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February 23, 2006

Scotland's sex trade goes deeper underground

Shock Scale of Sick Trade.
THE shocking scale of Scotland's sex for sale industry was revealed yesterday, with a staggering SIX THOUSAND foreign women working as sex slaves, according to police.

The news confirms the findings of an award-winning Daily Record investigation exactly two years ago.

Back then, few could grasp the extent of the problem on our own doorsteps. The chattering classes thought we were exaggerating. We knew we weren't.

We spoke to girls who had escaped the clutches of the gangmasters and revealed how the new, even more brutal, vice industry was moving further underground.

These girls weren't working the streets or the saunas, they were kept locked in safe houses and beaten and sexually abused by their masters.

They were forced to take up to 60 clients in a shift. The few who found their way into saunas owned by Scottish gangsters considered themselves lucky.

We were told by the girls how they were duped into applying for college places or jobs, then stripped of their passports and passed from gang to gang and city to city.

Many had no idea where they were staying.

Chief among the slave traders are Lithuanian, Russian and the Albanian crime gangs so vicious that even hardened Scottish criminals give them a wide berth.

The Chinese Triads are also active. They keep their business within their own community but are equally brutal.

You may have thought Britain abolished slavery in 1833 but these people have reintroduced it to our shores in the 21st Century.

Now police are set to tackle the slave traders with one of the widest and most ambitious crackdowns ever seen.

All 55 forces from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland will be involved in Operation Pentameter.

They will use everything from foreign language poster campaigns at airports, warning girls of the dangers they face, to raids on brothels.

And no longer will the victims be faced with the prospect of being sent home to face shame and psychological scars with only a one-way ticket in their pocket.

They will be offered support and care from organisations experienced in helping women who have endured physical and psychological violence.

Those caring and commonsense moves are precisely what the Record has been urging.

Yesterday, the officers spearheading Operation Pentameter emphasised what the Record has stressed time and time again:

The vice trade is not a simple transaction involving a man paying a woman for sex - it is organised crime, based on fear and exploitation.

Every time a man pays a working girl for sex he is contributing to organised crime, to drugs and violence on our streets and to the untold misery of thousands of women.
Thank God for these organisations reaching out to the victims in need. Bravo to the Record's efforts on this matter.

[HT], [SS]

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