70 brothels in Northern Ireland claim by Alliance MLA
Up to 70 brothels are being operated in Northern Ireland, an Assembly member claimed today. Paramilitaries and so-called Chinese Snakehead gangs are trafficking vulnerable women and children into Northern Ireland, often from Dublin en route to other parts of the United Kingdom, according to Anna Lo, Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast.
Ms Lo said: “The victims are predominantly women and children from poor countries or countries experiencing unrest. After being brought into the country illegally the traffickers use violent threats and coercion to force the victims to work against their will.” Ms Lo said up to 12 of the brothels were concentrated in south Belfast. She was speaking during a debate at Stormont on the exploitation of migrant workers.
The PSNI has created a team to examine trafficking for sexual exploitation and abuse. In July 2006 two Nigerian men were charged with facilitating the unlawful entry of immigrants.
Women’s Aid believes 50 to 100 women and children may have been forced into Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Office Minister Paul Goggins has expressed concern about the increasing number of prostitutes. An estimated 4,000 women are trafficked into the United Kingdom for abuse every year.
See also: Anti-trafficking tsar takes up post
The newly-appointed head of the country’s first official unit to fight human trafficking has taken up her post.
Marion Walsh, a former private secretary to a number of justice ministers, is charged with stamping out people smuggling for sex and illegal labour. She takes the reins at the recently established Anti Human Trafficking Unit after several key posts in the Department of Justice.
Ms Walsh said: “I am very much in listening mode and I am confident that we can work together to make a positive difference in tackling this crime, which has no place in a modern day Ireland.”