YOUNG women have been trafficked to Barnsley and forced to work as prostitutes, according to a service that supports sexual abuse victims.

Women have been brought into Britain from eastern Europe and Africa, said Lynne Casserly, of Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Service.

Many of them are too afraid to tell police about their ordeal but BSARCS has supported several who have been 'locked in rooms' and made to prostitute themselves.

Lynne said some of the cases had occurred in Barnsley but the service also supports victims who were trafficked to other parts of Britain but have since moved here. Some were held against their will for years.

She said: "We have also sorts of horrific instances. People who were raped in war-torn countries as punishment for being on the opposing side, people who were 'correctively raped' to 'cure' them of being gay."

While sex trafficking is one of the more shocking issues BSARCS deals with Lynne says it is only a small part of its work.

"There are lots of emotional issues. There's a lot of depression and there is family break-up, especially if it involves a family member because families take sides.

"A vast amount of people blame themselves. We have some clients that have been struggling along for 20 or 30 years."

The majority of people who use BSARCS are aged between 15 and 24, but clients are being referred to the service from as young as 11.

She said there had been no activity in Barnsley that suggested grooming gangs were active here. But there was sexual exploitation of girls.

"We haven't seen anything here that's well recognised but we have got it going on in small areas.

"We have lots of young girls being exploited to join gangs or have sex in return for mobile phones and all sorts of things."

The ease of access to hard-core pornography was partly to blame, she said, because it dehumanises women. And it had become 'almost acceptable for lads to fill up a lass with alcohol' and have sex with her.

"That's actually sexual assault," Lynne said. "If a lot of young men realised that they wouldn't do it."

BSARCS holds regular meetings with police and other agencies to identify any worrying trends. It also works with the youth service to warn girls of the dangers.

BSARCS helpline: 298560, 10am to 8pm, Monday to Thursday.