Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson is calling for the government to step up laws to "criminalise buying sex." Johnson is the MP for Hull North and leads a group that tackles sexual exploitation. Her call comes as politicians in the UK and Romania hold an online summit today to discuss and decide on actions to be taken in tackling human trafficking between the two countries.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, MP Johnson said men in the UK who pay for sex are "fuelling a brutal sex-trafficking trade that is destroying lives." She adds that the UK has become a "pimping paradise" and websites that target vulnerable women should be banned while providing more support for victims.
Johnson, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Commercial Sexual Exploitation pointed out that three quarters of women that are trafficked into the UK come from Romania. Majority of these women are then sold into the sex trade.
Although the acts of buying and selling sex are not illegal in England and Wales, prostitution and activities associated with it are considered as offences. These activities are mostly linked and lead to exploitation such as controlling prostitution.
One of the specific areas of this issue that Johnson's group wants action on are websites that are being used by traffickers to target women brought to the UK.
"We need to do much more. The fact is we have options of what we could do now and one of them is to deal with these pimping websites. We could deal with that."
"Priti Patel as Home Secretary could bring forward legislation to criminalise the use of those websites and to close them down. That is one very practical thing the government can do."
Johnson suggested that the government could look into the steps Northern Ireland has taken when it criminalised paying for sex five years ago. She also expressed support for the measures put in place by the Home Office where a helpline was established to support its countless silent victims.