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Campaigners warn public about child sex exploitation
7:00am Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
CITY centre shoppers are to be confronted with the spectre of child sex exploitation tomorrow.
Street performers will be act and dance to demonstrate the pain human trafficking causes. The event has been organised by Oxford Community Against Trafficking (Oxcat) to raise awareness of the problem to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day.
It comes after seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years earlier this year for grooming, drugging, and trafficking young and vulnerable girls for sex in Oxford.
Organisers of the charity say the Operation Bullfinch inquiry and trial have been a wake-up call for the city.
Oxcat spokesman and performer Danny Scott said: “The details surrounding the Operation Bullfinch case have been horrifying.
“But it has been going on right under our noses – in our streets, outside our schools and behind closed doors in Oxford homes and hotels.
“This is not an isolated case and more and more incidents are being uncovered across the country. We cannot just sit back and accept this kind of abuse in modern day Britain.”
The street theatre tomorrow will include performances portraying child exploitation and slavery.
Mr Scott, artistic director of PointZero Physical Theatre, added: “We want people to understand and be aware of just what is happening right in front of us.
“Open your eyes. If you see anything you find uncomfortable then contact someone.
“We are not trying to shock anyone. It is more about impacting people about how disturbing this reality is.”
The performances will take place between 12.30pm and 1.30pm in Cornmarket.
The charity first organised the stunt in 2011 when caged and blindfolded women protested in the street. Last year, a “child catcher” led chained children through the city centre in a similar performance.
Oxcat patron Catherine Bearder, member of the European Parliament for Oxford, said: “Oxcat’s message is powerful and it is time we all listened.
“Trafficking is happening in this city and we cannot allow the suffering to continue.”
In August 2011, Anastassios Papas and Graham Cochrane became the first people to be convicted of sex trafficking in the county.
The pair ran an escort agency in Oxford and offered mainly Eastern European women for sex in hotels and clients’ homes.
Cochrane, then 49 of Bicester, and Papas, then 43 of East Oxford, were jailed for a total of 12 years.
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