Thursday, April 27, 2006

We Welcome Your Comments

Dear Captive Diaries Readers,

In the nearly 6 weeks that we at Captive Daughters have been posting to this blog, we've had thousands of visitors from all over the globe reading our twice-weekly round-ups of news about sex trafficking.

We've had visitors from the Netherlands, Iran, Morocco, Singapore, Colombia, Denmark, the UK, Turkey, Jordan, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada and all over the United States.

What we haven't had, however, are a lot of comments posted to the blog.

We want to encourage discussions, read your comments and answer your questions as best we can. So please feel free to post your thoughts appropriate to the posts you read here on The Captive Diaries.

And thank you for your ongoing audience and attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Captive Daughters Staff

Missing Iraqi Girls Sold For Sex?


ABOVE PHOTO: Amna, 18, says she was sent to work in brothels in three cities. (Photo credit: YURI KOZYREV FOR TIME)

In an April 23rd Time Magazine article, Brian Bennett reports from Baghdad that hundreds of Iraqi girls have gone missing as criminal gangs expand throughout this country made chaotic by war.

In his article, Bennett identifies sex trafficking in Iraq as an urgent and growing problem:
No one knows how many young women have been kidnapped and sold since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, based in Baghdad, estimates from anecdotal evidence that more than 2,000 Iraqi women have gone missing in that period. A Western official in Baghdad who monitors the status of women in Iraq thinks that figure may be inflated but admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue. The collapse of law and order and the absence of a stable government have allowed criminal gangs, alongside terrorists, to run amuck. Meanwhile, some aid workers say, bureaucrats in the ministries have either paralyzed with red tape or frozen the assets of charities that might have provided refuge for these girls. As a result, sex trafficking has been allowed to fester unchecked.

USA Ranked as "Very High" Trafficking Destination

It occured to me while posting the previous entry pointing the finger at Australia pointing the finger at itself that we need to address the fact that the United States was ranked "Very High" as one of the top destination countries for traffickers, ranking even higher than Australia.

This may be a surprising fact for some US citizens unaware of the trafficking that goes on inside our own country, or for those who've previously understood trafficking to be a problem that happens "over there" or in other, poorer countries. Not so, trafficking happens here in the USA, as the report shows, and this is a problem of which we all need to be aware.

According to U.S. government estimates, about 800,000 to 900,000 men, women and children are trafficked each year across international borders worldwide for sex and other purposes; approximately 18,000 to 20,000 of those victims are trafficked into the United States.


DISTRIBUTION OF RANKING FOR COUNTRIES
OF ORIGIN, TRANSIT & DESTINATION
FROM THE U.N.'s REPORT

As you can see from the chart above, there are 10 countries ranked in the "Very High" countries of destination section, one of which is the United States with 25-40 source countries bringing trafficked persons into this country. According to appendices 5 & 6 to the UN report, these are the countries that are bringing trafficked persons into the US:
High: China, Malaysia, Mexico, Russian Federation, Thailand, Ukraine.

Medium: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam.

Low: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Maldives, Mali, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Peru, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Slovenia, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic, Pakistan, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).
You can download the entire report and the appendices by clicking on the following links:

1. Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (PDF document, 3.1 MB)

2. Appendices to Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (PDF document, 2.4 MB)

Australia One of "Top Destinations" for Traffickers

Australia was ranked one of the top destination countries for traffickers by the U.N. Report Trafficking in Persons: Global Pattern that was released this past Monday.

An article posted in the news blog for the Australian news service's site news.com.au acknowledges this fact:
Australia's international reputation has taken a hit in a new United Nations report on the illegal global trade in humans.

The UN's Office on Drugs and Crime's report on human trafficking put Australia in the second highest category of destination countries in the global trade.

Ten countries were ranked as "very high" destinations. Australia was one of the 19 countries ranked as "high" in the index of destinations that ranged from "very high" to "very low."

Australia had the highest ranking in the Oceanic region, which also includes New Zealand and Fiji.
The countries named as "very high" destinations for people traffickers were Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.

Countries ranked "high" alongside Australia included Canada, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Poland and Saudi Arabia.

Well, It's a Start...


FREESEXTRAFFIC.CO.UK START PAGE

In a recent report from the UK's Guardian Unlimited online entitled "'Porn site' film urges men to report sex trafficking" , we learn that Crimestoppers in the UK have made a "fake" porn site to educate men surfing for porn about having sex with prostitutes who may be trafficking victims.

From the article:
The film is part of freesextraffic.co.uk, which has been designed to look like a pornography site, with a link reading "click here to view beautiful young slaves".

[Crimestoppers] hopes men surfing the web for porn or contact details for escort services will view the film, which depicts the misery of trafficked women, and feel compelled to tip off Crimestoppers if they visit brothels in which such women are working.
View the film here (includes partial nudity): These Girls Really Suffer

Oakland Addresses Teen Prostitute Trend

The city of Oakland, California hosted a 2-day conference beginning yesterday to address the growing problem of teen prostitution in Alameda County.

From an article in Inside Bay Area News:
In a sting operation last week, Oakland police arrested more than a dozen prostitutes, including one who was just 15. In similar enforcement efforts, those arrested have been even younger.

In what has become a disturbing trend in Alameda County and other areas, the number of underage prostitutes--or sexually exploited minors, as law enforcement officials call them--is growing, while the girls themselves are getting younger, authorities say.
The conference will discuss local and regional trends in exploitation and trafficking. Another topic that should generate high attendance is "Youth Culture and Trends," in which panelists will discuss sexual exploitation and what to do about it. Other workshops are titled "Pimp vs. boyfriend" and "How do you know when you're being recruited."

A main conference organizer is Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Sharmin Eshraghi Bock, who coordinates the office's response to human trafficking; she says of teen prostitutes in the county:
"They don't know what love looks like, what it feels like or what it means to be loved...when the pimp gives them some pretty clothes, a hot meal, a cell phone and some attention, they think that's love."

Monday, April 24, 2006

U.N. Realeases New Trafficking Report Today

The Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a new report today on trafficking throughout the world. The report "Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns" published on Monday, identifies 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries. It shows that global efforts to combat trafficking are being hampered by a lack of accurate data, reflecting the unwillingness of some countries to acknowledge that the patterns affect them.

From The Independent Online Edition, Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor writes in an article covering this report:
"The fact that slavery - in the form of human trafficking - still exists in the 21st century shames us all," said UNODC's chief, Antonio Maria Costa.

Germany, Greece and France are among about a dozen countries identified as having a "high" incidence of acting as transit countries. Ten countries are named as the top destinations for trafficking victims: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the US. Britain is on the "high" index of destination countries.

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation is reported more frequently than trafficking for forced labour at the global level, the report says. It calls for governments to publicise the risks to vulnerable people through information campaigns. "A main challenge is to reduce demand, whether for cheap goods manufactured in sweatshops, or for under-priced commodities produced by bonded people in farms and mines, or for services provided by sex slaves. If people are aware of the dangers of human trafficking, the chances of avoiding its consequences should be improved," Mr Costa said.

University of Rhode Island Online Courses in Trafficking

The Women's Studies Department at the University of Rhode Island has announced two online courses on human trafficking and slavery to be taught this Summer & Fall by Donna Hughes, Ph.D.

Go to the online course catalog for information on how to register.

The courses will be taught entirely online, so you can enroll and complete these courses from anywhere in the world. During the Summer session, URI offers a substantial reduction in the tuition rate. These courses are appropriate for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and professionals working in the field.

Course #1:
Summer 2006 (May 22 to July 28, 2006)
WMS 490 "Human Trafficking and Contemporary Slavery"
This course focuses on contemporary human trafficking and slavery, including sex trafficking, bonded labor, forced labor, child soldiers, and domestic servant slavery.

Course #2:
Fall 2006 (Sept 6 to Dec 11, 2006)
WMS 490 "Campaigns and Services for Victims of Trafficking and Slavery"
This course focuses on historical and contemporary campaigns for ending human trafficking and slavery and on providing services to contemporary victims of human trafficking and slavery.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Captive Daughters' New "California Watch" Page

We have has just added a new section to the Captive Daughters website: California Watch.

This section focuses on the State of California, one of the most politically influential States in the nation, and also the home State of Captive Daughters.

In this section we've provided a primer on all of the key laws, measures and task forces that specifically address sex trafficking in California. Additionally, we've provided information on and links to all of the key legal and political figures involved in the fight against sex trafficking in California.

Friday, April 21, 2006

State Senators in WA, CA Pioneering Laws to Protect Mail-Order Brides/Trafficking Victims

In an opinion piece posted Wednesday in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Susan Paynter tells the tragic stories of three women, "ordered" from abroad to marry American husbands:
Susana Blackwell, who came here from the Philippines as a mail-order bride, was shot to death in the King County Courthouse on the last day of her divorce trial. Also dead was the 8-month-old fetus she was carrying.

Mail-order bride Anastasia King was murdered by a convicted sex offender recruited by her husband when she tried to end the marriage. Only a few years earlier King had wed and discarded a previous mail-order wife. And, at the time of the killing, he was in the process of "ordering" bride No. 3.

Helen Clement survived, but only barely. She was brought here by an international matchmaking organization for what turned out to be a sham union to a man still living with his ex-spouse. He kept her in servitude, threatening her with deportation.
Last week a Virginia federal appeals court upheld a jury decision against an international marriage broker, awarding the plaintiff, Nataliya Fox, $435,000.


NATALIYA FOX WITH LAWYERS

This ruling was aided in part by Washington State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles who passed the first legislation in the country that mandates that US men seeking wives from foreign countries provide a full background check to avoid the tragedies like those detailed above, and that women are informed of their rights under American laws. Fox was not informed by the matchmaking service, Encounters International, that she could report abuse and still stay in the country.

In California, State Assemblymember Sally Leiber (D-San Jose) introduced Assembly Bill 634 last year that seeks to curtail "Mail Order Bride" abuse. This bill would require that marriage brokers obtain a license to operate in the state of California. Employees of these companies would be required to undergo criminal background checks, and those with certain violent criminal histories would be prohibited from practicing. The bill would further require that International Marriage Brokers provide those who come to the U.S. as potential spouses with information about their rights in the U.S. as well as resources for escaping domestic violence.

AB 634 is currently on the California State Senate floor after having passed unanimously in the State Assembly.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Southern African Women Forced to Choose Prostitution

In an article posted yesterday on the UN's IrinNews.org we learn that that in conjunction with the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, many young women from this country and other Southern African countries, are illegally crossing into South Africa looking for a better life:
Without legal documents, and far from their homes in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and elsewhere, newly arrived female migrants are often forced into sex work simply because they lack alternatives.
Once they arrive, however, many find the available prospects bleak, and for lack of other options are forced to choose prostitution in this country where more than 80% of the prostitutes test positive for HIV.
According to Khopotso Nakin, director of the New Life Centre for Girls, an NGO, [this] story is far from unusual: of the estimated 10,000 commercial sex workers in Hillbrow, a rough inner-city neighbourhood where many hotels double as brothels, 20 percent come from other parts of Africa.

"I never heard of any girl who came here to do sex work," Nakin said. "They come looking for a better living and hoping that their lives will change. Then, most of them get a surprise when they come here."
Read the full article here.

UK johns to be "Named & Shamed"

In a story posted Tuesday in British newspaper The Kent Online-Medway, reporter Alan Watkins writes that "kerb crawlers" or johns trawling for prostitutes face being "named and shamed" on street signs in the Medway area's red light district:
Labour councillor Bill Esterson told Medway council's finance scrutiny committee last Thursday that details of men brought before the courts for kerb crawling in Rochester and Chatham could soon appear on the signs...And he added that the prostitutes were only there because the kerb crawlers want them: "So if we make it difficult for their customers to proposition them, they will go away."

Spain Busts Russian Prostitute Ring, Arrests 100

Reuters reports Tuesday:
Spanish police said on Tuesday they have broken a crime ring believed to have flown hundreds of Russian women to Spain where they were forced into prostitution.

Around 100 people were arrested in the 11-month operation, which began after one of the women escaped from a prostitution business in the southern city of Cordoba and denounced her captors.

The women were recruited in Moscow through newspaper adverts promising well-paid jobs in Spain. They had visas and air travel paid for by Russian criminals, police said in a statement.

Once in Spain they became the "property" of people who ran prostitution businesses in cities including Almeria, Cordoba, Granada and Zaragoza, police said.

Women were forced to work as prostitutes in night clubs, massage parlours and private homes until they paid off debts for travel costs and other expenses, police said.

In some cases they incurred fines for actions like being rude to clients, leaving lights on or eating outside set meal times -- thus increasing their debts.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Special Post: Debate Over Anti-Trafficking Funds

A US Federal court is currently hearing arguments concerning revisions to its anti-trafficking grants policy that would require NGO's adhere to an "anti-prostitution loyalty oath" in order to receive funds. Currently this requirement is enforced for international organizations receiving money from the US, now US NGO's are also to be provided with the same requirements.

There are two very heated arguments over this issue among feminist groups. In a nutshell: those feminist groups (including Captive Daughers & Equality Now) that oppose the legalization and unionization of prostitution in any form which we believe fuels the demand for trafficking of women and girls; and those feminist groups who see the requirement as an impediment to the HIV/AIDS and anti-trafficking work that they are already doing.

For an excellent outline of both sides of this debate, see Jennifer Friedlin's article on Women's eNews: Debate Roars Over Anti-Trafficking Funds.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Prostitution Ring Uncovered in LA's Koreatown


KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

In an area of Los Angeles best known for great barbecue restaurants, boba tea cafes and eclectic shopping, a prositution ring was uncovered last month in the neighborhood of Koreatown.

The Korean news website Chosun Ilbo reports:
The police have discovered an organized crime ring that brokered deals between Korean women in their twenties and red-light establishments in the U.S. where they worked as prostitutes. Two suspects being identified as Lee (35) and Park (44), have been detained after an investigation that implicated them for helping some 30 Korean women fraudulently obtain U.S. visas since 2004, and acting as go-betweens setting up deals with shady establishments in Los Angeles.

Police are also searching for a man identified as by his last name of Ma (35), under suspicion that he, as an owner of one such establishment, put such women to work as prostitutes after receiving introductions from Park and Lee. Some 30 women were are being investigated without detention.

According to the police, Lee posted ads that read ‘We offer high-paying jobs in the U.S.’ on the Internet with the intention to send women to the U.S. as prostitutes, and handed over 30 women to Park getting a commission of 5 million won (US$5,000) per head from Park. Park is under suspicion for helping the women obtain passports and visas with all sorts of fabricated documents and later sending them to Ma's establishment, receiving commission of 20 million won per head from Ma.

According to the police, the majority of the women uncovered in the investigation went to the U.S. voluntarily and Park offered them fake documents to help them obtain visas or smuggled them into the U.S. via Canada. Some of the women used to work in domestic bars and nightclubs and a few are credit delinquents, the police said

Women Resort to Prostitution to Pay for Life Expenses in Yemen


YEMENI WOMEN

In an article on the News Yemen website, reports that a recent study, the first of its kind in Yemen, found that many women are forced into prostitution for lack of better options.

The article reveals staggering figures of the numbers of women involved in prostitution in Yemen:
The study clarified that those who practice prostitution resort to it because of their lack of money to cover personal and family expenses, including the men’s expenses.

The study indicated that the ages of the majority of those practicing prostitution vary between 18-23. 5.8% are widows, 23.5% divorcees, and the majority is unemployed. 41% are single, 29.4% are married. Those who are married undertake prostitution because their wages are not sufficient. 11.7% work for phone cards. 5.8% are students.

The study added that a large percentage of them are illiterate. Only 35.3% can write and 29.5% can read. This indicates the low level of education among such women. 11.7% are in high school, and 23.5% obtained elementary educations.

Half of the subjects’ father’s have died according to the study. 11.7% of the fathers are still living, however 52.9% of these fathers live far away from home. 23.5% of the mothers of these women are dead, and 35.4% have both parents living. Of these families 5.9% have divorced parents, 11.7% have a mother who is sick, 52.9% have mothers who have remarried. 63.6% have more than two brothers, and 27.3% have three to four brothers, and 9.1% of them have more than this. This indicates that the interviewees prostitute themselves in order to help pay for their unemployed brothers and for qat and medical treatment.

The study stated that the majority of these women resisted prostitution in the beginning, but then submitted for the necessity of paying for qat and telephone cards.

Turkey's 'Operation Barbie' Criticized



Turkey's BIAnet news service reports that:
The leaking and subsequent media exposure of the names of 22 Turkish female singers and models detained by the Vice Squad of the Istanbul police as part of what has been portrayed as a large-scale crackdown on alleged prostitution - while the identities of their alleged cliental of football players or solicitors have been kept secret- has been criticised for violating confidentiality of private life and dubbed a reflection of "hypocritical male solidarity".

The very name of the roundup, "Operation Barbie" that hit the headlines of the Turkish media together with the identity of the women placed under custody, in most cases accompanied by their images, has led to criticism both of the operation itself and its intentions.

Turkey's Human Rights Association (IHD) has criticised the "Barbie Operation" for violating the very right of confidentiality of private life while attorney Hulya Gulbahar from the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Women's Platform has said it is "a typical example of hypocritical male solidarity", maintaining that the police involved had acted against the law.
Read the entire article here.

Pornographic Video Games a New Trend


SCREENSHOT FROM "NAUGHTY AMERICA: THE GAME"

In an article from the New York Times last week, we learn that video game makers are increasingly promoting interactive games that focus on sex, pornography and even prositution.

The games with names such as "Naughty America: The Game," "Playboy: The Mansion," "Rapture Online," "SeduCity" and "Red Light Center" allow gamers to take on the 3-D forms of prostitutes and pimps and speak to other gamers through headsets.

Regarding the "Naughty America" game:
Characters will have their own apartment, but the world will have also have ''public sex zones'' and themed rooms, said Tina Courtney, the game's producer. "We've got the cowboy room, the make-your-own-porn room ... it doesn't just have to be `Your place or mine?'" Courtney said.
Another game designer Brenda Brathwaite, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, sees the new games as a natural evolution of online life, noting that even in the very simple text-based adventure games of the 80s, virtual eyelashes were batted.

*It's very interesting to note that a majority of these pornographic game developers are women. Brathwaite even points out:
"At the risk of sounding incredibly shallow, if you have women in a game, the men will come. A lot of the stuff that they're doing is directly targeting women."
Where Brathwaite and others like her see a marketing opportunity in the existing practice of "targeting women" we see another disgusting example of exploitating women as sexual objects for entertainment.

Gaming developers would be wise to pay attention to a 2004 study by the Yankee Group that found that 48% of mobile gamers are women, and to create games that specifically appeal to women. Not games that exploit women's sexuality.

For more information about women and gaming, check out 1-UP Zine a publication by women gamers, for women gamers, published in part by USC.

BBC Radio 4 Sex Trafficking Show

We've just found this online radio show from the BBC's Radio 4 weekly talk show The Women's Hour.

Listen to the webcast as the question: "How can the international community curb this growing trend?" is discussed.

Minneapolis Hosts Free Conference April 21

The University of Minnesota recently announced a free conference to be held in Minneapolis next Friday, April 21.

The conference, "United Front for Children: Global Efforts to Combat Sexual Trafficking of Children in Travel and Tourism” will feature keynote addresses by Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF; John Miller, director of Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking of Persons, U.S. Department of State; and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chair and CEO of Carlson Companies. The event will be held at the Coffman Union Theater, 300 Washington S.E., Minneapolis, and is free and open to the public.

You can learn more about the conference and register for it here. Space is limited to 425 participants. You may also download the conference brochure (opens as PDF).

California Woman Arrested in Brothel Bust

In an article posted today in the Contra Costa Times, the Associated Press reports:
A Southern California woman was in custody in Texas on Wednesday on charges of operating brothels in Dallas and the Los Angeles area using women smuggled into the country from South Korea and Mexico.

Jong Ock Mao, 47, of West Covina, was arrested Tuesday in Madisonville, Texas, after a 40-count indictment was unsealed in Santa Ana federal court accusing her and three others of conspiracy, money laundering and violating the Travel Act, a federal law that prohibits the use of interstate facilities to conduct illegal business.

Federal agents raided six businesses, including tanning salons, chiropractic offices and spas, that authorities said were fronts for brothels. There were between three and 18 women working in each of brothels, and many were prostituting to pay off smuggling fees, said Buckley Thomas, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigator.

UK Outreach Program Receives £2.4 million

As posted on the UK's Government News Network site this week:
A new national 24 hour Outreach Service - the first in the UK for victims of human sex trafficking - will be set up through the POPPY scheme thanks to £2.4 million Government funding, Home Office Minister Paul Goggins announced today.

The POPPY Project, run through Eaves Housing for Women, was launched in 2003 and provides a combination of safe accommodation and support for victims of trafficking.

The new funding, £2.4 million over the next two years, will pay for:

* a specialist team of four outreach workers who will work alongside law enforcement agencies and immigration to identify and assist trafficked women escape from prostitution;

* the continued provision of 25 acute beds offering safe accommodation and one to one support for trafficked women in the immediate stages after they have left prostitution;

* ten new step-down places, enabling women to gradually gain their independence but ensuring vital support is still on hand for when they need it; and

* a new resource pack which will provide information and advice for victims, other support projects and law enforcement personnel.

Nigeria Strengthens Sex Trafficking Laws



In an article posted on the Africast website yesterday, Reuters reports that Nigeria is strengthening its sex trafficking laws by going after pimps who use underage girls for prostitution, imposing heavy fines on traffickers, and redistributing the wealth seized from trafficking offenders to aid their victims.

Carol Ndaguba, executive secretary of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP), said:
Human trafficking ... has assumed dangerous dimensions that require urgent and drastic attention. We are determined to stamp out human trafficking, liberate and uplift the vulnerable, especially women and children, from dehumanising and exploitative employment and usage."
The women and girls trafficked from Nigeria are most often prostituted in European countries like Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Link Between Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

In an opinion piece posted today on the International Herald Tribune's website, feminist writer and president of Equality Now Jessica Neuwirth asks a crucial, and often ignored question:
Why the reluctance to acknowledge the link between prostitution and sex trafficking?
Within the context of the hotly discussed upcoming World Cup in Germany and the purported increase in demand for sexual services it will bring with it, Neuwirth demands that prostitution, especially legal prostitution, be understood as a verifiable link to sex trafficking if sex trafficking is to be successfully combatted:
Opposition to prostitution is sometimes misconstrued as opposition to sexual rights and freedoms, a perspective warmly embraced and actively promoted by the commercial sex industry.

Misconceived efforts to distinguish the women forced into prostitution from those who consent to their sexual exploitation fail to recognize the spectrum of coercion that draws on the force of poverty as much as the force of violence to bring women into the trade.

Those who consider prostitution to be an expression of sexual rights fail to recognize the distinction between sex and commercial sexual exploitation, positioning the discourse as if one cannot be for sex and at the same time against exploitation.

What about the right of women and girls not to be prostituted - the right to education, employment and real choices they do not currently have?

It is time to shift the focus from those who are prostituted to the traffickers, pimps and johns who comprise the chain of exploitation in the commercial sex industry.

The invisibility of the john is matched only by the invisibility of the harm done to the trafficked and prostituted women he buys.

If 40,000 women will be sold for sex during the World Cup, how many johns will buy them?

Nepali Journo Links War & Sex Trafficking

Worldpress.org has posted an excellent essay by Nepali journalist Kamala Sarup on the world history of anti-sex trafficking legislations and treaties spanning the last decade.

Her thesis is that sex trafficking is exacerbated by war, an idea she explores through invoking the tragic effects of the long civil war in Nepal upon women and children especially. Here is an excerpt from her essay entitled "Trafficking in Women Threatens Peace":
A nation at war is generally speaking a nation unable or unwilling to meet basic human needs. War-affected women are more likely to be sexually abused.

There have been no studies linking displacement and trafficking in women. Clearly, reliable studies and data on sexual exploitation and trafficking in women and the link to displacement are urgently needed.

The direct impacts of the war on women are wide ranging. Left without a home, and without income, Asian women end up begging or prostituting themselves in order to provide food.

Poverty was the main obstacle to the full realization of women's equality. It manifested itself in poor health, low levels of education, food insecurity and unemployment. Further, women constituted the majority of the population living in rural areas, and they suffered the consequences of unsophisticated farming practices and inadequate power infrastructure.

One of the most tragic consequences of the long civil war in Nepal has been the kidnapping of women and children. Displacement is the most common consequence of armed conflict and women the most affected member of the civilian population.

Many displaced women and their families are still without adequate shelter, and are among the most vulnerable. In addition, it is important to note that most women suffer the impacts of war in multiple ways.


Read more about Kamala Sarup here.

Homeland Security Dep. Press Secretary Busted in Child Porn Sting

A Deputy Press Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was busted last week in a child internet pornography sting. He faces felony charges and has resigned his position, the department said.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested Tuesday, April 4 at his Silver Spring, Md., home. Authorities in Polk County, Fla., have charged him with 23 felony counts: Seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor, according to court documents.

The Washington Post reports that Doyle initiated sexually-explicit exchanges with a 14-year old girl who was really an undercover agent posing as the teenager:
Doyle allegedly sent pornographic movie clips, non-pornographic photos of himself and instant messages from his AOL account, the police statement said. The sheriff's office alleged that Doyle "on many occasions" instructed the undercover detective to perform a sexual act while thinking of him and described explicit acts he wished to perform.

Friday, April 7, 2006

No Thursday Update This Week

Dear Readers,

As you may have noticed, there wasn't a Thursday update of the blog yesterday, our apologies. I've been leveled by the flu, but look for an update next Monday, April 10.

Regards--
Sarah G.
Captive Diaries

Monday, April 3, 2006

Pimpin' on Craigslist?


Everyone who uses Craigslist, a free online classified ad service available internationally by city, knows how awesome it is, how many quick responses it facilitates and how essential it has become to modern communication in the cyber-realm. Indeed, I once posted an ad to get rid of my empty moving boxes after unpacking a new apartment, and within 5 minutes I had over 20 emails from people willing to come pick them up within the hour.

But did you know that some entries in the Craigslist housing section include rent-for-sex ads? In a recent article in the Miami Herald Nicole White reports that the Miami Craigslist has a number of ads like this one:
Upscale executive seeks beautiful female 18-24 to live in his luxury condo in Coral Gables for $1/month in exchange for some light duties. Help take care of dog, cook occasionally. Sex 2x/week. Serious inquires only. Please email a picture for consideration.
Sophie Brion, director of the Miami chapter of NOW said of public ads like these:
"Advertisements soliciting women for sex in exchange for housing are offensive and disturbing. They are an indicator of how much work still needs to be done to eradicate institutional inequities and harmful attitudes toward women that persist."
Because Craigslist is user-monitered, not "published" like a newspaper, it is excluded from Federal Fair Housing Laws which stipulate that advertisers posting housing ads must not discriminate. Although Craigslist users can "flag" ads they find offensive for review by the Craigslist moderators.

Vicious Abuse Cycle & Trafficking in Minnesota

Last month Lamiea Ball and her two teenage sons were arrested for kidnapping and forcing two teenage girls to "ho" for them at their home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ball and her sons allegedly pistol-whipped, beat, raped, forced into prostitution and locked the 2 girls in a closet. Ball and her sons are now being held on human trafficking and kidnapping charges in Minnesota, a state with one of the worst human trafficking records in the nation.

In a related story, WCCO, a CBS affiliate in St. Paul, reports that Ball's brother, in a phone interview, detailed the horrific childhood of his sister who is now charged with the above crimes. He told of a life of sexual abuse, foster homes, prostitution and of their mother (a prostitute) who was sentenced to 60 years in prison for murdering her 9-year-old daughter's rapist. He says of his sister:
"It's just the cycle repeating itself -- the poverty, the living from place to place. Her decisions have always reflected her economic status. If she would have had [a] break...I think her life would have turned out differently."

Cases like this one, and many other recent cases of sex and labor trafficking in Minnesota spawned the formation of Minnesota Human Trafficking Watch last month, a group that aims to educate the public about trafficking in their state and to encourage tougher state legislation on trafficking. Their site, in partnership with the Minnesota Civil Society, provides excellent educational brochures on trafficking available for download.

Hundreds of Trafficking Victims' Stories Online

In the fight against sex trafficking and all the compulsory statistics and numbers that accompany the research and education, there is nothing so compelling as a first-person account from a victim to make us remember why we are in this fight in the first place, moving us to action on their behalf.

Humantrafficking.com and the Polaris Project have collected hundreds of personal testimonies from trafficking victims in 50 countries.

Their stories are harrowing and heartbreaking: From Juliana in Ghana who was given to a holy man by her family at the age of 6 and was forced to provide him sexual services while enslaved in a shrine for 17 years, to Eleni in Bosnia who even after being beaten so badly by her boss that she couldn't stand was still forced to have sex with customers; her boss told her: "You are lying down anyway so you can still work for me."

The testimony of Gun, a Thai woman trafficked to Japan and sold three times into sexual slavery, reads like a dramatic movie plot:
“I was told by an acquaintance to work at his restaurant in Japan. I decided to accept his offer as I thought my family might improve their life if I sent them my salary. Soon after my arrival in Japan, I realized that I was sold. My life since then has been like that of an animal.

I was sold three times. I begged my last owner to let me go home but she said I owed her lots of money that I had to pay back by sleeping with customers. I was always scolded and forced to do all kinds of terrible things.

It is impossible to describe how horrible and miserable my life was. For six and a half months, I was totally controlled by her. Every day I had to go out and sleep with men. I had no physical or spiritual freedom. She threatened that wherever I escaped to, I would be traced and killed and so would my parents in Thailand.What I did was the only way to set me free from her. There was no other alternative.”


This letter was written by Gun, a 25-year-old Thai woman from an impoverished rural family, to her Japanese lawyer. In 1991, she and two Thai friends escaped from their captor by stabbing her to death. They fled with her bag, thinking it contained their passports. They did not know that in the bag there was seven million yen ($80,000) in cash. They were arrested the same night. In 1994, the prosecutor charged them with premeditated murder and they received a life sentence—though due to international campaigns and petitions their imprisonment was reduced and they are now serving their last year in prison...

Czech Republic to Launch Anti-Sex Trafficking Campaign

Radio Prague reports in an article on their website that the amount of Czech men paying prostitutes for sex has skyrocketed, and that many of these men are under the impression that these women are willing participants in the prositution trade, although many have been illegally trafficked:
Since the fall of communism, the border areas of the Czech Republic have become a focal point for prostitution. The daily Mlada fronta Dnes reports that roughly 80% of the clients in border regions are still foreigners, mostly from Austria and Germany. So, come May, the Znojmo region in southern Moravia and the Plzen region in western Bohemia will be the first targets of a new campaign drawing attention to the trafficking of women. The awareness campaign, which is to be launched by the Czech Interior Ministry and the International Organization for Migration will aim to dispel the myth that most prostitutes participate in the trade willingly.

"Heartfelt consent" the Key to HIV/AIDS Prevention for Sonagachi Project


SMARAJIT JANA, DEHLI-BASED
PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENTIST

In an article entitled "The Prostitute's Union" on The Scientific American's website, Madhusree Mukerjee reports that in Calcutta, India Smarajit Jana has found a way to slash the incidence of HIV/AIDS among sex workers--by organizing sex workers as any other labor collective.

The Sonagachi Project that Jana started with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, found that "heartfelt consent" was the key to getting these women to pledge to use condoms--they had to first be educated about how the virus is spread.

The project is now run entirely by the women, many of whom who were sold into sexual slavery as children. More than 60,000 have pledged to use condoms. The project also offers bank loans, schooling for children, literacy training for adults, reproductive health care and cheap condoms--and has virtually eliminated trafficking of women in the locale. Best of all, the project has kept the HIV prevalence rate among prostitutes in Sonagachi down to 5 percent, whereas in the brothels of Mumbai (Bombay) it is around 60.

Work like this is exceedingly important in reducing sex trafficking in countries where HIV/AIDS is rampant. The demand for prostitutes without HIV/AIDS means that younger and younger girls who are viewed as "clean" are trafficked into these areas and sold into sexual slavery. Reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS among existing prostitutes means that less young girls are in demand by sex traffickers.