Politics and prostitution

Mira is an Albanian who has not seen her family in Albania for six years but whose earnings in the UK are their chief source of support.

“All this talk of Balkan gangs running the Soho girls is rubbish. We are freelances, working for ourselves. Apart from what I need to live on, I send all my money back home. I take nothing from the state over here. I pay my way by selling my body and I just want to be left alone.”

Her friend, Lisa, adds: “The last time the police raided us, they said ‘you didn’t get a British passport to go on the game’. But I say that it’s my body and I’ll do what I want with it.”

That’s a passage from an article by Jon Silverman that originally appeared in the Guardian on 18th February, 2003.  It was titled Sex workers say “let us stay”.

This touching plea was augmented by an interesting quote from someone called Nicci Adams of Legal Action for Women.  She claimed that “the authorities can be anti-prostitution and anti asylum-seeker at the same time.  What could be more perfect?”

Perhaps cynicism is the natural psychological condition of working girls like Mira and her friend Lisa.  But, apparently, half of London’s stock are from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.  Albanian criminals control not the street trade practised by these women but the massage parlour game.  So Mira and Lisa are probably being truthful.  (That’s the thing about criminals - they start telling the truth when they are desperate.  It’s only the rest of the time they lie.)

Politically, however, the interesting part of the story is the suggestion that the police and local and national politicians are more concerned to sweep the visible nuisance off the street than to deal with “the Albanian angle”.  And that, together with the increased risk of violence it entails, is what these women were protesting almost three years ago now.

Note that the Guardian report mentions a London Conference in November 2002.  Here is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office press release which refers to that.  Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is quoted as saying:-

‘I am proud that as hosts of this conference, the UK is demonstrating – once again – our long-term commitment to supporting the nations of the Balkans region as they move towards full Euro-Atlantic integration.

‘It is highly significant that so many Ministers from Europe and beyond are coming together today to demonstrate their commitment to tackling organised crime. This is the biggest conference on organised crime in the Balkans to date and we must seize this opportunity to make a difference.

‘The task ahead of us is not easy - but we should not be daunted. It is my hope that today we can take the first step towards solving this problem once and for all.’

Then Home Secretary David Blunkett felt his way to the dais so he could add:-

‘We can only outwit and track down organised criminals by working ever more closely with the Balkan countries. Closer co-operation is particularly vital in the current climate with the heightened threat we all face from international terrorist networks. That is why I am delighted to co-host today’s conference to develop the partnership and information-sharing which is so crucial to our success.

‘We must build on this success. That’s why we are taking action in Britain against organised crime and the misery it spreads. The new Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act ensures tougher new penalties of up to 14 years imprisonment for people smugglers and traffickers, and new laws to seize the ill-gotten gains of organised criminals who make money by exploiting the vulnerable.

‘Organised criminals co-operate across national borders and so must we. The new Crime (International Co-operation) Bill will enable faster, more effective co-operation with our international partners against serious and organised crime.”

With their, of course, happily married European partners, these two fearless caped crusaders of the modern urban jungle fashioned four sexy governmental projects - no, not just projects but, seminally, UK-led projects - to tackle organised crime in South Eastern Europe.  These were the EU Policing Mission, a network of UK Drugs and Immigration Liaison Officers, something called Reflex Romania and something else called Project Immpact (sic).

Now, does all this by any chance have about it the definitive aroma of governmental uselessness?  Can one safely say that, when the last hour of police overtime has been claimed and the last empty filing cabinet shipped back from Bratislava to Brize Norton as expensively as possible by military transport - nothing whatsoever will have been achieved?

It takes an investigation by the Telegraph to answer that question:-

Young women are being imprisoned as sex slaves in secret underground bunkers before being trafficked to Britain, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Our investigation uncovered shocking evidence in eastern Europe, including video footage, of groups of women locked in squalid cellars below motels.

The victims - found by police in a series of raids - were allowed out of the cramped bunkers only to “service” clients in nearby rooms before being taken straight back underground.

The “cellar girls” were among thousands of young women lured to Macedonia from their native countries across eastern Europe by ruthless criminal gangs.

The Telegraph took it upon itself to inform the Office of the Prime Minister of its findings.  Our leader was shocked, I tell you.  But in control.  Always in control.  And determined to do so much more to make the world a safer, more caring place.

Growing concern about the tide of eastern European women being brought into Britain and forced into sexual slavery has prompted Tony Blair to declare war against people-traffickers.

After being made aware last night of our investigation, he said: “It is shocking.  Some of these Eastern European gangs cover their attacks so well and the scale of their intimidation is colossal.”

Mr Blair warned that the police and security services’ powers were “not sufficient” and that new measures would be brought in soon.

Well, that Albanian intimidation is not colossal enough, apparently, for the EU Policing Mission to find out where it’s at.  Still, it’s been a while since we had an international conference.  So that’s a possibility.  And a quick clean up of the visible street trade, say in Soho, would at least make things look as if we’re doing something - wouldn’t it, boys?

Posted by Guessedworker on Sunday, November 27, 2005 at 07:03 PM in Oh Tempora, Oh Mores
Comments (6) | Tell a friend



Posted by ben tillman on November 28, 2005, 12:10 AM | #

people smugglers

Even that bit is offensive.  We do not have “drugs smugglers” or “diamonds smugglers”.  How can you have a PM who doesn’t speak English?


Posted by Calvin on November 28, 2005, 06:34 AM | #

Prostitution is a crime. Illegal immigration is a crime. This is not Albania. This is not (yet) the Balkans. Alien criminals must be expelled. Albanian whores can sell themselves on the streets of Tirana.

If these girls are being forced into prostitution the best thing the government can do for them is to destroy the market for sex by imposing severe mandatory sentences for procurement, solicitation and supply.


Posted by Guessedworker on November 28, 2005, 08:36 AM | #

Calvin, you are not allowing for those long lonely nights now the supposedly family-friendly hours at Westminster are in force, and all-night sittings are a thing of the past.  What’s a poor lonely MP to do?  Pass a law locking up all the tarts?  Not bloody likely.


Posted by Amalek on November 28, 2005, 09:33 AM | #

Prostitution isn’t a crime. Soliciting is.


Posted by Al Ross on November 28, 2005, 10:01 AM | #


If, perchance, you are in the business of saving fallen women then save one for yourself. I know its gruesome but it can grow some more.


Posted by Calvin on November 28, 2005, 12:20 PM | #

Amalek, o implacable enemy of Israel, prostitution IS a crime, soliciting is BECOMING a crime. The elite are in the process of modifying prostitution to quasi-legal status, whilst making soliciting illegal. This is mainly being done in order to increase opportunities for the persecution of white males.

As I said before foreign whores should prostitute themselves in their own countries. If the Telegraph are right, however, then that’s a whole different question.

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