Last week, there was an excellent show on the BBC about the way stag weekends affect the growing number of human trafficking in the sex industry. It was surprising to see how many men on these trips were angry at the sight of cameras, trying to have as much fun away from home as they can get away with. In some of the countries stag parties typically visit, prostitution is legal…it’s unclear whether the way the women get there is legal.
The Czech Republic has become a prime stag party location, with around half a million British stag visitors a year. Of course, not all stag parties go looking for sex, but even if it’s only 10% that’s still 50,000 a year!! This high demand for sex, and at a relatively cheap price, is thought to have led to an increase in the number of trafficked women. One of the most shocking moments of the show involves the journalist, Simon Boazman, posing as an East London brothel owner trying to rent two women from a Czech trafficker. It just seemed very easy: find a guy, meet him and rent
two girls for 50.000 Euros a year each! The man selling the two women speaks as if it were the most normal thing to be selling human beings like commodities.
In Holland, 500 trafficked girls were rescued last year; legal prostitution doesn’t mean that women aren’t still being bought and sold for the sex industry. Attempts are being made to close down the brothels, but a brothel owner in the Red Light District says it’s not up to people like him to work out whether a woman has been trafficked to work there or not. He is an advocate of the ‘Don’t Ask’ policy, claiming it is unfair to expect managers and owners to know where the girls are coming from.
Boazman also visited Lunik 9, a derelict estate in Slovakia with a high Roma population who are very vulnerable due to poverty and high unemployment. There, he met a young woman who had been trafficked to Amsterdam when she was 17 by a man pretending to be her boyfriend. Through tears, the girl described the way she was sold to men and used for sex every day. A year later, Yana was able to escape and return to her family and young child in Slovakia.
What I find very interesting in this programme is the question of how much responsibility the men sleeping with prostitutes on these stag nights actually have. Even those who disagree with human trafficking said things along the lines of ‘I disagree with it, but at the end of the day it’s just what happens, like. You can’t do anything about it. You’re just here to have fun, and do things you won’t get away with back home.” To these men, the link between their stag nights and the increase in trafficking isn’t clear cut, they seem to believe that it is unavoidable and something they have no control over. In my opinion, it is evident that the high demand for prostitutes in these ‘stag capitals’ does allow for more trafficking. I don’t think ‘don’t ask’ is an acceptable answer, and I believe there are steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of the women while making sure the stags are still having fun.
Read more at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8457172.stm
Watch the full episode at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00pzc70/Stag_Weekends_The_Dirty_Secrets/