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P&J Investigations

Trafficked women brought to Aberdeen and Inverness and sold online for sex

The online sex industry is one of the biggest avenues for traffickers to exploit their female victims. reports.
Sean O'Neil
Model Scotland pimping Aberdeen
Victims of online pimping are being sold in Aberdeen

The online sex industry is one of the biggest avenues for traffickers to exploit their female victims.

Adult service websites (ASWs) provide a platform that allows gangs to run forced prostitution rings that are easily accessible through mainstream search engines such as Google.

Two of the most notorious sites currently operating in the UK are Vivastreet and Adultworks.



When our investigation accessed Vivastreet on numerous dates in May 2021 there were more than 12,000 women being advertised for sex in the UK. 


Searches showed that there were hundreds of women advertised across cities in Scotland, including Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee.


The sex-for-sale websites also allow buyers to search for women by category, age or ethnicity, and allow them to enter keywords to filter the results. 


One of the keywords which turns up numerous results for each city is ‘new’. 


The ‘new’ tag is an indicator that a woman may have been recently trafficked into the area to meet sexual demand. 


Other websites like Punternet allow men to review the women they have paid to have sex with.  


Some of the reviews on this site have comments from men where they reference that women may not be there through their own choice. 


A multi-organisation 2021 report, Online Pimping: An inquiry into Sexual Exploitation Advertising Websites, outlines the dangers posed by these websites. 


It emphasised that the sites are used by “organised crime groups and third party exploiters”.


Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi, head of the National Human Trafficking Unit, spoke out against ASWs in the report.  


Organised crime groups are said to be hiding “in plain sight”. 


We contacted Google to ask it why it continues to host ASW sites which have been flagged as being used by human traffickers.


To date Google has not responded.



Are you a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery in Scotland? Have you witnessed it in your area? Call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. Or call Police Scotland on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you would like to speak to our Impact investigations team please email Dale.Haslam@ajl.co.uk.


The Exploited

The Exploited is a special investigation exposing the hidden prevalence of human trafficking and modern slavery in our local communities. Across rural Perthshire and the Highlands to urban Aberdeen and Dundee – victims, and their abusers – are hiding in plain sight.

Read the full series:


Credits

  • Words by Sean O’Neil
  • Design by Cheryl Livingstone
  • Illustrations and graphics by Roddie Reid
  • Data visualisations by Lesley-Anne Kelly
  • Videos and photography by Drew Farrell, Steve Brown and Blair Dingwall