The sentencing today (Wednesday January 8th) of four men and one woman for trafficking more than 50 women across the South East of England is "a wake-up call for everybody", anti-trafficking campaigner and South East MEP, Catherine Bearder has said.
The 50 European women had been bought and sold in this country to work in the sex trade and as prostitutes.
Catherine praised the victims for their bravery in ensuring the five faced justice and the police for taking the issue seriously. But the case has pulled into sharp focus the horror of human trafficking in our neighbourhoods and communities.
Catherine said: "The catalogue of torment and abuse suffered by these women has been horrifying.
"The tactics used by traffickers to control their victims are truly disgusting. These women have been beaten, raped, drugged and had the lives of their families threatened.
"This abuse has been going on right under our noses; in our streets, behind closed doors in local homes and hotels, even within a University."
One of the first actions that led to this case coming to light was the University of Sussex's building manager, Martin West, recognising the distinctive University curtains in an advert for a prostitute he had been alerted to.
Catherine added: "This is a perfect example of why it is so important for us all to Open Your Eyes to human trafficking and to report any suspicions however small you think it might be to the police or Crimestoppers.
"This is not an isolated case, more and more incidents are being uncovered across the country.
"We all need to learn from this case. More men women and children are being trafficked and abused in our communities. We all have to open our eyes to the signs."