Local councils should put pressure on newspaper publishers to stop the exploitation of vulnerable women as sex slaves, a campaign group says.

This is the strong message being sent out by a charity that looks after women trafficked into sex slavery in London’s brothels.

Eaves Housing has launched their Nothing Personal campaign calling on councillors and editors to take responsibility for the blight of sex trafficking in their boroughs.

Denise Marshall, Eaves chief executive, said: “In London’s local papers 80 per cent of ads for adult massage parlours or saunas are fronts for brothels, where men can buy sex.

“Newspaper owners turn a blind eye to this, insisting that they do not advertise anything illegal, while banking their gains from the sex industry.

“At the same time, men who want to buy sex have only to open their local paper, choose a service and make a quick phone call.

"All the contacts they need are there for them.

“The irony is that local papers are full of articles about the problems caused by or related to prostitution – the blight of kerb-crawling on local neighbourhoods, the increase in drug crime – but they are directly contributing to the problem by advertising brothels.

“Prostitution is exploitative, demeaning and dangerous for the majority of women who enter it.

"It is time editors and owners took responsibility and stopped helping the men who exploit women.”

The Croydon Guardian, and publisher Newsquest’s 305 titles nationwide, took the lead in banning all adult advertisements in July 2008, having been persuaded of the clear link between the ads and women being trafficked for sex.

However, other local titles such as the Croydon Advertiser and the Croydon Post continue to run the adverts.

Lambeth council are already on board with the campaign and are in talks with the South London Press in their area about the issue.

Councillor Steve Reed, leader of Lambeth Council, said: "Prostitution is not a victimless crime and there are clear links between the sex trade and people trafficking.

“We have measures in place to clamp down on kerb crawling and to help prostitutes break the cycle.

"It goes without saying that this sort of advert will never appear in any Lambeth Council publication.

"We're also in the process of meeting with local businesses and publications to raise awareness around the impact of this sort of advertising."

Croydon councillors have also pledged support for the campaign.

Coun Gavin Barwell, cabinet member for safety and cohesion, said: “We are delighted to support this campaign.

“Local community group Croydon Community Against Trafficking deserve a huge amount of credit for raising the profile of this modern slave trade and the Croydon Guardian is to be congratulated for having taken the decision to stop publishing classified adverts for ‘adult’ services.

“We very much hope other local papers will follow suit”.

Coun Tony Newman, leader of the Labour group, said: “I am emphatically in favour of this approach it is an outrageous crime that is being perpetrated against some of the most vulnerable women in our society.

“This must stop and stop now.

"All the people in Croydon and all politicians should call on those publishers to stop running those ads immediately.”

• What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.