North East Wales

Refuge for sex traffic victims set up in north Wales

A women's refuge has been set up by a Wrexham group to help female victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

It is being run by the help group the Black Association of Women Step Out (Bawso) which helped set up a similar project in south Wales in 2009.

About 30 adults and 30 children have so far been found trafficked into Wales, but the real figure could be higher.

Wales' first anti-human trafficking coordinator was appointed this year.

Bawso, which has offices in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham will accommodate up to three women in north Wales and has provision to support up to five in south east Wales.

Chief executive Mutale Merril explained that the group gained experience in the "very complex" field in south Wales in 2009.

In north Wales, the group will now support and raise awareness of female victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation and those forced to work in prostitution in the region.

The Welsh Government has published The Right to be Safe six-year strategy which aims to tackle all forms of violence and domestic abuse against women.

It has funded the post of Wales' anti-human trafficking coordinator.

Former police chief Bob Tooby, who took on the post in March, visited Bawso's Wrexham office to learn more about its new project.

According to police at least 2,600 women are thought to be working as prostitutes in Wales and England, having been trafficked from abroad.

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