Responding to Trafficking
In my last Blog I talked about the media and their reporting on sex work and trafficking. In this Blog I want to tell you of a genuine trafficking situation I was involved in which is in stark contrast to the above.
I received a call from one of my “green” establishments who were concerned about a girl who had just come to work for them. I spoke at length with the receptionist and quickly established that this girl was there against her will and we needed to take action. With the receptionist’s permission, I contacted my police liaison officer who responded immediately and we both visited the premises. I still have visions in my head of me and the officer having to disappear into the toilet and hide whenever a client came to the door though – priceless!
We were able to chat to the girl who said she wanted to leave the situation she was in. So we left the premises with her and the receptionist and came back to our THT/SWISH offices where we were able to get her some food and toiletries. My officer gently questioned her and we made a referral through the National Referral Mechanism who confirmed it was internal trafficking. They were able then to assist us in getting the girl to a place of safety out of the City where we can hopefully set up ongoing support for her. The perpetrator was arrested and will hopefully be charged.
This for me was a great example of how long standing relationships with our indoor premises, and the sensitive support of our local police, can enable us to identify those who have sadly been forced or trafficked into sex work, and bring to justice those who are facilitating this.
I want to extend my thanks to the receptionist and the owner of the premises who brought this to THT/SWISH attention. I also want to thank my team for the great relationships and trust they have built up with the parlour who felt confident in contacting us with their concerns. I want to thank Vicky my police liaison officer and my local police for responding to the complaint and treating both the victim, and the people working at the brothel, with the utmost respect and sensitivity. And finally I want to thank “Julie” (not her real name) for her bravery in disclosing the atrocities she has suffered and wish her every success and happiness for her future.
Lorraine Galatowicz is Centre Manager for Terrence Higgins Trust Coventry and Warickshire, and chair of the UKNSWP.
SWISH project: Sex Workers into Sexual Health.