A Christian charity is calling for the law to be changed to prevent young girls being trafficked into the UK from Romania for sex.
CARE is raising the issue after a BBC documentary revealed evidence that children as young as ten are being trafficked to the UK and then sold on.
The charity says there needs to be a reform of laws around prostitution to prevent the trading in thousands of young victims.
Lauren Agnew, CARE’s Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Policy Officer has been speaking to Premier.
“I think unless we do criminalise the purchase of sex, human trafficking will remain a high profit, low risk crime. So we need to have legislation that acts as a deterrent.
“We're advocating for the government to follow in Northern Ireland's footsteps and implement the Nordic model, which would criminalise the purchase of sex and interrupt this business of sex trafficking by targeting the demand which fuels it.
“I think the issue is that to find human traffickers, you follow the money. The fact that this is such a profitable business means that there's an incentive to traffic young women and girls, and that's why in order to interrupt that business, you just have to target the demand.”
Hundreds of girls have reportedly fallen victim to a loophole in Romanian law which prevents police from pursuing traffickers if a child leaves by choice.
Lauren Agnew said :
"Human traffickers are opportunistic. The failure of Westminster and Holyrood to follow in Northern Ireland’s footsteps and adopt the Nordic Model, criminalising the purchase of sex, lays out a welcome mat to traffickers who see an opportunity to operate with impunity.
"Political leaders must challenge sex trafficking head on by targeting demand for sex ."
Under the Nordic law, sex buyers are criminalized while prostitutes are decriminalized.
In England, Wales and Scotland the act of paying for sexual services is legal.