Standards Against Female Exploitation

Closure of the SAFE Network

SAFE has taken the decision to close The SAFE Network.

What was The SAFE Network

The SAFE Network project was run by SAFE for two and a half years.  The project engaged with brothel owners, sex workers and their clients in Greater Manchester.  The aims of the project were to promote human rights and reduce trafficking within the commercial sex work sector.  It also provided a way for these individuals  to report to SAFE incidences and suspicions of trafficking and CSE within the sex industry.

The SAFE Network project successfully engaged numerous sex industry businesses in the Greater Manchester area who were committed to the aims of the project.  These businesses agreed to engage with other businesses to discuss key human rights threats affecting the sector, they learnt more about how traffickers operate, how they could ensure that their businesses were not parasitised by trafficking and how they could get help to a victim of trafficking.  

Businesses were encouraged to sign up to and implement these human rights standards that they were involved in developing and refining;

Against human trafficking

Against forced labour

Against under-age working

Against abuse of drugs and alcohol

Promoting human rights

Promoting worker and client safety

Promoting workers health and screening

Promoting clean and safe premises

SAFE advised these businesses in support of their efforts to tackle trafficking and improve human rights standards and offered full assistance to victims of trafficking reported to us through The SAFE Network.

What were the results

- Creating information flow

Information about cases of trafficking and CSE were reported to SAFE by sex industry participants and The SAFE Network.  The SAFE Network provided an effective route to report concerns that would not otherwise have been shared with the police or crimestoppers.  As a result SAFE was able to  help and rescue victims of trafficking trapped in the UK sex industry.  

- Engaging those most likely to meet a victim of trafficking

To help victims of sex trafficking, you have to be in touch with sex industry participants, as these are the people who are most likely to meet victims of trafficking!  SAFE was able to develop contacts through The SAFE Network and educate business owners and sex workers about trafficking, influencing them to take steps to improve human rights in their business, reduce opportunities for trafficking within their sphere of influence and  learn how to help a victim of trafficking and  report the information to SAFE for an effective response.   

- Unable to fund, too much demand

The project was very successful.  Numerous local brothels were engaged in actively improving human rights in their sector, attended meetings to learn more about trafficking and discuss with other businesses how they could work with SAFE to mitigate the threats of trafficking and help victims. SAFE was able to help numerous victims of trafficking through information received from The SAFE Network.  Ultimately we found that the project was expensive to run, hard to fund and the demand for our services outstripped our capacity.  While we were doubtless having a positive impact on the sector, it was difficult to secure support for such an innovative approach.

- Positive outcomes on a small scale

The outcomes of the project were;

brothels taking the threat of trafficking seriously

sex industry participants becoming aware of trafficking and able to spot the signs

sex industry businesses taking the initiative to improve human rights for workers and their clients

sex industry businesses and participants reporting incidence of trafficking to SAFE

sex industry businesses taking responsibility to prevent trafficking in their sphere of influence

The project involved more than 20 sex industry businesses in Greater Manchester.  

- Victims Assisted

SAFE continues to support and assist two victims of trafficking who were rescued from the UK sex industry as a result of The SAFE Network project.  Both separately trafficked as minors, they are now moving forward with their lives accessing additional support from SAFE as needed, but no longer requiring intensive help for PTSD and extreme trauma.   More than anything else, the fact that SAFE was able to help several victims of trafficking, two in an ongoing way, is testament to the success of the project.  Both these young women consider SAFE to have saved their lives.  

- Decision to Close and Future Plans

SAFE, whilst absolutely wanting to continue the job of influencing the sex industry and rescuing trafficked individuals trapped within it, recognise that as a small charity we have to first become sustainable  before this can be achieved with any scale.  We’ve have therefore taken the decision to stop the project in order to concentrate on other key projects with the aim of becoming financially sustainable.  We would need to achieve national scale and be a much larger organisation before we would be able to revisit the objectives of the project to take it to the next level.

Registered Charity Number 1147308