raise awareness of people trafficking and especially the world-wide abuse of children in the sex industry.


We were taken on a harrowing journey.

The film portrayed the tragic story of a twelve-year old girl, Holly, who was held in a brothel in Cambodia, having been sold by her impoverished Vietnamese family and smuggled across the border to work as a prostitute.  Because she was a virgin she was more ‘valuable’, as a high price could be asked of her first client.

Holly is a feisty young girl and the actress playing the part conveyed the disgust, anger, terror and all other emotions with great conviction and yet she still managed to portray the anguish of this child in a very genuine and understated way.

The impossible situation in which Holly finds herself is made shockingly clear by Patrick, who finding himself lodging in the ‘hotel’, befriends the child and eventually tries to rescue her.

At one stage Patrick finds himself tricked into going to a family home and invited to have sex with a girl-child no more than seven or eight as her parents looked on. He is appalled and bolts! An older ‘punter’ could see nothing wrong in having sex with under-age girls, even though he has a daughter himself.  There was graphic evidence of corruption within the police force and physical abuse by the ‘minders’ of the girls.  When Holly is being transported from one brothel to another, she tries to escape by jumping from the back of the truck.  She lands in a mined field, but is able to escape unscathed.  She joins a group of street children and scavenges off rubbish tips to survive. (Both the banning of landmines and help for street children are of course issues that we Soroptimists have campaigned for recently.) Sadly, Holly ends up back in the clutches of her ‘owners’ and is taken to a higher class establishment where she is drugged into submission.

It would be a shame to give away the ending of the film, as we hope to obtain a DVD of ‘Holly’ to show fellow members.  But needless to say, it isn’t a ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ scenario.


The screening was followed by a question and answer session.

The Four panelists were:

Guy Jacobson* – the Writer/Producer of ‘Holly’,former attorney and investment banker andhuman rights activist. Utilising his background in Law and Economics, Jacobson founded the RedLightChildren Campaign that works to eliminate the demand for child exploitation, focusing on legislation, enforcement, and the rule of law.  For his tireless efforts to in the fight against child sex trafficking, in 2008 he was awarded the US State Department’s prestigious Global Hero Award.

Christine Beddoe – the UK representative of the international ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) network.  Amongst other roles, she is an advisor on the protection of children from exploitation in tourism to the UN World Tourism Org. and to the European Economic and Social Council.

Parosha Chandran is an award-winning human rights barrister, whose work has led to several advances in the law governing victims of human trafficking.  She has won the Law Society’s Barrister of the Year Award (2008) and the Society of Asian Lawyers’ Pro Bono/Human Rights Lawyer of the Year Award (2009).  She works closely with many organisations, including the POPPY project.  Since 2004, she has achieved asylum status for the majority of women supported by this initiative.

Terry Tennans is the UK Director of International Justice Mission (IJM), which is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.  IJM has field offices in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and Latin America, where lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local governments to ensure victim rescue, to prosecute perpetrators and to strengthen the community and civic factors that promote functioning public justice systems.

Comments and issues that have stayed in the mind are:


  • Everything that happened in the film was true to life and not exaggerated
  • Human trafficking is recognised as being the 2nd or 3rd largest organised crime in the world
  • A huge proportion of child victims of trafficking are snatched from care homes – evidence shows that 60% of children go missing from care within 24 hours
  • It is a UK internal problem as well as international
  • Education is a key factor in helping to eradicate trafficking by raising awareness and rescuing people from poverty
  • Need to educate men and tackle the demand for underage sex
  • In Norway it is a punishable crime to buy sex anywhere in the world
  • In Cambodia the law is beginning to have teeth and 31 traffickers have recently been arrested with 9 convictions
  • We must raise awareness and work together.  Whatever we can do to help, we must do it. 

*Guy Jacobson cannot return to Cambodia.  His life would be in danger, as some of the scenes were shot in Mafia run brothels – albeit with a heavy police and security guard. 

Details of the following organisations and initiatives were given:

Other groups working to fight trafficking and human exploitation:

Soroptimist International of Epsom & District:

Soroptimist International:


We know that delegates left the Conference better informed and highly motivated to become involved in the fight against modern day slavery.



Members are delighted that we contributed in a very small way to highlight the evils of modern day slavery.  Soroptimists in every country in the world have raised awareness of the crime and the plight of women, children and men who have found themselves caught up in this evil trade.

We have joined the campaign to get local newspapers to refuse advertisements for ‘personal services’, thereby reducing the number of clients frequenting local brothels.  We have supported petitions to support trafficked women from being treated as illegal immigrants, when their only crime has been to trust the people that trafficked them into this country with the lure of money, a job and a better standard of living for themselves and families left behind.

SI is recognised by the United Nations as a voice for women and because members are involved in high-level discussions, we do make a difference and we are being heard.  At last, legislation is in place in more countries to bring traffickers to justice and the courts are able to impose greater penalties.  Although the number of prosecutions does not match the size of the problem, latest figures from the Home Office show that in 2010 there were 117 prosecutions and in 2011/2, this had risen to 165.  It is not enough we know, but the police are much better informed and working with community groups to engage with trafficked individuals.  There has been much publicity lately about Catholic Nuns who are working to support women duped into working in the sex industry.  It is this joined-up thinking and work practice that makes the most difference.  Poole Soroptimists have played an important part in raising awareness of trafficking in the UK and we know that we helped rekindle the public’s attention at our conference.  The fight goes on, but now at last the mountain looks a little less difficult to climb.


SI Epsom and District was nominated for a Federation Programme Award 2011 for Exceptional Service as a Global Voice for Women in the Programme Area of Human Rights and Status of Women for their Trafficking Conference.