Child Sex Trafficking on the Rise

Posted on February 22, 2012


By Lacey Dolan

Child sex trafficking in Scotland is at it worst levels according to Tam Baillie, the commissioner of Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Many Scottish people are completely unaware of the extent of the nature of this problem. According to The Guardian at least 80 children have been imported here illegally and sold on to buyers to be sexually exploited or forced to work in cannabis farms, private homes or as pawns in benefit scams. They come from a number of countries including China, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Vietnam with the youngest recorded victim being only 14 years old.

This is only a fraction of how many children are being exploited. Thousands more have managed to fall under Scotland’s radar sparking outrage amongst charities and prompting them to ask is Scotland a safe haven for the child sex trafficking industry?

A report by the Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People condemns the Police for a lack of resistance capturing the criminals and providing the victims with a fair trial and adequate support. The report stated that border control is an issue when tackling such a serious problem as child trafficking.

Tam Baillie, the commissioner of SCCYP quoted “The public need to be know that trafficking happens in Scotland and be alert to the signs of when it might be happening. We just don’t know exactly how many children and young people are affected – and that’s really due to a lack of awareness. We’re working with the Government to improve responses to cases where trafficking is suspected – pushing for training to help professionals better identify victims of trafficking and for better procedures and protocols to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.”

Tam also goes on to say “When children are raped or exploited as slaves in households or businesses in Scotland it becomes our national scandal. When we fail to notice, fail to pick up the signs and fail to act on children’s trauma, it demands action. I hope this report, the first of its kind in Scotland, will take the issue out into the open and result in action and change for child victims of trafficking.”

In early November, a Glasgow City Council statement read: The prevalence of childhood sexual exploitation and trafficking in the city is difficult to estimate, because of the hidden nature of the crime.

“However, research by the child protection team has identified at least 35 young people who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, more than a third of all those trafficked to and in the city.” A spokesman added yesterday that only around 10 or 12 had been forced into sex slavery while in Glasgow, with most of the others being exploited in London before making their way north to Scotland. The youngest was just 14.


Another worrying factor for Scotland is the launch of the Commonwealth Games in 2014, which Baroness Helena Kennedy, Scotland’s leading lawyer for human rights, believes could become a hub for the participants of child sex trafficking. “With large sporting events like the Commonwealth Games, you get more people coming into the country and the border controls become softer.”

The internet is also one of many factors to exacerbate the problem. Many “traders” meet online and set up exchanges with one another and set up electronic transferring of money, increasing the difficulty of tracking them down.

The children affected by this usually have no idea what is happening to them. Tam Baillie stated “The impact of trafficking on children is enormous.  First, there’s the journey to the UK, accompanied by adults whose only role is to exploit them.  That’s traumatic in itself. Then there’s the utter isolation they experience when they arrive in the UK.  They’ve got no support and often no language skills.  All these factors combined mean that they’re about as vulnerable as they can possibly be.”

Baroness Kennedy said “The internet also provides easy opportunities. Even if you live in Auchtermuchty, you’re only a few clicks away from getting what you want.”

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