The Tory-led Government recently announced it is to withdraw funding from the Poppy Project, a charity providing support and accommodation to women who have been trafficked into prostitution or domestic servitude. The Poppy Project has done excellent work over the years and it is one of the biggest and most established organisations of its kind. I have had contact with the Poppy Project on a number of occasions and am full of admiration for the work they have done.
Hard on the heels of the Poppy Project axing, I was further shocked to read an article in The Guardian yesterday about one Moldovan woman’s experience of being trafficked inEurope.
The 18-year-old referred to in the article was found working as a prostitute inLondon. The British immigration officials who reviewed her case deemed her to be in no danger if she returned to Moldova so she was sent back. Her traffickers then tracked her down and raped and tortured her. The young woman was subsequently sent to Israel and then back to the UK to work again as a prostitute.
The Home Office agreed last week to pay the woman significant damages in recognition of the crass behaviour and errors of judgment made by the British authorities. Small compensation indeed for what she has been through.
Cases like these, where vulnerable women are sent from theUK back to potentially dangerous situations in their home country, are becoming more and more common. Yet, rather than investing more in resources to help victims of trafficking, the Tory-led Government is determined to cut charities with experience in this area.
True, the government has awarded The Salvation Army a contract to provide support to trafficked women supposedly in place of the Poppy Project. However, the loss in expertise involved in this wholly unnecessary and wrong-headed move may well mean that large numbers of trafficked women not identified as such. Trafficking could therefore become ever more of a growth industry.
David Cameron claims that tackling sex trafficking is a priority for the Tory-led coalition. But his actions speak louder than words. As funding is removed from women’s organisations like Poppy Project, I am sure we will see increasing numbers of cases like the one reported yesterday in The Guardian.