Saturday, November 24, 2007

People Trafficking in Thanet

As remote and unlikely, as it seems to some of us, this weeks Thanet Extra carries a story on the discovery of a Cliftonville property which may have been used as a brothel, this as part of the polices operation Pentameter 2 investigating people traffickers, some of whom force women into the sex trade as part their business model.

I 'll get straight to the point on this one, I think we all know what is meant by "massage services" particularly when advertised in an "an adult services" section of a newspaper, more so when a notice advising whom to complain to is given. As far as I'm concerned people can chose whatever trade they like but I get concerned with advertisements which could be interpreted as or appear to be offering foreign women for massage services in some of our local papers.

The conclusions I reach are this, if the "massage" industry, were regulated, then parasites, pimps & people traffickers would have greater difficulty in plying this despicable trade, secondly if advertising were regulated by something other that the ASA (advertising standards authority), then adverts used to promote the trade in vulnerable women could be prevented.

Pimps will always exist but considering the small amount of revenue earned by these ads surely newspapers could decline to place them.

Just so that publishers understand, whats going on, the Newspaper Society the trade association for publishers, recently highlighted in its newsletter of the 8th of November, work it was doing with the government to tackle sex trafficking.

Harriet Harman (Minister for Women & Equality) is quoted in a joint statement from the Government & Newspaper Society “Small ads at the back of local papers are often used to sell trafficked girls – things like ‘new girls every day’, ‘international ladies 24/7’ - which police believe can fuel the demand for these trafficked girls and perpetuate this trade.

Some time ago noticing an advert which looked as if it could be connected with trafficking I wrote to the production director, and then after week or so I contacted the owners a large media company, eventually I got a response with comments like this "It is a business decision to run these adverts" and "We have, this year, implemented a further control on adverts that mention foreigners which could imply people trafficking is involved" REALLY I suggest they take a look in any one of their three local titles from this week.

I also passed my complaint onto the Advertising Standards Authority and got a reply saying that they had no grounds for action, and after speaking got a further reply with this line " I do appreciate that you felt the references to nationality might encourage pimps or people involved in human trafficking to take out similar ads. However there seems to be little to be gained by the ASA seeking amendments to this ad when the surrounding legal issues are so thorny and potentially serious."

In fairness the advert I originally complained about and others are in all probability innocent, however why take the risk. In 2007, the slave trade still exists and its not just in the big cities assuming Kent's police report of having visited 30 premises as part of their Pentameter 2 campaign is correct then its local.

Apparently according to the newspapers group concerned decisions on what is acceptable advertising is not made locally, and the person I spoke to(somewhere in London), was quite confident that such advertising was in all our local newspapers, well I have checked out KM newspapers(Thanet Extra) and KOS (Your Thanet) and they both seem to get along without the type of advert, that I refer.

As far the advertising standards authority is concerned I'm willing to concede that this is a "thorny and potentially serious" issue but then Slavery always will be.

Society has become more superficial, more money driven and as one of my correspondents recently pointed out, we have to be pragmatic, well I'm willing to bet a couple of quid that bosses of the media company I'm complaining about would probably feel fairly uncomfortable discussing this part of their revenue stream.


  1. Keep it up Tony. You are only scratching the surface of what is allowed to go on in Cliftonville. Prostitution, drugs, trafficing, gang masters, and the eastern european brand of crime recently reported in the National Press following a Chief Constable breaking ranks and stating she was underfunded to deal with the problems.

  2. There are some good things one could say about this advertising:

    It must be easy for the police to identify the 'illegal's when they blatently advertise along the lines of -
    extremely young looking/ foreign lady does every thing you could imagine for less than the price of 2 coffees in Cafe Nero.

    Secondly, surely it must be a good thing that gentlemen seeking these services can be warned via the type of advert that it is a place to be avoided like an S.T.D.

    I agree with Harman (and you Tony?) that some adverts send out quite an unpleasant message about sexual or power relationships between men and women - they are not just derogatory to women but to all of us.

    Sadly - those adverts do not shape society they reflect it. So there must be a substantial class of people who's views are of steriotypical ageist, sexist gender roles...

    I could go on and on and on...

    By the way, can any one recommend the service of an afternoon stud. I'm will to pay, but I am on a tight budget!

  3. I took some considerable time before writing this.

    When talking about this subject not surprisingly I got reaction. "why are you reading these ads?"

    The advertising in question may well be innocent and probably is , but those adds I've referred to
    could be also be less than benign.

    The heart of this manner is serious, without question people are forced into this trade.

    If those who run this country, accepted that prostitution is a fact of life and took a mature approach then this industry could be regulated for the benefit of those who work in it.

    I strongly disagree with the suggestion that these adverts reflect society, advertising is about business promotion so these adverts will encourage this abuse.

    The newspaper group taking this advertising appears to adopt the attitude that the are in some way obliged to take this advertising their not.

  4. Good on you Tony, our society suffers so much from our inability to tackle problems related to sex, race and drugs in a realistic way.

    I think that the fear that discussing these issues makes one appear a pervert, racist or drug addict is an awful reflection on society.

  5. Well done Tony, I agree that many of these advertisements reflect a side of our society that is nothing to be proud of.
    Some time ago I spoke out to criticise some of the bill boards outside the Royal in Ramsgate advertising "nightclub" activities.
    I got a lot of flack for that. What you are refering to is in many cases far worse. Standards are important to society, if they slip we all suffer.