Whose responsibility is it?

A new study has been released called Men who Buy Sex. Who they buy and what they know by Eaves and Prostitute Research and Education. Based in London, they asked 103 men who used trafficked and non trafficked prostitute women about the sex industry. They were asked about their personal experiences as well as how much they knew about women’s vulnerability to coercion, pimping and trafficking. The study found interesting, and at times frightening, results about how much men know about these issues.

These are key findings relating to trafficking.

clip_image002 55% of men believed the majority of women in prostitution had been lured, tricked or trafficked.

clip_image002[1] 36% thought they had used women trafficked to London from another country. Participants told researchers about girls being moved around all the time, disappearing and ‘going on holidays’.

clip_image002[2] Two men said they were asked for help but neither believed the women. An African woman told a man she had been tricked and was scared. The man said that because she accepted his money and had sex with him anyway, he did not believe she was telling the truth.

clip_image002[4] Three men said they thought they’d paid for sex with trafficked women based on the fact that they didn’t speak the local language and they seemed young and vulnerable.

clip_image002[5] One man claimed that while in Amsterdam he noticed a ‘tough man’ standing outside the whole time and the woman he was with spoke no English and was under 16. He thought she was Polish, Russian, Albanian or Romanian.

clip_image002[6] Three men reported being told by the women themselves that they had been trafficked; none reported this to the police.

I find it shocking that some men KNOW what’s happening and do nothing about it.

Not only do they NOT contact the police but they still have sex with trafficked girls and women. It is not enough to feel guilty about it afterwards. What they should be doing is telling someone, helping girls who have been taken from their homes, who are being kept against their will; being bought and sold. Suspicion should be enough to report a case, I don’t know what they’re expecting to see as hard evidence, it’s very unlikely they do either. If the same men saw a women being dragged into a back alley, being beaten and raped they would report it, so why not this? Sex with a trafficked woman is the same; she is being raped every time.

The UK government has recently made it illegal to have sex with a trafficked person, a first step to fighting trafficking in the sex industry. It is no longer acceptable for someone to say ‘errr, I didn’t know’ … rape is rape.

Men need to be aware, they need to look at the signs and recognise them. Most importantly, men need to take responsibility and not have sex with trafficked women, but also report the cases to the police. Allowing these women to be abused on a daily basis is not acceptable, and there are ways to fight it from within.

Eleni Capsaskis

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3 thoughts on “Whose responsibility is it?

  1. Maria Triantopoulou

    I agree! Increased awareness is paramount in fighting trafficking. The question is: can legal sanctions be taken against men who have sex with trafficked women?

  2. Hi Maria,
    I totally agree with you. We need to talk about it and make people realise the typical fantasy of sex workers; that they are there out of choice and that they love their job is simply not true for everyone working in the industry. It’s time to make people stop, think and take responsibility for their actions and protecting others.

    I guess this discussion naturally leads to a very complex debate about gender roles, attitudes and perceptions towards men and women as well as ‘acceptable behaviors’ seen to be determined by social roles, biology and genetics. My brain hurts already but I am always keen to talk about it (just ask my friends)

    On the face of it, sanctions can and should be taken against men having sex with trafficking victims because by legal definition, they are committing rape. The argument is quite simple; she has not chosen to be there, she is being forced to have sex and is thus a rape victim. In fact there was a poster campaign in Westminster recently with the tag line ‘walk in a punter, walk out a rapist’.

    The bit of UK legislation causing most concern for us as an NGO and also police we have spoken to is that men can no longer say they didn’t know a person was being forced and get away with it. Problem is that there are no stringent guidelines on how to actually enforce this law. What do you think about having a law at all if police are unsure how it will actually work?

    (excellent surname by the way!)

    1. Maria Triantopoulou

      Thanks for your very interesting and informative answer (as well as for the name compliment!!!). What worries me from the rape argument is that taking into account how difficult it usually is for a raped woman to prove rape in court one can only imagine how much more complicated and burdensome it will be for a traficked woman working in the sex industry to prove rape in a court of law… If we add on to this the different attitudes and law enforcement guidelines in other countries, outside the UK, where women are trafficked one can only imagine how these difficulties may be exarcebated….

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