[…]

A gang of six men have been handed down sentences of up to 14 years for their treatment of a 16 year old girl and 22 year old woman who they trafficked into sexual slavery:

Their 16-year-old Slovakian victim had cried in the dock as she described spending nearly a year-and-a-half working as a prostitute after being lured to Britain with the promise of a job in a pub.

She was repeatedly raped, beaten and threatened and was sold on from owner to owner.

A second victim was 22 when she left her six-month-old baby daughter with relatives in Lithuania, after being convinced by one of her brother’s old classmates that she could earn good money in a warehouse in Britain to provide a better future for them both.

London’s Southwark crown court heard she too was made to work as a prostitute.

The men were found guilty of child prostitution, human trafficking, brothel keeping and controlling prostitution for gain. While the case only involved two victims, the judge pointed out that the brothels owned by these men “employed” around 50 eastern European women, at least some of whom were “almost certainly” not there by choice.

I’m pleased these scum bags are going to be locked away, but it makes me sick to think that the men who raped and abused these women are still out there, most likely raping and abusing other vulnerable women who, be it through trafficking, drug abuse or economic desperation, find themselves working as prostitutes.

According to The Observer’s latest survey on British people’s attitudes to sex, Sex Uncovered, 18% of British men have used prostitutes*. A further 9% would consider doing so. Together, that’s over a quarter of the male population. And from my point of view that means one in four UK men would be willing to put their sexual gratification over women’s human rights. Because, while I accept that some women do actively choose to engage in sex work, many do not make that active choice, and I’m willing to bet that there is little these man can or would do to distinguish between these women and use the services of the former.

Now, I don’t think that a quarter of the male population of Great Britain are monsters, rather that they have grown up in a culture that emphasises men’s “right” to access women’s bodies. It is this culture and this message that need to be tackled. While some of these men may genuinely not care less that they could well be raping the prostitute they’ve paid for (and a few no doubt get off on this power trip), I think (at least I hope) that others simply don’t question what they are doing because they believe in their right to sex, because prostitution is becoming more normalised, because it’s a fair exchange of money for services etc etc.

I want these men to realise that it’s not that simple. That the woman they are about to have sex with could well be there under force, be that through being trafficked and imprisoned or because she is desperate for the money. That having sex with someone who does not want to have sex with you is rape. That their desire to orgasm is of inconsequential importance compared to another human being’s right not to be violated.

The case above is just one indication that British men’s demand for women’s bodies and sexual service cannot be met by willing sex workers. It is this demand, these men’s selfishness, that leads to the exploitation and abuse of women across the globe.

Would it really be so hard to just have a wank instead?

*From The Observer website:

A sample of 1,044 UK adults aged 16+ were interviewed by ICM Research in September 2008.

Participants completed a confidential questionnaire, which was then placed in a sealed envelope. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.