United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, today began a two week investigative mission to the United Kingdom to study the manifestations of violence perpetrated in the family and in the community. “Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every country in the world,” Ms. Manjoo said.At the invitation of the UK Government, the independent expert aims to examine causes and consequences – with a view to assessing the phenomenon in the country. “During my mission I will meet with individuals and organizations involved in fighting all aspects related to violence against women,” the Special Rapporteur said.She intends to also look at violence perpetrated or condoned by State authorities, as well as violence encountered by immigrant women, asylum seekers and refugees.In a report prepared by UN Women last year looking at the experience of young women there were indications that in the UK one in three young women aged between 13 and 17 has experienced sexual abuse from a partner; while one in four has experienced physical abuse from a partner.Her itinerary includes conversations with Government officials, human rights commissions and representatives of civil society – including service providers – in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and Bristol. The human rights expert also plans to visit safe-houses to “obtain first-hand information from individual survivors of gender-based violence,” she said.The Special Rapporteur will share her preliminary findings on 15 April with the press in London. Her final findings and recommendations will be presented to the Human Rights Council.Ms. Manjoo, a part-time law professor in Cape Town, was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2009 and acts as an expert in her independent capacity.
DETECTIVES IN NORTHERN Ireland have welcomed the guilty pleas by three men to offences linked to human trafficking.The PSNI Organised Crime Branch investigated a Czech-based crime gang involved in the trafficking of women into Northern Ireland for the purposes of sexual exploitation.Three menUnder Operation Bundaleer the three men, Bronislav Rybensky, Lyle Lamont and Ferhat Ekici, were identified and have pleaded guilty to their parts in the criminal operation.Between May and August 2011, detectives conducted searches at three premises believed to be brothels controlled by this group and recovered four potential victims of trafficking who had been offering sexual services.The women had all travelled to Northern Ireland via Dublin from the Czech Republic. They had to give most of their earnings to Rybensky and had to pay him for the cost of flights and advertising.Home They could only return home once they had earned enough to pay for a return flight.Whilst some of the women accepted they had travelled to Northern Ireland to work as escorts, they claimed they were mistreated and exploited by handing over most of their earnings.Other women claimed they had been lured into coming to Northern Ireland for photo shoots but were then told they would have to have sex with men to pay for return flights. Most of these women did not speak English.Rybensky was arrested in August 2011 and during a search of his property a large number of mobile phones and sim cards were found along with other items used in relation to escort advertising. Rybensky pleaded guilty earlier this month to trafficking into the United Kingdom, controlling prostitution, brothel keeping and possession of criminal property.Brothel Lamont was arrested in June 2011 after he was found inside a suspected brothel in Belfast along with three potential victims of trafficking. Subsequent enquiries established that he had rented this apartment and another one for use as a brothel. Lamont pleaded guilty last week to brothel keeping.The bedroom in the Belfast apartment used as a brothel. (PSNI)Both Rybensky and Lamont will be sentenced in January.The third defendant, Ferhat Ekici, pleaded guilty today to brothel keeping and possessing criminal property. He was fined a total of £500 and had to surrender £670 in cash which was seized during a search of a Belfast property being used as a brothel.Money found in the bedroom of a Belfast apartment used as a brothel. (PSNI)The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant said:This was a complex investigation into an organised crime group moving between different jurisdictions, luring and exploiting women in the sex industry. The group profited from the exploitation of the sex workers and trafficked victims, the majority of whom were in a strange country, unable to speak English.The final guilty plea today is welcome. It is an indication of the strength of the Organised Crime Branch investigation and case against the defendants.I would appeal to anyone who has information or suspicions about trafficking or sexual exploitation to contact police so that we can continue to make Northern Ireland a hostile place for organised crime groups to operate in.Read: Appeal for witnesses to early morning attack in Dublin’s city centre>Read: Liam Adams ‘laughs with prison guards’ as he is sentenced to 16 years in prison>