Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Emperor's New Slaves

On January 24th, in a series of dramatic dawn raids in the English town of Slough, police dressed in body armour, accompanied by social workers and the media, simultaneously smashed down the doors of 17 addresses, apparently in an attempt to end a child-trafficking ring.

Only there wasn't one.

Twenty-four adults were arrested at the scene, and ten children were taken into 'care'. It seems that all of those involved came from the Roma (Romanian gypsy) community.

These disturbing events are discussed in an outstanding article on Spiked-Online, Trafficking: return of the ‘white slavery’ scare?

They were ‘twenty-first century Artful Dodgers’, we were told, a gang of ‘Fagin’s children’ from Romania, who had been trafficked to Slough, England, in order to work like slaves in a ‘pickpocketing and begging crimewave’. Footage of officers carrying kids from terraced houses was beamed across the news bulletins, as various newspapers declared: ‘Romanian child slaves freed in Slough.’...of the 10 kids ‘rescued’ in Slough on Friday (one of whom was less than a year old: hardly pickpocketing material), all but one were reunited with their natural parents or guardians the following day. No evidence has been discovered to show that the Roma adults in Slough were involved in a ‘criminal gang’ or a ‘child slave ring’ or any other form of serious criminality.”

"Officials later admitted that the children appeared ‘healthy and well cared for’, though they had been ‘distressed’ by their forced removal from their family homes by police officers".

“Just one girl, who sources say is around 14 years old, is yet to be reunited with her parents because social services have so far been unable to trace any of her family members.” Guardian

The Met’s raids in Slough were effectively legalised kidnapping, the snatching of children as a media stunt designed to show that the police are serious about tackling ‘human trafficking’.

This degenerate episode highlights the dangers in today’s hysteria about human trafficking. The Metropolitan Police found little evidence that Roma children in Slough are being harmed by ‘evil traffickers’ – yet its own high-profile raid shows very clearly that the anti-trafficking industry can cause harm and distress to migrant families, undermine global freedom of movement, and warp the public’s perception of immigration".
Spiked Online

It seems that the raids have actually sparked something of a diplomatic incident.

"...according to a Romanian diplomat...none of the 24 adults arrested at the scene has been charged with child trafficking offences. The high-ranking official said he feared the operation...was part of an anti-Romanian trend in Britain.

Now the Romanian embassy wants the Metropolitan police to explain what went wrong. Staff from the Romanian embassy claim they have not been allowed access to 15 Romanian nationals in police custody. "If a British citizen is arrested in Romania they are seen by someone from the British embassy within 24 hours, but it is not the case for us here," said the diplomatic source".

This is just the latest in long, long series of raids across the UK by police and social services against supposed abusers who turn out not to exist. I have already covered in this blog the satanic child-abuse witch-hunts of the 1990s, when police and social workers seized children from their beds in dawn raids across Britain, in the belief that they were being sexually abused by devil-worshippers. Not surprisingly, this turned out not to be true.

In Cleveland, in 1987, a local paediatrician, Dr Marietta Higgs, began to diagnose large numbers of children as having been sexually abused. The Inquiry examined the cases involving 121 children where sexual abuse was alleged...over 80% were found to be false accusations". In the remaining 29 cases, a medical panel found that 25% of these had not been abused either. The remaining cases require further examination."

In 1991, nine children were siezed from their beds on the remote island of South Ronaldsay in a dawn raid by police and social workers. The authorities had become convinced that an organised paedophile ring was at work in the community, and ritual child sexual abuse was being practiced. They were subjected to medical examinations, including genital examination and anal swabs. All medical examinations proved negative. The children were eventually returned to their families after five weeks.

Orkney and Cleveland are only two examples of a rash of such child sexual abuse scares across the English-speaking world, from the USA to New Zealand. Having been defeated on these major cases, it seems that the abuse industry looked for new territory to colonise, and hit up on the ever-popular topic of immigration.

In recent years, a motley crew of government and police forces in America and Europe, feminist activists, fundamentalist Christian outfits and celebrity campaigners has turned human trafficking into one of the biggest issues of our time. They claim there is a new ‘slave trade’, that tens of thousands of people – especially women and children – are being sold across borders and into bondage every year. Salacious newspaper reports tell us of ‘the teenagers traded for slave labour and sex’; of African children that are ‘nothing but a commodity... traded for tawdry sex and living under the fear of voodoo’; of Eastern European women moved across Europe ‘like cattle’ to service sex-hungry kerb-crawlers in Britain, Spain, France and Germany. The anti-traffickers paint a picture of uber-Dickensian global squalor, of Conradian darkness, where women and children are bought and sold by evil gangs, and then forced into labour and kept in their place by threats of murder or voodoo vengeance.

The evidence for these sinister claims is murky indeed. Victims of voodoo? Little more than ‘cattle’ or ‘commodities’ driven and shipped around Europe like animals? Such claims seem to spring from the anti-traffickers’ fevered and borderline-xenophobic mindset, rather than being based in reality.

The Slough incident is not the first time that a high-profile raid against ‘modern-day slavery’ has turned out to be something quite different. In late 2005, police in Birmingham carried out a media splash of a raid against a brothel and claimed to have ‘rescued’ 19 women who had been trafficked to the UK and enslaved as prostitutes. A few days later, 13 of the women were released when it turned out that they were ‘voluntarily working in the sex industry’; the remaining six, who also denied having been trafficked, were imprisoned at Yarlswood detention centre in Bedfordshire and threatened with deportation back to their countries of origin. The 19 women refuted police and media claims that they had been ‘locked up’ in the brothel: then, thanks to what some refer to as the ‘rescue industry’ of the anti-trafficking lobby, some of them were locked up for real in a detention centre.

In 2006, a transatlantic network of anti-traffickers claimed that 40,000 women from Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America would be trafficked to Germany during the World Cup tournament to service drunken or drug-fuelled horny football fans. A few months after the World Cup, EU documents revealed that five women, not 40,000, had been forced against their will to work as prostitutes in Germany."
Spiked Online

Even these five claims can't be taken at face value, given that such women are provided with incentives to claim that they have been trafficked when they have not. The UK government is now paying such women compensation. "Sex slaves smuggled illegally into Britain are to share millions of pounds in compensation for their 'pain and trauma', it has emerged. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority agreed to hand over £140,000 to the first four cases last week. " Reference

So if you are working as a prostitute in the UK, and the police happen to raid your brothel, you have two choices: tell the truth and get put behind bars and then deported; or lie, and get £140,000. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

The anti-trafficking industry’s figures frequently don’t add up. In 2003, UNICEF published a report titled Stop the Traffic!. It claimed that up to a million young people and children are trafficked around the world every year – a claim that hit the front pages in 2003 and which still pops up in reports about trafficked women and children today. Yet UNICEF admits there is ‘little hard statistical information’ on trafficking. ‘Since trafficking can be a complex series of events… it can be difficult to identify a single case of trafficking’, it said. What’s more, for the purposes of its shrill report, UNICEF lumped very different forms of population movement under the category of ‘trafficking’, including instances where African parents ‘send their children to work in other households, sometimes entrusting them to better-off relatives’ and where large numbers of children or young people (which can include 17- and 18-year-olds) move around Africa or Asia in search of work. Here, the everyday African practice of sending children to live with wealthier family members, and the migration of young people in Asia and Africa in search of employment, are stuck alongside claims about voodoo-enabled tawdry sex slavery as part of an overall wicked ‘trafficking industry’

The US State Department claims that 800,000 people are trafficked around the world every year. Yet according to Laura Maria Agustin, who interrogated the idea that a ‘trafficking industry’ exists for her new book Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry, this is a ‘fantasy number’. ‘Numbers like this are fabricated by defining trafficking in an extremely broad way to take in enormous numbers of people’, says Agustin. For example, the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons uses ‘the widest possible definition [of trafficking]’, says Agustin, including describing nearly all foreign prostitutes in the West as victims of trafficking on the basis that ‘any woman who sells sex could not really want to, and, if she crossed a national border, she was forced’.

The crusade against trafficking looks less and less like a real-world attempt to assist migrants and increase their freedom of movement and choices, and more like a super-moralistic fantasy campaign against evil and perverted Johnny Foreigners. In some ways, today’s trafficking hysteria is similar to the ‘white slavery’ scare of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; indeed, one academic study points out that the term ‘trafficking’ first emerged during the white slavery panic. Back then, there were widespread concerns that foreign men – in particular Arabs and the Chinese – might kidnap respectable white Western women and force them to work as prostitutes. In 1910, the US passed the White-Slave Traffic Act which banned the ‘interstate transport of females for immoral purposes’. This moral panic had very little foundation in fact. Rather, as various studies have discussed, it was driven by fin de si├Ęcle fears about foreigners polluting and corrupting Western civilisation, as represented by the virginal white woman allegedly at risk of being violated by brown-skinned outsiders. In America in the very early twentieth century there were numerous high-profile raids on Chinese gambling halls in search of enslaved white women; most of the raids turned up nothing.

Today, too, there is a feverish obsession amongst officials and activists with the alleged ‘transport of females for immoral purposes’. Only today the wicked foreigners tend to be Eastern Europeans and Africans, and their alleged victims are women from their own countries rather than white women from the West.

Yesterday’s ‘white slavery’ scaremongers and today’s anti-trafficking campaigners share much in common. Both viewed foreign men as brutal and untrustworthy. Both depicted women as pathetic victims easily trapped into a life of tawdry sex slavery. Both made hysterical claims about women and children being chained up for the pleasure of men. Both gave rise to high-profile raids that often turned up very little. And both seemed to be underpinned, energised, by a culture of fear, by apocalyptic doubts and uncertainties about the standing of Western society and the threat from brown, yellow and black foreigners who might pass unnoticed across porous borders. Now, as then, the discussion of migration as ‘trafficking’ and ‘slavery’ reveals much about the fearful and besieged Western mentality, the desire to raise the drawbridge and keep at bay the coming collapse of moral values.

Spiked Online

It seems that race was an issue in Slough last week.

Slough has long been a favourite destination for Roma. Before Romania's accession to the EU the district had a famously liberal approach to asylum seekers, and many Roma arrived in the town claiming political persecution after the collapse of communism.

The Roma's very visible presence has caused consternation in the local community. They complain that the high density of Roma living in nearby properties has led to problems with antisocial behaviour and crime."


“The anti-trafficking crusade strikingly captures the degraded view many people take of agency and choice today. Anti-traffickers patronisingly describe foreign women, especially those who end up working in prostitution, as objects rather than as active subjects. Apparently these women do not move around the world; rather they are trafficked across borders, smuggled and shifted like pieces on a chess board. Apparently they do not make hard decisions about where to go and what work to carry out; instead they are bought and sold and forced into ‘slave labour’. And worst of all, apparently they do not require our solidarity or support as they move around the globe and work often long hours for little pay; instead they must be rescued by the police, social workers and feminists and sent back to their country of origin as if they were children escaped from a nursery. Once migrants were demonised as potential criminals; today they are looked upon as flotsam and jetsam, who must be guided home by caring Western officials.

Yet as Laura Maria Agustin argues, people who migrate are not pathetic victims; they might have to make hard choices in circumstances that are not of their making, but they are often possessed of gumption and ambition: ‘It is not the most desperate, like famine sufferers, who manage to undertake a migration. In order to go abroad you have to be healthy and you have to have social capital, including a network that will get you information on how to travel and work. You need some money and some names and addresses; you have to have at least some official papers, even if they’re false. You need at least a minimal safety net.’ (17) Migration remains an inspiring expression of human agency and desire, as people take great risks and travel great distances to improve their lives. In labelling such movement as ‘trafficking’ and ‘slavery’, and demanding tougher border restrictions and police-led ‘rescues’ of trafficking’s alleged victims, the anti-trafficking lobby has grossly betrayed the very people it is claiming to help”.

Spiked Online

The same tawdry motivations lie behind IMBRA, a piece of American legislation which aims to stop American men from seeking foreign brides.

“As I said elsewhere, the feminist movement can be regarded as a powerful trade organization, like a union. It attempts to set the price of access to women. It keeps trying to force the price ever-higher while women are expected to deliver less and less. That is why they object so strongly to any kind of commercial sex; it undercuts middle-class women. This is the reason behind all the anti-porn and anti-prostitution propaganda from the feminist movement. It is presented as being designed to protect women, but it is nothing to do with that.

When trade unions realise that their own jobs are being threatened by 'cheap foreign imports', they demand that the market is rigged in order to artificially protect them. The same thing is happening here. What feminists are engaging in is protectionism. It is about protecting Western middle-class women’s monopoly over the price of sex. IMBRA is a major piece of legislation designed to enforce this protectionism”.


The abuse industry is now a grave threat to civil liberties in the UK. By constantly identifying fictional ‘slaves’ to rescue, it justifies its own existence. As I tried to illustrate in an earlier article, the trouble with being the witch-finder general is that you have to keep finding more witches or you’re out of a job.

The abuse industry enacting this modern-day witch-hunt is a self-perpetuating, taxpayer-funded machine which needs to find more work for itself, so it creates victims for itself to rescue, thus providing lucrative employment for many people.

It is time now to put an end to these hysterical, racist and anti-male myths about people-trafficking, forced prostitution, mass rape and mass domestic violence. The evidence is clear: None of these things are happening, and the abuse industry is threatening to turn our democracy into a police state. This must be resisted by democrats at all costs.