Olympics Brothel Warning

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 111 months ago
Olympics Brothel Warning

Here's an effect of the 2012 Olympics that wasn't trumpeted by Lord Coe in the bid: mega-brothels.

They were sanctioned in Athens 2004 and Germany for the World Cup, Beijing had a crackdown and Vancouver sex workers are pushing for safer working environments in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It seems that anywhere there's a gathering of athletes and sports fans there's an explosion in prostitution - almost as if what's happening on the track or pitch isn't exciting enough.

Now, the C of E dioceses of Newcastle and Winchester have set down a motion for the next General Synod to discuss human trafficking related to the expected rise in Olympics prostitution. Because let's face it; although we're sure that some women travel to punter hotspots of their own free will, many (most?) are trafficked there by pimps wanting to maximise profits.

It's impossible to get accurate figures on how many women are trafficked into London for sex work, but the excellent Poppy Project had a go in 2004 (wotchit - it's a PDF). They estimated that just 19% of women in London's sex industry were of UK origin. Not all of the foreign nationals will be forced, of course, but when you consider that anywhere between 6,000 and 18,000 trafficked women are thought to be in the UK for prostitution, and when the ever-wonderful PunterNet reports women who are frightened and unwilling, you know there's a problem.

We're not sure just how effective debating the problem amongst churchmen is going to be and would prefer to see the government taking some real action against trafficking rather than wishy washy targeting of men using women who are already here. We want to celebrate the Olympics when it arrives, not spend it worrying about a seedy underbelly.

Last Updated 20 January 2009


And for another view on the situation see this url:


While I dont have first hand experience of the worlds oldest profession I do have to say that I tend to agree with the above more than the typical headline chasing articles.


Or, for another view, how about 'one trafficked woman is one too many'?

Catherine Stephens

Certainly one trafficked woman is one too many, but we’re much more likely to be able to assist them if we have a realistic view of the problem. It’s generally accepted that 80,000 people sell sexual services, a figure in use since 1999. Estimates for outdoor prostitution range from 3,000 to 27,000. The Home Office continues to quote 4,000 as the figure for women trafficked into sexual exploitation (5%).

Pentameter 1 and 2, nationwide intelligence-led police operations to tackle trafficking, raided 1,337 premises across the UK and identified 255 victims of trafficking (it was never revealed how many women were deported as in breach of their visa). Police estimated they visited 10% of premises, so extrapolation gives us 2550 total trafficked women.

Three groups of people are likely to see these victims: sex workers, clients and those who run brothels, working flats and escort agencies. Existing and proposed law distorts the sex industry to build in structural reasons to prevent all of these groups to report anxieties about trafficking.

Sex workers tend to work in flats on different days of the week as more than one woman in the same building equals a brothel, so we don’t see each other and so cannot pick up on danger signs. The maid can get done for controlling for gain if she calls the police with anxieties. Despite this, there have been cases where brothel owners have alerted police to suspicions of trafficking. Regrettably, there have been cases where those suspicions have been proven correct, where victims have been rescued, traffickers arrested – and the police have then returned to the source of their information, to arrest, prosecute, imprison and confiscate their assets. This acts as a considerable disincentive to report.

The government’s now trying to criminalise clients, despite many cases where clients have reported anxieties to the police or personally rescued women (e.g., paying a £20,000 debt bond), ignoring the fact that in both Turkey and Italy clients are part of the reporting process, identifying trafficking more successfully than our police operations.

Incidentally, they’re also removing protection of the law from almost all indoor sex workers by giving the police wide ranging discretionary powers to close down brothels. Criminal gangs already target brothels for pleasure and profit as unlikely to report, and this will increase if we know the cops can shut us down on suspicion of – well, almost anything actually. The police will be a threat, not a source of protection. Organisations like the IUSW and the ECP are trying to draw attention to how dangerous this legislation will be.

Finally, a report commissioned by the Swedish government showed that fears about trafficking to Germany for the World Cup were completely unfounded.