Thursday, 30 June 2011

Rape in Shepherd's Bush: the stories you don't see

The Fulham Chronicle has reported the rape of a woman on the Goldhawk Road - I saw the tweets about this as well from residents as well but I'm afraid on this occasion I just didn't have time to follow it up - I do this blog in more than the spare time I have available.

One thing that I would say is this - this woman, based on the rape victims I have talked to as part of my job, will feel like her life has just been utterly destroyed. I cannot imagine what she is experiencing at the moment.

What angers me more than anything though is how the same local paper, the Chronicle, takes money from local brothels and pimps for advertising and in so doing supports local prostitution which, as the Police will tell you, in many cases includes the use of trafficked women. That is also rape. You just don't see police cordons and it's behind closed doors, so it doesn't make a news story. But those women are just as much the victims, and by helping publicise the brothels to punters the Chronicle is making money on the back of it. That is why they have been asked to stop doing so by the Metropolitan Police, but have ignored them. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police, said this in a letter to editors:
"The adverts often purport to be massage parlours, saunas or escort agencies, but are in reality a front for criminal networks to advertise trafficked victims for sexual services. 
"Advertisements that offer multi-national or young women or which are sexually suggestive in tone are often the type found to be linked to the provision of sexual services and / or the presence of trafficked women. 
"It is these types of adverts I am seeking your support in preventing. I would ask that you put in place a system to satisfy yourselves that those seeking to place advertisements are genuine concerns or businesses and not a cover for the criminal activity highlighted above".
Some newspapers in London. such as those owned by Newsquest, have responded to this by deciding not to support prostitution in this way anymore. But the money is more important to the Fulham Chronicle. 

Look at a recent headline of the paper (pictured) - they even promote this practice on the front page these days. 

H&F Council is not happy - Cllr Greg Smith told me he would be "raising the matter" with the Chronicle about what he called this "highly distasteful" activity on their part. But nothing has changed. So either it didn't happen or the Chronicle are set to ignore him as well as the Police. So articles which the Council publishes within the Chronicle, with our money, appear alongside ads for sex. 

But let's leave the last word to Denise Marshall OBE, Chief Executive of Eaves Housing, which looks after women trafficked into the sex trade, she says:
“In London’s local papers, 80 per cent of ads for adult massage parlours or saunas are fronts for brothels, where men can buy sex. Newspaper owners turn a blind eye to this, insisting that they do not advertise anything illegal, while banking their gains from the sex industry.  
“The irony is that local papers are full of articles about the problems caused by or related to prostitution – the blight of kerb-crawling on local neighbourhoods, the increase in drug crime – but they are directly contributing to the problem by advertising brothels."
So let's hear from the Fulham Chronicle - do they personally vet every one of these advertisers to check if there are any trafficked women or those being forced to have sex against their will? Or are they happy to take the money by promoting prostitution in our community, and then only report on rape when it happens in the street, instead? Either way, it's not a contribution to the local community they can be proud of.

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