Sexual exploitation conference held in Redbridge
- Credit: Archant
When one brave woman went against her husband to tell authorities about a brothel down their street, he beat her so badly both her legs were broken.
The brothel was in Meads Lane, Ilford and he received £10 every introduction he made for new Asian clients.
The women working in the brothel receive as little as £5 for their services, roughly 500 Rupees, which is considered quite a lot of money back in India.
She reported the brothel to Cllr Balvinder Saund who said she is aware of more than 30 brothels along the High Roads in Ilford and Seven Kings in flats above shops.
These brothels, she says, are run by Asian women in their own homes using girls who are without status in the UK and are extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
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Police figures show that 88 per cent of the men arrested for kerb crawling around the Ilford Lane, Ilford area were in fact Asian.
Cllr Saund was speaking at a conference which attracted more than 200 people on Saturday entitled ‘Who is Really Exploiting South Asian Women?
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The conference, held at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, aimed to shed light on the secret underworld of prostitution in Ilford.
It was held by the Sikh Women’s Alliance inspired by a BBC Panorama documentary which interviewed a woman from Ilford who allegedly ran one such brothel.
Cllr Saund said: “The whole of out community was shocked at this revelation and also ashamed to be associated with such degrading trafficking trade.
“These women are prime targets for sexual exploitation and unless the community talk about this taboo subject nothing is going to happen.”
A route that many of these women have taken to get into the UK is through bogus colleges which grant three year visa applications.
When they arrive, they find themselves abandoned by the colleges with no jobs, housing or access to benefits.
“Some of them talk about having been raped but are too scared to go to the police lest they get deported back,” Cllr Saund said. “They have trapped themselves in desperate situations where they now do not want to go back home.”
One 15-year-old girl from India was sold to a 67-year-old man living in the UK by her family.
When she arrived here, he forced her to work as a prostitute and in the end she escaped onto a roof and ended up at charity Aanchal Women’s Aid, based in Holstock Road, Ilford.
Sudarshan Bhuhi, chief executive, said: “These women need food and shelter and society has shunned them. They don’t care what society thinks of them anymore.”
The answer is not to simply say the women should be returned home, according to Rita Chadha from the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, High Road, Ilford.
She criticised one Redbridge gurdwara for working with the Home Office to deport people, instead of providing the support that these women desperately need.
“We should not be ashamed of immigration,” she said. “Sixty per cent of the world’s chronically hungry are female. More than 64 million girls are child brides.
“These are the reasons people come here to make a better life. We should be helping them achieve their dreams no stamping on them.”