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Monthly Archives: May 2013

The latest on Norway’s sex purchase ban

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I happened to notice today that the 2012 annual report by Pro-Sentret, Oslo’s official “help centre” for sex workers, is now online. This is the organisation whose Dangerous Liaisons report was so badly misrepresented by prohibitionists recently, so I thought it would be interesting to see what they’ve had to say in the wake of that report.

Unfortunately it’s only available in Norwegian, so I had to run it through Google Translate. I don’t really have the time to, or think I can, add much to what the report itself says so I’m just going to C&P below some of the report’s more notable findings. Anyone who thinks I’m cherry-picking is welcome to do the same exercise themselves, but one thing I’ll tell you now: in absolutely no way does it provide support for those prohibitionist claims. Not that I think that’ll stop them from trying to twist it to say that it does.

Excerpts below, still in pristine Google Translate state. I did fix a couple words that would have rendered the translation incomprehensible, but I’ve left the grammatical errors intact.

INTRODUCTION

…there is no reason to believe that there has been a reduction in the prostitution market in the past year. On the contrary. Much suggests that the Norwegian prostitution market remains fairly stable in terms of the number of people who sell sex, nationality and how prostitution is organized.

TRONDHEIM

More recently, it revealed new venues for prostitution in Trondheim by bars and restaurants are increasingly being used. Police have had an advisory role in relation to the establishments that have been most affected. In an extended period of supervised police downtown tanning salons. They found that these frequently used as a venue for prostitution. Police went out with warnings to holders and noted that it was put into action to impede prostitution on tanning salons (staffing, warnings monitoring and so on).

Police in Trondheim has marked a change in relation to the nationality of the the prostitute. They reported that several women from economically distressed countries Greece and Spain, and frequent prostitution market in Trondheim. There is also a large increase in terms of Romanian prostitute. Police believe that these activities can be organized.

Nigerian

The Nigerian women prostituting themselves mostly on the streets. In 2009 we had an expectation that the proportion of Nigerians on the streets would reduced when buying sex ban was a reality, as Nigerians basically have few rights in Norway and thus would make it harder. However, we have seen an increase in the Nigerian contingent in total during the last three years, while the number who have availed themselves of outpatient follow-up, decreased. This is still the largest group that uses the outpatient services.

In 2012 there were 80 people from Nigeria who received long-term social care support. We believe that the reason why women do not leave the country depends on the (lack of) opportunities they have elsewhere in Europe. There is rarely an option to return to poor Nigeria, and in Italy and Spain where they have resided for several years, is no other than prostitution due to the financial crisis. And prostitution pays enough more Norway than in the south of the continent.

Norwegian

Many women have found other ways to establish contact with customers after the ban on purchase of sex was introduced as well as due to increased competition from overseas on the street. Many have gained regular customers as they make arrangements with the phone or online instead of establishing contact with them in prostitution district. Some have found it necessary to finance its drug use through crime, such as theft and sale of illegal drugs.

Eastern Europe

Pro Centre still has contact with a large group of women from East European countries. In the early 2000’s, these were the largest foreign deployment Until the Nigerian women took the prostitution market a few years later. Many predicted that the Eastern European women would flood the market when the first EU eastward enlargement was a fact. This did not happen. EU enlargement created opportunities for regular employment for many. When the EU included Bulgaria and Romania we thought the same would happen to the women there. This has not been the same degree, and one of the reasons may be that many of women in prostitution from these two countries is Rom-women who are not in the same degree eligible for our regular labor market.

A large proportion of the Pro Centre users have come to Norway by a third party and pay a backer / pimp / agent to work here. Some of the women have been in Norway while working independently.

Unfortunately, we see great motivation and desire to work does not compensate for the lack of work experience, reading and writing skills and knowledge of Norwegian. It is therefore many become discouraged and end to continue in prostitution when job hunting is not results.

Sexual Health

We still get a lot of feedback from users that condom use declines. We hear that there are many women who perform oral sex on men without a condom, so that it difficult for those who want to use a condom to negotiate this with the customer. The customer is often willing to pay more for sex without, so that in a market that has greater supply than demand, so more and more of our users report that they take “trips” without a condom.

Violence and trauma

We started in 2010 to record separately the cases where violence was the reason for inquiry to the health by Pro Centre. In 2011 we had fourteen women who came to us for help after being exposed to violence and / or rape, compared with six in 2010. In 2012 we had 33 such incidents recorded. There is a strong increase.

The women who have been victims of violence come from nine different countries, but 22 of the 33’s Nigerian women. Four are ethnic Norwegian. Ten of the women have been raped. Some of these must be characterized as very serious as some involving serious violence and several perpetrators. Three of the women have been stabbed so severely that they have had to get immediate medical attention in hospital. Eight of the thirty-three have been hospital / emergency room before they came to us. In eleven of the cases police have been involved, but we have no idea of how many that ends with review and any judgment. Women in prostitution are afraid to report violence and abuse.

In six of the cases, the offender is a woman, whether a “madam” or Another woman in prostitution. Eleven of the women stated that the violence / rape is performed by a prostitution client. Some have been assaulted in prostitution district by a unknown man, some have found that the abuser has penetrated into the apartment they live.

Our message through the report Dangerous Liaisons is that women in prostitution is still very vulnerable to violence. They frequently exposed to crime in the form of violence, intimidation and harassment. The report shows that prostitution has become more individualized and fewer report that they seek relief services after they have been violence. In addition a number of women that they lack legal protection as part of legislation – which basically should cherish and protect women – also entails that they do not contact the police when exposed to criminal acts. They fear that they may lose their apartment (Operation homeless) and / or earnings base their if they call the police attention. Customers must now “protected” from being fined, and his role goes from being “business partner” to an ally parallel to the Police goes from being an ally that women can obtain protection from a party they must protect customers against.

Women in prostitution are reminded constantly of the environment that they act undesirable. Be it through police actions, media coverage of the field or Also passers. When exposed to violence takes in many cases even responsibility. Shame and guilt prevents them from asking for help. Our experience is that the more focus as we help measures on violence and violence against, the more women will share their experiences with us and we will better position to assist them. This recognition we take seriously. It is incumbent upon the support system a great responsibility in adding ensure that vulnerable people receive the care, support and any redress they have entitled. We must be present for women who sell sex on their terms: we must be “here and now”.

Pro Centre would like to focus on the protection of victims of violence rather than a political tug of war or a rematch of the law. The challenge for governments is to provide police guidelines are clear: how should the seller of sexual services position as the “weak” and the individual’s right to protection and protection proportionate to the pursuit of pimps and traffickers? Is the legislator’s intention that the individual prostitute rights should be subordinated to the large market reduction project? How to
police and judicial system could emerge as credible allies when individuals are exposed to violence, whenever any police activity suggests that their situation from day to day is not Important?

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We Are Here To Win

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A really powerful statement from the Philippine Sex Workers Collective on the appropriation of their voices by prohibitionist groups and the challenge they face with the Anti-Prostitution Bill, based on the Swedish model.
“Society has made us invisible so to have women of power speak for us was a blessing or so we thought. It was not a blessing. It was exploitation. They were not speaking for us, they were speaking for themselves in our name.”

And Deliver Us From All Our Saviors

Sex workers have always been treated with great disdain in Philippine society. To call a woman a prostitute (puta) or the daughter or son of a prostitute (anak ng puta) would perhaps be the gravest insult you can throw on any Filipino. Credit this to the Catholic Church and Christian fundamentalists (the Catholics make up 88 % of the country’s population while the Christian groups account for 8%. The rest are Muslims.) They have ingrained in the minds of the people that sex outside of marriage is dirty and immoral. To most Filipinos therefore, prostitution is a moral issue and those involved in it must be condemned. This has led us, sex workers, to be treated with stigma and discrimination.

As sex workers, we are forced to hide who we are and what we do for fear that if we are outed, we and our families would…

View original post 1,025 more words

Ten Things You Can Do to Stop Violence Against Women. By Jane Ruffino

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Jane Ruffino originally posted this on Facebook. Facebook took it down. Fuck you, Facebook.

Exactly a year ago, my then-boyfriend put me in a headlock and punched me until his hand shattered. The only reason I didn’t die on my bedroom floor on the night of May 3, 2012 is that he didn’t know where to put his thumb when he made a fist. It wasn’t the first time, nor, I’m sad to say, was it the last time, but it was the one he got caught for, and the one I can’t get sued for talking about.

He spent the night in a hospital, having his hand rebuilt with pins. I spent the night strapped to a trolley in a different hospital, having everything x-rayed. I left with stitches in my face and my blood-soaked clothes in a Dunnes Stores bag. He left the hospital five days later, in a cast, and with a diagnosis of “work and home stress”.

I still get concealer in my scar (and it is still sore), and I’m still not totally safe, but I’ve started to rebuild my life, and it’s getting pretty good. But while my life improves, dudes are still beating up women.

As much as I’d like to shut up about this and have people stop identifying me with something that happened to me, it’s not that common for an abuser to be convicted. I’m in a position to do something that many women are not, so I’ll keep talking until dudes stop beating up women.

We all know victims, so we all know perpetrators. It’s always someone you wish it weren’t. Believe me, I know this better than anyone.

Even though you can’t make a relationship with a violent dickhead safe for his girlfriend (or possibly for any woman), we can make the world safer for women by making it harder to get away with cracking our faces open.

Here’s some of what I think we need to do differently.

1. Swap your sympathy for empathy, and get angry: Nothing could get better for me until I got really angry, and empathy helped me get there. Empathising with me means you’ll stop asking me why I stayed, and assume that, like with any violent crime, it could happen to anyone. Empathising with him means you accept that it’s done by seemingly normal human beings, and not by easily identifiable monsters.

I do appreciate the “Sorry for your troubles”, but I’d rather you be angry with me than sad on my behalf. I know the sympathy comes from the right place, but it can feel a little like a pat on the head, and even a bit isolating. We live in a world where you can beat your girlfriend nearly to death and walk out of a criminal court straight into a pub for a burger and a pint. That should piss you right the fuck off, so if you don’t think it’s my fault, then don’t make it all my responsibility.

2. Trust us: Women like me lose the ability to trust ourselves, and we don’t often speak believably about what’s happening until it’s well in the past. Even I sometimes don’t believe me. And yes, we all take them back. It seems to have undermined my credibility with a lot of people, forever. Because hey, if I hadn’t been exaggerating all along, then why would I take someone back after he put me in the hospital?

I managed to gloss over the time I woke up with a pillow being pushed to my face. I didn’t want to believe he was capable of it any more than you did, so you should probably trust that I’m not going to make this shit up.

3. Start calling bullshit: Does your friend, your brother, your colleague insist that his girlfriend or wife is“batshit crazy”? Does she sound like a wild-eyed shrieking harpy who is totally ruining his life? I’ll tell you something: having the shit slapped out of you makes you a little crazy. Five weeks after I contacted his family to ask them to help him, I was in the hospital with a busted face. They hadn’t believed me because they’d been told I was crazy. I’m not, by the way, which I feel the need to say because trauma does all sorts of things to you, whether or not you ever get your face broken. But maybe if someone had started calling his bullshit years ago, he wouldn’t have ended up the way he is, and I would not have to rebuild my life and my sense of self.

Try it. Next time some guy says “She’s crazy”, assume what he really means is, “I’m an enormous dickhead with no respect for women.”

4. Stop looking for the truth: My account is true and real, and verified in a criminal court, but his account also represents a world he truly lived in. The fact is, we were both delusional. He believed I was a monstrous asshole, and I thought if I stopped being such a monstrous asshole, he would stop throwing things at my head and be the loving boyfriend he promised he’d be – if I only changed a few more things about myself.

It’s a Venn diagram, where the overlapping bit was “Jane is an irredeemable piece of shit”. It’s when I started insisting I was a worthy human being, when the punches and the slaps would start. You can rearrange the data points all you like, and get a hundred different versions, but there is no grey area between two overarching perspectives where you’ll find the truth you’re looking for. That crisscrossing of narratives applies to normal human relationships, but these were two competing and incompatible narratives, neither of which were rational.

This was a situation where I was trying to have a normal relationship with someone who once threw a pint of beer over me to prove he wasn’t an alcoholic. OK, so maybe that is a little crazy.

5. Let go of the checklist: You know the one. You Google “emotional abuse” because someone was a dick to you, and there it is. It’s a useful guide, perhaps, but you can’t identify abuse through a Cosmo quiz. Yes, abusers fit a profile, and in some ways, they’re all the damn same. They all try to smash your computer. They all put your phone through a wall. They all search your fucking email. And they all cry and beg for your love right after you’ve cleaned up the glass they smashed at your feet.

But there are times when we all fit the more minor things on those checklists. I’m talking about the name-calling, the voice-raising, the times we manipulate and goad and cajole our partners; it’s not OK, but it doesn’t make your relationship an abusive one. I’ve seen you cringe and turn all confessional when I tell you about things he did -– you’re like me, trying to make absolutely sure the same terrible tendencies aren’t in you. Every one of us probably has the capacity to turn into despots, or become complicit in terrible acts. Being mean doesn’t make us despots, but covering up domestic violence does make us complicit.

Working only from a checklist makes it easy to ignore the enormous difference between acting like a dick in an argument, and wanting absolute power over your partner. I’d hate to add up the amount of money I spent on therapy, desperately trying to understand if I was really the abuser all along. Until one day the penny dropped: sometimes I am a fucking asshole,but that doesn’t make me an abuser. Maybe this is obvious to you, but it was news to me. And yes, I still feel the need to prove it over and over, and I’ll never fully believe it myself.

Even I’m still looking for the truth, and I’m never going to find it.

6. Get over your need to diagnose: We live in a pathology-obsessed world. “He sounds like a psychopath.” “That’s sociopathic!” “How totally psychotic!” “Is he bipolar?” I don’t know, and frankly, unless you’re his doctor, it’s neither your place nor my place to slap a diagnosis on someone based on my description of him, especially given the bias I have since he cracked my face open like an egg.

Diagnosis is also what he used on me, as part of his pattern. I was Google-diagnosed with everything from premenstrual dysphoria to narcissistic sociopathy to -– wait for it -– Munchausen’s By Proxy (I told him I thought he drank too much). I think diagnoses are partly a form of excuse-making, but also, sometimes people are just assholes.

If you want to ask what diagnosis is most likely for him, try to be satisfied with “gigantic piece of shit”.

7. Focus on the perpetrator: Outside of gender-based violence, is there any other crime where the focus is so much on the victim that the criminal becomes practically invisible? Remember his name; forget mine: his name is Mark Patrick Kenneth Jordan and he broke his hand off my face. I get that it comes from a good place when you say I’m the last person you’d think it could happen to, but there’s an uncomfortable implication that it had more to do with me than it did with him.

In fact, he used my outward confidence to his advantage; it made me less believable, and it made people question me. Because rather than seeing me as the sort of person who sends work emails with my neck strapped to an emergency-room trolley, my ability to cope made me look suspicious. I don’t know what’s more humiliating: knowing people think I’m a domineering and irredeemable asshole, or people knowing how easily I caved on just about everything.

But until we shift the discussion from “Why do so many women get abused?” to “Why do so many men beat their partners?” it will continue to be a sympathy-driven discourse that puts the onus on the victim to stop getting her ass kicked.

8. Cut out the platitudes: It’s not that I don’t understand what you mean by “There’s nothing you could have done” or “Nobody deserves it” or “Even if you were batshit crazy” – I get it, but those phrases are meaningless. When I say that I want to find out why I am afraid of spiders but not the guy who smashed a door to splinters with his bare hands, I’m not blaming myself for staying. When I talk about the things I did wrong, I’m not blaming myself, I’m actually kind of revelling in the fact that I’m now safe to be a complicated and flawed human being without getting a smack for it. Just respect my intelligence and my agency, and accept that I am able to grasp the complex dynamics; I still want to understand why I had such terrible risk assessment.

I think that people are pretty good, generally, that most people try to do the right thing, but platitudes are part of an “I don’t want to get involved” attitude. You’re involved, like it or not. You think I wanted to be involved?

Stop spouting cliches and talk for real. As long as what you say isn’t worse than “you fisheyed c*nt”, you can be sure I’ve heard worse.

9. Stop raising awareness and start demanding consequences: The week of Mark’s sentencing, Women’s Aid did a balloon launch. Women’s Aid is an indispensible organization that does great work, but what does PR fluff achieve? How much more aware of violence against women do you need to be before you do something? And are we so afraid of women’s anger that our own organisations are resorting to nice-girl complacency?

Pretty much every one of my calls to the cops – even with a barring order in place – was met with dismissiveness and impatience. They won’t start taking women like me seriously until the community makes it impossible to get away with beating us up.

It’s a crime against the state, which means the victim is only a witness. Violence against women is a crime against you.

10. Don’t hit women: It’s statistically likely that some of you reading this hit your partners, or will eventually. If this is you, then, hey – go fuck yourself.

The EU report on trafficking in human beings

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Last month saw the publication of the EU’s first Trafficking in Human Beings report, which is billed as an attempt to “collect comparable data on trafficking in human beings at the EU level”. The report is (properly) littered with disclaimers, such as this one in screaming bold type on page 30:

More reported cases do not necessarily mean an increase in the actual number of victims. This may indicate an improvement in the reporting rate of the phenomenon or a change in the recording system

Unfortunately, however, when it came to the press release, the European Commission decided to go for the handy soundbite – and so we’ve been deluged with headlines like “Human trafficking increased by 18%” when of course, the report doesn’t show it did any such thing.

For all the faith put into that 18% figure, though, most of the newspaper and NGO reactions don’t evince much interest in the rest of the data. I’m going to put this down to simple laziness – it’s a whole 94 pages they’d have to wade through, poor dears – but it’s also the case that if all the statistics were accepted as readily as the “18% increase” has been, it would be a little bit inconvenient for some of those with an interest in this area. This table on page 31 shows why:

Trafficking01

Contrary to what we’re constantly told by the anti-trafficking movement, the most recent figures make it hard to discern any link between trafficking and the legal status of sex work. The Dutch rate is very high, but the Cyprus rate is higher – and Cyprus has much stricter laws than the Netherlands (brothels are illegal, for one thing). Romania, where sex work itself is illegal, is nearly as high. Hungary (legal), Portugal (legal) and Lithuania (illegal) are tied for last. Austria and Germany are also relatively low – in fact, Germany and Sweden are tied, at 0.8 per 100,000.  And the German rate has remained more or less constant over the three years surveyed, while Sweden’s has quadrupled.

Don’t think we’ll be reading that in the next Turn Off the Red Light press release.

I’m being mischievous, of course, because as I’ve already said, the data don’t – and can’t – show the actual number of trafficked persons in each country. So we can’t really say that Germany, Austria and Sweden have more or less the same trafficking rate. But let’s be honest here – had the table shown Germany and Austria to be right up there with the Netherlands, and Sweden way down on its own, is there any doubt we’d have heard all about it from the prohibitionist groups?

But sex workers’ rights advocates shouldn’t leap on those figures, either, because truthfully the whole report is pretty hopelessly undermined by its methodological weaknesses. These include the following:

Different countries provided different sets of data. On page 30 we are told:

Ten EU Member States provided data on identified and presumed victims, 15 EU Member States provided data on identified victims only and two EU Member States provided data on presumed victims only. The participating non-EU countries provided data only on identified victims.

This alone would make it impossible to get a cohesive account of trafficking, or even just of detected trafficking, across Europe. It certainly renders a comprehensive cross-country comparison untenable. (In case you were wondering, though, all the countries I’ve mentioned so far provided data only on “identified victims” – except for the Netherlands, which only gave “presumed victim” data. More about this later.)

Different countries use different definitions. The Commission seems to have attempted to get around this, by reminding countries of the international definition of “trafficking” when sending them the forms to complete, but the methodology problem is unavoidable. An “identified victim” is, according to page 22,

a person who has been formally identified as a victim of trafficking in human beings according to the relevant formal authority in Member States

and that inevitably introduces an element of subjectivity into the data, because not all member states strictly apply the international definition when deciding whom to identify as a victim of trafficking. In fact, I doubt whether any of them do – and they are inconsistent in the manner and degree by which they diverge from the international definition. So when we look at that table and see that Ireland has more than twice the rate of “identified victims” as Greece, for example, we have no way of knowing whether that’s because Irish police genuinely detected twice the rate of people who fit the international definition, or whether the Irish police identified people outside the international definition, or whether the Greek police declined to identify people inside it.

This problem is magnified for those countries that include data for “presumed victims”, that is:

a person who has met the criteria of EU regulations and international Conventions but has not been formally identified by the relevant authorities (police) as a trafficking victim or who has declined to be formally or legally identified as trafficked.

Here, member states are essentially being asked to submit data on people who were trafficked but were not identified as trafficked. To identify unidentified trafficking victims. There’s something a bit Schrödinger’s Cat-like about this category; it just doesn’t seem to lend itself to any real scientific measurement, at all.

If the data had been collected on a forward-looking basis, it might almost be workable. That is, if countries had been told that, for the future, they would be asked to record details of not only the people who they formally identified as victims of trafficking, but also of people who they would have identified as trafficked but for some insurmountable obstacle (such as that the person themselves told them where to stick their “trafficking victim” status). You’d still have the subjectivity problem, but at least you would know that the records were being kept on an ongoing basis, with the member states knowing exactly what they were to look out for.

But that’s not how this was done. Instead, as explained on page 17,

The questionnaire was sent via Eurostat to the National Statistical Offices of the EU Member States, EU Candidate and Potential Candidate countries and to the EFTA/EEA (European Free Trade Association/European Economic Association) countries in September 2011. It included the appropriate tables, a list of common indicators, definitions and guidelines for collecting the statistical data as well as the country codes to be used and a template for providing metadata.

So countries were asked to collate retrospectively their data on people who they had identified as unidentified trafficked persons. And then to pick out of that data only the people who fit the “common indicators, definitions and guidelines”. But who’s to say that the data were initially recorded in such a way as to make that possible? If the authorities weren’t already aware they were going to be asked to provide data on people who they’d declined to identify as “trafficked”, you have to wonder whether they’d be quite so diligent in their record keeping about those people.

Did I say “authorities”? Oh – here’s the next problem:

“Presumed victim” statistics were supplied by a wide variety of sources. According to page 23:

Data on ‘presumed’ victims on trafficking in human beings may be available from national rapporteurs (or equivalent mechanisms which tend to act as national coordinating bodies), victims assistance services, immigration services, labour inspections and border guards.

I don’t think I can really overstate this point: there is no possible way to get anything like a reliable, consistent overview when you throw out to your data collectors that they can get their information from pretty much anywhere they can find it. And as it happens, some of the key data sources are pretty questionable. For example, in the Netherlands the source is CoMensha, a national agency, which according to page 39:

does not have a formal assessment based on specific criteria by which the registered person’s status as a victim can be verified.

In other words – as I discussed in this post – CoMensha simply records the alleged cases that are referred to them, without actually investigating whether there’s any substance to the allegations. The Dutch figures in this report, therefore, are based on little more than rumour. No wonder they’re so high.

Also problematic is the Latvian information, which according to page 38 is

provided by the NGO Resource Centre for Women “Marta”, which provides assistance for presumed victims using alternative financing.

Marta is a prohibitionist organisation, and one that therefore has an interest in finding trafficking victims. In fairness to them, there’s nothing in the data to suggest they’re inflating the numbers; Latvia’s overall rate is the same as Germany’s and Sweden’s and only a minority of these fall into the “presumed victim” category. Nonetheless, their objectivity as a source has to be doubted.

To take a final example, page 39 states that Finland’s number of presumed victims

includes all cases who were directed to reception centers on the basis of suspicion of human trafficking.

Does that sound like a rigorous effort to make sure only the cases that fit the Commission’s specified criteria were reported? Not to me it doesn’t.

I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point. There’s just too much variation across countries, and too loose standards within countries, to consider this a reliable measure of the amount of trafficking in Europe. The report is of (limited) interest for what it reveals about the countries’ data collection processes, but overall you really get the sense of this being a box-ticking exercise for Brussels bureaucrats more than anything else.

I’ll just finish on a couple other matters I found worthy of comment. Firstly, on page 24 it states:

Data is to be collected on the total number of female and male victims

The binary (and I’m guessing cis-centric) approach is unfortunate, as even though the figures aren’t reliable it would still be interesting to see how many trans* persons were recorded. But the only reference I can find within any of the country data is in the British records, on page 39, where it says that one adult trans* woman was identified. Unfortunately, it manages to say this in a grossly offensive way.

There are also figures on “suspected traffickers” and “prosecuted traffickers”. It’s not clear exactly what threshold was required for the first category, but one thing I found interesting was that non-EU citizens accounted for 55% of the former but only 24% of the latter. The reasons for the discrepancy aren’t explained. It could be that non-EU citizens are more likely to go missing before they can be prosecuted, of course, but there could also be a greater tendency to suspect them without any real proof. This is something that merits further research.

And finally, a word about citizenship and labour market status. On page 52 there’s a table (Table 6) that breaks down all the identified and presumed victims, by year and by citizenship. So I did a little numbers exercise. First I counted all the identified victims by country (I didn’t count the presumed victims, because for all the reasons explained above, I think those numbers are too messy to be of any real use). Then I subtracted the internal trafficking victims (as listed on page 53, Table 7). And then I totalled up the remainder, put them into geographical categories and worked out the percentages of each.

The disclaimers first. The numbers don’t quite add up, because I came up with a grand total of 12,261 identified victims in Table 6, whereas the Table 2 combined figure for identified victims is 13,424. I’m not sure where that missing 1,163 went. There also seems to be a minor discrepancy in the Table 7 figures, since I end up with –2 cross-border EU-15 citizen victims in 2009. I couldn’t subtract the child victims, as there’s no breakdown by “identified” and “presumed” nor any indication of how many were working-age children. And of course, all the problems with the data I’ve already discussed still apply. But bearing all that in mind, I still think the results are stark enough to be worth pointing out. Of the identified victims of cross-border trafficking in the three year period:

  • 37% were Romanian or Bulgarian
  • 58% were from outside the EU/EEA
  • 5% were from the 2004 accession countries
  • <1% were from the EU-15

Thus, 95% were from countries barred from all or most of the EU labour market during the data collection period – and nearly everyone else was from a country barred from much of the EU labour market during the data collection period. This isn’t quite as dramatic as it seems, because it still only accounts for just over half the identified victims – the internal trafficking rate is surprisingly high, which is something else that merits investigation (though as the number is very high in some countries and negligible in others, I suspect it mainly comes down to definitions). Notwithstanding those limitations, though, I think it’s safe to conclude that cross-border migrants in the EU are far, far, far more likely to experience trafficking if they don’t have labour market access in the country they’re migrating to.

You’d think this would be a no-brainer, wouldn’t you? But EU states just don’t seem to get it. They consistently wring their hands about the trafficking problem, but stubbornly insist they just can’t relax their labour migration policies – without seeming to make the connection between the two. At some point they’re going to have to admit that if they really want to address the issue, they’ll have to stop making it all but impossible for accession state citizens and non-EU citizens to legally work in their countries. Or else admit that they aren’t really that bothered about trafficking after all.