Saturday, January 14, 2006

NI children 'used as prostitutes'

Children are being abused as prostitutes in Northern Ireland
BBC Newsline reporter Shane Glynn writes on his investigation into child prostitution in Northern Ireland.
Children as young as 13 are being used as prostitutes in Northern Ireland, childcare specialists have told the BBC.

According to experts, while paramilitaries are involved, families have also been selling their own children for sex.

A BBC Newsline investigation has unearthed a chilling picture of what is going on in towns, cities and country areas across Northern Ireland.

In the words of one teenager who has been a victim of the illicit trade: "It goes on everywhere, but it's just that well hidden, nobody would see it..."

In her tracksuit and trainers, she looked much like any other young girl - a bit more nervous perhaps, clutching her mobile phone and cigarettes.

But then she began to tell her story.

Reporter Shane Glynn speaks to 'Jo' about her tragic story

Jo (not her real name) is 19 and comes from an average Northern Ireland town.

But just a few years ago, she was trapped in a world of abuse, drugs and violence.

Between the age of 13 and 16 she was a child prostitute - not on the streets of London or Dublin - but in Belfast.

Looking back, Jo says she gets depressed and angry when she thinks about what she went through.

She was living in a children's home and was initially attracted to prostitution by the money.

'It's still happening'

But she soon became trapped - she was threatened and beaten by one individual who controlled many of the girls on the street - and began taking drugs.

"The punters - as they put it - like a bit of fresh meat. Some of them even asked me if I could get them younger girls, but I refused.

"I just kept my eyes closed and tried not to think about it too much - but a couple of times I was sick afterwards.

Since we began investigating this type of abuse, the charity workers, outreach volunteers, teachers, social workers and other experts we have talked to, have stressed that it is just that - child prostitution equals child abuse

"At the time, I thought everybody liked me and loved me, but now I know - they abused me.

"This happened to me, it happened to loads of other people. It's still happening, and it'll probably never stop until people start opening their eyes and realise it," Jo says.

It seems wrong to call it prostitution when it involves young girls and boys.

Since we began investigating this type of abuse, the charity workers, outreach volunteers, teachers, social workers and other experts we have talked to, have stressed that it is just that - child prostitution equals child abuse.

'Shock for people'

Those experts all agree - there are children being abused through prostitution all across Northern Ireland.

"I wouldn't have any doubts that it (the numbers involved) would be in the hundreds, definitely," Jacqui Montgomery-Devlin from Barnardos told the BBC.

Social worker Jim Deeds says the problem is going to grow

Koulla Yiasouma, the director of Include Youth, which works with young people at risk in Belfast, says: "I've heard of cases involving children as young as 13, but all the evidence would suggest that it could be any age.

Social worker Jim Deeds studied the abuse of children through prostitution in Northern Ireland as part of his university studies.

"While it is a shock for people to hear, I think we're really only scratching the surface," he says.

"I think as the years go on, the problem is going to grow as people become more aware of the horror of what this brings to young people."

He described how, in the past, he encountered one shocking incident.

"A family member would have gone to the local pub, put the (house) keys on the bar, and taken bids.

"Whoever paid the most money would have got the keys. I remember the young people talking about the horror of not knowing who was coming home that night."

Jacqui Montgomery-Devlin says hundreds may be involved

Throughout this week, BBC Newsline is examining the abuse of children through prostitution in Northern Ireland.

Through Jo's story, we hope to make people aware of what is happening to vulnerable children in our towns and cities.

She will tell us what sort of people pay to have sex with children, where she was taken to, and how she finally managed to leave behind her life of abuse.

A helpline, run through Barnardos' Out of the Shadows project, will be staffed by trained experts throughout the week.

UN warns on South Asia child sex

The victims are usually teenage girls
The trade in women and children for sex is spiralling out of control in South Asia, the UN children's fund, Unicef, has warned.
South Asia provides most of the 500,000 women and children trafficked each year in Asia, Unicef estimates.

"It is one of the blights of South Asia. The situation is getting out of hand," Unicef regional director Sadig Rasheed said in Sri Lanka.

He said many problems could be stopped "tomorrow" if men said no to child sex.

"While many of those represented by these daunting figures may end up in other forms of hazardous and harmful labour, a significant proportion of the young ones will be providing sexual services."


Referring to a "rising tide of commercial sexual exploitation" in the region, Dr Rashid said numbers being trafficked in Asia represented nearly half the world total - and South Asia was bearing the brunt.

There should be no hiding place for those selling and trading children for sex
Dr Sadig Rasheed

"We are facing a very serious situation here in South Asia. The situation is nothing short of, I would say, modern-day slavery,"

He told journalists in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, that the child sex trade in the sub-continent was largely for locals.

"It is a market to satisfy South Asian men.

"There are also incidences of boys being traded for sex, such as in Sri Lanka where foreign paedophiles lure beach boys with money."

Dr Rashid said not all of those trafficked worked in the sex trade, but "a considerable proportion will have become involved in such exploitation".

'How very sad'

Because of links with organised crime, it was extremely difficult to get accurate statistics on how many people were being trafficked and commercially sexually exploited, he said.

"It seems that more and more women and children are leaving countries like Nepal and Bangladesh and many are ending up being abused in a highly lucrative sex trade."

War in countries such as Nepal and Afghanistan was making matters worse, as thousands of young people left in search of a better future - and ended up in the sex trade.

"How very sad. What an indictment. What a complete failure for family, government and of us all," Dr Rasheed said.

He urged governments who had signed a global anti-child trafficking drive in Japan in 2001 to tackle poverty and inequality which, he said, lay at the root the problem.

Child sex exploitation tackled

A conference has opened in Bangkok which examines the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
The aim is to ensure that countries which signed up to a global agreement three years ago to end commercial child abuse are following their agreed plans.

Representatives of 20 governments will also look at preventing new forms of abuse such as the exploitation of children on the internet.

New technology provides new threats to children, says the organiser, the UN.

The internet, the ease of digital photography and mobile phones, all present new opportunities for abusers to sexually exploit children for commercial gain.

The success of commercial websites that now charge for access to child porn has simply added to a trade that has boomed in recent years.

This meeting is also aiming to incorporate the views of children themselves, many of whom will be represented.

Their first-hand experiences will be heard, as will their suggestions on how to tackle the problems of commercial sex abuse.

It is hoped that that injection of first hand experience and new thinking will provide an insight which could permanently combat the abuse of children for money.

Brazil struggles to curb sex tourism

Brazil's sun-drenched beaches are a lure for tourists
The Brazilian city of Salvador is this week hosting the first World Tourism Forum, and one of the main items on the agenda is how to combat the menace of child sex tourism. The BBC's Steve Kingstone reports from Recife, one of the centres of the Brazilian sex tourism industry.
The UN estimates that two million young people under the age of 18 are involved in prostitution.

Traditionally the trade has been associated with Asia. But in recent years, Brazil has become an increasingly popular destination.

There's a paradise quality to Recife on the country's north-east coast.

Not the paradise of desert islands and solitude but a more earthly variety, with vibrant beaches and beautiful people.

The latter is the attraction for a growing number of foreign tourists who come to Brazil looking for sex, and in many cases they are willing to pay for it.

There is a growing demand, mostly from Germans, Italians and other Europeans, says Sessie Prostrello of campaign group Mulia Vida.

They come here not for the culture and beaches, she says, but for sex, often with minors.

The age of consent in Brazil is 18, but many of those at work here are much younger.

Family business

As I drive along the main road a block back from the beach at 1am, it is lined with young women flagging down drivers for sex.

A car stops just up ahead of me. Some of these girls are shockingly young - perhaps 12 or 13 years old.

Child sex has boomed in Brazil as Asia cracks down on sex tourism

In a bar where foreign men meet Brazilians, I was approached by Paula who said she was 19 but seemed younger. She was with her mother.

Paula explained that she was looking for a man who could give her a better life in Europe. She said her two sisters were already in Germany.

Later, a Brazilian BBC colleague spoke to Paula's mother, who said Paula could come to my hotel that night - it was for me to name the price.

A mother prostituting her own daughter may seem shocking, but in the end it comes down to basic economics.

Brazil has a supply of young girls desperate to escape poverty, and the demand from foreign men is rising all the time.

Changing trends

Recife's secretary for tourism, Romeo Batista, says the long-term antidote to the sex trade lies in better social policies so that Brazilian girls have less need for foreign men and money.

But on the question of short-term solutions, he was somewhat defensive.

Look, sex is part of our life. It can be a very healthy part of our life. The question is the use of sex to attract tourism
Sergio Folgill
President, World Tourism Forum
"Prostitutes exist everywhere - look at Paris for example.

"Here they just happen to work in highly visible areas, and it's not just a question of getting them off the streets.

"You have to deter their clients, which is why we've installed cameras which also help reduce violence."

Campaigners say the rise of sex tourism in Brazil is partly a consequence of its relative decline elsewhere.

As the authorities have become stricter in east Asia, for example, some of the trade has shifted to Latin America.

But Brazil is also a victim of its own marketing.

In travel brochures the country is portrayed as a land of samba and sensuality. Posters often show half-naked women.

Brazil has become known for beautiful people and big parties
Sergio Folgill is the Brazilian president of this week's World Tourism Forum.

He says sex tourism is perhaps inevitable, but it is up to the authorities not to encourage it through marketing.

"Look, sex is part of our life. It can be a very healthy part of our life," he says.

"The question is the use of sex to attract tourism. When it tends to be an attraction for new tourists to come, here is where we have a problem."

Selling Brazil as a sexy country but without encouraging sex tourism is a delicate balance which has perhaps yet to be struck.

Scoutmaster jailed for child porn

A scout leader has been jailed for eight months for collecting pornographic images of children, some of them depicting sadism.
Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court heard Stephen Dudley, 40, downloaded more than 12,000 images of children as young as five on his computer.

He was traced via his email address to his home in Welling, south-east London.

Dudley admitted 19 counts of making the images, one of possessing them and another of distributing a picture.

If people like yourself didn't pay money to view these sort of things, it is far less likely this trade would exist
Judge Simon Smith
The court heard the defendant came to the attention of officers monitoring illegal online activities when he began file sharing using an email address in his own name.

Judge Simon Smith said there was no indication his interest in child pornography had "impinged" on his 22 year career in the scouts.

He told Dudley: "The reason for that is the courts feel it right to protect, if they can, young boys and girls from becoming inveigled into this trade of using them to make up pictures of them taking part in sex that other people can view.

"The fact remains that if people like yourself didn't pay money to view these sort of things, it is far less likely this trade would exist."

Speaking after sentencing, Detective Constable Dave Ball, of Scotland Yard's Paedophile Unit, described the collection as one of the "largest" discovered.

Dudley was also put on the sex offenders register for ten years and banned from working with children for life.

UN urges action on child labour

Unicef says 60% of all child workers in the world are in Asia
Huge aid increases are needed to help more than 210 million children around the world working full-time, the United Nations' children's fund Unicef says.
Many children aged five to 15 are working as slaves, miners, prostitutes and soldiers, its latest report says.

Unicef argues the only way to end child labour is to end poverty and it calls on rich industrialised nations to give far more in development aid.

Child labour, it says, is a scar on the world's conscience in the 21st Century.

Children are born, sold and trafficked into what amounts to domestic slavery in many countries, the report says, some earning as little as $1 a month.

Sex workers

Others are exploited in unregulated chemical plants in Asia, giant open cast mines in Latin America and stone quarries in West Africa.

Children are also used as cheap farm labour in North America and sex workers in Europe, the report said, citing prostitutes as young as 15 in UK cities.

1.9bn of the world's 2.2bn children live in developing countries
One in two children in the developing world lives in poverty
2.2m children could be saved through immunisation each year
37% of 15 to 49-year-olds in Botswana are HIV-positive
121m primary school-age children, mostly girls, are out of school
210m five to 15 year-olds are in full-time employment
Source: Unicef

Central Asia's struggle

The highest incidence of child labour is in Africa, where 41% of those aged five to 14 work, compared to 21% in Asia and 17% in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Asia accounts for 60% of all child workers, however, because of its higher population, the report says.

The richest nations have already committed themselves to halving poverty and hunger and reducing child mortality by 2015.

Unicef says even if these goals are met, it will be too late for the tens of millions of children who are currently being exploited or forced to carry out destructive and demeaning jobs.

"A huge amount still remains to be done to protect children's rights all over the globe and to prevent their exploitation," said Unicef's UK executive director, David Bull.

The report calls on industrialised nations to boost aid by $50m a year, and ensure the help is better targeted to help the poor directly.

The BBC's Jannat Jalil says the world's richest nations are already discussing an ambitious plan put forward by the UK to reduce the debt burdens of poor countries and give them more aid and trade opportunities.

But, she says, some observers argue the solution does not just lie in giving more money.

They say action must also be taken to tackle the widespread corruption and lack of democracy that exists in many countries.

Is prostitution a sacrifice too far?

Negotiating the price - would you sell your body for sex?

This week BBC's Africa Live has been inspired by the winning play in the 2005 African Performance Season.

In Beguiled, playwright Bode Asiyanbi tells the story of 17-year-old Efe who is tricked into leaving Nigeria and becoming a prostitute in Italy.

Trafficking of people like Efe is now considered the fastest-growing criminal business in the world.

But increasingly men and women are choosing to leave their homes to go to Europe and the Middle East to earn money through prostitution.

The financial rewards can make a big difference to people's lives.

BBC Africa Live is asking: Would you have sex for money to support your family back home? Is it a sacrifice worth making?

How would you feel about someone coming back home after years of making money through selling sex? Would you shun them or are attitudes to prostitution changing?

Send us your comments using the form - some of which will be published below. And then please join us as we debate this issue on BBC's Africa Live on Wednesday 27 April at 1630GMT and 1830GMT.

I know that poverty can move one to do some very inconceivable things but even this is beyond my understanding
Recently, I was in Italy and I was heartbroken to see many of our girls prostituting themselves. They stand on the sides of the road come rain or shine and even have chairs so when their legs are tired they can sit down. I was told that some of them get murdered, raped and everything else. Something has to be done and very quickly because the consequences are far too great to be ignored. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, physical and mental abuse are only a fraction of what these girls are exposed to on a daily basis. I know that poverty can move one to do some very inconceivable things but even this is beyond my understanding.
I do not support those that force women into prostitution, but I support women that make this as a choice freely. They are, after all, their bodies.
Mbeki Malawi, Namibia

It is easy to say that I do not think I would sell my body for money if my family needed it. But it is easy to say such things when I am not in a situation where I face the grim reality that without me providing for them, my family might starve. Surely there are more ways, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I cannot help but sympathise with a single mother with no other oppportunity of employment who turns to prostitution.
Maina Kigani, Kenya

I know a lady who saved her entire family thanks to prostitution. They are now all in Europe and she relocated the parents from the village to the capital city Kinshasa. Isn't that a blessing for the family? As long as the lady does it wisely without endangering her life, she can easily gets married if she finds someone to marry her who doesn't know any thing about her past or who believe that in love the past does not count.
Kapinga Ntumba, Harare, Zimbabwe

I'd like to ask a different question: would you shun a man that uses the services of a prostitute? As long as there is demand for it, it will not go away. The solution is to decriminalised it, regulate it and provide more information and education using the revenue it generates. The current policy, which encourages stigmatisation and "pimping," has failed.
Edward Kutsoati, Ghana

Emphatically, No!! This is not an acceptable option for feeding the family. People like Efe find themselves in an impossible situation after the deception by the "pimps". For those that would do this "sacrifice" knowingly, I would say they are joining the world in its continued moral decay. However, this whole situation is just a symptom of the socio-economic and political problems that continue to plague countries like Nigeria.
Akin Oladoye, Nigerian-American

Why is that parents encourage their children into travelling abroad to become prostitutes?
Denola Adekoya, Nigeria

Recently, a young girl of about 25 years with below average education got a visa to UK. The mum was very happy and was looking for money for this young girl's trip to UK, so she came to me, as a banker, for assistance. I asked this old woman what is her your child going to do in UK? But I received no genuine answer to my question and I was left wondering why is that parents encourage their children into travelling abroad to become prostitutes. Pride and dignity has been thrown into the dust bin and the only language we all understand is money. Hard work and prayer is the only way out of this mess.
Denola Adekoya, Nigeria

The element of choice inherent in your question is one that rings false. These are the poorest, most desperate women forced to do desperate things. There is no debate: this fact of life is one of the saddest facts we have. A clinical analysis falls short. The abuse, the rape, the psychological damage screams the "choice" of a person with literally no options.
Martha Hinton, Canada

I think it is just a question of morality. It is not true that people only practice the trade in order to make money. Don't tell me there are not prostitutes who come from rich homes and rich countries.
Siegfried Gbadago, Kumasi, Ghana

It's often said prostitution is the oldest profession. The root cause of this is poverty. It is easy for the narrow minded to condemn prostitution. Education can play a major role in reducing the number of prostitutes but I don't think the trade can be eradicated. However, I think it is more easily controlled if it has been legalised and brothels provided. However, soliciting can then be made illegal. Lets face it, the sex industry is a big business and has appeals with glossy images. The demand will always be there. Let's not be ignorant about. This is not a problem with the African continent.
Kennedy, UK

I would not says prostitution is not a sacrifice worth making. This is due to the emergence of Aids, which has no cure. On the other hand, the Bible and even our traditions discourage prostitution. I would not shun a prostitute that returns home, but rather I suggest other ways for him/her to earn a living.
Owuoth Habil, Kenya

So if this kind of prostitution is not illegal, why should the more traditional form be illegal?
Bernard Onyango
My time at the University of Nairobi taught me that prostitution is not only tied to desperate poor girls. Well-off, young girls engage in sexual flings with richer men just to experience the richer lifestyle that their parents are not yet willing to offer them. These girls would not directly ask for cash for sex as the "traditional" prostitute. Rather, if the cash and other material benefits are not forthcoming from the man, then the fling is over and they move on to other men. So if this kind of prostitution is not illegal, why should the more traditional form be illegal? For me, as long as there is a willing buyer, willing seller agreement between adults as defined by the laws of a country, then so be it.
Bernard Onyango, Kenya

The moral decadence in the world has mortgaged people's conscience so much that prostitution which ought to be seen as sacrilege is no longer viewed strongly as evil. Poverty is no excuse for selling one's body as they are a million and one means to survive. And it is disheartening to find some families in my country who sell their belongings in order to send their children abroad for prostitution. My country's government is still paying lip service to the fight against this scourge of prostitution which has crippled our moral heritage. I will disown anyone related to me who indulges in prostitution.
Fidelis Mbah, Abuja, Nigeria

She told me that she does not like it, but that is the only option she has.
Reinford Mwangonde, USA
I attend a university here in the US with a young lady from West Africa who makes money through prostitution though it is illegal here. She is a stripper, but she gets picked up by guys after her session is done. The money to her makes a great deal of difference since she is able to pay for her college, take care of herself and send some money back to her folks in West Africa. She told me that she does not like it, but that is the only option she has. Prostitution is legal in France, the Netherlands and Germany. If it can be accepted in society like these, why can't it be honoured as such to be a source of employment? I would do it if it meant my only way to survive. It's the survival of the fittest and this is one way to survive.
Reinford Mwangonde, USA

No, I would not sell my body for any reason, because i believe strongly that there always other options to pursue. However, I understand very well the plight of a lot of young girls who get involved in this practice. A lot of them have been misled by people they trusted and a lot of them go into this very well aware of the danger involved. My honest advice to young girls is that hard work never killed anybody.
Lami, Nigeria

It is a human being's animal instinct to survive and live, not to fade and die. To achieve that, a human would do whatever it can. Social pride, dignity status or whatever prostitution can take away from a human being, comes after. As the 'oldest' profession, prostitution is not the worst of sacrifices. Killing is worse. Besides, some people do prostitution with some pleasure.
Gandalino Yalo, Angola

No one should sell your body. The only way to stop or reduce prostitution in the world is to fight poverty in the developing world.
Abdoulie Danso, New York City, USA

This debate comes on at a time when Ghana is also debating if prostitution should be legalised or not. If you ask me, I will be conservative on this issue. It's like giving your own child the license to go and have sex to make money to feed on.This is an abomination in most African cultures. I know the proponents argue that prostitution is a profession. But tell me, isn't cleaning a toilet for money a more descent occupation?
Benjamin Tetteh Piorgah, Ghana

It's all about survival. I would sell my body to support my family but that would be my last choice. Attitudes to prostitution are not changed. Prostitution is for people who are trying to make fast money, who have no other choice than to sell their body and support themselves. These people are not murderers, or rapists, they are the people who are trying to survive. And I think we should help them by educating and explaining to them about sexually transmitted diseases and how they can protect themselves. And we must also make them feel part of the community.
Tewodros Kebede, Ethiopia

Caretaker's child porn admission

A caretaker who worked at a school in Suffolk has pleaded guilty to charges of child pornography.
Darren Cronin, 20, from Newmarket, Suffolk, admitted 16 counts of making indecent photos of children between July 2003 and October 2004.

On Monday at Cambridge Crown Court, Cronin also admitted distributing the photos on the internet.

Cronin worked at Ditton Lodge County First School in Newmarket which has pupils aged between five and nine.

He also asked for 106 other offences to be taken into consideration.

Offenders' register

Judge Jonathan Haworth adjourned Cronin's case until 8 August for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports.

He told Cronin: "Can I make it clear to you that in granting you bail that it is no indication the sentence at the end of the day.

"I have not heard details of the case and so it will be the judge on the day who will decide the sentence."

Cronin, who was accompanied at court by his mother and father, was ordered to register as a sex offender at his local police station within three days.

He was bailed on condition that he live either with his father in Newmarket or at his mother's address in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Christopher Morgan, defending, said the distribution of the photographs had been through the Kazaa website which was open to anyone to access.

He said: "It's very different from this young man setting up his own site and trading on the internet."

Why have a 'sugar daddy'?

Agnes and her friends have been approached by 'sugar daddies'
This week on Africa Live we will be exploring the issue of 'sugar daddies'. What is the allure of one? Who is taking advantage of who? defines a 'sugar daddy' as: "A wealthy, usually older man who gives expensive gifts to a young person in return for sexual favours or companionship."

For some young women their 'sugar daddy' gives them access to wealth and help with college fees or the rent, however for others it is a relationship which can end in exploitation and an increased risk of HIV infection.

Should we be judgemental about this phenomenon? Are they predators, or is it the young women who are on the prowl? Are you a 'sugar daddy' or do you rely on one? Do you think the relationship is exploitative and similar to prostitution? Send us your comments.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

'Sugar daddies' simply dehydrate the moral values of our societies. They make endless offers and promises to young girls, however, if by any chance they find out that their daughters are also going out with 'sugar daddies' they punish them severely, sometimes unto death.
Leonel Muchano, Maputo, Mozambique

The younger party may be an orphan or the old person may be in need of care
Jobickson Modi, Texas
The younger party may be an orphan or the old person may be in need of true love and care. If the two can do it in a legal way with good intention, I do not see any thing wrong with a 'sugar daddy'.
Jobickson Modi, Texas.

The 'sugar daddy' is normally an old man on an ego trip. Most of them or impotent and cannot perform anymore so the relationship is just for companionship. Their wives are normally at home creeping with their own Sugar Daddy.
Priscilla, USA

During an argument with my wife about her being progressively unwilling to contribute to the cooking, cleaning, budgeting or disciplining our daughter, she angrily revealed that she had 'sugar daddies' when she was younger. She blurted out that she only valued relationships where she was showered with expensive gifts, wined, dined and had servants. But they all dumped her and ran away when she was pregnant and getting older. According to her, these were and still are highly educated and wealthy African diplomats/officials
Anonymous, Tanzania

The only thing more deplorable than this 'sugar daddy' phenomenon is the attitudes of those who condone it, because such thinking stunts any real progress in the Africa.
Eyram, Ghana/Washington, Dc

In this era of HIV/AIDS, it is imperative that we educate young girls about the dangers of engaging in sexual relationships with 'sugar daddies' whose objective is to satisfy their sexual desires
James Kimani, USA

It is silly for Tom from France to say "no wonder Aids is rampant in Africa" that has nothing to do with the topic under discussion. Tom, check in your back yard.
Christopher Okoronkwo, US\Nigeria

Has Africa totally lost its original preaching of being faithful?
Kanini, USA
My uncle died of HIV due to this behaviour. Has Africa totally lost its original preaching of being faithful?
Kanini, USA

What do you expect from a society without a true religion? Religion is law for living with dignity and honour.
Usama, Sudan

I don't think those poor girls are sluts as some put them to be, but they are desperate individuals . I was close to becoming a 'sugar boy' myself, to a 'sugar mummy' - I must confess it was because I was desperate myself.
Loremo Kamanda, Utah / USA

Whether it is right or wrong is not the issue. The question is who do we blame? I say society!
Kofa , Sandy Spring, USA

My mother is suspicious of my father with this dirty habit, but she has no proof. This has broken her heart countless times.
Onah, USA

Both the 'sugar daddies' and the majority of young women benefit
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, USA
My Dad is a big 'sugar daddy'. Always, he was troublesome with my mother, but peace came into the family after my mother give up the fight and left him alone with his dirty game. The way I see it both the 'sugar daddies' and the majority of young women benefit. I wouldn't mind being a 'sugar daddy' one of these days - it is a way of life in my community.
Pal Gatkuoth Deng, USA

They should jail all the 'sugar daddies' for doing these stupid things.
Seray Marah, UK

It is my opinion that if someone wishes to trade a college education, paid for in exchange for four years of companionship, then everyone wins. I have been contemplating this type of relationship myself, I just can't afford the company just yet. Many women would think a chance to live in the U.S., get a college degree paid for, and then to be able to support themselves without being beholden to anyone, a fair trade.
Mark Wheeler, USA

Usually the girls lose out. This man isn't in love, is not reliable, and he'll move on to another as soon as he can. Usually he has a family and denies the girl the chance to raise her own, and will only see the young girl when it is convenient for him.
Njabulo Mvalo, Zambia

These girls are sluts.
Jonzs Aduku, Ghana

Let's not allow the bad nuts to cloud our judgement
Wazuri Watoto, Ghana
Definitely some 'sugar daddies' just exploit the girls and treat them badly, but the majority of them provide and take good care of these girls. Let's not allow the bad nuts to cloud our judgement. Like the Ghanaian proverb says, "There is a Mensah in every home".
Wazuri Watoto, Ghana

Obviously the 'sugar daddy' in this case is exploiting the young woman - its a power thing. The young women most of the time are victims of their circumstances - poverty has a lot to do with it.
Masons, Tanzania.

In most institutions of higher learning in Uganda, it is a hobby for young ladies to have 'sugar daddies'. The beauty of it all is that both parties go into such relationships knowing the trade-offs and there is no question of either party exploiting the other since the relationship is "mutually beneficial".
Paul Kimalyo, Uganda

All involved should be ashamed of themselves.
Job Egalaha, Kenya

An escape from misery and the glaring levels of poverty in Africa's underdeveloped countries has attracted a high number of our young girls to be going for the 'sugar daddies'. Whether it is exploitative and similar to prostitution - my opinion is that this is pure prostitution as the relationship is centred on money.
Benson Musuku, Zambia

Morality is a luxury these girls can't afford. Criticising this phenomenon from the luxury of our beautiful Western households is what I find immoral.
Christina Papatheodorou, Greece

Having a 'sugar daddy' is abominable in the African culture and tradition . Much as we appreciate the fact that there is abject poverty in Africa, dignity and integrity must be restored.
Chibwinja Francis, Kitwe Zambia

Fear of losing control and my own dignity made me stronger to decline their offers
Phumeza, South Africa
Poverty is not the cause of the problem. I was poor at one stage and there were 'sugar daddies' flying all around me offering all the nice things that I knew may parents would never afford. Fear of losing control and my own dignity made me stronger to decline their offers. Education and workshops for boosting these people's self esteem might help.
Phumeza, South Africa

Hunger can make you do things you don't want to do. At the end of the day you find yourself having to have a 'sugar daddy'. Lack of food, money and clothes can lead you to have one.
Nono, South Africa

This kind of relationship will favour some people and hurt others. Every individual has the right to choose the kind of life they want to lead.
George Ababio, Boston, USA

I work in hospital and I have seen first hand the many and nasty diseases like genital warts, syphillis, clamydia, herpes, not to exclude HIV that young gals are contracting from older men. It is common sense that young girls bodies, ie. their reproductive organs, are not mature and tend to tear easily during coitus.
Sammy, USA

Some parents do not even bother about what happens to their daughters
Benard Kamenya, Dwangwa, Malawi
Some parents have dozens of children and they do not even bother about what happens to their daughters, and this is aggravated by the african culture of polygamy. It is really shocking.
Benard Kamenya, Dwangwa, Malawi

There is nothing wrong with 'sugar daddies'. Your 'sugar daddy' treats you like a queen and helps you till you can stand on your own feet. In every story there are two sides.
Anonymous, South Africa

The main reason for this devilish act is none other than poverty. We can help girls without asking for an unfair sexual exchange.
Alefe, Ethiopia

For some of us it is our 'sugar daddy' who has made us what we are today
Abena Talata, Ghana
It is not always a bad thing to have a 'sugar daddy' because for some of us it is our 'sugar daddy' who has made us what we are today when our parents could not afford to pay our fees. To me it is just like having an older boy friend.
Abena Talata, Ghana

It is devilish and satanic even to have imagined doing it. Note ,the Bible is never incomplete. Any young girl that involves herself in that shall surely receive it back from younger girls when she is married and vice versa .Thus, "whatsoever a man sow, he shall reap".
Ugbong John Adie, Nigeria

Of great concern, is the age at which these girls are exploited; some mothers actually encourage their daughters to have relations with older married or divorced men, to get a little money into the home. Mothers of Africa should take pride in their daughters who are the future pillars of our society and continent.
Anita Kusiima, Uganda

A 'sugar daddy' in my country is usually a reasonably wealthy man and old, and young ladies hunt them for their money. Girls say they are simpler to handle than young men their own age.
Chitalo Joseph, Zambia

No wonder AIDS is rampant in Africa.
Tom, France

I believe society must kick against the idea - but would society be ready to assist these young women?
Francis Owusu-Ansah, Ghana

If I lived in poverty and I met a man who would pay my way out of it for sex - you bet I would
Christine, Banff, Canada
This has nothing to do with God, Good and Evil - It has to do with survival. The focus should be on the issues that bring these young people to such desperation. If I lived in poverty and I met a man who would pay my way out of it for sex - you bet I would. Would I be proud of it? "No"
Christine, Banff, Canada

I think another main problem behind the 'sugar daddy-ism' is the male dominated world we live in (especially in Africa). When women have little freedom and choice, very limited opportunities and are expected to be house wives in order to be "good" wives, then what do you expect the young girls to do? Forget some so-called 'good-girl' traditions and let them developed intellectually and emotionally. Girls in the West are less involved in such activities (there are exceptions of course) partly because many of them see themselves as equals to boys. Our African women need more independence and value in our societies.
Ejike, Nigeria/US

These girls are not exploited; they know very well what they are doing
Annick, France
I have experienced what these girls are able to do. My husband knew a family, and after the death of the father he wanted to help them out. This girl came to his hotel room and literally threw herself at him. He was not strong enough to say no, and they began an affair. When he ended it, the black-mail started, she said she was pregnant, the condom had apparently broken. She managed to get a lot of money from him, I was threatened etc. We are now separated after 35 years of marriage, so I have no pity for these "Bush-girls" as they are called in Nigeria. They are not exploited; they know very well what they are doing.
Annick, France

It is a matter of survival for the girls. For the wealthy men doing it, it is just another form of consumption. I don't blame the girls; neither do I blame the men who are trying to find some affection, even if it is paying. I just feel sorry for all of them.
'sugar daddy' ex-companion, England

I quite agree with some men who say that their wives give them troubles, which cause them to get a medicine that will calm their hearts by going out with their mistress. But that does not solve the problem. My advice is that they should be prepared to listen to their wives, open a dialogue with her, value her, take her out from time to time, and never to take a wife for granted!
Nebigwe, Nichodemus, Togo

Even in the richest of countries we have 'sugar daddies'. It is simply another type of prostitution. However in Africa it is almost a death sentence due to HIV and other STDs.
Elhadj Bah, Guinee-Kamsar

Heavy penalties should be imposed on men who have young girls as sexual extras
Benson Magaba, Harare Zimbabwe
Here we have a multitude of 'sugar daddies'. They are usually a lot older than their victims, a lot richer than their victims and a lot more ruthless than the average man. The main cause is that the government does not frown on the practice. Heavy penalties should be imposed on men who have young girls as sexual extras.
Benson Magaba, Harare Zimbabwe

In addition to the love of small gifts, the young girls and boys are adolescents who are driven by sexual urges, peer pressure and the desire to discover sexual experience. Unfortunately, they land in the hands of exploitative 'sugar daddies' and 'sugar mummies' who make them pregnant and HIV infected! Young girls and boys learn how to control your impatience.
James Francis Natukunda, Uganda

I think these older men or 'sugar daddies' or whatever should focus their attention onto their own wives and kids because what goes around comes around. If he's not paying attention to his own wife, she might go looking elsewhere for the attention she's not getting at home.
Seya, USA

A 'sugar daddy' is nothing more than a pimp.
Jennifer, USA

The act of being a 'sugar daddy' would be fine and acceptable if the 'sugar daddies' would want or wish the same for their own children. I very much doubt that, however!
Wale, Vienna, Austria

Most young girls that are lured are often exploring their sexuality and given an opportunity would probably not seek a young man of their own age. 'Sugar daddies' prey are often quite willing and extremely manipulative, with most 'sugar 'daddies' having exclusive relationships with their wives and the young girl until such a time that he comes to his senses. There is no such thing as a serial 'sugar daddy', they come and they go and life goes on.
Mwazipeza Sakala, Zambia

Many girls don't know how to say 'no'
Katie, USA
Many girls get sucked into the 'sugar daddy' phenomenon because they don't know how to say "no."
Katie, USA

Why is it that hardly any responses to this subject mention HIV/AIDS? Have we all gone bloody mad? When was the last time a 'sugar daddy' demanded a condom to be used? And no one seems to link this behaviour to a spike in the HIV rate among adolescent girls and young women - Time to wake up Africa!
Mateyu, USA

We, the young ladies have to be content with whatever we have, and 'sugar daddies' should go out with their own age group.
Patience, Ghana

This act should be outlawed - it has no place in our society.
Abubakar Kamara, Sierra Leone

In the Gambia 'sugar daddies' have created a lot of tensions in the matrimonial homes and even high profile personalities including ministers, directors and others are no exception. The wave of 'sugar daddies' has polluted our country and as a result left our girls as school drop outs and others at a risk of HIV infection. Many marriages have broken because of 'sugar daddies'.
Lamin Dampha, The Gambia

I don't agree that poverty is the cause of this - the young girls need education and discipline.
Ivy Anang, Canada

This kind of lifestyle has resulted in a lot of ladies being badly behaved
Ebenezer Oppong Tutu, London

It's a prohibited act. I don't really know how others think of it as a good deed. This act is so bad that we should not encourage it at all. This kind of lifestyle has resulted in a lot of ladies being badly behaved, diseases, demon possession and curses. It also affects their marriages potentially. It is not harmonious and the consequences are greater than its good. This evil act must be judged because it's indirectly the same as prostitution. Therefore, we should stop encouraging these 'sugar daddies' to take advantage over these girls.
Ebenezer Oppong Tutu, London, UK

There should be another definition for the word "love" in places where such practices - 'sugar' daddying and mummying - take place. It is primitive, and an act of shamelessness, for those married people who engage in this adulterous act after lying before God that they'll love, respect and remain faithful to their spouses until death do them part. They really don't love those they have vowed to spend the rest of their lives with. It's immoral and unfair, condemn it.
George Darlington, Brazil

'Sugar daddies' are just as good as hyenas that eat their own young ones. No matter how successful enough one would be in the name of a 'sugar daddy' it's a dirty practise that one can never be proud of. That's why it's always a hidden deal.
Rabby, Zurich

It should be: Why not have a 'sugar daddy'? These old men are just greedy, selfish, stubborn, arrogant and have the nerve to sleep with girls (young enough to be their children), teaching those girls dirty habits like under-age drinking, smoking not to mention sex with a minor. They won't bother using protection and Lord knows what kind of STDs they pass to them or even HIV/Aids then she'll pass it to her sweet Romeo-wannabe boyfriend.

Have these men ever had it cross their mind when one of their daughters comes home late one night, smelling of alcohol and of cigarettes, and then pouring lies to them about where she was and with whom¿ only to find out after few months that she's pregnant and not yet finished her O level. That what really makes me mad - these 'sugar daddies' are 'sour daddies'. They've beautiful and loving housewives at home and well-protected families. How selfish? These men are sick.
Dennis, Zimbabwe

I don't exploit anybody and I like to think that I've been a positive influence
Bee, UK

I don't think there's anything wrong with 'sugar daddy' relationships at all. As long as both parties are clear what it's about and what they gain from it, then it's a relationship of mutual benefit. I've had two 'sugar daughters' in the past and not only did they gain from me financially, but also emotionally. I don't exploit anybody and I like to think that I've been a positive influence in their lives. I even attended one's wedding!
Bee, UK

A 'sugar daddy' is a God-send. In my opinion, if you are one of the few who are fortunate to find someone that will support you in achieving your goals and help you maintain a certain lifestyle that you can't afford entirely on your own, then by all means enjoy! In my opinion, having a 'sugar daddy' is not prostitution. It is simply an exchange. An exchange from someone that respects you and wants to do nice things for you. In return you do nice things for them. I am now in graduate school in the states. I thank the person that taught me many things and allowed me to work right under him.
Anonymous, Ghana

A 'sugar daddy' is seen as a financial shelter. I have been able to deduce from interacting with some girls who date 'sugar daddies' that the 'sugar daddies' make up for what their boyfriends could not provide for them. Some of the boys have no choice because they are equally benefiting from the proceeds of the 'sugar daddy'. However, despite the excuses I have heard so far, to me, dating a 'sugar daddy' is indirectly prostitution and adultery.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

I went to secondary school in Nigeria and have experienced the antiques of 'sugar daddies'. For example, when I was 11-years-old, a girl in my class had a 'sugar daddy' who showered her with money and gifts. She had so much that other girls were envious of her. This is not a relationship. These men are depriving these little girls of their adolescence.
Iyke Emina, USA

As much as I hold the older men responsible for falling prey to these young girls, I don't want to accept that the claim by older women that older men are exploiting the young girls. The adult world needs to teach the children (girls) how to say "No".
E Julu Swen

I have a 'sugar daddy'. So what? I like sex
Rachell, Nigeria
I have a 'sugar daddy'. So what? I like sex. I enjoy it and older men are just as good as the young ones, often better. Young men are often conceited louts and selfish too. I'll take my 'sugar daddy' over them any day.
Rachell, Nigeria

They lure you into a relationship, promising all you would ever need in life; knowing that it's just pleasure they really want from you. They want to control the entire life of the woman, gaining possession of the woman's freedom. In the light of this I would say that the act of 'sugar daddies' is disrespectful and I don't support it by any means and no one should encourage it.
Ernest Itoje, Nigeria

If some young women are doing it, then they don't have much choice. When poor people do it it's called prostitution, so what do you call it when the rich do it - socialising?
Melvin Roche, France

In my language we have a saying - "Wako nde mwana, wamzako ndi ndiwo" which literally means you want to protect your child while you exploit other people's children. Young girls lack pride in themselves when they do this. My advice is that they should know that one day they will be wives. I would love to hear what they would say if they discovered that their own husbands were 'sugar daddies'.
Yvonne, Hanover, Germany

Before we give our judgment, it is wise to see the cause first. The low life due to poverty makes these young girls victims of 'sugar daddies'. We have to blame poverty not 'sugar daddies' or the young women. 'Sugar daddies' have got money and power!
Gamta Kumsa, US

Those men who are involved in such act should know that someone else will get their daughters
Tarsuah Early, USA/Liberia

The concept of 'sugar daddies' is equivalent to male prostitution. Those men who are involved in such act should know that someone else will get their daughters too. What goes around comes around. Also, it is something that should be discouraged in Africa. Married men cheating on their wives or vice versa doesn't excite me.
Tarsuah Early, USA/Liberia

One word sums it all up: poverty.
UE, UK/Nigeria

This phenomenon seems similar to prostitution in many ways. It should be legalized so that the victims may stand a chance of not being over exploited.
Zunaira Ansari, Pakistan/Germany

'Sugar daddies' are crazy people; they would not even allow their daughter's boyfriend to visit them never mind take them out, but want to take out other peoples' daughters. They are so wicked and insensitive, they only exploit young girls. All the wealthy things that these 'sugar daddies' give out are not with good intentions because they want something back, 'sugar daddies' have sex with your daughters and allow others to exploit them too. I know it's a big no! But let me say, some of the girls allow themselves into it and even push 'sugar daddies' to go for them.
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso, Accra, Ghana

I think we should focus more on what drives these young women to have a relationship with older men. Lack of education, lack of resources, epidemic corruption¿
Ziggy, USA, MA

Do you know that we have 'sugar mummies' also? They are worse than 'sugar daddies'. They are very possessive, and could be very deadly too. But be they 'sugar' mummies or daddies, the act is disrespectful and no sane person should encourage it. It can ruin the life of a young man or woman. When a young woman engages in this act, she puts herself in danger. If she is committed to the relationship, the spouse of her partner is the threat, if she decides to put an end to it, her desperate partner becomes the threat, so better not begin than end in sorrow.
Richard Ebeh, Nigeria

I am not a 'sugar daddy' but I always keep the trust of those who have been kind or done good things to me throughout my life. It is a fact; older men offer expensive gifts to girls or single mothers in order to keep a relationship alive, but who is to blame for this matter? However, people do not get HIV/AIDS just because they exchange gifts with some people - this is a misconception and therefore people should not believe this theory at all because it has no proof at all whatsoever.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, USA

'Sex trade gang trafficked women'

A family of sex traders tricked women into the UK and then forced them to work as prostitutes, a court has heard.
Their terrified victims made the gang up to £7,000 a week each, Southwark Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

The jury heard one teenager lost her virginity when she was forced to "entertain" 10 men on her first night.

Flamur Demarku, 33, and brothers Agron, 21, and Bedari, 22, and another man, Izzet Fejzullah, 32, deny prostitution and human trafficking charges.

No escape

The jury was told that among the victims was a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Lithuania who thought she was coming to England for a holiday.

Michael Holland, prosecuting, told the court a combination of embarrassment, fear and threats to her and her family quickly forced her to submit as she was traded between red light bosses and forced to work seven days a week.

Flamur Demarku, 33, of Hall Road, Hounslow, west London
Argon Demarku, 21, of Hall Road, Hounslow
Bedari Demarku, 22, of Hanworth Road, Feltham, west London
Izzet Fejzullahu, 32, of Bell Road, Hounslow

But her mother became ever more frantic back home and a local Lithuanian TV station picked up the story, Mr Holland said.

So, too, did the BBC which tracked down enough leads to enable police to raid one of the London brothels, run by the Albanian gang, and rescue her.

Mr Holland said neither the schoolgirl nor the 19-year-old virgin were given any choice about their fate.

"They feared for themselves and their families should they defy their new owners. They were far from home without money," he said.

"They didn't even know where they were. They were forced to stay, too frightened to complain. There was no escape."

They did not use violence but relied on fear and the lack of confidence that comes with youth
Prosecutor Michael Holland

He added: "The girls were told they would have to pay off their purchase price to the men who got them into the UK.

"Then they would be allowed to keep a portion of their earnings.

"After that they would be allowed to come and go to a certain extent. But by then, we suggest, they had given up and accepted their fate.

"They did not use violence but relied on fear and the lack of confidence that comes with youth."

He added that some women were so traumatised and ashamed they would probably continue to work as prostitutes.

The defendants deny seven conspiracies alleging agreements to traffic women into Britain for "sexual exploitation", doing so within the country, causing them to" engage in sexual activity without consent", causing prostitution and controlling it and similarly causing child prostitution and controlling that as well.

The case continues.

Child porn GP struck off register

A family doctor jailed for child porn offences has been struck off the medical register.
Simon Watson, of Otley, Leeds, was jailed for two years at Leeds Crown Court in April for distributing indecent photos of children.

The General Medical Council (GMC) gave him an interim order banning him from working after his arrest last December.

At a special GMC hearing in Manchester on Friday, Watson was struck off the register until further notice.

The hearing was told police raided Watson's house and found 604 pornographic images, including some "very disturbing" pictures showing the very worst category of child sex abuse.

Indecent images

He had downloaded them from the internet and attached them to e-mails which were traded with other paedophiles.

In addition to being jailed on 11 counts of distributing indecent photographs of children, Watson, then aged 38, was convicted of possessing indecent images or photographs of children and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

In a statement, the GMC said: "The Panel has determined that Dr Watson's behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with his remaining a medical practitioner and has therefore determined that his name be erased from the Medical Register.

"In view of the seriousness of the offences, and the risk of re-offending, the Panel considered that Dr Watson's registration should be suspended forthwith."

Sex trafficking gang sent to jail

Izzet Fejzullahu (left) and Agron Demarku face long sentences
Five Albanian men have been jailed for a total of 63 years for running a chain of brothels employing young women trafficked to Britain from Lithuania.
The £1.8m operation run by the Demarku brothers involved girls as young as 16.

Ringleaders Agron Demarku, 22, and his brother Flamur, 34, were given 18 years and Izzet Fejzullahu, 32, got 14 years.

Bedari Demarku, 22 - acquitted of the most serious charge of causing sex without consent - got eight years and his brother Xhevair, 29, five years.

Xhevair had pleaded guilty to trafficking within the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution before the start of the 11-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

'Echoes of slavery'

Judge Anthony Pitts said it was a despicable trade with "echoes of slavery" which could not be tolerated by a civilised society.

He ordered all five men to be deported to their native Albania at the end of their sentences.

This was organised crime at its worst. These defendants preyed on vulnerable women who were trafficked from Lithuania into the UK for the purposes of extreme exploitation
Sergeant Paul Wooldridge
Clubs and Vice Unit

Girls forced into slavery
'More men paying for sex'

He also ordered the seizure of three Mercedes cars and a Suzuki jeep belonging to the defendants.

Further hearings will be held to decide on the confiscation of other assets, though much of the money made by the group is thought to have been sent back to Albania.

The police launched Operation Rotunda in December 2004 after receiving a tip-off from the BBC's Six O'Clock News, which had started an investigation into the disappearance of a 16-year-old Lithuanian girl.

The BBC learned the girl was ringing her parents from London, and police found her when they raided a brothel in Hounslow, where she was being forced to work as a prostitute.

An undercover operation, lasting four months, revealed the scale of the operation and revealed evidence of a number of women being forced to work as prostitutes against their will, including one teenager who had been a virgin before she was trafficked to the UK.

Thousands of women are brought to Britain to work as prostitutes

The Demarku "family firm" also bought and sold several girls from other traffickers and on one occasion were filmed by police taking a girl to central London and selling her for £4,000.

The judge commended the officers on Operation Rotunda one of whom, Sergeant Mark Wooldridge, welcomed the sentences handed out to the Demarku gang and said he hoped it would serve as a warning to others seeking to "exploit" women.

He said: "this was organised crime at its worst. These defendants preyed on vulnerable women who were trafficked from Lithuania into the UK for the purposes of extreme exploitation."

The sentencing of the Demarku gang comes on the same day as a report which suggested that the number of British men using prostitutes had doubled in the last decade.

Flamur (left) and Bedari Demarku face deportation

The increased demand has inevitably led to a need for more and more girls and anti-trafficking campaigners they are being supplied from eastern Europe and other deprived parts of the world.

Christine Beddoe, director of the End Child Prostitution And Trafficking pressure group, said there was a certain responsibility on the shoulder of "punters" who used prostitutes.

Men who visit sex workers really should be...ensuring firstly that the women who are working there are women and not children, and that they are there of their own free will and have not been trafficked or treated badly
Christine Beddoe
Child prostitution campaigner

She told the BBC News Website: "Men who visit sex workers really should be paying attention to the conditions that are there and ensuring firstly that the women who are working there are women and not children, and that they are there of their own free will and have not been trafficked or treated badly."

If people believe a brothel is using trafficked or under-age girls they should leave and report it to the police, said Ms Beddoe.

She also called on Britain to sign up to the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and said it would help to combat the trade.

The Home Office has said it backs action on trafficking but has not yet made a decision on whether to sign the convention, which imposes minimum standards for the treatment of victims of trafficking.

Proposals for licensed red-light zones may be shelved in a government crackdown on prostitution.

Home Office minister Fiona Mactaggart said kerb crawlers indirectly supported drug dealers and abusers of women.

Ministers had initially floated a controversial rethink including decriminalising brothels and "managed tolerance zones" for prostitution.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Ms Mactaggart said prostitution blighted communities and was "frankly intolerable".

Police would be expected to take a zero-tolerance approach towards "massage parlours" and kerb crawlers, including making more use of powers that would lead to confiscation of driving licences, according to the Guardian.

The plan goes against all the evidence which shows that criminalisation and crackdowns make sex workers more vulnerable to rape, other violence and even murder
Carrie Mitchell, English Collective of Prostitutes

Ms Mactaggart told BBC News: "Frankly I do not buy the view that it is the oldest profession and we have to live with it.

"There are things that can and should be done to reduce the impact of prostitution on communities, to reduce the number of women involved in prostitution.

"It is a form of child abuse - most women who are prostitutes started being prostitutes at the age of 13 or 14 and we have got to have strong mechanisms to reduce prostitution."

Ms Mactaggart refused to be drawn on the detail of the final Home Office strategy, to be published next month, other than to say that it would focus on street prostitution.

Controversial proposals

The Home Office signalled a potentially massive shift in thinking on prostitution when it launched a substantial consultation on what to do in July 2004, with ministers saying they were "open-minded".

That document revealed an estimated 80,000 people were involved in prostitution and the vast majority of women were addicted to hard drugs.

At the time, Home Secretary David Blunkett said the rethink aimed to do three things:

Prevent girls being coerced onto the streets
Protect those already in the sex trade
Bring to justice criminals controlling the lives of these women
The proposals in the document were mostly based on methods used in other countries.

They included creating "managed tolerance zones", areas of a city or town where prostitutes are allowed to work while also being targeted with appropriate support in getting out of the trade.

Other ideas included licensing brothels and registering sex trade workers.

The consultation came after a long period of sustained pressure from many councils that had been appealing to the government to rethink the law so that local authorities could help women off the streets and clean up areas frequented by kerb crawlers.

Doncaster and Liverpool are two of a number of councils that have been campaigning for managed zones, saying that would give them the best chance of targeting crime while also helping the women.

Campaigners' warning

Carrie Mitchell, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, warned that while the Home Office was talking about crime and drugs, women became prostitutes because of poverty - and punitive measures would do nothing to help.


Paying the Price: A Consultation Paper on Prostitution, July 2004 (604K)
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International solutions to prostitution

"The plan goes against all the evidence that shows that criminalisation and crackdowns make sex workers more vulnerable to rape, other violence and even murder," Ms Mitchell told BBC News.

"In Sweden legislation introduced to criminalise the buying of sex has had a devastating effect on prostitute women.

"Neither the poverty that forces women into prostitution to support themselves and their families - or any of the grave injustices in the existing legislation - have been addressed."

Ms Mitchell said the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and prison sentences against women were counter-productive as they made it more likely they would return to prostitution rather than leave it behind.

She also attacked an increase in immigration raids on brothels run by international gangs, saying the women ultimately deported at the end of the process were extremely vulnerable.

A former soldier who "repeatedly" raped one teenage daughter before turning his attentions to her younger sister has been jailed for 10 years.

The Lisburn man, who cannot be named to protect his daughters, began to abuse his eldest daughter when she was about 10, Craigavon Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old admitted 36 charges between January 1997 and February 2004.

In sentencing, Judge Desmond Marrinan said it was an "appalling catalogue of sexual offences".


He said the daughters were left suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression.

"The world is a difficult enough place for young girls and teenagers to grow up in and one rock they should be able to rely on is their parents.

"Home should be a place of security, warmth and love, and I find it terrible in the extreme that you took advantage of that trust and abused it."

A defence barrister said the girls' mother learned of the abuse in March 2004 and confronted her husband.

He said the father made his "horrendous disclosures" and immediately left the family home, never to return.

He said the former Army NCO handed himself in to the police before either of his daughters had made a formal complaint.

The man will spend a further three years on probation and was ordered to remain on the sex offenders' register for life.

Babysitters jailed for baby rape

Alan Webster had a "malign influence" over Tanya French
Two babysitters have been jailed for raping a 12-week-old baby girl and taking pictures of the abuse.
Alan Webster, 40, and his girlfriend Tanya French, 19, both from Hatfield in Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to rape and making indecent images.

Webster was given a life sentence at St Albans Crown Court; French was jailed for five years.

International law enforcers alerted police after Webster downloaded 7,000 indecent images from the internet.

There are no words to express the abhorrence such offending generates
Judge Findlay Baker

The baby's mother was unaware of the abuse until detectives visited her home after finding photographs detailing the abuse at Webster's home.

Sentencing Webster, Judge Findlay Baker said the offences were committed against the "most vulnerable victim - a little baby".

"There are no words to express the abhorrence such offending generates," he added.

'Malign influence'

Sentencing French, he said: "You did not shrink away from the acts in which you joined, but looked forward to them."

But he said French was also a victim and had come under Webster's "malign influence" and was to some extent "corrupted by him".

French admitted four charges of rape, five indecent assaults, two charges of permitting indecent images to be taken of children and two counts of making indecent images of the child in February and March 2004.

Webster admitted one charge of rape, four indecent assaults, two charges of permitting indecent images to be taken of children and two counts of making indecent images of children.

Webster also admitted a separate charge of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl and seven offences of possessing child abuse images.