Archive for April, 2009

More Evidence That “Sex Trafficking” is A Myth

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Thursday, 30 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders

By Nathalie Rothschild From Spiked Magazine

At the beginning of April, just days before the European Convention on Action against Human Trafficking came into force in Britain, academics, sex workers and activists from around the world took part in a five-day ‘Sex Workers’ Open University’ in east London.

On the first day of film screenings, workshops and discussions on issues related to the sex industry, trafficking was a recurring theme. Participants were keen to debunk the myths of global ‘people smuggling’ and forced prostitution. The head of the Danish Sex Workers’ Interests Organisation claimed that ‘very few who work in the sex industry have been trafficked’.

Nick Mai, a senior research fellow in Migrations and Immigrations at London Metropolitan University, asserted that, although anti-trafficking legislation is rolled out in the name of protecting migrants and women, it ultimately amounts to ‘anti-migration legislation’.

A representative from the British Collective of Prostitutes said anti-trafficking campaigners ‘use inflated figures and exploit public concern’ to push through legislation. Indeed, even as EU member states join forces to combat human trafficking, evidence for its existence is disintegrating. A major police investigation into prostitution in Ireland has failed to find any evidence of organised trafficking there. ‘Despite recent claims about large-scale organised trafficking of women and even children to this country’, the Irish Sunday Independent reported last week, ‘the detectives found only two cases where it may have occurred, but they also had doubts after the women involved changed their stories’ (1). Irish police concluded that most of the young foreign women working within the sex industry in Ireland are doing so voluntarily. Perhaps they are motivated by the high pay – prostitutes in Ireland apparently earn between €500 and €600 per day, on average.

Embarrasingly, these police findings seem to contest research published just days earlier by Irish anti-trafficking campaigners. They claimed to have identified 102 women and girls as having been trafficked into Ireland for the sex industry over a 21-month period. Many of these women had indeed experienced unacceptable abuse and violence as part of their sometimes dangerous work. But the Irish campaigners used dubious methods to reach the conclusion that the foreign women and girls were ‘trafficking victims’ and were ‘just the tip of the iceberg’. They used a broad UN definition of trafficking, which completely discounts any notion of consent as ‘irrelevant’ since ‘the vast majority of people trafficked for prostitution see little or no viable alternative at the time’ (2). It is not only in Ireland where claims around organised trafficking and modern-day slavery have turned out to be myths. In the run-up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, left- and right-wing politicians, Christians and feminists formed an unholy cross-border alliance in an attempt to stop 40,000 ‘sex slaves’ from being forced in to Germany to satiate the lust-filled male football fans. As it turned out, German police uncovered just five cases of ‘human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation’ during the World Cup – and one of the victims was a German (3). At the Sex Workers’ Open University, Nick Mai pointed out that coercion and exploitation does exist within the sex industry: some women are indeed forced into it against their will, or certainly have very restricted choices. Yet the emotive term ‘trafficking’ has become a powerful tool for prostitution abolitionists to win wider public support for their efforts to clamp down on the sex industry as a whole, and to criminalise migrant workers. Anti-trafficking has replaced HIV/AIDS as the abolitionists’ trump card. Mai pointed out that some migrants choose to work in the sex industry in order to avoid exploitation in other industries, where there is frequently low pay and long working hours.

Yet migrants tend to become subjects of concern for campaigners only when they enter the sex industry, despite the fact that they can earn significantly more through that line of work than they would as domestic workers or seasonal agricultural workers for instance. Anti-traffickers appear to believe that sex work in itself is a form of enslavement, and thus presume that foreigners who work in the sex industry in Britain and elsewhere in Europe are doing so against their will. It is telling that one anti-trafficking activist, writing in the Guardian, confused a statistic on the number of foreign nationals working in the British sex industry with the number of trafficking victims. She wrote: ‘Ten to 15 years ago, only 15 per cent of the women in the UK sex trade were trafficked.’ Later, a correction to the article said: ‘We meant 15 per cent were foreign nationals.’ (4) The same article cited another, already disproved figure: that 80 per cent of women in prostitution in Britain are foreign nationals, most of whom have been trafficked. This estimate was provided by the Poppy Project, set up by the UK Home Office in 2003 to combat trafficking and sexual abuse of women arriving in to the UK. The figure is based on a 2002 survey by the Metropolitan Police’s Clubs and Vice Unit, which claimed to have discovered that in venues used for prostitution in central London, 70 to 80 per cent of the women were foreign (5). Similar figures later appeared in a Home Office consultation paper on prostitution. Both of these studies acknowledged the difficulty of establishing exactly how many women are trafficked into prostitution. And yet, the Poppy Project deduced from its study of women working in the off-street sex industry in one part of London that the trends found there would be reproduced in the same way across the rest of Britain (6). This is a dubious presumption, to say the least. The Poppy Project and other anti-trafficking warriors tend to presume that foreign women working in the sex industry are, by definition, ‘victims of trafficking’; they refuse to see migrants or sex workers as people with agency. In their worldview, there is only room for victims and perpetrators, the abused and abusers. [support spiked] Of course, women often enter the sex industry because of a lack of choice; you would be hard-pressed to find young girls who aspire to be prostitutes when they grow up. It would be silly, as many pointed out at the Open University, to romanticise sex work. Yet at the same time, many workers in different industries and sectors, especially poorly paid migrant workers, do not always feel that they have unlimited options available to them. Most people work out of necessity rather than personal choice. The Irish police investigation suggests, yet again, that theories of mass, organised trafficking are mere speculations. Figures tend to be heavily inflated and are tied to political agendas rather than being grounded in reality. After all, how can a phenomenon for which there is no agreed definition, and which is routinely described as a ‘covert activity’ that happens in ‘the shadow economy’, be quantified in any real way? How do you define ‘consent’ and ‘choice’ in situations where people set out on journey across the world, unsure about exactly what they will find at the end of it?

Why should we expect migrants to avoid hiring so-called ‘people smugglers’ to take them across borders or to provide them with false documentation when they are denied legal ways of travelling?

Across the globe, serious clamp-downs on liberty are occurring in the name of ‘combating trafficking’. This became painfully clear at the Open University, where activists from around the world spoke of the challenges posed by anti-trafficking legislation. One woman told of how migrant sex workers in Costa Rica are routinely rounded up and arrested in the name of rooting out trafficking. In Cambodia, anti-trafficking legislation, introduced under pressure from the US Department of State, has led to raids on brothels, with thousands being ‘forcibly rescued’ by NGOs. Women at the Empower Foundation, a collective of sex workers in Chiang Mai, Thailand, have reported similar ‘rescue missions’ by police and charity workers, ending with them being locked up, interrogated and deported without any compensation for them or their dependants (7). Anti-traffickers tend to claim that it is only a small minority of privileged, Western sex workers who are against the criminalisation of sex work in general. Yet around the world, thousands of sex workers have organised to campaign for their working rights – from Argentina and Mexico to France and the UK; from Thailand and Cambodia to Malaysia and India. As the organisers of the Sex Workers’ Open University said: ‘The issue of trafficking has been used by some to try to criminalise all sex workers. We contest this simplistic association of all sex work with trafficking and abuse and we support the rights of all migrant workers, whether victims of trafficking or not, and condemn the detention and deportation of those workers.’ It is high time we ended the perverse war on ‘trafficking’ and started standing up for personal choice and for the right of people to move freely around the world.

Nathalie Rothschild is commissioning editor of spiked.

(1) ‘“No sex slave rings here”, say gardai after probe’, Sunday Independent (Ireland), 19 April 2009 (2) Over 100 women trafficked for sex industry in Ireland, Irish Times, 17 April 2009 (3) See Exposed: the myth of the World Cup ‘sex slaves’, by Bruno Waterfield. (4) The truth of trafficking, by Rahila Gupta, Guardian, 2 April 2009 (5) Open door, by Siobhain Butterworth, Guardian, 8 December 2008 (6) Open door, by Siobhain Butterworth, Guardian, 8 December 2008 (7) See Prostituting women’s solidarity, by Nathalie Rothschild. s

No Borders Newsletter Spring 09

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 27 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders


To Download,

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Slightly Improved version:


“Caravan for Migrant Justice”, Ontario

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Sunday, 26 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders


On Friday, April 17, Montreal-area activists organized a  “Caravan for Migrant Justice” in solidarity with allies  mobilizing against recent CBSA raids against migrant workers  all over southern Ontario.

On Sunday, April 19, upwards of 41 migrant workers, among the more than one hundred arrested and detained in raids earlier in the month by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) were facing removal from Canada.
The 5-car caravan, accompanied by a loudspeaker sound  system, met at the downtown offices of the CBSA. After a picket, the caravan proceeded to the neighborhoods of Pointe-St-Charles, Parc Extension and Côte-des-Neiges.

In each neighborhood, the caravan stopped at key intersections,  to denounce the recent raids, and the upcoming deportations, as well as to flyer and talk with local residents, as part of an effort to build solidarity and support in the face of the fear and anxiety caused by the CBSA raids.

A “Solidarity Statement” denouncing the raids and  supporting the arrested and detained workers, was signed by 16 local organizations, including: Solidarity Across Borders (SAB),  Immigrant Workers Center (IWC), No One Is Illegal-Montreal,  The Committee to Aid Refugees (CAR), Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at Concordia, Projet Refuge, Women ofDiverse Origins, Q-Team, South Asian Women’s Community  Center (SAWCC), 2110 Center for Gender Advocacy, Les  Apatrides Anonymes, SIKLAB-Québec, Philippine Women’s Center of Québec, Head & Hands (NDG), PINAY: The  Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec, and theCentre des femmes d’ici et d’ailleurs.


A PHOTO ESSAY about the  caravan is linked here:

The MONTREAL SOLIDARITY STATEMENT, signed by sixteen local groups, is linked here: http://nooneisillegal- An AUDIO report about the caravan, prepared for CKUT radio, is linked here: index.php/program/33009

For background to the raids, consult:
For more information in the Montreal-area, contact: The Immigrant Workers Center (IWC): 514-342-2111, Solidarity Across Borders (SAB): 514-848-7583,

80 activists blockade detention centre in Belgium

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on Monday, 13 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders

belgian-blockade1On the 11th of april 2009 eighty activists blocked the gate of the Steenokkerzeel detention centre in (Belgium). The action started at 5:30 AM, when activists from across the country found their way through the fields surrounding the detention centre, and blocked the gates. The action ended around 11:30 AM when the last activists were removed by the police.

Because of the blockade, no refugees could be taken to the airport, no refugees could be brought to the closed detention centre. Around six o’clock the activists found out that the first deportation planned that day was cancelled and another policevan with a refugee on board, couldn’t leave the centre. The police was present after ten minutes, but had a lot of problems to find the right equipement to release people from the lock-ons.

After the action police  ID checked the activists, eight people remained anonymous and were held in the police station for 12 hours after being released.

more info see

Photo Exhibition: “The Struggle for Calais”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Tuesday, 7 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders


An excellent photo exhibition by Julie Rebouillat : No Land’s Men:the Struggle for Calais is currently touring the country, helping to promote the No Borders Camp 23-29 June. The Exhibition is currently on display at Kebele Social Centre, 14 Robertson Road, Bristol. BS5 0JY

Come and see it either the weekend of the 11th/12th or 18th/19th during  breakfast 11.00-1400 or sunday evening meal 18.00-2100. Altheratively, come along to an info night on Tuesday the 14th at 6.30pmcalais03-1fb01

Nato Summit – No Borders Action

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on Sunday, 5 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Strasbourg. No Borders action.

After clearing the obstacles at the Vaubaun bridge activists headed for the border with Germany. 5,000 protesters were trapped on the other side by the authorities despite this being a Europe without borders.

You got that?

Lots of German riot cops erect their own border.

Lots of German riot cops erect their own border.

Confrontation on the Europe bridge in Strasbourg.4-4-09

Copyright Guido 2008. NO UNAUTHORISED USE.

destroying the border post

Copyright Guido 2008. NO UNAUTHORISED USE.

Copyright Guido 2008. NO UNAUTHORISED USE.

now its on fire

Copyright Guido 2008. NO UNAUTHORISED USE.

disabling cctv

Nearby the majority of the demonstrators were attending a peaceful rally. It was almost surreal watching speeches by the French Left while thick black smoke billowed up from behind the stage. The cops made no effort to protect the border point which became the seconfd biggest bonfire of the whole event.

More Than 90 People Have Died in U.S. Immigrant Prisons

Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, 5 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders

More Than 90 People Have Died in U.S. Immigrant Prisons Thirty-two of the deaths occurred at jails run by private companies, including 18 belonging to the notorious Corrections Corporation of America. More than 90 prisoners held in immigrant detention centers have died in the past five years, the New York Times reports today, as revealed in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) document labeled “List of Detainee Deaths since October 2003.” The record was obtained by the Times via a FOIA request, part of an ongoing investigation of deaths in immigrant prisons. According to the Times, 32 of the 92 deaths occurred at jails run by private companies, including “at least 18” at facilities run by the notorious Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country. The list of detainee deaths, available here, charts prisoners’ names, dates of birth, the facilities where they were held or died, and whether or not an autopsy was performed. The “Cause of Death” field lists everything from AIDS to heart disease, suggesting that many of the prisoners likely suffered from medical neglect. A number committed suicide; “hanging” is listed as the cause of death for six prisoners. “Of the 92 people who died in detention,” reports the Times, “21 were from Cuba, 19 from Mexico, 6 each from Guatemala and Honduras, 5 from El Salvador, three each from Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica; two each from Ghana, Guinea, India, Korea and one each from 18 other countries, including Germany, Brazil, Afghanistan and the Philippines.” eek a mouse