Back to all Motions

2008 National Women's Conference
7 February 2008

This conference is pleased to note the research commissioned by Harriet Harman as part of her key priorities. This report published on Tuesday 29th January 2008 confirms that advertising women for sex is widespread in local and regional newspapers.

Three quarters of the papers examined for the research carried advertisements for women or services offered by women.

Local papers in every region in England carry advertisements for sex with women. Typically, these advertisements are sandwiched between innocuous advertisements for other services and goods.

Almost half of the papers examined for the research carried classified advertisements specifying the nationalities or origins of women. There was a particular focus on highlighting women from Asia, including South East Asia. Women were most likely to be described as ‘Oriental’, ‘Chinese’, ‘Japanese’, or ‘Thai’ but a large range of nationalities (for example, Indian, Pakistani, Italian, Spanish) and origins (such as ‘East European’, South American) are used to describe the women.

While more research would need to be undertaken to determine if these women have been trafficked into the industry, in 2003, the Home office conservatively estimated that there were 4,000 women in the UK who had been trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Tackling demand for sexual services and prostitution is an essential part of dealing with the increasing prevalence of human trafficking, which is the modern day slavery.

The research conclusions indicate that the most commonly used route to access women to purchase sex is via an advertisement in a local paper. It is estimated that this type of advertisement is 3% of the overall classified advertisement revenue and is worth £44 million per year to the newspaper industry.

These newspapers are regional, and local. They include the free newspapers delivered into your home by children, whether you want the newspaper or not.

Eliminating or reducing the advertisements for sexual services will contribute to reducing demand. Reducing demand decreases the incentive for human trafficking.

This conference encourages all women when they return to their homes:

1)Look through your local papers and identify the classified advertisements for sexual services

2)Write to your local newspaper to raise your concerns about them raising revenue from unlawful services

3)Write to your local police constabulary and ask why these advertisements have been ignored or tolerated.

4)Notify your regional women’s committee of the responses you receive.

This conference instructs the National Women’s Committee to:

a)Write to Harriet Harman to acknowledge and commend her initial work in this area.

b)Highlight this report and ongoing work to the wider unison membership

c)Work with Regional Women’s Committees to organise local campaigns

d)Report back to National Women’s Conference 2009 on progress