Sign here Mr Cameron to stop human trafficking

Mother forced into prostitution hands in <i>IoS</i> petition urging No 10 to back EU directive aimed at ending vile trade in people
  • @emilydugan

Oxana Kalemi's journey to 10 Downing Street has been a long and dangerous one. In 2004, she was trafficked from the Ukraine to Britain and tricked into what could have been a life-sentence of enslaved prostitution.

Yesterday, she struck a blow against the criminals who had enslaved her when she demanded that David Cameron toughens Britain's laws on human trafficking.

She was one of more than 46,000 people who have backed an Independent on Sunday campaign calling on the Government to sign up to European Union regulations on tackling the trade in people.

Tomorrow, the EU directive on human trafficking will become law across most of Europe, bringing with it better protection for victims and increasing the chance of prosecutions against the gangs that exploit them. Still, the British Government refuses to sign up.

Ms Kalemi, 35, handed in the petition alongside representatives from The Independent on Sunday, Anti-Slavery International and the campaigning website 38 Degrees.

She now lives in Yorkshire after escaping the gang who had held her captive in Birmingham, forcing her to have sex with up to 15 men a day. "Today is a big day for me," she said. "I know as a victim how many people are trafficked, This is a global problem. Politicians seem to talk a lot about being tough on trafficking but they need to do something.

"I want to know what Cameron's excuse is for not signing up to such an important law. It's very worrying that he isn't working with the EU to solve this problem. Most of the girls I saw were trafficked from places like Romania and Poland – places in Europe. How can Britain stop this crime if they won't work with Europe?"

Ms Kalemi was forced to leave her children and smuggled into Britain to work as prostitute in 2004 after being trafficked across countless European countries. In 2009, she published the story of her ordeal Mummy Come Home.

Receiving the petition, a Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are looking closely at the finalised text and considering its merits. If we conclude that opting-in would be of benefit, we can apply to opt-in and will make an announcement in due course."

The EU directive was passed by a large majority of European MPs, including Conservative MEPs, on 18 December. Only Britain and Denmark chose not to opt-in and now the other 25 EU members have two years to bring the new law into effect.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary and minister for women and equalities, said: "Twenty five European governments will stand together this week and introduce new rules to tackle trafficking and modern-day slavery in Europe. It is shameful that the Conservative-led government is still refusing to sign up."

The actress Juliet Stevenson, who is backing the campaign, said last night: "It is an embarrassment that Britain is the only EU country other than Denmark which has refused to sign up.

"What sort of message does this send to the pimps and gangs wanting to traffic people to Britain?"

Gemma Wolfes, campaigns officer at Anti-Slavery International, said: "Traffickers do not respect national borders, so it is vital that the UK follows the common European approach that's needed to defeat the criminalnetworks profiting from this horrendous crime."