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British girls at risk of sexual slavery

Nov. 17, 2009 at 10:49 AM

LONDON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Britain lacks support for thousands of young girls vulnerable to being forced into sexual slavery, the head of Barnardo's children's charity said.

Sophisticated networks of older men are suspected of showering young girls with gifts and attention before moving them from city to city where they are forced to have sex with other men, Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said.

Just 20 percent of local authorities have any specialist sources to intervene, Narey told The Guardian in a story published Tuesday. The girls are difficult to reach because many of them feel ashamed and believe what has happened to them is their fault, Narey said.

Narey said he reached his conclusions after visiting centers that shelter young prostitutes.

"I don't think I'm easily shocked; I used to run (Britain's) prison service," he said. "But I was very, very struck by the poverty, desperation and hopelessness of these young girls."

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