A big thank you to the 120 or so delegates who came to our conference on sex trafficking and grooming on Saturday, April 13th in Oxford. Held in the beautiful setting of St Aldates’ Church, in the centre of Oxford, a most stimulating day was had by all.
In the morning the emphasis was on the scale of the problem – especially how to identify when and where it is happening, and measures currently being taken to tackle it. Conference heard how there are now more people globally in slavery than at any other time in history, and that it is flourishing here in the UK. Ben Cooley, CEO of the anti-trafficking charity Hope for Justice, spoke of the realities faced in rescuing victims. Then Jim Dobbin MP, the UK representative to Europe on the ‘One in Five’ campaign dealing with the global problem of child sex trafficking, and Michael Connarty MP, currently Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, together outlined government strategy aimed at combating the problem.
Sergeant David Turtle of the Metropolitan Police then explained that, though trafficking is recognised as a major problem in the UK and subject to continuing police investigations, prosecution rates remain worryingly low due to the fact it remains a largely ‘hidden’ crime. To have any chance of success, he emphasised, it was vital for a coordinated approach between the different agencies involved, and he called for better enforcement of current law. Most especially, he said it was imperative that we stop ‘criminalising’ victims – a theme expanded by Dr Josephine-Joy Wright, a Clinical Psychologist with the Hertfordshire Health Trust, working with abuse survivors, who gave powerful insight on how to recognise victims and how we can help.
In the afternoon the focus shifted to an analysis of social and cultural conditions that in recent years have led to an increase of the problem. Dr Lisa Nolland, a sex historian, explained how sexual mores have been radically redefined as result of the damaging sexual theories of Alfred Kinsey, who claimed that any and all sexual practices were ‘normal’ and legitimate, and that children are sexualized beings from birth. Kinsey’s research, she said, was both flawed and perverted, but had remained unchallenged – with devastating results! The Church, she said, was especially guilty in its failure to condemn or challenge such views, leaving children vulnerable to exploitation.
Miranda Suit and Pippa Smith of Safermedia both endorsed this analysis, showing how the internet, and especially easily accessed online erotica, is increasing the demand for ever more extreme forms of pornography, in turn fuelling the desire for violent and abusive sex. Regular sexual partners are unlikely to want to act out such perverted fantasies, however, and so the demand for trafficked prostitutes – who cannot protest – increases.
Finally, Lynda Rose gave an analysis of the damage inflicted by changing attitudes to women, caused by easy access to contraception, the morning after pill, and abortion on demand. These days, she said, since we can all have casual sex whenever and wherever we want, supposedly without consequences, it’s actually very hard for a girl to say no. The effect of this is not empowerment, but the pornification of society, reducing sex to a leisure activity devoid of value. To have any real chance of dealing with the problems of trafficking and abuse, she argued, we must first reinstate moral protections for our children and explode the Kinseyan myth that sex without commitment is the be all and end all of life. Start protecting kids properly, and then we can deal effectively with the abusers.
VfJUK is committed to trying to raise awareness, dealing with abusers, and rescuing victims. If you would like a similar event in your own area, please let us know. CDs and DVDs of the talks will also be available shortly for order on the website, and we shall be posting clips on Youtube.