TRAFFICKING AS AN EXCUSE FOR DEPORTATION
Emergency protest against mass deportations
1-2pm Home Office, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, 16 February 2001
Yesterday the police raided over 50 flats in Soho and arrested approximately 60 women. Over 35 women, some are mothers, are being held and immigration authorities are threatening to deport them in the next few days. Police said yesterday that they were victims of trafficking. If that were true then what women need is support and resources not deportation.
In fact the police story is a complete fabrication.
Women are not working for pimps or traffickers. They have found a safer and more independent way of working. Many women will be forced out onto the streets by this crackdown where evidence shows that it’s 10 times more dangerous to work.
There is no basis for these raids. Prostitute women have the support of others in the community and the Soho Society have confirmed that there have been no complaints against women.
The police are pursuing a vendetta against women in Soho who have successfully organised against police and Westminster Council’s attempts to evict them. On 8 March last year Soho women went on Stake against eviction with women around the world as part of Global Women’s Stake. All the national and international press coverage was sympathetic.
The women were removed from their flats yesterday afternoon, taken to charging centres where arbitrary and rushed decisions have been made on their cases.
Some are mothers who were frantic with worry after being kept in detention and prevented from collecting their children.
Police and the government are prioritising implementing repressive immigration controls over women and children’s safety and welfare and using anti-trafficking as an excuse to deport women. Women Against Rape commented: ” We understand some of the women are asylum seekers who came to the UK to escape persecution. Instead of getting the support and protection they deserve women in this situation are denied benefits and face hostility and attack. The hated voucher system is forcing increasing numbers of women to chose between destitution and prostitution, driving women onto the streets in order to feed their children.”
This action is part of a government and media witch-hunt against Black and immigrant people and asylum seekers. It is attempting to lay the basis for new legislation against trafficking which would specifically remove the need for the victim to give evidence and therefore allow the police enormous powers to decide who is a victim, pimp and trafficker. People will be convicted and deported on police evidence alone – a very dangerous precedent.