She said a “sexual exploitation scandal” was playing out across the UK, adding: “The UK sex trade is dominated by organised crime, with sex trafficking taking place on an industrial scale. Vulnerable women are moved around networks of brothels and hotel rooms to be raped and abused by men who pay for sex.”
The Labour MP also read out harrowing testimony from a victim of sex trafficking who said: “As soon as we came to England, they started to physically abuse me. He beat me many times because I was not earning him enough money.
One man, who paid £70 to have sex with one young woman, wrote: “If you want to try a fresh, young (says she is 18) and pretty girl is ok, but maybe as she just started to work, is quite passive…she really can’t speak a word of English (is Romanian) so even [girlfriend experience] is a zero.”
Another, who paid £100 to have sex with a woman, wrote: “This is a classic case of ‘the pretty ones don’t have to work hard’.
“She’s Polish, and her English is not good…I was reminded of the Smiths’ song ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’.
“All the while she seemed completely disinterested and mechanical…I finally decided to f*** her. All the while, she kept her face turned to one side.”
Dame Diana is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation.
Evidence given to the group found that across the UK the majority of women sex trafficked were from Romania.
The group also found that sex trafficking gangs move victims around networks of pop-up brothels and hotel rooms to be abused for profit.
The Sexual Exploitation Bill would bring legislation in England and Wales in line with that of Northern Ireland, France, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Israel and Iceland.
However, ten-minute rule bills rarely make it on to the statute book without government backing.
Diane Martin, a survivor of sex trafficking, said: “I want to be part of a society that rejects the idea that people are for sale, commodities to be bought and sold by men who believe that this is their right and entitlement.”
Kat Banyard, Director of UK Feminista, said: “To stop England and Wales being fertile ground for sex trafficking, the Government must adopt this bill.”
However, sex workers, trade unionists and women’s organisations argue that evidence shows criminalising clients undermines sex workers’ safety.
Laura Watson, from the English Collective of Prostitutes, said: “This week, like every week since the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, the ECP and other organisations have been giving out emergency payments and food vouchers to sex workers worried how they are going to make ends meet and get through Christmas.
“If women MPs want to help women exit prostitution they should be supporting this lifesaving work, targeting benefit sanctions and demanding money for mothers, not proposing legislation that further criminalises sex work which will inevitably drive it further underground, making it harder and more dangerous for women.”
A woman from a collective of sex workers in East London added: “I am wholeheartedly against the criminalisation of our customers. We will be forced back onto the backstreet alleys and made as vulnerable overnight as women were in Victorian days.
“We won’t be able to feed our kids, we will lose our places of safety, our incomes and any peace of mind. At best we will be forced into poverty then debt then maybe living on the streets. What fool came up with this idea.”
It is currently legal to pay for sex in England, Wales and Scotland.