RealStars visited London in November, on a bright and pleasant day! We continue our mission as ”Drivers of Change” by networking and sharing experience with other organizations working against trafficking.
The first visit is at the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organization which gathers a lot of different skills to help trafficking victims with their situation and also to give them a new life where support is given should they need it, legally or medically. They describe this process as “healing” since the victim needs help physically and mentally to find themselves and become “whole” again. It’s worth to remember that many trafficking victims’ symptoms are also found in torture victims, who the organization also supports. Women who have been victims of sex trafficking have many times lost contact with their own bodies. Some of the work is in helping these women to regain it through breathing exercises, how to approach pain and turn on the “emotional panel” (Body & Mind program).
We will also meet a number of interesting women at the Poppy Project which is a part of the large English women’s organization called Eaves. They support trafficking victims directly but also cooperate with the justice system and the police. They train some authorities and grants support in time of crisis.
In London we also had the opportunity to meet Stop the Traffik which is an international organization whose Dutch office we visited in Amsterdam. They have chosen to work locally and have created local groups which can spot trafficking and share information with trafficking victims on where they can turn in order to receive aid.
What’s the situation in England today? Reportedly, commercial sex has increased and sex trafficking is a natural consequence. The trade is organized and the victims are moved around different apartments and hotels. The telephone numbers are switched to avoid the police. There are flyers advertising sex buying in telephone kiosks in London. The area of Soho is well known for its sex shops and the so called Chinese Health Shops are actually covers for prostitution.
New law – a step towards the Swedish Sex Trade Law
A new law which was introduced in 2009 (The Police and Crime Act 2009) limits sex purchases when the seller is forced, regardless if you know or not, it’s a step forward. It’s a warning that the buyer has responsibility even though the law is difficult to uphold in practice. Sadly, few people know of the law and it hasn’t been used widely. One positive example is the area of Lambeth in London which uses the law.
London is a huge city full of opportunities and we look forward to more visits and hopefully future cooperation to make a difference in Europe!
Malin Roux and Vanessa Corneliusson