BIRMINGHAM, October 3, 2005 ( – A police raid on a Birmingham brothel, where women from 10 different countries were forced into prostitution against their will, highlights the real loophole behind the modern slave trade – legal “sex trade” or prostitution.

A special task force of female officers led 19 women out of the Cuddles massage parlour in Birmingham Thursday. It was later discovered that an electric fence at rear prevented the women from escape; other evidence of forced sex-trade labour included firearms and batons. Three persons were later charged with operating a brothel and with firearms offences.

A police spokesman told the BBC, “The women are believed to be of Eastern European origin and were tricked into the sex industry. They had their passports taken. They were locked into the venue during the evening to work and taken away during the day and locked in a house.” Six of the women were handed over to immigration officials.

South Belfast Ulster Unionist Party MemberÂDr. Esmond Birnie said he “was appalled by the recent news of the conditions at the apparent brothel in Birmingham which was the subject of the police raid last week. I say this as someone who has had a longstanding interest in and advocacy role concerning the struggle to reduce the extent of trafficking into the UK sex industry . . . the 21st century equivalent to the old slave trade.”

Dr. Birnie condemned any attempt by lawmakers to make prostitution legal as a counter-measure for the trafficking of women, arguing that prostitution is itself the reason why the modern slave trade thrives. “Birmingham City Council must abandon any lingering ideas they may have for radical experiments and accept that prostitution is a culpable, harm-causing crime which creates the consumer demand for sex slavery,” he said.

“In the Kinnell study for Birmingham (1993) which is cited in the publication Paying The Price (2004), more than half of the prostituted women entered the vice trade as children,” Dr. Birnie explained. “There is no such thing as a good kerb-crawler [someone who solicits the services of a prostitute] – they represent a serious threat to the safety of vulnerable children.”

See BBC news coverage, including link to video footage: