Response to the Guardian article on Prostitution and Trafficking

22 October 2009

Response to the article ‘Prostitution and Trafficking – The Anatomy of a Moral Panic’, by Nick Davies, published in The Guardian on 20 October 2009.

The article suggests that the country’s low conviction rate for trafficking offences is clear evidence that the number of victims affected by this crime in the UK is marginal. Given the hidden nature of the crime, prevalence will always be difficult to establish; however it is a mistake to try and quantify numbers of victims based on conviction rates.

Davies’ article fails to acknowledge the multiple barriers victims face in approaching support services let alone the authorities. Until victims feel safe and protected, and police, immigration, social and health services, people at all stages of the criminal justice process and members of the public fully understand the nature and complexities of human trafficking in all its forms, it will always be difficult to secure convictions.

As organisations working with victims of trafficking, we see the human devastation caused by this gross abuse of human rights on a daily basis. Perhaps Davies felt it unnecessary to include their voices in his analysis of the issue, but to our ears it was a deafening omission. His article, presented as an authority on the issue, has done a grave disservice to all victims of trafficking. Not only has he discredited their experiences, he is in danger of jeopardising the little existing support available to them.

The above response was sent as a joint letter to the editor of the Guardian (signed by several charities that work to support trafficked people) in response to the article but was not published.