From the Balkans to brothels in Soho

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The Independent Online

More than 300 Eastern European women and girls have been forced into brothels in Soho, central London, but British police do not take the problem seriously, the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration believes.

The group, which is funded by governments, says foreign women in British brothels "are getting younger". A report by the group says: "Trafficking is likely to be more significant than official figures suggest, given the existence of 75 known brothels in the Soho area of London alone, in which 80 per cent of the employees are foreigners, the majority ... Albanians or Kosovars."

But it says police outside London appear to have little understanding of the problem. "Outside the capital, trafficking is not prioritised, thus the scale of the phenomenon is unknown," it reports.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says 120,000 women and children are being trafficked into the European Union each year, mostly through the Balkans.

Graham Leese, head of a British immigration team sent to Bosnia to tackle people smuggling, said the country was a training ground for brothels in the EU.

The IoM's Sarajevo office says 10,000 women, mostly from Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, are working in the country's sex trade.