A new study on migration and trafficking in the UK sex industry has challenged the idea that trafficking is the main factor in trapping people in exploitative and abusive employment.
Based on a survey of 100 people of migrant background involved in the industry, the research has found that a majority of them had not been forced or trafficked into the profession. If they experienced difficulties in exercising rights to take decisions in matters concernig their personal lives these were more likely to come from the issue of official immigration status than from forced labour.
Many of the workers had entered the industry because the alternative employment available to them was likely to be more exploitative and unrewarding than sex work. They also felt that the stigmatisation of the profession had a negative impact on their personal lives. It was also felt that the prospect of the criminalisation of clients which has been considered by politicains and policy-makers, will not reduce demand or exploitation but will mean more insecurity for migrants working in the industry.
The report argues that better strategies to combat negative aspects of the industry would require policies which would:
allow migrants to become and remain legally documented n terms of immmigration status
allow the industry of operate legally without the threat of criminatlisation
provide victims of trafficking the right to remain in the country and the long-term support needed for integration.
The research was lead by Dr Nick Mai of the Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET) at Lodon Metropolitan University.