Thursday, November 30, 2006

South Africa: Open Borders for Child Traffickers


Cebile Dlamini at the Amazing Grace Children's Home in Mpumplanga. The 12-year-old Swazi girl was kept as a domestic slave from the age of 10

MALELANE, SOUTH AFRICA -- When the governments of Mozambique and South Africa decided to revive the transport route between Maputo and Johannesburg in the mid-1990s, child slaves were not the cargo envisaged for haulage.

Yet management at the Amazing Grace Children's Home (AGCH), a grassroots child welfare organisation in Malelane, near one of the main border-crossing points to Mozambique in South Africa's northeastern Mpumalanga Province, believe child traffickers are increasingly using the highway to deliver their human merchandise to local and overseas buyers.

Every month up to 100 Mozambican and Swazi children are trafficked along the Maputo corridor to Johannesburg, South Africa's economic hub, where they are sold into the local sex industry or transported to Europe, according to AGCH's expert on child trafficking, Vusi Ndukuya.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT IrinNews.org

Monday, November 27, 2006

US: Daryl Hannah Speaks Out About Sex Slavery


SANTA MONICA, CA--Daryl Hannah was interviewed in Santa Monica on Tuesday for a special episode of "America's Most Wanted" that focuses on the sex slave industry and the big business behind human trafficking.

The 45-year-old actress is currently filming a documentary about sex crimes and parts of it will air on the Fox crime show.

Andrea Miller, a freelance producer for "America's Most Wanted," spent two hours with the actress filming the TV segment, which will air on Nov. 25.

"She travels around the world and documents these kinds of sex crimes that are happening in various countries and she is basically making her own film about it," says Miller. "We talked about her film-making career now, you know, how she's an actress, activist turned filmmaker now. She wants to get as many people involved to know that there are more people in slavery today than any other time in our history."

Hannah's low-budget documentary, which is still in the early stages of production, is untitled and has no official release date, Miller said.

John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," said in a conference call Wednesday that Hannah traveled to Cambodia and Thailand to get footage for her documentary.

Hannah told Miller that she learned about about the booming sex slave industry from a friend.

"She was horrified because everybody thinks slavery has been abolished," says Miller. "She's a very caring and very human rights-oriented person, it pretty much shocked her to hear something like that, and she just felt that she had to do something about it."

See the full article on ShowBuzz.CBSNews.com

California: State Yet to Test Slavery Statute

CALIFORNIA--When Westminster police raided the apartment, they were convinced they were freeing the eight women inside from modern-day slavery.

Police said the women had agreed to come to the United States from villages in Malaysia and Singapore on vague promises of a better life, but instead found themselves forced into prostitution.

Their pimps seized their passports and kept the women locked in a series of bleak apartments, with video cameras monitoring their movements and furniture barricading the doors. On the rare occasions the women were allowed outside, police said, it was with an escort.

Cases like this one prompted California last year to become the first state to enact a federally drafted law cracking down on human trafficking. Despite some well-publicized cases, authorities said existing law did not provide the legal tools to fight the crime, instead forcing them to use other charges, which often carry little or no jail time.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law amid much fanfare and with the hope that it would become a national model, he said it would help put an end to "a horrific crime that our society cannot abide."

But in the 11 months since the law went into effect, not a single human trafficking case has been prosecuted, according to the law's sponsor, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View). Police complain the law makes it too difficult to prove that human trafficking has taken place.

The problem is that seldom is the evidence black and white. Were the workers being kept against their will, or were they enduring their hardships willingly as a step up the economic pecking order?

Read the full article at LATimes.com

To learn more about California's sex trafficking laws and key figures involved in the anti-sex trafficking fight, visit Captive Daughters--California Watch

Essay: Globalization, Militarism and Sex Trafficking

ESSAY--The author, Jean Enriquez, gave this communication at the International meeting of Women World March, in Lima, Peru, from July 4th to July 9th 2006. She speaks as coordinator of the Coalition against Trafficking in Women Asia Pacific (CATWAP) and as a feminist activist from the Philippines working with survivors of prostitution.

Coming from the previous discussion on the impact of globalization on women, I would just want to emphasize the need to criticize globalization not only in terms of its impact on our lives, but criticize the very framework of globalization as masculinist given its assumptions. It rides on the gender division of labour, with women subsidizing reproductive work, and with neo-liberalism basing itself on the idea of competitiveness and domination.

Globalization further uses might and arms of states. Military aid is dangled and anti-terrorism bills are pushed down the throats of poor countries by powerful nations to ensure the “security” of foreign investors, in the guise of a fight against “international terrorism.” The World Trade Organization (WTO) itself encourage manufacture of arms, given its exemption on security in Article IX of the GATT, thus the encouragement of Bombardier operations in Canada. Members of the G-8 similarly pressured Massachusetts to reverse its ruling on countries supporting fascist governments such as that of Burma. The point I’m making is that globalization and militarism of states are intimately linked.

Now both globalization and militarism creates the conditions for violence against women, particularly trafficking and prostitution. However, I want to state in the outset that prostitution itself, the buying and selling of women and children’s bodies, is a system of violence against women which determines trafficking. The act of buyers and business establishments of using our bodies in exchange for profit and other consideration is a flagrant violation of our integrity, dignity and autonomy. The acts committed by buyers and capitalists exploit the context of lack of choices for women, whether in the North or in the South. (I will expound on this question of choice later.) Trafficking is merely the means to ensure the supply of women’s bodies towards the demand side - that is, the prostitution industry. Thus, we want trafficking to be more sharply defined to constitute not only those that include the element of physical force, but from the feminist perspective, such acts that exploit or take advantage of compulsions or vulnerabilities created by societal contexts of economic and gender inequality.

Read the full essay at SISYPHE.org

India & Iran: No to Bombs, Yes to Ending Sexual Slavery


NOBEL LAUREATE SHIRIN EBADI


NEW DELHI--Iran may be toying with the idea of acquiring a nuclear weapon, but Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi argues that the money needed for making an atom bomb can be used better for a more pressing need - ending prostitution and sexual trafficking of women.

"The cost of making an atom bomb should be set against the cost of rescuing and rehabilitating girls and women trapped in prostitution," said Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the only Iranian to win the coveted honour, here Saturday.

"Governments complain about not having money or resources to end sexual trafficking of women. But that's only an excuse," Ebadi told rights activists and journalists at the India International Centre here.

The 59-year-old lawyer and human rights activist - an icon for many in Iran - was invited to India by Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an NGO engaged in fighting sexual exploitation of women.

Read the full article at TeluguPortal.net

California: Pimping Network Uncovered

SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA--Two men, suspected of running a brothel in Pacifica and other Bay Area cities, were arrested in Colorado Tuesday.

Kwor "Tom" Chou, 29, the so-called brothel "regional manager" and his assistant, Ri Luo, 42, were both arrested on warrants obtained by the Pacifica Police Department. They face felony charges of pimping, pandering and conspiracy.

A third man, who worked as their Webmaster and advertiser, has not been charged. Police are also likely to seek prostitution charges against several young women in their 20s suspected of working out of an apartment on the 200 block of Gateway Drive, as well as other females being prostituted out of two apartment locations in Cupertino and a third Foster City apartment in connection with the operation.

A sting operation was conducted Tuesday in Denver, Colo., with law enforcement agents arresting Chou's common-law wife, who is suspected of setting up appointments via the Internet and telephone. Pacifica police were set to conduct similar raids in Pacifica, Cupertino and Foster City with help from Chinese translators from Broadmoor, South San Francisco and San Bruno police departments until they determined over the weekend that the two local men had traveled to Colorado.

"Operation Gilded Cage," a San Francisco task force made up of federal, state and local law enforcement officials, late last year focused on investigating and arresting pimps engaged in smuggling young Korean women into the United States for illegal sex trade.

The women in such operations aresupplied with fake identification and other documents and smuggled into the country via the Mexican border. Once in the country, they are forced to work as sex workers to repay their debts that can range upward of $30,000 to $40,000. A special report on the "sex slave trade" was recounted in a multiple-part series published earlier this year in the SF Chronicle.

Read the full article at InsideBayArea.com

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all. No posts today, but we shall return next week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vatican: Modern Trafficking Worse Than Slave Trade

VATICAN -- Today's trafficking in women and children for commercial sex work and forced labour is worse than the historic African slave trade, a senior Vatican official said Tuesday.

At a news conference in Vatican City, Cardinal Renato Martino, a former Vatican envoy to the United Nations, said modern-day forms of slavery are an increasing challenge to wealthy countries, and not enough is being done.

"It's worse than the slavery of those whose slaves were taken from Africa and brought to other countries," Martino said. "In a world which proclaims human rights left and right, let's see what it does about the rights of so many human beings which are not respected, but trampled."

Cardinal Martino was releasing an annual papal message on the problems faced by migrant communities. He singled out the buying and selling of women for prostitution and minors for child labour as the most pressing issues that need to be addressed.

The papal message says refugee women are very vulnerable to being sold as sex workers, particularly those in refugee camps.

Read the full article at CBC.ca

The EU: MP's Call for Anti-Sex Trafficking Plan

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT -- The European Parliament considers that all measures implemented by the EU to reduce human trafficking have been unsuccessful and call on the Commission and the Member States to adopt an action plan to prevent and combat this criminal activity. In adopting the own-initiative report by Edit Bauer (EPP-ED, SK), MEPs call for a new EU strategy to fight trafficking in human beings.

The EP propose to adopt a more coherent approach and to implement an Action Plan that should involve all relevant policies, such as migration, gender, employment social and neighbourhood policy. The report asks, in fact, to take into account all forms of human trafficking, including sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, illegal adoptions, forced domestic servitude and selling of human organs.

Parliament proposes that victims of human trafficking should be granted short-term residence permits, including a recovery period of no less than 30 days and access to legal assistance. MEPs also call on the Commission to establish a multilingual hotline with a single European number to provide first assistance. In the approved recommendation, Member States are asked to provide all victims with access to education and training programmes during the criminal and administrative procedures that regard their cases. Finally, MEPs also propose that victims should not be returned in their home country if they may suffer further harm.

Read the full article here.

UK: Prostitution Reform: Stamp Out Sexual Slavery

Captive Daughters has just learned of a new UK-based website Prostitutionreform.co.uk that is seeking to educate the public, as well as politicians, about how sex trafficking feeds prostitution, especially in the UK.

The site is also gathering signatures for a petition that aims to reform sex supply laws, focusing on the demand side, or the customer.

From their website:
Recent articles in the Times and the BBC have suggested that the use of prostitutes in the UK has doubled over the last ten years. At the same time, the numbers of women being trafficked from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Far East and being held in sexual slavery in the UK has dramatically increased. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the enactment of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act 1807. We believe it is time for the UK government to act in order to stamp out sexual slavery.

This website aims to explain why the UK’s current prostitution laws have contributed to the increase in “punters” and the increase in trafficked women and why the laws must be changed to reverse this devastating development.

Seattle: Craigslist Prostitution Sting


SEATTLE -- Seattle police officers have arrested 110 people in a prostitution sting targeting women who advertised on the Web site Craigslist.org and the men who responded to them.

The department's vice unit created fictional ads and placed them in the personals section of the Web site, as well as in the back pages of the Seattle Weekly and The Stranger newspapers. Men who responded were directed to a furnished Seattle apartment, where they were arrested when they agreed to pay for sex from undercover female detectives.

During the two-week sting, 96 men were arrested for patronizing a prostitute, and 14 women were arrested for prostitution.

"During slow periods, detectives called escorts advertising on craigslist," the police department said in a news release Thursday.

Most of those caught were cited and released, but five were booked into the King County Jail. Those included a registered sex offender, three people on drug charges and one on a weapons charge.

One of the females arrested was 15 or 16 years old, and said she had been forced into prostitution. The department is continuing to investigate.

Read the full article at SeattlePI.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pakistan: Rape Laws Amended


Women protested outside parliament as the debate was held


PAKISTAN--Pakistan's national assembly has voted to amend the country's strict Sharia laws on rape and adultery.

Until now rape cases were dealt with in Sharia courts. Victims had to have four male witnesses to the crime - if not they faced prosecution for adultery.

Now civil courts will be able to try rape cases, assuming the upper house and the president ratify the move.

The reform has been seen as a test of President Musharraf's stated commitment to a moderate form of Islam.

"It is a historic bill because it will give rights to women and help end excesses against them," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told parliament after the vote.

Religious parties boycotted the vote, saying the bill encouraged "free sex".

A woman is raped every two hours and gang-raped every eight hours in Pakistan, according to the country's independent Human Rights Commission.

Correspondents say these figures are probably an under-estimation as many rapes are not reported.

Monday, November 13, 2006

NYC: Glamour Mag Honors Somaly Mam


Somaly Mam, former child sex slave and now anti-trafficking and child prostitution activist, was honored by Glamour magazine as a Woman of the Year

NYC--For surviving her childhood as a sex slave, Somaly Mam is a hero. For rescuing thousands of other girls from that same fate, she’s a modern-day saint, and she’s setting an example for the world. As an orphan in war-torn Cambodia, Mam, now in her late thirties, was sold to a brothel by the family she lived with. She was forced to have sex with as many as six men a day and saw girls get chained, caged and beaten. The defining moment of her life came when she watched an abusive pimp kill her best friend. She looked the dying girl in the eye and decided to risk her life by escaping; if she made it, she’d help others break free too.

In the years since then, South Asia’s sex-trafficking industry has only boomed. Girls as young as five are sold by their parents for just a few dollars. Mam’s rescue organization, Acting for Women in Distressing Situations (AFESIP, its acronym in French), saves girls, many of whom have HIV, from brothels in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. At her centers, Mam, whose life is under constant threat from the brothel owners, helps the girls heal physically and emotionally. It’s heartbreaking work: Often they try to go back to their pimps because freedom is so unfamiliar. “I say to them that I was like them,” says Mam, who spent three years convincing one girl to stay. “Me also, I wanted to go back.”

“Somaly Mam’s story is a model for activism in the global effort to abolish modern-day slavery. She is a clear hero in my eyes,” says Ambassador John R. Miller, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Clearly her work has worldwide impact, but Mam is most interested in whichever child needs her this moment. “All I want is to help the victims,” says the woman who never knew her own parents—or even her birth date. “I want to be a true mother for them. A mother who gives them love.”

Read the full feature at Glamour.com

The EU: Romanian & Bulgarian Crime Explosion?

LONDON, Nov. 1--Ministers have been warned of a potential crime explosion when Romania and Bulgaria join the EU next year, it was reported today.

A secret Cabinet memo warned of increases in street violence, ATM theft, sex trafficking and fraud, according to reports.

The document reportedly estimates that Romanian gangs are behind "80-85 per cent" of cash machine crime in the UK.

According to the Sun newspaper the memo comments: "There is concern that free movement will encourage people from Bulgaria and Romania to come to the UK, some of whom may be drawn towards organised criminal activities already well established in the UK."

Read the full article at The Evening Standard

Nashville: Couple Charged with Trafficking Teenage Girl

NASHVILLE - Two people from Nashville were charged with the sex trafficking of children after authorities said they smuggled a 13-year-old girl into the U.S. from Mexico and forced her into a life of prostitution in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

Juan Mendez and Cristina Andres Perfecto were arrested last week and named Thursday in a complaint filed in federal court in Memphis.

Federal officials in Memphis said it is the first case to their knowledge involving children smuggled into Tennessee to be forced into the sex trade.

"Obviously, we're concerned about it, and it's certainly our intention to keep this investigation going," said Lee Anne Jordon, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Memphis.

Authorities said it's too early to tell how large the ring was or whether all perpetrators have been found.

The girl, now 15, is the only juvenile victim identified, Jordon said.

...

Perfecto, authorities said, told the girl that she and Mendez would have to pay smugglers $3,000 to get her into the U.S. and that she would have to repay that when she started working.

Once in Nashville, Mendez raped the girl and threatened to kill her family if she did not work as a prostitute, according to court documents. She was 14 at the time.

Two weeks later, court documents state, Mendez took her to a Kentucky brothel and forced her to have sex with 14 people on the first day. Afterward she was sick with a headache and severe pelvic inflammation and had to be hospitalized for several days.

[Editor's note: Why didn't the hospital staff report the girl's condition to authorities at that time?]

Mendez let her rest for two weeks after her release from the hospital but then forced her to work as a prostitute in Nashville, Knoxville, Memphis, Birmingham, Ala., and other cities, the federal documents state.

She was never allowed to leave unescorted and never ran away because she was afraid for her family, the account states.

See the full article at KnoxNews.com

Dubai: Curbing Trafficked Filipinas

DUBAI — The Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi has been coordinating with travel agencies in the [United Arab Emirates] to curb sex trafficking involving Filipinas and keep an eye on ‘brokers’, according to Libran Cabactulan, Ambassador of the Philippines.

He said their initiative aimed to minimise, if not solve, the problem of Filipinas being forced into prostitution.

“We are coordinating with travel agencies because they have a database of people who have applied for visit visas. They deal directly with so-called ‘brokers’,” Cabactulan said.

The official added that ‘brokers’ were not necessarily pimps, but they might serve as a link to members of the Filipino community who are allegedly involved in flesh trade.

In recent months, the local Press reported about Filipinas who claimed that they were promised decent jobs in the UAE, but were eventually forced into prostitution.

Read the full article at the Khaleej Times Online.

San Francisco: Massage Parlor Regulation



SAN FRANCISCO--Opening a new massage parlor in San Francisco will require public hearings and a permit from the city's Planning Commission under an ordinance approved by the Board of Supervisors in an initial vote Tuesday.

The law is intended to weed out spas that serve as fronts for brothels and is an effort by city leaders to curb the illegal sex trade in San Francisco, part of a growing $8 billion international sex trafficking industry.

The Board, which voted 9-1 in favor of the law, is scheduled to take a final vote next week.

"This will make it harder for sex trafficking to come here to San Francisco. ... It will protect women in that San Francisco will not be a viable alternative for trafficking," Supervisor Fiona Ma said after the vote.

Ma, who was on Tuesday's ballot as a candidate for state Assembly, introduced the legislation shortly after federal agents raided 10 Asian massage parlors in San Francisco in the summer of 2005. During the raid, federal agents arrested 29 people for alleged ties to a South Korean sex trafficking ring and removed 104 Korean masseuses in California's largest sex trafficking bust.

Read the full article at SFGate.com

Toronto: High-Rise Brothels



TORONTO--The scent of cheap cologne and hairspray trails the 40-something man as he paces anxiously inside the front entrance of a Scarborough highrise apartment building.

Alternating between buzzing and phoning, his persistence is rewarded a few minutes later with a welcoming voice on the intercom. "Hi. It's apartment 1410," an Asian woman says.

The front door unlocks and the man, dressed in grey pants and a black leather jacket, hurries to join a group of children in an elevator at 3275 Sheppard Ave. E., near Warden Ave.

Like a steady parade of other male visitors to the building every day, this man is on his way upstairs to purchase sex at one of Toronto's growing number of highrise brothels.

This building is a symbol of the migration of prostitutes from public space to private — a city-wide movement that has tenants complaining and officials struggling for answers.

Police, politicians, landlords and prostitutes all say hundreds of brothels are finding homes in Toronto apartment buildings like 3275 Sheppard Ave. E., where the Toronto Star discovered five separate brothels operating out of units located next to families and seniors. At least some of the brothel migration into private apartment buildings appears to be the result of the city's efforts last year to stamp out prostitution in licensed — but bogus — "holistic" centres. Today, there are 620 fewer women holding city licences to work as "holistic practitioners" — a 34 per cent drop from a year ago.

The move followed a Star investigation showing the city had inadvertently licensed more than 300 brothels and was spending more than $2.5 million a year to inspect and charge the operations.

The crackdown may have solved one problem for the city. But questions about Toronto's sex trade are mounting.

Many of the women selling sex in Toronto may be victims of human trafficking, police officials say.

Acting Staff Insp. Mike Hamel of Toronto Police's sex crimes unit says many of the estimated 2,000 people trafficked into Canada each year end up working in the sex trade in Canada's largest cities, including Toronto.

"There's more of a problem than just prostitution here. The issue is, where are these people coming from, who brings them in and what's the background?" says Hamel, whose department recently established a special victims unit to offer assistance to sex trade workers and to prosecute those who exploit them, including human traffickers.

Read the full article in TheStar.com

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

San Francisco: 4 Part Series on Sex Trafficking


You Mi Kim, former sex trafficking victim is now a student. Chronicle/Deanne Fitzmaurice


Last month the San Francisco Chronicle published an in-depth 4-part series about sex trafficking, focusing on a young Korean woman named You Mi, a former sex slave in one of the city's massage parlors. Reporter Meredith May tells You Mi's story in the following four articles, while photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice tells the story with pictures:

Part 1: San Francisco Is A Major Center For International Crime Networks That Smuggle And Enslave
*Photo gallery that accompanies part one.

Part 2: A YOUTHFUL MISTAKE You Mi was a typical college student, until her first credit card got her into trouble
*Photo gallery that acompanies part two.

Part 3: BOUGHT AND SOLD You Mi is put into debt bondage -- life becomes an endless cycle of sex with strangers
*Photo gallery that accompanies part three.

Part 4: FREE, BUT TRAPPED In San Francisco, You Mi begins to put her life back together -- but the cost is high
*Photo gallery that accompanies part four.

California: Underage Prostitutes

Berkeley, CA--By Internet, self-promotion, or pimp, whether they are trading for goods, services, or cold hard cash, more and more underage girls are turning to prostitution, according to police departments and youth organizations in major cities throughout California.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office and San Leandro Police Department both conducted prostitution stings in recent months, and each arrested multiple minors, some as young as 14.

On September 27, San Leandro Police arrested 11 people over the course of one evening. Ten were solicited on Internet sites like Craigslist and MyRedBook.com, and only one person, a 17 year-old girl, was working under a pimp, though he claimed to just be her boyfriend. In total, three minors were arrested: two prostitutes and the17 year-old male accused of pimping.

The other minor arrested was just 14, and was accompanying another prostitute who was in her 30s, according to San Leandro Police Lieutenant Mark DeCoulode, who oversees the Investigation Division.

While in the past many teenager prostitutes were run-aways looking for money to support themselves, teenagers today turn to hooking for all sorts of reasons, according to police. Some are entering a profession that they will keep for years, while others are just looking for some quick, easy money and don't plan to continue.

"There are all different types [of underage prostitutes]," said DeCoulode. "Some are students who do it to support themselves, some live at home with their parents and do it to earn a little extra cash, and some are dope people who live on the streets."

Read the entire article at journalism.berkeley.edu

San Francisco: Mayor Cracking Down on Sex Traffickers

San Francisco, CA--San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is developing a plan to fine and possibly jail landlords who let massage parlors operate as brothels in their buildings.

His proposal is modeled after a similar effort in New York state that stemmed the illegal trafficking of women from other countries to work as sex slaves.

[Podcast: Mayor Newsom talks about sex trafficking]

"It's time to let these traffickers know San Francisco is not the city to be operating in," Newsom said.

His idea is one of several options city leaders are considering to curb the illegal sex trade in San Francisco, part of the growing $8 billion international trafficking industry. City Hall also is preparing a public-awareness campaign for bus shelters and billboards, and Supervisor Fiona Ma wants a one-year moratorium on any new massage parlors in the city.

Newsom said he's even open to the idea of putting pictures of johns on billboards -- something that has been tried in Oakland.

Read the full article here at sfgate.com

Iraq: Women & Girls Targeted by Sex Traffickers


MARIAM, 16, escaped life as a sex worker


DUBAI, 26 October 2006 - Mariam, 16, relives the day her father in Baghdad sold her off as a domestic worker in one of the prosperous Gulf nations. Instead, she was forced into the sex trade.

“I was a virgin and didn’t understand what sex was. I was told that they [the traffickers] were going to get good money for my first night with an old local man who paid for my virginity. He was aggressive and hit me all the time,” Mariam, who refused to reveal her real name, told IRIN.

Thousands of Iraqi women are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sex worker traffickers seeking to exploit young girls’ desperate socio-economic situation for profit, United Nations agencies have reported.

In Mariam’s case, she was taken to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and kept in a house with 20 young girls, all of them sex workers, she said.

Before she left Iraq, she and her three sisters were being cared for by her father. Their mother was killed during the US-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Mariam said her father couldn’t cope with looking after the children on his own and wanted her to go abroad, particularly given the increasing insecurity and daily violence in Iraq.

In November 2005, a member of a trafficking ring offered Mariam’s father an advance payment of US $6,000 for her, saying she would work for a family in Dubai. He was promised that his daughter would be returned to Iraq after finishing a one-year contract.

Mariam said she faced daily threats in Dubai from the traffickers, warning her not to try to leave. However, she managed to escape and is now back in Baghdad being looked after by a local NGO, the Organisation for Women's Freedom.

Read the full story here.

S. Africa: Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability



South Africa - A new report launched by IOM's Regional Office for Southern Africa finds that trafficked women in Eastern and Southern Africa do not receive the sexual, reproductive and mental health care they desperately need.

The report "Breaking the Cycle of Vulnerability - responding to the health needs of trafficked women in East and Southern Africa", says that there are not enough trained counsellors to provide adequate health care and support to victims and that organizations active in the field of counter trafficking need to better address their health and mental needs.

According to the report, the trafficking process increases women’s vulnerability to health-related problems including Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV and post-traumatic stress disorder, which, if not properly addressed, could lead to chronic anxiety, self harm and suicide.

Read the full report here