Thursday, March 30, 2006

Central Europe Univ Professor Assesses International Sex Trafficking Policy

THE BALKAN REGION (click to expand)

In an artcle posted yesterday in Syracuse University's student newspaper, The Daily Orange, Katie Dunn reports on Nicole Lindstrom's recent trip to the Balkan region where she researches sex trafficking and international policy. Lindstrom is a former SU student, and now a professor at Central Europe University in Budapest.

Lindstrom's assessment of international sex trafficking policy and how it is not doing enough to fully combat the practice is right on. She suggests that scouring brothels, bars and red light districts is not sufficient; that the majority of victims are hidden away in private apartments or isolated areas. She says:
"While governments do have these high-profile, sort of macho raids, they're really missing where [trafficking] is happening. And that's in private places."
Lindstrom also points out that defining sex trafficking as a migration problem further impedes the fight against it. International communities develop shelters to intercept these victims of trafficking, and then send them back to their original country of origin. But, says Lindstrom:
"Women avoid (these shelters) like the plague and go underground. Then governments like to smile and say, 'A-ha! We've done what you've told us to do, and that's to stop trafficking,' but the declining numbers really indicate a weakness in the collection of data."
She presents the shocking fact that more than 50% of deported trafficking victims will fall into the hands of another trafficker when returned to their country of origin. Her suggestions, then, for improving international policies on sex trafficking? Loosening visa rescrictions is one idea:
"[Loosening visa requirements] becomes more feasible for women to pursue employment in the West. And it makes trafficking much less profitable for the trafficker."
For more information about Nicole Lindstrom: see her profile and CV here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

50 Arrested Under the UK's Operation Pentameter

One of the posters from the Operation Pentameter campaign

The Telegraph in Britain reports yesterday that 50 people were arrested for operating a sex trafficking ring, forcing women from Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, Brazil and Zimbabwe into sexual slavery.

In an aggressive effort to combat this "21st Century Slavery" the United Kingdom launched "Operation Pentameter" last month to crack down on sex traffickers in Britain, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. This operation will target and prosecute organized crime members; educate men in an effort to reduce demand; and focus on finding and freeing those victims forced under false pretenses into sexual slavery.

As part of this operation, ports and airports with traffic arriving from Eastern European countries are being closely monitored by police, and arriving travelers will be given a small card with information of who to call if they fear they've been sex trafficked. Additionally, posters will be hung, including a helpline phone number, asking these questions in a variety of languages:
- Do you know where your journey is leading?
- Do you have your passport?
- Do you know who you are meeting?
- Did you arrange your own travel?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Program Paints Grim Picture of Human Trafficking

In an article posted today on the North County Times' website, Andrea Moss reports on a recent event held in San Diego county and organized by the American Association of University Women to call attention to the problem of sex trafficking within thier area:
A nearly all-female audience listened attentively as five experts involved in coordinated efforts to stop human trafficking and teen prostitution shared shocking statistics, as well as personal insights during a program at the Seven Oaks Community Center. Some of the information left listeners sitting in stunned silence or shaking their heads in disbelief.

The speakers said forced labor or prostitution is a modern-day form of slavery. The description covers people pressed to labor as domestic servants, nannies, agricultural workers, restaurant workers or other types of laborers through the use of force, fraud or coercion, as well as those forced into prostitution, the experts said.

Women and young children are the typical victims, they said. Human trafficking and prostitution will not go away until community members join the fight against it, the speakers said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blowing the Whistle on Trafficking in Germany

To add to the previous post on sex trafficking during the World Cup this summer in Germany, we learn that the European Parliament, in an aggressive effort to educate World Cup attendees, is backing the German Women's Council in launching the "Final Whistle--Stop Forced Prostitution" initiative.

The German newspaper, Spiegel reports last week that this new initiative will plaster bathrooms, soccer pitches and metro areas with posters about sex trafficking this summer in Germany.

In a related effort, the EU is tightening Visa requirements to stymie illegal trafficking into Germany, the EU Observer reports.

There are 400,000 legal prostitutes working in Germany, and officials estimate an additional 40,000 will travel to the country during the World Cup. And that many more may be illegally trafficked to meet the demand.

The EU estimates that more than 200,000 women were trafficked into Europe in 2004.


Online Shopping for Russian Brides

The juggernaut that is online shopping is not slowing down by any means. You can buy almost anything online these days--almost all retailers with "real" stores also have an online store, and then there's eBay, that sells everything from lightbulbs to real estate.

But did you know that you can shop online for a wife? The Russian Bride Cyber Guide offers comprehensive instructions for finding the perfect Russian wife, almost like a Consumer's Report for finding the best buy. They post over 50 new profiles of women each week, including their addresses and phone numbers.

They offer a helpful FAQ section to address such concerns as, "Is it true that 80% of Russian women smoke?"and "What is Russian women upbringing about sex?[sic]"

And my favorite: "Is it true that most of Russian women seeking men are prostitutes or ex-prostitutes?" The answer: No, because-- "In Russia there are so many women available, you don't need to pay to make love."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mexican Writer Jailed for Exposing Child-Sex Ring


Lydia Cacho, a Mexican writer and well-known feminist, filed criminal complaints on Monday against the Puebla state governor, a judge, prosecutors and a local businessman, accusing them of plotting her arrest in retaliation for her book, Los Demonios del Edén, about a child sex ring.

Reuters reports today:
Cacho filed the complaints against Gov. Mario Marin, Puebla factory owner Kamel Nacif, the state prosecutor and a judge, among others, over her December arrest on charges of defaming Nacif.

She accused them with abuse of power, torture, attempted rape and other crimes and said Marin should resign or be stripped of immunity from prosecution to face the charges.

Her book suggests that Nacif and other powerful figures helped protect businessman Jean Succar, who is being held in Arizona awaiting extradition to Mexico on child pornography and prostitution charges in Cacho's home city of Cancun.

Cacho, 42, who runs a women's shelter in Cancun and has edited an alternative women's magazine, called for an investigation into the forced prostitution of minors in Cancun and a network of power she says protects child molesters.

For a full timeline on her travails, see Reporters Without Borders.

Sex Trafficking at World Cup 2006


As the World Cup trophy circles the globe on a multi-country tour preceding soccer's biggest event this summer, so too is the word spreading that the event, held this year in Germany, could attract gangs trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation, as The Irish Examiner reports today.

An Irish member of Parliament, Simon Coveney, 33, is spreading the message:
"It is vital that the message goes out to anyone that will be in Germany during the World Cup that trafficking people, primarily young girls, into forced prostitution is wrong, and that if they see a young girl or boy hanging around a hotel lobby and their intuition tells them that something is wrong that they report it.

“Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery. It’s the third largest source of income for organised crime, after trafficking in drugs and arms.”

Mr. Coveny is the founder of Business Travellers against Human Trafficking, an organization started to educate business travelers about the illegal trade, and to provide a place to report trafficking in humans. He encourages anyone attending the World Cup this summer to report suspected sex trafficking via the Business Travellers against Human Trafficking website.

Brazilian Prostitutes Go On The Air

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, Reuters reports that Brazilian prostitutes are being given their own radio show to air in the city of Salvador.

The Association of Prostitutes of Bahia state has received government permission to start the radio show, of which the male project coordinator Sandro Correia claims, "We are not going to apologize for prostitution but we are going to struggle for the dignity of the profession." They plan to address issues such as human rights, AIDS and social issues, while also discussing the trade.

Correia also says that the radio show, to be staffed by prostitutes, will provide job training for these women outside of prostitution.

International rights organizations have criticized the country as a destination for sex tourism and child prostitution. See more information about this widespread problem in Coalition Against Trafficking in Women's (CATW) Factbook: Brazil.

Buddhist Monk Arrested for Paid Sex With Teenage Girl

Reuters reports that a 73-year-old Japanese monk, Itsushi Ehara of the Hiroshima prefecture and head of a nursery school, was arrested Friday for paying a 15-year-old girl 80,000 yen ($675US) to have sex with him in a downtown Tokyo hotel.

"I could not resist my lust. A lot of stress built up from running the school," Ehara was quoted by Kyodo news agency as telling police.

The monk allegedly met the girl through a prostitution dispatch service, and is suspected of paying a number of other teenage girls for sex over a 2-3 year period.

Japan, home of the "schoolgirl's used panty vending machines" has long held a lax attitude towards the sexual exploitation of minors. They even have a term for older men's fascination with schoolgirls: "bura-sera" or roughly translated "sailor panties" referring to the sailoresque school uniforms worn by schoolgirls.

In Japan, teenage prostitution is loosely refered to as "compenstated dating" or "enjo-kosai" and was only recently outlawed in 1999, although it still goes on throughout the country. It was the only developed country put on the Tier 2 Watch List by the U.S. State Department in 2004 for its inaction towards combating trafficking in persons.

To learn more about what Japan is only recently doing to combat sex-trafficking and underage prostitution in their country, see the Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons.