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The woman risking her life to end a modern slave trade

Janice Raymond is about to receive a major award for her outstanding contribution to the war against people trafficking - but, she tells Cate Devine , her mission has made her far from popular.

Janice Raymond is about to receive a major award for her outstanding contribution to the war against people trafficking - but she is not a popular woman.

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Hate mail and death threats are part of her everyday life, and such is the uprising of sheer malevolence towards her from all parts of the world that she cannot give out her address or telephone number for fear it will appear on the internet. Even having her photograph taken is a risk.

Nevertheless, this extraordinary woman is a shining light and an outstanding inspiration to thousands. Fighting to protect women and children from sexual exploitation is her life's work, and she is not about to stop now. Dr Raymond is co-executive director of the Coalition Against the Trafficking of Women (CATW) and professor emeritus of Women's Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts, and she is in Glasgow for the first time to receive, at Glasgow City Chambers tomorrow evening, the Zero Tolerance International Woman Award, one of a series of awards launched last year by the Scottish charity to recognise those women working to prevent violence against women.

Raymond, who is half Irish, was pivotal in bringing about a new UN definition of trafficking that embraces the often ambiguous concept of consent in order to protect all victims of trafficking - including children, who are, she says, "becoming much more of a market".

She works all over the world, most recently in Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Norway, and though she has never visited Glasgow before, she has nothing but praise for the city council's "courageous" stance against the legalisation of prostitution, and its "inspirational" Routes Out partnership programme aimed at enabling women to leave prostitution. She hopes that under the newly formed Scottish Executive it will become national policy because it can then become the bedrock in the fight against trafficking - a problem she sees as just beginning in Scotland.

"I use the example of Glasgow as a model for other countries to work towards," she says. "I have promoted its policy in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Budapest, Bulgaria, Romania, and Bucharest. Sweden, the Philippines, Korea, and the US have also adopted similar policies.

Many new EU accession countries are being advised by older EU countries such as Germany and the Netherlands that if they really want to join the democratic movement in Europe, they have to take care of their prostitution problem by legalising it.

"We say: that's a lie'. The current debate over prostitution and trafficking is over legalisation. It's good to see Glasgow has done something about prostitution because you can't do anything about trafficking if you don't already have a law against the buying and pimping of women and children that is being enforced by the police. But if you do, you're three-quarters of the way there," she says.

However, when we meet in a city- centre hotel, she is uneasy. It's the morning after the Uefa Cup final at Hampden, and Glasgow is awash with foreign visitors. Raymond admits that she cannot help but see the potential for increased sexual activity around such international events - and thus more sexual exploitation of women.

"Pimps and paedophiles can travel very easily with cheap flights and I'm very aware that sex tourism is on the increase," she says. "CATW conducted a big campaign against the promotion of prostitution at the World Cup last year in Germany. We wanted to make people aware of the fact that any big sporting event that draws mostly men is really a place where a lot of sexual exploitation can occur.

"In Germany at that time, the sex industry was freely advertising itself. They were building drive-in brothels in Cologne, where guys could drive their car into cubicles, have sex with a woman, and leave again in a matter of minutes.

"The problem is that all of this is legal because Germany has a legalised sex industry. The punter can get anything he wants but the women don't have any power."

She argues that touting legalisation as heightened protection for women because it is regulated, and that monitors ensure recourse if a customer is violent is simply not true. "There's no such thing as a monitor in a cubicle or a car. Legislation doesn't protect the women - it protects the men."

Equally, she refers to tolerance zones - such as those once proposed by Edinburgh - as "sacrifice zones" because they become somewhere for men to remain anonymous.

She believes the sex industry has expanded exponentially and is now out of control in Germany and in the Netherlands, where prostitution has been legalised. "In fact, these countries serve as a magnet for illegal brothels because the guys don't want the regular legal stuff; they want the kids, the ever-younger girls.

"We hear a lot of men say they prefer sex with children because they think it will either rejuvenate them or help them avoid Aids. In the US there is a big market for children for pornography, which in turn feeds into the prostitution industry. I have seen girls in brothels in Bangladesh as young as eight. It makes you want to kill."

Internet sex guides, where men trade information about where to go to get what specific kind of sex they want, are rife, and Raymond says she notices a high rate of sex tourism from the UK to other countries and that a large number of paedophile organisations are based in the UK.

"It all points to the fact that the choice remains the customers', not the women's," she says.

Working on the ground with victims while implementing anti-trafficking policies in individual cities or entire countries, Raymond measures her success in a number of ways. "When people begin to talk about the responsibility of the customer instead of blaming women; when we can get a policy that allows women trafficked into a country not to be deported immediately so that we can work with them to get information that might help crack a trafficking network; when we can help women start to rebuild their lives - that's success," she says. She cites the example of Sweden, where, thanks to "very courageous politicians", there is now a law against buying women. The snowball effect of this has resulted in Sweden being one of the few countries in which trafficking rates have not gone up.

But it's soul-destroying work. Raymond has seen many of her colleagues working in human rights burn out because of the overwhelming nature of the problems they encounter. Young boys and girls who have not yet reached puberty being treated for oral gonorrhoea, and deep cuts and fissures related to sexual abuse are just a glimpse of what is going on.

She, however, takes succour in the good she sees all around her.

"I don't have any illusions that we're going to eliminate trafficking and prostitution, but I think we have to work in the hope that we will," she says. "You have to; otherwise you become cynical and pessimistic.

"One of the things that keeps me going is the people I've been privileged to work with. There are enough good, great people out there in the world to give me hope."

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