http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/crime/article2303020.ece Sex traffic: Danielle was 15 when she was sold into slavery in the UK A major report into trafficking of thousands of children into sexual slavery in Britain. By Sophie Goodchild and Kurt Barling Published: 25 February 2007 Danielle was excited at the prospect of leaving her home in Lithuania for a summer job in Britain at the age of 15. The work had been arranged through a friend who was unable to join Danielle until later and so put her in touch with a man who would take her to London. Danielle suspected nothing until the stranger took her passport once they passed through customs and left her with two Albanians and a Lithuanian woman. It turned out that she had been sold for £3,500. The "holiday job" was working in a brothel in Birmingham. "I was terrified but didn't know how I could escape. I spoke no English and knew no one," says Danielle who did eventually flee back home to Vilnius but is still terrified of the traffickers. She is now 18. Thousands of children have been sold into sexual slavery in Britain according to human rights organisations, and many, like Danielle, have been trafficked from abroad. Until now, exact figures on the scale of this abuse have not been available. But a report published by social research charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) tomorrow says the figure is 5,000 and most are girls. The study reveals that, 200 years after the slave trade was officially abolished, trafficking for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and enforced labour is destroying young lives. Police and human rights organisations warn that coercing vulnerable people into degrading or low-paid work and holding them against their will has increased massively over the past nine years. Cheap travel, the lure of easy profits and increased demand for sex services are all factors that have turned the modern slave industry into a £5bn-a-year business, second only to the illegal drugs trade. Nearly half of those trafficked end up being sold for sex; these are overwhelmingly women and children. The typical age of a trafficked woman is between 18 and 23 but many are passed off as 18-year-olds when they are actually younger. More than three-quarters of women working in off-street massage parlours have been trafficked into prostitution. The men who control them will make them have sex with 10 clients a day then pass them on over and over again to other slavemasters. Threats of violence against their families guarantee their silence. Trafficking gangs have a firm foothold in the poorest countries, including parts of Africa and Eastern Europe, where people can be ensnared by the promise of a better life. Italy and Spain have always been the popular destinations for Romanian traffickers. But the UK is fast emerging as a new market. Exploiting women for sex is big business in Romania where the average wage is £100 a month. Here pimps are known as "fish",re especially in the small town of Cernavoda, tucked away in the country's poor south-eastern corner, where many of the town's single male inhabitants, and even married ones, have turned to pimping. The main legitimate source of employment is working at the nuclear plant whose reactors dominate the town's skyline. But jobs here are scarce and only for those who pass school exams. On the street the pimps wear gold jewellery, designer biker jackets and drive top-of-the-range Audis and BMWs, which attract instant attention in a town where the traditional forms of transport are the horse-and-cart and patched-up Ladas. For the women of Cernavoda who end up in the sex industry, there are no similar material rewards. Many of the young girls are from large Romany families and grow up in desperate poverty. Few can afford to attend school. As soon as they reach their teens, they become easy targets for men who reel them in with outings in their smart cars and promise them a glamorous future. All you have to do, say the Romeos of Cernavoda, is go abroad and make money for me then we can live happily ever after in a nice apartment. Except there is no "happy ever after". The girls here are not naïve - poverty and deprivation have made them prematurely streetwise. But few expect to be beaten with electric cables, abused by the men who buy their services or forced to hand over their earnings to a middle-man. Often their families do not object to this sex trade if it means that hungry stomachs are filled back home. But on their return, attitudes can shift;everyone knows that they have been selling themselves to any stranger who will pay 50 an hour. Home for 20-year-old Beatrice is a ramshackle house shared with her mother and eight young siblings. Two years ago, she worked in a brothel in Spain. "I can never have a loving relationship now with a man because he would know about my past," she explains through an interpreter. "Even if I wanted to forget about what happened, I never could. I'd do anything to stop my children doing what I did but I may have to go back if my family needs money." Beatrice's tale is depressingly familiar to David Savage who gave up a well-paid job in Britain to run the Nightingales children's charity. When he first came to Cernavoda, Mr Savage organised classes for children whose families could not afford school. But out of a class of 10 teenage girls, only one finished her education - all the rest ended up in prostitution. His concern is that trafficking is getting worse and there are few alternatives for these girls or for the men, including their own brothers and husbands, who sell them. "If you are 18 and you see young guys driving around in a brand new Mercedes then you too are going to find some girls to sell," he says. Iana Matei runs a shelter for trafficked children in the town of Pitesti, two and a half hours from the capital, Bucharest. She has helped more than 127 victims of the sex trade including those as young as 12. Often from rural communities, many fall victim to traffickers posing as government job recruiters who promise them well-paid agricultural work abroad. As well as poverty, Ms Matei says family abuse is a typical experience for trafficked children. Victims are often sent back from the UK but then left without support, fearful that their traffickers will be waiting for them. "Unlike drugs this is a low risk, high income trade - you can sell a girl 10 times. It's always the girl's fault in the eyes of the police and the traffickers can pay for good lawyers," she says. The UK's response to this global problem has included Operation Pentameter, with police forces across the country targeting criminal gangs. More than 84 victims were picked up including 12 children. Two were only 14, and pregnant. This led to the setting up of a special police unit dedicated to combating trafficking, the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre. Det Ch Supt Nick Kinsella, who heads up the unit,points out that British men are often unwittingly fuelling the trade: "You have to ask, who is using these women? Any responsible punter would not use a trafficked girl but there is a big thing now with stag weekends." Many victims have legal documents but these are taken from them as soon as they reach Britain. Others are smuggled in without authentic papers, like 25-year-old Ade, from Africa, who was forced to work in a restaurant as a child. His younger brother now suffers mental health problems as a result of their ordeal. Both are under threat of deportation. Says Ade: "I lost count of the number of people we stayed with. My life is so full of pain and I've cried so much there's no more to come out." The children forced to serve adults' needs Amalia, 21, From Romania: Amalia's husband forced her to go abroad, leaving behind her baby daughter, to sell her body for sex when she was still a teenager. When her family objected, he threatened her brother with a sword. She says: "It's really hard to sell your body for 50 an hour. I was lucky - I knew of girls beaten with cables and fists. Not all the men were bad but there were people who were not nice to me and a lot of women are so desperate for the money that they will do anything. Men say, 'We can get that at home from our wives. If you don't do what we want we won't pay you.' I would say 'I've got a young daughter at home in my country'. I hoped it would make them nice to me." The teenage sex slave promised an education Adina, From Rwanda: When she was 14, Adina Mukakalisa was told by the market trader she worked for to go with two men. They would take her to live abroad where she would be safe and go to school. When she reached Britain, a man picked her up from the airport and took her to a house. For two years, the teenager was forced to live in a locked kitchen with access only to a toilet and basin. Her job was to keep house. When another man joined them she was taken upstairs and raped. The men kept her as their sex slave until she escaped and flagged down a driver who took her to the police. 'It was usual to be woken with a beating' Ade, 25, From Nigeria: Strangers brought 11-year-old Ade and his nine-year-old brother to London after their father died. They were treated as slaves, working first in the kitchens of a restaurant. They were then moved from family to family, missing school, and often had to go to the market to buy food for the restaurant where they worked. "We were constantly being beaten and sometimes even threatened with our lives to make sure we did our duties properly. It wouldn't be unusual to be woken with a beating," he says.