So far, a ban on prostitution is far from being discussed in the UK. The recent attempt to ban strip clubs for the same reason has failed. Although strip clubs may seem like a harmless bit of fun, the majority of Britain's trafficked women end up in places like these.
Fighting human traffricking: Countries consider ban on prostitution. © Thinkstock
Legislation is currently directed towards the traffickers: Under the country's Sexual Offence Act of 2003, people can be charged with trafficking offences with a maximum of 14 years in prison.
At the same time, police operations improved their international cooperation and ran a number of initiatives to get a grip on organised gang traffickers, while courts issued longer jail sentences.
In 2005, a gang of Kosovan, Albanian and Macedonian men received a total 40 years in jail. They were guilty of having lured a 15-year-old to the UK with the promise of a summer job selling ice cream. On arrival, she had been sold for £4,000 to work in a brothel near Birmingham.
Even so, improvements in the law are clearly necessary. In 2006, the UK signed a UN agreement referred to as the Palermo Protocol that requires signatory countries to introduce criminal offences to combat sex trafficking and improve care and support for trafficked women and children. It also requires steps to deter the demand.
According to the Eaves report, men said deterrents from buying sex included, being added to a sex offender register, prison and being publically exposed via billboard, newspaper, internet or letter to family or employer. They also added having their driver’s licence suspended or their car impounded to would also deter them from paying for sexual services.
The Council of Europe Convention Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which the UK Government ratified in December 2008, is a step in the right direction according to Louise Bloomfield, spokesperson for the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).
The UKHTC is part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) based in Sheffield and was set up to provide a central point for the development of expertise and cooperation in relation to trafficking of human beings.
Louise said: “The convention introduced a national referral mechanism, which is a nationally agreed process to help frontline staff (such as Police) identify victims of trafficking and offer support; strengthened arrangements for looking after victims and better support for victims in giving information to the police."