Ever since Cynthia Payne became famous for accepting Luncheon Vouchers in lieu of sexual services in the 1987 hit film Personal Services, the female pimp has been glamorised and made to seem benign. But women who trade in women can be as brutal and cruel as their male counterparts and their numbers across Europe are increasing.
Banjit* has horrific first-hand experience of being controlled by a female trafficker. Arriving in the UK from Thailand in 2005 to support her impoverished family by working in a brothel, she says: “I knew I would be provided with food and accommodation in the UK, and would have to repay £27,000 to a Thai woman, but I was unsure as to how much that actually was.”
On her arrival in the UK, Banjit was introduced to Atchara Nualpenyai, who housed her in a flat in east London before taking away her passport to stop her running away. She then told Banjit that she would be able to pay off the debt within two to three months by providing “services” to buyers such as anal sex and sex without a condom.