Celia Capstick, Social Responsibility Committee, NBCW Did you know that Germany is already constructing the cabins where men will buy sex from women after the World Cup football matches in Germany next year? That thousands of women will be trafficked in for this purpose and that the state, because it is legal in Germany, will reap considerable benefit from the sex tax on this modern slave trade? Did you know that men and boys play computer games which reward them with a girl and encourage them to play the role of the pimp? These were two pieces of information information which we heard at the European Women's Lobby (EWL) seminar on Trafficking in Women for sexual exploitation: who is responsible? - hosted in London by NAWO (National Alliance of Women's Organisations). Its aim was to focus on the responsibility of all the actors in this global trade in human beings. While acknowledging that poverty, gender inequalities, power, abuse and violence play a part in making this such a lucrative commercial enterprise, this seminar sought to examine what fuels the demand - the men. In Sweden, we learned, they have tackled the demand side by making it a crime to buy another human being with the intention of using her for sexual purposes. It is however not a crime for the woman to sell sex. In Swedish law she is seen as a victim - vulnerable and powerless. This law is unique in the world in its acknowledgement of the gender inequalities in society which underpin prostitution and its detrimental effect on women. And it is working. Street prostitution has dropped by 70 per cent and in clubs and hotels by about 50 per cent. Pimps have found it more difficult to work in Sweden and there fore the trafficking has declined. EWL now asks for all their member organisations (of which the National Board of Catholic Women is one) to lobby their governments to make it a crime for men to buy and use women in the context of prostitution. The law should also help women get out of prostitution by providing finance, training, jobs, health care and housing. Meg Munn, Minister for Women in the UK government, spoke of the determination of our government to tackle the growth on trafficking. She pointed out that it was already a crime to traffic women and children for sex purposes in this country with a penalty of 14 years imprisonment if convicted. She noted the Poppy Project, which houses women who have been trafficked if they are willing to help convict their pimp. 90 women so far. But it all sounded too little, too slow and in the context of such huge numbers being smuggled across borders - so much human misery. She was asked as the NBCW has asked, why the UK government had not ratified the Council of Europe's Convention against Trafficking which would give help to the trafficked women instead of treating them with the harsh treatment of illegal immigrants. The reply was not very reassuring of any immediate action on this point. Source: Catholic Omnibus - magazine of the NBCW At present the UK government has only one hostel for women rescued from traffickers, while several religious orders are involved in a Europe-wide programme giving support, shelter and advice to women in this country and in their countries of origin. A seminar on trafficking women takes place in London on Saturday 1 April 1.45pm at CAFOD, 2 Romero Close, London SW9. The speakers will be Sr Imelda Poole, who is currently working in Albania. She will give a talk on the situation in Europe; Sr Anne Therese of St Joseph of Annecy (Medaille Community) will speak about trafficking in the UK.
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