Thursday, May 25, 2006

No Posts This Thursday

No new posts for Thursday, May 25. Please read our most recent posts from this past Monday, and be sure to check back on Monday, the 29th for an update.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Posts for Monday, May 22

Today we go from Hollywood to South Africa to Zimbabwe to India to the Philippines. While Hollywood concludes negotiations for distribution rights to a new film about sex trafficking, poor rural families in Zimbabwe negotiate for food by selling their young daughters to wealthy men. In India police would rather investigate more high profile crimes than trafficking of women and children, while in the Philippines police rescue 33 trafficked women from a brothel. And as South Africa begins its "Child Protection Week" we learn that child prostitution in Johannesburg is on the rise.

1. Hollywood Takes on Sex Trafficking

2. S. Africa's "Exploding" Child Sex Slave Trade

3. 33 Women Rescued From Sex Den in Philippines

4. Indian Cops Choose High-Profile Crime Over Trafficking

5. Starvation in Zimbabwe Revives Child Bride Practice, Child Prostitution on the Rise

Starvation in Zimbabwe Revives Child Bride Practice, Child Prostitution on the Rise

The country of Zimbabwe has been in a 6-year long economic depression as a result of the Mugabe-led government abuses, the like not usually seen in a country not a war, the World Bank says. The inflation rates have surpassed 1,000% and what little food available within the country is either sold on the black market or strictly controlled by the government.

As a result of the Mugabe influence and also bad weather affecting crops many povery-stricken families in rural areas are returning to an old tribal custom not practiced since before colonialism, of the father selling his daughter (usually underage) to be married a wealthy man in exchange for food for the rest of his family.

In an article posted today in the Zimbabwe News, we learn:
With the economy seen worsening over Mugabe's controversial policies that started with the arbitrary seizure in 2000 of white-owned commercial farms, observers and social scientists say the old scourges - child labour, child prostitution and forced marriages - will rise. "We are seeing an increase in forced and illegal marriages of poor young girls to rich old men over the past few years. This is a centuries-old tradition, which we had long forgotten," a former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor and a leading social scientist, Gordon Chavhunduka, says. He adds: "Such traditions where poor families marry off their under-age daughters to rich old men were rife before colonialism hundreds of years back. They died after colonialism. But they have now been revived in the battle for survival."
The World Press reports that Save the Children in Zimbabwe have seen a rapid increase in the "sale" of girl-child brides and also in child prostitution as the famine worsens:
Save the Children conducted a brief survey in Binga, near Lake Kariba, to examine the effect of the food crisis on women's behavior. It found more young women are now engaged in prostitution, many taking food as payment. Women already engaged in sex work are more likely to have sex without a condom if the client pays a better price for "skin on skin" sex. As the crisis worsens, women's vulnerability increases, forcing them into sex work.

McIvor also said more girls were being forced into early marriages. The tradition of childhood marriages in the Zambezi Valley, where Save the Children has focused much of its work, saw girls as young as 14 getting married. Now, said McIvor, brides were getting even younger as their families looked to the bride price of cattle and goats for survival.

Indian Cops Choose High-Profile Crime Over Trafficking

In an article posted today in The Times of India, Kaniza Garari reports that Indian cops would rather choose to investigate "bandobast" crimes rather than focus on investigating lower profile crimes with little information available such as the sex trafficking of women and children.

From the article:
[Police] Assignments are picked on the basis of what is high profile and what is not. While detection of crime is rated as challenging and high profile, preventing trafficking is considered less challenging and less prestigious an assignment.

In fact, it is last on the list of priorities of many a policemen. "Detection of traffickers or touts is on an abysmally low level," says DIG, M Ratan. "It is important for the police to source information, channelise resources and get inputs on the who, what and where of trafficking of women and children."

As the police addresses this issue, it is aware of the growing lethargy and feels that a brain storming session will help get the force back into action to tackle the age old crime
For more information about trafficking of women and children in India, see the Apne Aap website, an organization headquartered in Calcutta that helps victims. "Apne Aap" means "self-help" in Hindi.

33 Women Rescued From Sex Den in Philippines


MAKATI CITY, PHILIPPINES

The Manila Times reported yesterday that a brothel raid in Makati City, often referred to as the financial capital or "Wall Street" of the Philippines, rescued 33 women from a sex trafficking operation last week:
Thirty-three young women were rescued from a prostitution den in Makati City by a team of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents last week.

The rescue followed information received by the NBI that one of the "hottest new red light" districts has been operating in Makati City.

According to Romulo Z. Asis, head of the NBI Antihuman Trafficking Division, a surveillance was conducted on certain suspected establishments on Edison and Noble streets.

On May 7 an undercover operation was carried out by agents posing as pleasure seekers. Pimps immediately approached them and offered to lead them to young women for sexual purposes.

The agents were led to a house where at least 20 young women were seated in a lounge. The women, the pimps said, could be had for P3,000 [$57 US].

On May 17 the NBI raided the house. The raiding team found in the premises 33 young women, who were promptly taken to the NBI headquarters for custody.

The alleged owners of the house, said to be Joel Capote and Efren Edison, escaped. The NBI is still looking for them.

The suspects face charges of violating the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 and Article 341 (Antiprostitution) of the Revised Penal Code.

South Africa's "Exploding" Child Sex Slave Trade

In an article reported yesterday in South Africa's The Star, we learn that there are an estimated 10,000 child sex workers roaming the streets, often disappearing and then turning up murdered in Johannesburg and surrounding areas.

The House Group, an organization working in Hillbrow, South Africa estimates that 40% of sex workers in Johannesburg are under 18, and the demand for child prostitutes, especially for black children, in this area has been on the rise for the last few years.

Karyn Maughan reports in The Star:
Children as young as 9 are selling their bodies on the streets of Joburg for R30 ($4.50 US)--and child rights groups say the situation is "exploding".

In a series of interviews with child sex workers, streetchildren, clinic staff and community workers, The Star has uncovered that the commercial sexual exploitation of boys and girls is booming.

And, as the brutal unsolved murders of three suspected teenage sex workers and growing numbers of HIV-related deaths of child sex workers have shown, these children are unlikely to make it into adulthood or out of Hillbrow's brothels alive.

Various teenage sex workers in Hillbrow have claimed that at least three girls, aged between 14 and 17, had recently vanished after getting into cars with prospective clients.
This week South Africa launches "Child Protection Week", an ongoing initiative to make this country, especially Johannesburg, more "Child Friendly", a place where children need not fear walking home from school, getting raped and being hassled to buy drugs.



Winnie (above), 16, Naturena speaks out about this culture of disrespect for children in a 2002 article published on the City of Johannesburg website:
The men in the streets follow us. They tell us to go to their houses, and there are a lot of those kinds of men around. If we go to the libraries then the people there tell us that they want to be our friends, and then they follow you home and rape you. If someone has raped a girl, then the next day he is out of jail. That doesn't make sense. My cousin was raped when she was four years old and when she finally told someone, the man threatened to kill her. If you are wearing a short skirt and you go to catch a taxi at the Bree or Noord Street ranks, some of the drivers force you to take off your clothes, and tell you that if you want to wear short dresses, then you better go naked. I know that's happened, I've seen it happen to young girls.

Hollywood Takes on Sex Trafficking

Lionsgate Films has announced today that they plan to distribute Jose Rivera's (The Motorcycle Diaries) adaption of Peter Landesman's New York Times Magazine article about the sex trafficking business, a film called Trade (formerly called "Welcome to America") starring Kevin Kline.

The storyline revolves around a 13-year-old girl and Polish woman who are sold into the sex slave business in the U.S. A Texas cop teams up with the girl's brother to look for her and, in the process, discovers that his own daughter has been kidnapped.


PETER LANDESMAN'S ORIGINAL ARTICLE IN THE NYT MAGAZINE

Landesman's NYT Magazine article "The Girls Next Door" published in January of 2004 received much criticism from Slate magazine and others questioning its accuracy. This spawned a number of columns in both Slate and the New York Times. You can read the exchanges here at Slate.com.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Posts for Thursday, May 18

Today we feature another installment from the Toledo Blade's teenage prostitution stories, trafficking in Norway, Amnesty's UK director speaks out and 2 posts related to the "Dallas Madam" bust--one, the story of the brothel raids and convictions, and two, the story of a young South Korean woman who has just returned home after having been trafficked to Dallas.

1. The Rise & Fall of a Dallas Madam

2. The Life of a Teenage Prostitute

3. Korean Trafficking Victim Returns to Seoul

4. Albanian Charity Administrator Busted for Child Abuse

5. Amnesty's UK Director Says Britian Not Doing Enough for Trafficking Victims

6. Oslo Top Spot for Trafficked African Women

Oslo Top Spot for Trafficked African Women


"GLORIA" SMUGGLED INTO OSLO FROM NIGERIA

Norway's Aftenposten reports today that Oslo is fast becoming known as a top destination spot to traffickers who smuggle women from Africa to work in this city as sex slaves.
One of the many Nigerian women forced into prostitution in the Oslo area told newspaper Aftenposten Tuesday that she and several others were held captive in a house in Østfold, southeastern Norway. She says she knew she was in Europe, but had no idea where in Europe.

Like others in her situation, 19-year-old "Gloria" had fled poverty in Nigeria and was looking for a better life. She landed in a refugee camp in Morocco, and thought she was lucky when a man she calls "Mister" took interest in her and said he'd help her get to Europe.

It didn't matter, he said, that she had no money to fund her travels. She could pay "Mister" back after she got a job. He didn't mention what type of job that might be.

In what police in Oslo have described as a familiar pattern, the man was kind to "Gloria" in the beginning. He won her trust. "I thought he was a good man," she told Aftenposten.

She and several other women were smuggled over to Spain in a small boat. A bigger boat took them to Italy and from there the women eventually were sent to Norway, where police claim there's a large market of men willing to pay for sexual services.

"Gloria" says she escaped from the house where she was repeatedly raped by "Mister" and forced to have sex with men who'd talked with "Mister." She says she never saw any money.

Amnesty's UK Director Says Britian Not Doing Enough for Trafficking Victims

Kate Allen, the director of Amnesty International's UK office, said in an article from today's Daily Mirror that Britian is not doing enough to combat sex trafficking:
'Ask anyone to list their worst imaginable crimes and, after murder, the likely answers will be rape, abduction, torture, severe beatings and psychological terror.

Each one is dreadful enough on its own - but in Britain, thousands of women have endured all of them in the course of a single crime

And in most cases, no one has ever been punished.

The crime is the trafficking of women and girls into forced prostitution. And it's happening right here in Britain.

In fact, the chances are it's happening in a street near you, possibly behind the smoked-glass windows of your local massage parlour.

It's not that the police aren't trying to catch the perpetrators. They are. There have been raids and public awareness campaigns. Specialist vice units have been trained to investigate the secretive and dangerous criminal gangs that control sex trafficking.

BUT this is a very difficult crime to tackle and at the moment we're failing - and failing badly.

Experts estimate that thousands of women and girls a year are currently being trafficked to the UK.

They are typically robbed of their passports and documents, taken to secure flats and beaten and raped to break them in.

Anna, a Ukrainian in her twenties, was beaten and gangraped by different groups of men before being trafficked to the UK and sold into sexual slavery.

She's since been rescued and given professional medical care and counselling. Tragically, however, she is now HIV positive. Why, though, aren't we getting to grips with this growing crime?

Why aren't we nailing the traffickers and protecting more women like Anna?

It's a good question. And one I plan to put to the new Home Secretary John Reid at the earliest opportunity. Because this is a failure that goes right to the heart of government.

British politicians talk about how this vicious trade needs to be stopped and how women must be removed from the clutches of gangsters - but they stop short of actually helping the victims.

Instead, while a few gangs have been caught and prosecuted, many of their victims have been treated with shocking callousness.

INSTEAD of being given specialist medical care, counselling and residency rights while their lives can be re-built, trafficked women are being cast aside in the UK.

Immigration officials are locking them up before they're deported back to the very places from where they were first trafficked.

Yesterday the European Convention Against Trafficking was one year old and still doesn't have the UK's signature on it, even though most other European countries have signed up.

This treaty would provide just the kind of protection victims of trafficking need - emergency housing and specialist help for a month, and residence permits for those whose home countries are too dangerous to return to.

These measures would not cost the UK a lot of money.

The women are victims of vicious crimes here in the UK, and we owe them some protection.

There's just ONE safe house in Britain for trafficked women and this is full to capacity and desperately short of resources.

There is nowhere at all for women under 18.

It's an absolute disgrace. Some of the most vulnerable women in this country are being betrayed while ministers focus only on battling the traffickers.

The government could turn this around today by signing up to the European Convention Against Trafficking. This would grant women like Anna some much-needed rights and protection.

Today, terrified women are trapped in massage parlours, saunas and private flats in British towns and cities.

This is not simply about sex being for sale It's about brutal sexual servitude in a rape prison.

Amnesty International is a movement of ordinary people standing up for humanity. Our 260,000 members are lobbying hard to get the Government to sign the European Convention Against Trafficking.

You can help us by writing to Home Secretary John Reid and telling him this matters to you. Go to www.amnesty.org.uk for information on how to do this.'

Albanian Charity Administrator Busted for Child Abuse

Reuters reports today from Tirana, Albania that Albanian police detained a Briton on charges of having sex with minors at the premises of his charity:
Johan Branon, 55, was accused of engaging in sexual and homosexual relations with minors living in his home for Roma children, police said in a statement. Arrest warrants have been issued for two of his British colleagues on the same charges.

"Police are also searching for two more British nationals because they are also suspected of performing sexual and homosexual relations with minors," the statement said.

Branon and his two colleagues were taking care of some 50 Roma children in the premises of their charity called "His Children" for the past four years, police sources said.

They are suspected of having abused at least 14 children in the last three years, they added.

One of Europe's poorest countries, Albania has been recently cracking down on networks of child smugglers, including those accused of selling newborn babies and trafficking body organs.
To learn more about Roma Children, see UNICEF's article: Roma Children Education.

Korean Trafficking Victim Returns to Seoul

Following the recent brothel raids in Dallas and arrests of "madams" like Kyong "Jackie" Roberts, Hannah, a 24-year old South Korean woman has just returned to her home country from Dallas where she was tricked and trafficked into working as a prostitute.

The Dallas Morning News reports on her story which we've included in its entirety here:
At a TGI Friday's restaurant, Hannah blends seamlessly with the crowd of young Korean urbanites. Fur-lined jacket. Green Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. Dangling gold earrings. Perfect makeup.

The 24-year-old had returned to Korea a week earlier, sent home from Dallas, where she worked as a prostitute for three years.

On this cold January night over dinner, she talks through a translator about her flight to America and back.

It began when she was a 21-year-old in Seoul dreaming of studying in the United States. She found a broker through the Internet who told her that she could make $10,000 a month working in a club. There was no mention of prostitution, she said.

He told her the trip would cost $13,000. From Seoul she flew to Mexico City, where she met another broker who took her to the California border. There, smugglers stole her pocket money and added to her debt as she crossed into California. She was driven to Dallas and dropped at a spa called Venetian Body Work.

When she arrived, "I couldn't work because I cried so hard."

In the beginning, she said, she had a skin allergy and couldn't work much. The owner threatened her.

She still remembers the first time she had sex for money. "After the first time, I cried for over a month."

She tried to escape once, running away to California, but she quickly realized she had nowhere to turn and came back to Dallas. The brothel owner beat her for a month.

She began working at Ace Palace, one of 10 to 15 women who slept on the carpet without beds or blankets.

"Even on our periods, if the brothel master wanted us to work, we had to work," she said. "A woman who is bleeding or is crying . . . even though they are crying, they have to work."

She finally repaid her debt shortly before she was arrested in the fall, while living in an apartment. She said she was never interviewed by a nongovernmental group and knows little about protections available to trafficking victims.

In Seoul, Hannah is now a woman with a secret. She worries about finding a job. She wants to return to America and become a law student.

"My whole family thought I was in America as a student," she said.

The Life of a Teenage Prostitute


JESSICA KLEMPNER, 17

In another installment of the Toledo Blade's ongoing article series: Lost Youth: Teenage Sex Trade, Bold teenage prostitute wanted out of 'game'; Toledoan is home insisting she's not afraid we learn the story of Jessica Klempner, a teenager who was arrested for prostitution in Florida last year at the age of 17 and who was willing to tell her story and have her photo taken, despite laws that would have protected her identity if she so wished. Her pimp was Wayne Banks Jr., the subject of both an earlier Blade article and one of Monday's posts: "Demystifying "The Game".

From the article:
In March, 2005, in Pensacola, after selling sex for five months, she told Banks she wanted to leave.

When police picked her up later that day, she told them Banks beat her several times during the three or four weeks she spent with him.

That night, Florida authorities took Jessica to the hospital for chest injuries - and they arrested Banks.

Back in Toledo now, she insisted her injuries that night weren't serious.

"I wasn't intimidated," she said. "I'm not scared of anything."
Although Banks has received an unprecedented 40-year jail term for sex trafficking minors across state lines, Klempner insists that he is not a bad guy and says of his conviction:
"It should have never happened."

To this day, she says Banks is "so sexy."


JESSICA & HER MOTHER, KIM KLEMPNER

Klempner's mother, Kim Klempner, 40, is as equally unfazed as her daughter about prostitution, although Jessica is now seeking a different line of work:
Jessica said she's given up prostitution and is seeking other work. She's applied for a cleaning job at a hotel, she said.

Jessica won't say why she doesn't want to go back to selling sex. She just doesn't want to - it's that simple.

Standing nearby, Ms. Klempner laughed at the question.

"Me? I'd like to be a high-price call girl," she said. "Sex with complete strangers can be fun sometimes. I'm sorry, maybe I'm too honest, but yeah. You know, the money aspect? I mean, why not?"

To Jessica's mother, transactional sex has its advantages.

"You marry a guy and you gotta give him sex and you're not even getting basically nothing out of it," she said.

"These ones I can send home when I'm done with them."

The Rise & Fall of a Dallas Madam

The Dallas Morning News reports this week on the arrest of Kyong "Jackie" Roberts who:
came to America as the Korean bride of a U.S. serviceman more than 20 years ago and climbed from dress shop owner to modeling studio proprietor to queen of Asian brothels.
Her Dallas-based brothel businesses have been raided and millions of dollars in cash, cars and real estate have been seized by law enforcement officials.

Roberts and three others are to stand trial for charges including human trafficking, aggravted promotion of prostitution, money laundering, organized crime and shipping large amounts of cash out of the US and into Korea.

The arrests of Roberts and other brothel-oweners have provided a glimpse into the seedy underworld of sex trafficking into the United States:
In late 2004, ICE agents and Dallas vice officers found an informant with accurate, inside knowledge of how women were recruited in Korea to work in Dallas brothels.

For fees averaging $15,000 apiece, smugglers flew the women to Canada and Mexico, then walked them over the border into the U.S.

Brothel owners operating as massage parlors, spas, baths, saunas, modeling studios or nightclubs assumed the women's smuggling debts, often taking their passports as a guarantee that they would be paid back.

In March 2005, the ICE informant reported that Sung Bum Chang and his wife, Hyang, ran such an operation out of Club Wa on Walnut Hill Lane.

According to court records, women were provided as "party guests for businessmen and other individuals," with private party rooms at $100 a girl. Sex was not guaranteed. ICE agent Darrell Stanley explained in an affidavit that a 67-year-old madam negotiated further favors with customers.

"Chang obtains his illegal Korean females by contacting a man known as `David' . . . who acts as a broker for the transportation and illegal entry," Stanley wrote.

By April, a search of the Changs' home in Coppell netted a half-dozen illegal immigrants living in the second-story bedrooms, $10,000 in cash and two cars. Many of the women confirmed what the informant said.

Chang and his wife were charged in federal court with forced labor and other charges related to human trafficking. They pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. Their lawyers have declined requests for interviews.
This article is part 2 of a 2-part series by Tim Wyatt for the Dallas Morning News. Read part one of the article--"Capitalists or Sex Slaves?" here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Posts for Monday, May 15

I decided to make the final post on the update days (Mondays and Thursdays) a table of contents of sorts from now on. So these final posts, appearing at the top of each newly updated day, will contain a link to each of the posts from that day.

Today there was a lot going on in the world of sex trafficking news, everything from Ricky Martin to third generation pimps to German politicians wondering if legalizing prostitution in their country was the right move. And if you haven't already, don't forget to sign CATW's petition to stop trafficking during the World Cup (see #2 below).

1. Germany Rethinks Legalized Prostitution
2. "Buying Sex is Not a Sport" Petition Closes May 20
3. It's the Johns, Stupid
4. Canada Adopts New Measures to Help Trafficking Victims, Pt. 2
5. India Revises Law to Punish Traffickers, Not Victims
6. Demystifying "The Game"
7. Trafficking in S. America: The "Real" Vida Loca

Trafficking in S. America: The "Real" Vida Loca


POSTER FROM THE "CALL & LIVE" CAMPAIGN

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) plans to launch a new campaign against human trafficking in the Americas to raise awareness of a problem that has been likened to "modern-day slavery." The campaign is entitled "Llama y Vive" or "Call and Live".

From a U.S. Department of State press-release:
In a May 10 statement, the IDB said the campaign, dubbed "Call and Live," will be launched initially in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru. The campaign, in cooperation with the 116-member International Organization for Migration, will publicize telephone hotlines for prevention and victim protection, and distribute print and audiovisual materials featuring Puerto Rican singer and humanitarian Ricky Martin.
For his work against human trafficking, the U.S. State Department named Martin one of its "Heroes in Ending Modern-Day Slavery" in 2005. The Ricky Martin Foundation will also distribute, free of charge, a 30-minute documentary produced by the IDB to local television stations.

Demystifying "The Game"


Wayne Banks, Jr., 28, a third-generation
pimp, is serving 40 years in prison.


"The Game" is a street euphemism for prostitution and pimping, and it's flourishing throughout the United States. Yet, with the arrest and conviction this week of one 28-year old pimp, Wayne Banks Jr., and his historic 40-year sentence, there's evidence that this "game" is no longer being viewed as child's play.

The Toledo Blade, in a series of articles entitled "Lost Youth: The Teenage Sex Trade" reports this week on Banks' conviction, and also delves deep into the life of a pimp (Banks began pimping at 16 years old), revealing the inside workings of this mostly mysterious trade. From the article:
"Born to a father and mother in 'the game,' I wasn't just exposed at an early age, I was conceived in the process of it," Banks said.

"Had it not been for 'the game,' Wayne Robert Banks, Jr. ...wouldn't have been born."

His parents--Wayne Banks, Sr., a self-confessed pimp, and Joyce Tucker, a convicted prostitute--never did serious jail time on sex-trade charges.

Neither did Earl Banks, Sr., [Banks'] grandfather, whose son said he dabbled in pimping.

But the family's third-generation pimp, now 28, is in prison for 40 years.

It's an unprecedented sentence that signals the federal government's new, tougher stance on sex trafficking.
Banks testified in court that many of his prostitutes were well under the age of 18, and many of them he brought into other states to work the streets, qualifying as a federal sex trafficking offense.

India Revises Law to Punish Traffickers, Not Victims


CHILD PROSTITUTES IN INDIA
(Photo by, Mary Ellen Mark)

The Indian Parliament is currently reviewing a law from 1956, The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, for revision. The old law had loopholes that protected traffickers and solicitors of trafficking victims used for sexual exploitation, while the victims of trafficking were punished.

From an article today in The Times of India, we learn that:
The amendments are being introduced by the ministry of women and child development (WCD). WCD secretary, Reva Nayar, says, "The basic purpose of the amendments is to protect hapless sex workers from further exploitation.

Loopholes in the existing Act dealing with pimps, clients and traffickers have been taken care of now." Manjula Krishnan, advisor to the WCD, says, "There is a proposal to delete the most crucial aspect of the existing Act--Section 8 and Section 20--in the amendment.

While Section 8 was for banning seduction or solicitation in public places, Section 20 was for empowering the police to remove a sex worker from any place and impose a fine on her." Till date, she says, the focus was on punishing sex workers. Not any more.

The amendments also provide for sensitive changes like setting up of a state authority that will effectively prevent and combat trafficking.
The revisions will also include:

1. Increasing the age of a "child" as defined in the act from 16 to 18.
2. Prosecuting police who take bribes from traffickers and clients.
3. Protecting the privacy of victims from cameras and media.

Canada Adopts New Measures to Help Trafficking Victims, Pt. 2

In an addendum to last week's post Canada Adopts New Measures to Help Trafficking Victims we learn that The Future Group, a Canadian anti-trafficking NGO has recently released a report "Falling Short of the Mark" (opens as PDF), a 40-page study that gives Canada a failing grade for failing to provide temporary residence to victims to recover from their ordeals, and a lack of even basic medical services to them. This report in conjuction with the UN Report Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, spurred the Canadian government to enact these new laws that would protect trafficking victims.

For those of you avid blog-readers out there, The Future Group has an anti-trafficking blog: read it here.

It's the Johns, Stupid


ARIZONA JOHNS ARRESTED FOR SOLICITATION IN 2003

In response to the recent campaign in the UK asking johns to report suspected victims of trafficking via a confidential hotline (see April blog entry: Well, It's a Start...), Brenda Power of The Sunday Times--Ireland says: "give me a break!":
Full marks for optimism to those European governments that have cooked up an imaginative, but doomed, initiative to liberate trafficked prostitutes. A number of EU states have introduced confidential phone numbers for male clients who suspect the woman they've just hired for sex has been working against her will.

Unless I'm interpreting this incorrectly, the man who has just paid a woman to have sex is expected to view her not as a piece of meat but as as a vulnerable human being and show some concern for her welfare. How could it possibly not work?

Perhaps the reason the measure is doomed is because it flies in the face of the central male conceit that has kept prostitution flourishing for millenniums. Men couldn't keep using the services of prostitutes if they hadn't managed to convince themselves that (a) they are actually pieces of meat, (b) they are making a really good living from it, and (c) they definitely love it.

It's this same comforting sequence of joined-up delusions that has kept governments through the ages from acting on their stated abhorrence of the world's oldest profession and introducing the one measure that would crack down hard on it, once and for all: criminalising the clients.

"Buying Sex is Not a Sport" Petition Closes May 20

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women's (CATW) petition, "Buying Sex is Not a Sport: No to Germany's Prostitution of Women During the World Cup Games" will be closed for signatures on Saturday, May 20th.

To date, the petition has received over 50,000 signatures from 125 countries.

If you've not yet signed the petitition, there's still time to do so and to forward it to your friends and colleagues: Sign the petition here.

Germany Rethinks Legalized Prostitution


LUNA, 33, A SERBIAN PROSTITUTE WORKING IN GERMANY

With all the attention Germany's prostitution trade is receiving in light of next month's World Cup, it was a only a matter of time before this profession, legal in Germany, was called into question. Just how many prostitutes have actually registered with the government to receive benefits? And since prostitution was legalized there in 2002, has the country's trafficking record improved?

The answers: hardly any prostitutes have registered with the government, although doing so grants them health and retirement benefits, and even career training; of the estimated 400,000 prostitutes working Germany, only about 300-600 have registered according to a recent article in the Mercury News. And as far as reducing the amount of trafficked persons into Germany, the country was still ranked in the top 10 destination countries or "Very High" by the UN Report on Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns released last month, causing some politicians to rethink their original support of legalization:
"I was with my party, the Greens, when we pushed for legalization," said Hiltrud Breyer, a German member of the European Parliament. "We really believed it would bring the profession out of the shadows and improve lives. I'm rethinking that position."

Breyer said that when she checked national statistics recently only 300 to 600 taxpayers listed their jobs as prostitute. But union officials say they work with tens of thousands of prostitutes and that they think the government estimate of 400,000 is about right.

It's not just missing tax revenue that's worrisome, Breyer said. Because prostitution is legal, police don't investigate it as aggressively as they once did, and that's allowed forced prostitution to thrive, she thinks.
Additionally, the fact that prostitution is legal also cuts down on brothel raids that would seek and find trafficking victims:
"The idea behind the change in legislation was, I believe, that prostitutes should be able to leave the 'gray zone' of semi-illegality and be registered and have social insurance like other professions," [Anne Fitzgerald, who works with Solidarity With Women in Distress] said. "Reality has since shown that very few prostitutes are officially registered and the police have practically no way of justifying brothel raids, so that now fewer victims of trafficking are actually discovered."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wednesday Raids in UK & Germany Find Trafficking Victims

Two brothel raids took place yesterday in both the UK and in Germany. Law enforcement officials have rescued suspected victims of trafficking and taken the traffickers into custody in England, while in Germany arrests were made.

Yesterday, as part of the UK's Operation Pentameter, a raid in London and the West Midlands at a number of brothels rounded up 19 victims of trafficking, all of Malaysian descent, and their traffickers, a man and woman, were arrested. From the Guardian UK online:
Chief Superintendent Ian Dyson, the head of the unit, said the women would have been subjected to physical threats and intimidation.

"Some will have been brought in under false pretences, believing they were going to work in legitimate employment," he said. "Others will have come knowing they were going to be working as prostitutes, but all of them will have been exploited."

Mr Dyson called for anyone with information about trafficked women to contact the police and said men who used brothels were "fuelling this trade".
Also yesterday, German officials raided brothels in 4 states ahead of the World Cup soccer competition next month expected to fuel the demand for prostitution and thereby increase sex trafficking throughout this country where prostitution is legal.

From an AP news article:
Volker Bouffier, interior minister of Hesse, said the raids Wednesday were launched in an effort to combat concerns expressed by human rights organizations and other groups that thousands of women, mostly from Eastern Europe, could be smuggled into Germany and forced to work as prostitutes during the World Cup. The monthlong event starts June 9.

"The controls and searches are an effective way to fight against such crimes, and for this reason (we) will continue to carry out such actions," Bouffier said.

Police in Hesse checked the documentation and registration of 603 prostitutes, making 74 arrests. Authorities in neighboring Rhineland-Palatinate said they arrested 22 people and another 34 were issued citations, mostly for immigration violations and failure to comply with business regulations.

Canada Adopts New Measures to Help Trafficking Victims

In a press release from today, the Canadian federal government has announced plans to put new measures into effect that would aid and protect victims of trafficking brought to their country for the purposes of exploitation.

The new measures are explained in the press release:
Working within Canada's existing legislative framework, immigration officers will issue temporary resident permits (TRPs) for up to 120 days to victims of human trafficking. The permit will enable victims to begin to recover from the impact of this crime. Victims who receive the TRPs will also be exempted from the processing fee, and will be eligible for health-care benefits under the Interim Federal Health program. The new measures have been carefully designed so that only bona fide victims of human trafficking will benefit from them.
Canada was ranked as a "High" country of destination in the recent UN report, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns.

S. Africa Updates Archaic Trafficking Laws

For years, vicitms of trafficking in South Africa were prosecuted for prostitution and illegal immigration, adding copious insult to injury, while the traffickers responsible for their exploitation went largely uncaught and unpunished.

The IOL news service in South Africa reports that all this is changing with current reviewing of these archaic laws:
The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) is recommending the non-renewable suspension of deportation of victims of human trafficking.

The SALRC has, in a discussion paper on trafficking in persons, recommended the provision of proper care and the possibility of temporary or permanent residence or refugee status for such victims....

"Apart from dealing with the trauma of being trafficked, victims of trafficking are faced with arrest and prosecution for offences committed as a direct result of their situation as victims of trafficking," the discussion paper states.

It says that in South Africa victims may be prosecuted for prostitution, even though they were forced into it by their traffickers. They may also be prosecuted for illegal entry into the country.

African Girls Smuggled & Impregnated in UK for Housing

The BBC reported Tuesday that MP's heard testimony from various groups that African girls, most specifically from Uganda, are being smuggled into the UK and then deliberately impregnated so they can move into "coucil flats" or government housing projects.

From the article:
Debbie Aruyo of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (Afruca) said later some of the children were aged 12 to 16.

The victims were often sent alone into the UK, and placed in council care before falling prey to abuse, she said.

She suggested some of the girls ended up in prostitution while the flats were rented out in a "money making scam."

The Home Office said the government was "committed to tackling the appalling modern slave trade of human trafficking."

Monday, May 8, 2006

Americans Join the World Cup Prostitution Fray

In an article posted to the SF Gate website last week, the AP reports that the US government has joined in placing pressure on the German government to prevent trafficking during the World Cup this summer in Germany:
The expected World Cup boom for Germany's sex industry has ignited a trans-Atlantic tiff over prostitution, with a U.S. congressman and other anti-trafficking advocates contending Thursday that thousands of foreign women will be forced into sex work during the four-week tournament.

The German government, while defending its policy of legalized prostitution, emphatically denies that it condones human trafficking and says it has intensified efforts to combat it. It also denies claims by some critics that it is subsidizing construction of new brothels.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., remains skeptical. He urged Germany to recriminalize prostitution and suggested that it should be reclassified as an "egregious violator" of human trafficking unless tougher steps are taken before the World Cup starts on June 9.

Smith, chairman of the House subcommittee on global human rights, convened a hearing in Washington titled "Germany's World Cup Brothels." Witnesses included representatives from Amnesty International, the International Organization for Migration, and the Angel Coalition, an anti-trafficking women's group in Russia.

Whatever Happened to Osh Kosh B'Gosh?



The Boston Herald reports on what may be the tackiest new clothing trend to hit shelves ever: "Pimpfants" is a new line of clothing started by skateboarder Jared Parsons who, upon having his first child, said, "I wanted him to dress how me and my friends dress...but it's hard to find baby clothes like that."

I wonder why.

His designs for infants include onesies and tees bearing such slogans as "My Mom is a MILF" (if you don't know what that means, click here), "Baby Beater" tank tops and "Jr. Pimp Squad."

Meeting the Human Traffickers


CONVICTED TRAFFICKERS IMPRISONED IN ROMANIA

In an article posted on the BBC website this week, journalist Nick Thorpe reports on the other side of trafficking--the criminals who traffic humans tell him their stories.

From the article:
In Buzau [Romania]...we meet a woman trafficker. Ana wears a bright orange sweatshirt, and flirts cheerfully during the interview. When I pause the tape-recorder, to rack my brains for the next question, she offers one of her own.

"You wanted to ask for my phone number?" she jokes.

She is a strange case - a victim, turned trafficker. The police version agrees, up to a point.

She was taken to Bologna in Italy, by Romanian traffickers. There she was treated cruelly, as were all the other east European girls under their control.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Germany Bans Journalists From Red Light District

With the increase in media interest following the purported increase in prositutution during the World Cup in Germany this summer, officials in Cologne have already started to ban journalists from the red light district in this city.

The UK's Guardian Unlimited reports today:
The German city of Cologne has banned foreign press from its red light district in the run-up to the football World Cup, after prostitutes complained about journalists chasing away their customers since British media reports raised global interest in local "drive-in brothels".

Robert Kilp, the head of the city's public affairs department, said if a journalist was caught filming in the area the tape would be removed and a warning issued, but if he or she was caught a second time the consequences would be more serious.

"The second time we will be really angry. This zone is owned by the city of Cologne and is not considered a public street," Mr Kilp said.

"Anyone filming or taking pictures there will be liable to prosecution. Prostitutes are having sexual intercourse in cars there, it is not a good thing to be filming."

Monday, May 1, 2006

NY Sex Trafficking Brothers Get 50 Years in Prison

Two brothers convicted for sex trafficking women (including their wives) from Mexico to New York and forcing them into prostitution were convicted yesterday by a Brooklyn federal judge to 50 years in prison.

The New York Post reports that:
[Gerardo Flores] Carreto and his older brother, Josue, pleaded guilty last year to being the ringleaders of the sex trafficking scam that pulled eight women, including their wives, into the country from Mexico. The judge also threw the book at the older Carreto, 36, sentencing him to the same half-century prison stint.

Once they were brought in, the unsuspecting women were ordered to turn tricks at brothels in Queens and Brooklyn for $35 a pop, sometimes dealing with up to 20 "johns" a day, authorities said.

All the money they earned went to the Carreto brothers and their brothel manager, Daniel Perez Alonso, 26, who was sentenced to 25 years.

China Sex Trafficking Further Exacerbates Gender Imbalance

Chinese news service, Muzi.com reports last week that China's strict gender enforcement policy of one child per family (or two if the firstborn is a girl) is not only worrying sociologists in the country who consider that there will be a huge shortage of marriageable women in the next generation, but the story also points out that:
The shortage of women in some areas of China is further exacerbated by sex trafficking. Thousands of Chinese women are abducted by human traffickers every year in increasingly sophisticated underground operations.

New Cronenberg Movie to Focus on Sex Trafficking

David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen will team up again after making last year's A History of Violence to direct and star (respectively) in the new thriller "Eastern Promises" produced by Focus Features and BBC Films.

According to the industry trade papers, the London-set drama begins with a Russian girl who dies in childbirth. A nurse investigating her death soon discovers the girl was mixed up in sex trafficking and with the Russian mob.

The film has been announced and is set to be released in 2008.

Brent Wilkes Sent Up for Sex Trafficking?

Brent Wilkes, defense contractor and Bush supporter who was recently involved in the ongoing Cunningham Scandal AKA "hookergate" in Washington D.C. was the subject of a recent post in Laura Rozen's blog War and Piece:
A question on the limo service retained by Brent Wilkes getting a $21.2 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security last year, despite the fact that its owner apparently has a 62-page rap sheet which reporter Ken Silverstein has obtained. Until now we've been hearing a lot about congressmen from the appropriations and intel committees specifically cultivated by Wilkes and Wade. So, this DHS contract makes one wonder: who on the Homeland Security committee might have steered business to Shirlington? Anyone at the poker parties?

P.S. A lawyer/reader writes, "This may prove to be the most important paragraph in today's San Diego Tribune story about hookergate":

Two of Wilkes' former business associates say they were present on several occasions when Shirlington Limousine & Transportation Service of northern Virginia brought prostitutes to the suite. They say they did not see lawmakers in the suites on those occasions, though both had heard rumors of congressmen bringing women to the rooms.

"The limousine company was in Virginia and, it appears, it transported prostitutes across state lines into the District of Columbia. That's a federal crime - and one that's in an entirely different class than merely providing an illegal gratuity to a congressmen. If Wilkes is convicted of sex trafficking, he'll face significant jail time. More importantly for him, such a conviction will affect where he serves time - sex traffickers don't go to minimum security work camps - they go to, at best, medium security prisons."

UC Irvine Conference Discusses Asian Trafficking Victims

The Asian-Pacific Student Association hosted its 21st annual Asian Pacific-American Awareness Conference titled “Making Waves: Locating Progress and Inciting Change” last Saturday at UC Irvine, hosted in part by The Gabriela Network.

One of the main topics discussed was sex trafficking, with some shocking facts revealed. According to Jollene Levid, one of the conference organizers:
Ever since the Western world came to Asia, the inability to stop the flow of trafficking has not been a new phenomenon because mainstream media, such as pornography, has normalized it. Sex trafficking involves the worldwide selling of women and children as prostitutes, domestic workers and mail-order brides. Last year, 750,000 Filipina women were trafficked to 168 countries. Of these, 150,000 were driven to Japan’s geisha strip and 5,000 were sent out as mail-order brides.

Currently, the number one export from the Philippines is women. The coffins of approximately five women who die abroad as a result of trafficking are imported every day.