Source: agency France-Presse
London, UK -- Women are being bought and sold on the streets of London for as little as US$5000 and than forced to work in the sex industry, a Government minister said last week.
Solicitor General Mike O'Brien was speaking as he opened Europe's first dedicated center to tackle gangs who bring unwitting young women to Britain from abroad - notably from Asia and eastern Europe - to work as prostitutes.
"Some victims do not even realize they are being trafficked until they arrive and then find the job they were being promised as a waitress turns out to be enforced servitude as a prostitute, including being beaten and raped" he said.
Mr O'Brien joined junior Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker and Women's Minister Meg Munn to open The UK Human Trafficking Center in Sheffield in northern England. The facility will be run by South Yorkshire Police using specially trained officers, lawyers and immigration workers. Although it will focus on all types of human trafficking there is a particular focus on exploitation in the sex trade following a high-profile, countrywide police operation launched earlier this year.
Operation Penameter involves all 55 police forces in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as immigration and intelligence officials, prosecutors and charities. Since its launch on February 21 this year, 188 women - most of them aged 18 -25 but some young as 14 - were rescued in raids on brothels, massage parlor's and private homes. Eighty four were confirmed as trafficking victims.
The women came from as far as Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, India, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Namibia, Poland, Rwanda, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Thailand.