Dame Margaret Hodge MP recently delivered an annual Mishcon lecture on government transparency for UCL laws. Professor Meg Russell chaired a Q & A session at the end of the lecture which included a question from an advocate for “Islington Survivors”, a network of people supporting victims of institutional child sexual abuse in Islington. The advocate asked Hodge about transparency and accountability for Islington survivors who suffered systemic sexual molestation while under the care of Islington council. Hodge responded by saying “that whole stuff about er, um, young people is just part of the populist agenda, and it’s really scary I mean it goes down well with parts of my own constituency.”
For Margaret Hodge to dismiss justice and transparency for child sex abuse victims as part of the populist agenda comes across as just odd. It is difficult to think of any other plausible reason where populism could have anything to do with child sex abuse than posing a threat to global child sex trafficking. With countries exerting full control over their own borders and a fully documented and controlled immigration process, smuggling children in to the UK for the purposes of sexual slavery becomes more difficult to carry out.
A 2014 briefing from the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) found that:
“Within the EU, removing barriers to freedom of movement has increased transnational criminal activities, including Trafficking Human Beings (THB). In particular, following the 2004 and 2007 enlargements, controls at borders with countries of origin and transit of human trafficking were either lifted (as in the case of Poland and Slovakia) or eased (Bulgaria and Romania). Moreover, the EU now has borders with third countries which are significant sources of trafficked persons, including Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkan countries.”
“While most THB victims in the EU are women, men are also exploited, especially through forced labour. The 2012 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons presented the following gender and age profile of victims across the world in 2009: women − 59%, men − 14%, girls − 17% and boys − 10%. In Eurostat’s sample, women accounted for 68%, men − 17%, girls − 12% and boys for 3% of the victims.”
“What attracts criminal organisations to human trafficking is a combination of very high profits and relatively low risk, in comparison to drug trafficking for example. In 2005, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that the annual profits of forced labour amounted to US$44.3 billion per year, of which US$31.6 billion was made through exploiting trafficked victims.”
“Europol notes however that THB, including internal (intra-EU) trafficking, has been a growing phenomenon. Various estimates point to several hundred thousand people being trafficked to or within the EU every year. However, as the EU Fundamental Rights Agency puts it, it is impossible to make even remotely accurate statements concerning the actual prevalence of THB.”
“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that victims from the poorer parts of Europe were trafficked mostly within the continent, and Eurostat has confirmed this tendency for the EU: between 2008 and 2010, of THB victims with EU citizenship, 74% of male victims and 66% of female victims were trafficked within the EU. In general, 61% of identified or presumed victims in the EU originated from EU Member States. Most of these were Romanian and Bulgarian.”
Independent and sovereign states clearly threaten these kinds of global drug and human trafficking networks. Question is, why would that be so concerning for Margaret Hodge?
Journalist and broadcaster Sonia Poulton offers an informative report on the background and controversy surrounding Margaret Hodge which also includes additional video of the Mishcon 2019 lecture on transparency.
Islington gazette has also recently reported on the lecture here.
Nigel Nicholson created a Twitter thread extending the controversy around Margaret Hodge further still.
Archive of thread.