Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweden: Country Battles Sex Trafficking

Police enforce the Swedish law that targets only the purchaser of sexual services. Photo: Mikael Göthage / Scanpix.

SWEDEN - In Sweden, around 400-600 women a year are forced into the sex trade as victims of human trafficking. The figure is low by international standards, but Sweden remains engaged to further the fight against human trafficking.

Sweden has a unique law criminalizing those who purchase sex. The law, which was passed in 1999 and prohibits the purchase of sexual services, targets only the purchaser. The penalty is a fine or up to six months’ imprisonment. In Norway, similar legislation is being prepared, while Finland already prohibits the purchase of sexual services, but only if the woman is a victim of trafficking.


Anders Oljelund, the Swedish Government’s ambassador for international cooperation against human trafficking, says: “Our Swedish law is good as it focuses on the demand side. If there was no demand, there wouldn’t be any trafficking.

“All men who are thinking about buying sex should bear in mind that it’s usually trafficking victims who are affected.”

Legislation under review

Part of Sweden’s effort against trafficking involves constantly changing and updating rules and laws. In 2002, a law was passed that specifically outlaws human trafficking for sexual purposes. This law, however, has come in for a certain amount of criticism on the grounds that it is difficult to enforce and that few perpetrators are actually convicted. In most cases, the offences are classed as procuring, for which the scale of punishment is lower and which is considered a crime against the state rather than against a private individual...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Sweden.se


Friday, December 7, 2007

Cross Border Conference: Kathmandu Dec 17


Captive Daughters, Los Angeles, CA – and Nepali Women’s Global Network

Invite You to Attend

Interaction on Legal Instruments for Combating the Cross-Border Issue of Human Trafficking

A one day conference which will examine Nepal’'s cross-border policy and how it affects human trafficking. Conference speakers and interactive working groups will make recommendations for policy change within Nepal'’s government. Participants and speakers will include:
  • Sandra Hunnicutt, Captive Daughters – Welcome & Introductory Remarks
  • Bindu Manandhar, Nepali Global Women’s Network, M.C.
  • Shanta Thapaliya, Advocate for Women’s Rights
  • Durga Ghimere, ABC Nepal
  • Sapana Pradhan, Legal Aid & Consultancy Center
  • Dinesh Tripathi, Human Rights Advocate
9:30 – 3:00 pm – Registration Check-In – 9:00 am
Monday, December 17, 2007, at Hotel Himalaya, Kupondol, Lalitpur.
Phone: 552-3900, 552-3908.

The conference is free and lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

Because space is limited, all attendees are asked to register their intention to
participate by registering their name, organization and contact information at crossborderconference@gmail.com
You will receive email or telephone confirmation of your registration.

Thank you, we look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Asked, Hillary Answered

In a recent letter to all of the main US Presidential Candidates, Captive Daughters asked those in the running what they knew about sex trafficking, what were their opinions and positions on the issue and what would they do about sex trafficking should they be elected President.

So far, only Hillary Clinton's people have answered with the letter above in which she directs us to her website. In the "Issues: A Champion for Women" section it states: "Hillary has worked to empower women throughout the world, especially low-income women. She has advocated for access to microfinance programs that enable women to start their own businesses and spoken out strongly against the tragic practice of sex trafficking."

The letter to Captive Daughters reads:
Dear Sandra,

Thank you for sharing your views with me. I am grateful that so many Americans are joining our conversation about the serious and complex challenges before us.

I want to be sure that people know my record and agenda on the issues at stake in this election. Please visit http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/ to read about my positions on various issues, and check the news room at http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/ to get the latest news and releases about my policies.

Working together, we will bring about change and restore the promise of our country.

Sincerely yours,
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Iran: Child Victim of Prostitution

Sold into prostitution at age nine, condemned by an Iranian judge to hang at 18, Leila (left) was saved by a group of human rights activists.

TEHRAN, IRAN - "I was nine years old when my mother started selling me. I did not understand what was happening."

Today Leila is a young woman of 22. For the past two years she has been cared for by a private home for destitute young women in Tehran, Omid E Mehr, which means Hope.

"My mother would say: 'Let's go out to buy things, like chocolates'. She would actually trick me. I was a tiny girl. She just took me to places."

Leila still finds it difficult to talk about the past. But we know that the "places" she speaks of are where she was sold for sex and raped.

Leila became the main source of income for a family of five.

The lawyer who eventually saved Leila's life, Shadi Sadr, is a controversial figure in Iran. Although she was imprisoned earlier this year for taking part in human rights demonstrations, she is widely respected and frequently quoted in the press.

Ms Sadr says Leila's story is not unique.

"A girl is considered one of the first commodities or properties that can be traded or sold in the eyes of a parent who is poor in Iran," she says...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.BBC.co.uk

Guatemala: Children Commodity in Brutal Trafficking

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - Children have become a booming business in Guatemala. They are given up for adoption, sold abroad, forced to engage in prostitution, mistreated or killed. Sometimes bodies of minors are found from which internal organs have previously been removed.

In Guatemala, a baby costs up to 40,000 dollars. Between 1997 and August 2007, 29,411 Guatemalan children were adopted - but only 842 by Guatemalan parents.

In 2006 alone, 4,918 adoptions produced revenue of 200 million dollars. The money goes mostly to corrupt officials, illegal baby traffickers, lawyers, doctors and other medical personnel.

However, demand is still greater than supply. Some small children are stolen, and young girls are made pregnant for new "production."

Hector Dionisio of the children's advocacy organization Casa Alianza in Guatemala City describe one 16-year-old who has already gone through three pregnancies starting when she was 12.

"It was the stepfather, who abused the girl as a child factory," he said.

It was not an isolated incident.

Officially, it is extraordinarily difficult to adopt a child in Guatemala.

"It is difficult to give a child up for adoption without the agreement of the parents," said Jorge Meng, spokesman for the Guatemalan attorney general's office.

And it is going to get even harder, with legislation meant to halt the reported abuses taking effect in January...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT EarthTimes.org

US: Anti-Human Trafficking Bill Would Send FBI Agents on Trail of Pimps

UNITED STATES - Local vice police officers, who for decades have led the law-enforcement crackdown on prostitution, could soon have unwilling partners: FBI agents.

The Justice Department is fighting legislation that would expand federal law to cover prostitution cases, saying that the move would divert agents from human trafficking crimes. Although local police still would handle the vast majority of cases, Justice officials said the law's passage would force them to bring cases in federal courts as well.

Some anti-trafficking activists and members of Congress say the federal government should be involved in policing prostitution. Prostitution is a social evil, they say, and increased law enforcement can only help the campaign against it.

"It's mind-boggling that the Justice Department would be fighting" the bill, said Dorchen Leidholdt, a founding board member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, an activist group pushing the change. "They have the power to pick and choose the cases they want to prosecute. They don't have to prosecute local pimps if they don't want to."

The new provision is part of a bill reauthorizing the federal human trafficking statute, which passed Congress in 2000 and helped trigger a worldwide fight against what many consider modern-day slavery. The House Foreign Affairs Committee this month approved the legislation, which has bipartisan support and is expected to be taken up by the full House next week. Its prospects in the Senate are unclear...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WashingtonPost.com

UK: Britain Cracks Down on Sex Trafficking

UNITED KINGDOM - Joanne is not her real name. She wants to remain anonymous. She says that when she left her war-ravaged home in Rwanda, she thought life would get better.

"It felt like a new chapter, a new life, a new beginning and I was desperate for that," she said.

The man who smuggled her into Britain had other plans.

"He forced himself on me, then he started bringing different people to gang rape [me]. He'll be [he was] paid in the process," she added.

Joanne says her entire family died in Rwanda's civil war of the 1990's and she had no one to help her. Leaving seemed like a good solution, but when she finally made it to Britain in 2000, another nightmare began.

"My first thought was to escape, but to where? I wanted to kill myself, but didn't have the means to do that. I wish I had died with my family," she said.

Joanne is one of thousands here in Britain who have been sold into modern-day sexual slavery.

British government research suggests that 4,000 women involved in the illegal sex trade may have been brought to the country for that purpose, and the number may be twice that.

Authorities say they are tightening controls in a new crackdown in hopes of surpassing previous efforts to curb and eliminate the trade.

In operations last year, police freed 84 women and teenage girls from brothels and massage parlors and made over 200 arrests. Detective Chief Superintendent Nick Kinsella, head of Britain's Human Trafficking Center, says the focus must increasingly be on the gangs that run the trade...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT VOANews.com

Wales: Hidden Lives of Sex Slaves

WALES - Tanya, an 18 year-old Lithuanian girl, found herself forced to work as a prostitute in Cardiff after being promised a new life as a hotel waitress. She was trafficked and sold into sexual slavery in London by a police officer from her village. Her new owners then took her to Cardiff and gang-raped her to prepare her for her new job.

Tanya is one of thousands of women who are trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution each year. Although it is difficult to monitor the exact scale of human trafficking, by 2003 the UK government estimated that 4,000 victims of trafficking for the sex trade were in the UK at any one time. Prostitution and the trafficking of women is the third highest black market income- earner globally, after arms and drugs, and is growing every year.

One or two court cases that involved trafficking for the sex trade had occurred in Cardiff, and I wanted to find out how extensive an issue this was in Wales. I knew our capital city had a bit of a dark underside, but was it true that there were women suffering this brutal existence within a few miles of my home in the city centre? ...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT icWales.icNetwork.co.uk

NY: Couple Prosecuted for Enslaving Women

CENTRAL ISLIP, NEW YORK — The two tiny Indonesian women know just a handful of English words. They know Windex. Fantastik (the cleanser, not the adjective). They know the words Master and Missus, which they were taught to use in addressing the Long Island couple they served as live-in help for five years in the sylvan North Shore hamlet of Muttontown.

Their employers, Varsha Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender, 51, (above) naturalized citizens from India, have been on trial in U.S. District Court here for the past month. They are charged with what the federal criminal statutes refer to as involuntary servitude and peonage, or, in the common national parlance since 1865, the crime of keeping slaves.

The two women, the government charged in its indictment, were victims of “modern-day slavery.”

It is a rarely prosecuted crime. But since passage of the 2000 federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, prosecutions have increased from less than a handful nationwide per year to about a dozen. The law is probably best known for its focus on prostitution and child-sex traffickers; yet in the last few years, in a few highly publicized cases like the Sabhnanis’, federal and state task forces set up to deal with sex trafficking have also begun to focus on the exploitation of domestic workers...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

United Arab Emirates: Man Tried for Forcing Girl into Prostitution

Dubai's skyline at night

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — A Bangladeshi national was charged with running a human trafficking and prostitution racket and forcing a 17-year-old girl from his country into prostitution. The case came before the Dubai Criminal Court recently.

The Public Prosecution accused M.A.A., 39, of bringing the girl to the UAE and forcing her into prostitution.

The victim testified before the court on Tuesday that she had arrived in the country on June 10 on a visit visa sent to her by M.A.A., whom she knew.

There were three other Bangladeshi women on the same flight she arrived in at Dubai International Airport. M.A.A. was at the airport to receive them. They were taken to a house in Al Hamriya area in Deira where they were told to stay till M.A.A. could arrange jobs for them.

The latter, however, threatened her and compelled her into prostitution, at least ‘temporarily’. The girl agreed but also planned her escape, which later she did.

One day, she was taken to the flat of a customer by a friend of M.A.A. in a cab. When the vehicle slowed down due to a traffic jam, she jumped out and ran to a grocery shop, she said. She sought help from the shopowner who immediately informed the police...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT KhaleejTimes.com

Austria: Corrupt Police Dept in Trouble Again

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - Several high-ranking Vienna police officials face disciplinary action for holding an after-hours party at a restaurant that featured a stripper dressed as a young girl in pigtails, authorities said Sunday.

Karl Mahrer, commander of the force in the Austrian capital, said he ordered a disciplinary review after the officials, whose names were not released, celebrated with the stripper on at least three separate occasions while off-duty.

It was unclear how many officers were suspected of being involved.

Witnesses said the officials gathered at a Vienna restaurant, where they arranged for the striptease to be performed from behind a makeshift curtain that shielded their table.

Vienna's police department has been stung by a series of scandals in recent years, including allegations of embezzlement, misuse of funds and brutality.

Last month, a senior officer was convicted of abuse of power for ordering a raid on a casino to remove dark-skinned guests. Another high-ranking commander was convicted of criminal charges for alerting a brothel to an impending police raid to search for young immigrant women forced into prostitution...

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT AP.Google.com

Atlanta: Sex Trafficking Victim Recounts Experience

RICHARD MILLER/Special
Former pro wrestler Harrison 'Hardbody' Norris Jr., shown giving his own opening argument, lured women by promising to turn them into wrestlers, but testimony by one of the women, 'Lexi,' illustrated how it was really a sex trafficking ring.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - Strung out on drugs and reeling from the death of her daughter, Lexi thought she had hit rock bottom in that Cobb County extended-stay hotel.

Then came the muscle-bound man in the black SUV.

He pulled up to Lexi as night fell on a gas station parking lot off Windy Hill Road in June 2005. He introduced himself as "Hardbody" and asked Lexi whether she had ever considered a job in professional wrestling. She was flattered.

The guy seemed legit. He pulled out fliers from his training facility: the Southstar Championship Wrestling Alliance. And the eight women inside his GMC Denali said they were wrestling understudies, too. No matter that they were wearing mini-skirts and stiletto heels.

"Being on the streets, you get tired," she would say later. "This seemed like something positive in my life."

Lexi disappeared into the SUV with the "HARDBDY" license plate and hoped it would take her to something better.

Instead, a federal jury ruled last week, 30-year-old Lexi had entered a sex trafficking ring run by Harrison "Hardbody" Norris Jr. The former pro wrestler was found guilty of peonage, forced labor, aggravated sexual abuse and sex trafficking involving Lexi and four other victims. In essence, he turned them into sex slaves at his two Cartersville homes. Jurors also found Norris, 41, guilty of conspiracy charges involving three other women...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AJC.com

Antigua: Minister Takes Stance Against Prostitution


ANTIGUA and BARBUDA - Minister responsible for Gender Affairs Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro says the government will be seeking to end prostitution in Antigua and Barbuda.

Her sentiments were expressed in an address on yesterday’s observation of International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women.

“This year we are demanding implementation and challenging obstacles to end trafficking in women and prostitution in Antigua and Barbuda,” Dr. Quinn Leandro stated.

She noted that there are variety of ways that women have fallen victims to the hands of abuse from men at all levels of society, noting that the sex industry was a particular case. “Perhaps it is the fact that they are already engaged in illegal activity,” she pondered, however, noting that the abuse is still wrong...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AntiguaSun.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cyprus: Leaving Ourselves Open to Sex Trafficking Claims

CYPRUS - A LACK of official studies on human trafficking in Cyprus is one of the main reasons for the hazy view on the true extent of the problem.

This was the main consensus of yesterday’s House Human Rights Committee, which convened to discuss the trafficking problem in Cyprus as a consequence of last week’s meeting with international expert Celia de Lavarene.

De Lavarene had indicated that Cyprus was a transit point for the sex trade, a suggestion strongly denied by committee chairman Sophoclis Fyttis of DIKO, but also by the Attorney-general. According to the expert, her meeting with AG Petros Clerides lasted no more than six minutes, with the latter flatly refuting what she was saying.

Clerides defended the cold reception he offered De Lavarene during yesterday’s meeting, saying that he disagreed with Cyprus being named as a transit point for trafficked women but concurred there was a problem on the island.

“She came here with opinions that I could not accept and I will not agree with the person I’m speaking to just to keep good relations,” he said.

“I didn't know who she was; she visited me to insult my country and I was not going to accept that. I will not accept that Cyprus is a transit point for trafficked women.

But I never said there wasn't a problem. I told her four times that I agreed women were being exploited but she insisted we were a transit point.”

“She was rude,” he added. “I asked her if she believed the police did not check cabarets and she told me they visited them as clients,” he added, wondering if the island’s police force was that corrupt.

“I accept that there is exploitation,” Clerides continued. “Extremely big steps have been made in the right direction though. All you have to do is see the situation 10 years ago and look at it today.

“We are moving in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done.”

The AG said there were a number of aspects to look at, such as the fact that women come to Cyprus, are given a residency permit but not a work permit...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Cyprus-Mail.com

Vietnam: Overseas Workers Trapped in 'No-Rights' Zone

Cuong (L) sits waiting for his flight with his family at Hanoi airport

HANOI, VIETNAM - Vietnam sends tens of thousands of workers a year to Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and elsewhere, but unscrupulous operators trap many of them in conditions akin to slavery, experts say.

Countless Vietnamese women have been trafficked abroad for prostitution, but even more "guest workers" have found themselves in an equally mundane kind of hell -- exploited, abused and bankrupted.

"It's like indentured labour because of the debt that the workers have to take on," said Professor Daniele Belanger, director of the Population Studies Centre at the University of Western Ontario.

Overseas workers typically pay large fees and hand their passports to their new bosses, said Belanger, whose research team has interviewed Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan and South Korea, as well as dozens of returnees...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AFP.Google.com

India: Women Emerge as Primary Victims in Trafficking

BANGLADESH, INDIA - Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, is a heinous crime that violates all tenets of human rights and dignity-that is how the Indian Women and Child Development minister Renuka Chowdhury expressed her reaction while attending a South Asia regional conference in New Delhi recently. The three-day regional conference was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the government of India, where hundreds participants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India rubbed soldiers to discuss about the burning issue of trafficking.

The issue of human trafficking that is identified as a serious crime in the human society and a billion dollar global illicit trade came out for rigorous discussion in the conference. Various speakers in the conference reaffirmed their point of views terming human trafficking as a multi-faceted problem, often associated with illiteracy, poverty, lack of employment and also cultural practices.

The United Nations describes trafficking in persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of a threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking is primarily done for sexual exploitation, but many times trafficked victims are used for forced labour, organ removal and marriage or adoption...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Nation.com

Burma: Child Prostitutes $100 a Night

Burmese girls prepare for work at a massage parlour in the Chinese border town of Jiegao — part of the regional sex trade. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

RANGOON, BURMA - This is a side of life the Burmese military junta might prefer you did not see: girls who appear to be 13 and 14 years old paraded in front of customers at a nightclub where a beauty contest thinly veils child prostitution. Tottering in stiletto heels and miniskirts, young teenage girls criss-crossed the dance-floor as part of a nightly "modelling" show at the Asia Entertainment City nightclub on a recent evening in Rangoon.

Some girls stared at the floor while others tugged self-consciously on short hemlines, stretching the flimsy material a few centimetres longer as they catwalked awkwardly to the accompaniment of blasting hip-hop music.

Watching these young entertainers of the "Cherry-Sexy Girls" model groups were a few male customers, and a far larger crowd of Burmese sex workers, mostly in their late teens and early 20s, who sat at low tables in the darkness of the club.

Escorting several girls to a nearby table of young men, a waiter said the show was not so much modelling as marketing. "All the models are available," the waiter said, adding that the youngest girls ask $100 (£48.50) to spend a night with a customer, while the older girls and young women in the audience could be bargained down for a lot less.

Prostitution, particularly involving children, is a serious crime in military-ruled Burma, but girls taken from the club would have no problem with the authorities, the waiter assured the company, but did not explain why not.

It would seem that prostitution is one of the few things the Burmese military, fresh from its recent crushing of pro-democracy demonstrations by Buddhist monks, is still willing to tolerate...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Guardian.co.uk

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NY: Films on Trafficking; 'Holly'


NEW YORK TIMES - One of the bigger hurdles in producing “Holly,” a drama about sex trafficking, was finding a Vietnamese girl to play the title character, a 12-year-old sold into the notorious Cambodian brothel town known as K11.

All things considered, it would have been easier to secure a Vietnamese sex worker than it was to get a Vietnamese actress. “That is a very sad statement,” said Guy Jacobson, a producer and writer of the film. “And a very true statement.”

“Holly” is one of several recent films that explore sex trafficking, a phenomenon the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime describes as the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise. The recent “Trade,” which starred Kevin Kline, followed human cargo being smuggled from Mexico to New Jersey. “Very Young Girls,” a new documentary produced for Showtime by David Schisgall, confines itself to New York City but reveals a homegrown world of predatory sex and the legal view that the seller, rather than the buyer, is culpable.

“Holly,” however, exists in a world without borders. The inspiration, said Mr. Jacobson, a lawyer and investment banker, came from a trip he took to Phnom Penh. “I was walking in the street in the middle of the day and found myself surrounded by a group of about 15 little girls, some as young as 5, who were very aggressively soliciting me for prostitution,” he said. “One of the girls said, ‘I yum yum very good, I no money today, mama-san boxing me.’ Which we use, word for word, in the film.”...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Netherlands: Parliament Adopts Resolution on 'Comfort Women'

NETHERLANDS - A resolution on "comfort women'' by the Netherlands' lower house reflects rising international condemnation of the Japanese military's sexual enslavement of young women in Asia during World War II. It is encouraging news for the victims of Japanese aggression and brutal colonialism. We welcome the resolution and call on Japan to sincerely repent and apologize for its past atrocities.

On Thursday, the Dutch lower chamber of parliament unanimously passed the resolution urging Japan to apologize for its wartime sex slavery. The resolution also demands that the Japanese government pay compensation to former "comfort women,'' a euphemism for sexual slaves for frontline Japanese troops. It marked the first time that a European country has adopted such a measure.

Hans van Baalen, the sponsor of the resolution, said he cannot condone attempts by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese politicians to avoid responsibility for the past brutality. He is a Dutch member of parliament of the liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. It goes without saying that the mobilization of comfort women was the largest human trafficking scheme in the 20th century. Japan should not make any more efforts to deny its wartime misdeeds...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT KoreaTimes.co.kr

Canada: Social Networking Sites Used for Trafficking

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA - City cops are investigating two suspected human-trafficking rings believed to be part of an international network that enslaves hundreds of young Albertans each year, many of whom are forced into the sex trade in Las Vegas.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Galvin, head of the Edmonton police organized crime and gang units, said because the investigations are still underway, he wouldn’t give specific details.

He said that while human-trafficking “criminal enterprises” have operated in Western Canada for at least 20 years – and for decades longer in central Canada – they’re more sophisticated than ever before.

They do most of their recruiting on social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace, choosing naïve or vulnerable victims for “grooming” who are right around 18 years old in order to avoid detection by authorities looking for predators after underage kids.

Asked how many young Albertans are caught up in this web each year, Galvin replied simply, “hundreds.” Most are women, he said, but young men are also targets.

Galvin said that typically, a man will develop an online relationship with the victim, selling himself as a glamourous high roller.

Once he’s begun to reel in the victim, he makes a date to meet her. A whirlwind romance follows.

“She gets the red carpet treatment,” Galvin explained, “Limos, expensive restaurants, VIP rooms at night clubs. Everything mirrors the pop culture ideal of good times. These guys can read the girls really well. She thinks he’s her boyfriend.”

After four or five dizzyingly spectacular dates, the predator will invite her to a private party.

When she arrives, however, she might be the only woman there. There are never more than one or two other women who are also victims.

She will be gang-raped and subjected to unspeakable humiliation. She might be drugged...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT EdmontonSun.com

Brazil: 241 Trafficking Routes

BRAZIL - Human trafficking, one of the modern forms of slavery, victimizes close to 2.5 million people around the world. Although there is no national statistic in Brazil, according to educated guesses, the majority of those affected - about 70% - are women and youth of African descent.

The principal victims, women and minors with falsified documents, are normally lured into sexual exploitation or slave labor.

According to data from the Research on the Trafficking of Women, Children, and Youth for the End of Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Brazil (Pestraf), 241 human trafficking routes pass through Brazil: 110 routes of internal trafficking (78 inter-state routes and 32 inter-municipal routes) and 131 international trafficking routes.

The inter-state and inter-municipal routes are used for connections with the borders of South America, especially in the trafficking of youth and children, who later leave the region in planes, ships, or small boats.

The country which receives the most Brazilians is Spain - between the two countries there are 32 trafficking routes. The criminal organization "Iberian Connection", which has numerous connections including one with the Russian Mafia, is responsible for the majority of transports to the European country...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BrazzilMag.com

Friday, November 9, 2007

New York: NY Magazine to Drop Sex Ads

NEW YORK CITY - New York magazine agreed to stop accepting sex ads after the local chapter of the National Organization for Women threatened protests outside the popular weekly publication.

The women's rights group had accused New York of being a "marketing arm of the organized crime world of prostitution and human trafficking" because of classified ads at the back of the magazine with such tag lines as "Asians Gone Wild" and "Asian Dreamgirls."

Sonia Ossorio, president of the local NOW chapter, said she was "delighted" by the magazine's decision.

NOW-NYC' had sent out a news release Tuesday morning announcing plans to stage a protest outside the magazine's offices Thursday over the sex ads.

The chapter has been asking other local media to stop taking the salacious ads and said it has won agreements to do so from 14 other publications including Time Out New York and New York Press.

Ossorio said she met with New York's publisher Tuesday and learned the magazine would stop running the ads, which span two pages in the latest issue...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AP.Google.com

READ MORE ABOUT NOW-NYC's Trafficking Free NYC! Campaign

Ohio: RAND Study Examines Human Trafficking

OHIO - An examination of the types of human trafficking occurring in two of Ohio's largest cities found that child prostitution is more common in Toledo while forced labor is more likely to be identified in Columbus, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

There were at least 15 cases of human trafficking in the two cities from January 2003 through June 2006, according to the study undertaken to provide a baseline for the extent of human trafficking in Ohio. The 10 trafficking cases in Toledo all involved child prostitution while the five cases in Columbus involved forced labor of noncitizens.

“The incidence of human trafficking appears small compared to other crimes. Still, we know relatively little about it,” said Jeremy Wilson, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “We conducted this study to provide a better picture of the extent and nature of human trafficking in these two urban centers.”

Human trafficking involves using force, fraud or coercion to induce someone to conduct a commercial sex act or to perform labor; if the victim is under age 18, force, fraud, or coercion do not need to accompany the inducement for a commercial sex act. While concerns have been growing both nationally and internationally about trafficking, researchers say it's a crime that ultimately must be identified at the local level...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AllAmericanPatriots.com

MInnesota: US Atty Cracks Down on First of Sex Traffickers

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - A 36-year-old Minneapolis man on Monday became the first in what the U.S. attorney in Minnesota promises will be a long line of human traffickers to be sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Daniel McNeal, who has a history of sex trafficking and violent crimes, was charged in December 2006 with recruiting a 16-year-old Rogers girl into a life of prostitution and stripping jobs. On Monday, U.S. District Judge David Doty ordered McNeal to spend more than 24 years in federal prison, to be followed by a lifetime on supervised release.

That made McNeal the first casualty in U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose's year-old initiative to crack down on human trafficking. Lining up behind him are 32 defendants in four other cases.

The latest case involves two persons who were charged last week with running a marriage fraud ring to help Chinese nationals enter the United States illegally. And more cases are in the pipeline.

"We have a number of open investigations, which I'm not permitted to discuss," Paulose said. "I can't even discuss the number, unfortunately." ...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT StarTribune.com

Israel: Fight Against Sex Trafficking

Marina rarely leaves her two-room home in northern Israel these days.

She is in hiding - wanted by the Israeli authorities for being an illegal immigrant, and by the criminal gangs who brought her here to sell her into prostitution.

Marina - not her real name - was lured to Israel by human traffickers.

During the height of the phenomenon, from the beginning of the 1990s to the early years of 2000, an estimated 3,000 women a year were brought to Israel on the false promise of jobs and a better way of life.

"When I was in the Ukraine, I had a difficult life," said Marina, who came to Israel in 1999 at the age of 33 after answering a newspaper advertisement offering the opportunity to study abroad.

"I was taken to an apartment in Ashkelon, and other women there told me I was now in prostitution. I became hysterical, but a guy starting hitting me and then others there raped me.

"I was then taken to a place where they sold me - just sold me!" she said, recalling how she was locked in a windowless basement for a month, drank water from a toilet and was deprived of food...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BBC.co.uk

Monday, October 29, 2007

Nicholas Kristof: NY Times' Sex Trafficking Expert & Advocate

NEW YORK - Nicholas D. Kristof, an influential columnist at the New York Times, has chosen to focus his research and writing efforts on the topic and the reality of sex trafficking.

We at Captive Daughters applaud his efforts to bring this horrendous practice into the public conscious of New York Times' readers everywhere. Currently, Kristof is on book leave from the Times researching and writing a book on violence against women.

We invite you to review his work gathered on his page at the New York Times' website.

NY: Today's Hidden Slave Trade

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL - The woman testifying in federal court in Lower Manhattan could hardly have seemed more insignificant.

She was an immigrant from South Korea and a prostitute, who spoke little or no English. She worked, she said, in brothels in New York, Philadelphia, Georgia, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

She did not offer a portrait of the good life. Speaking through an interpreter, she told about the time in D.C. when a guy came in who looked “like a mental patient, a psycho.” Weirded out, she wanted nothing to do with him. But she said the woman who ran the brothel assured her everything would be fine.

It was fine if you consider wrestling with Hannibal Lecter fine. The john clawed at this woman, gouging her flesh, peeling the skin from her back and other parts of her body. She was badly injured.

According to the government, the woman was caught up in a prostitution and trafficking network that ruthlessly exploited young Korean women, some of whom “were smuggled into the country illegally.”

In prior eras, the slave trade was conducted openly, with ads prominently posted and the slaves paraded and inspected like animals, often at public auctions. Today’s sex traffickers, the heirs to that tradition, try to keep their activities hidden, although the rest of the sex trade, the sale of the women’s services, is advertised on a scale that can only be characterized as colossal...

READ THE FULL EDITORIAL AT NYTimes.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NYC: A Modern Slavery

A Poster from VietAct

NEW YORK - It took 12 years for Martina Okeke to break free. After moving from Nigeria to New York in 1988, she cooked, cleaned and took care of a Staten Island couple's children on the promise of a $300 monthly wage and tuition help for her kids back home. She never received a penny.

Friends from Okeke's church finally convinced her to leave the family, but she refused to report them to the authorities. "I did not want to have a bad name," she told a reporter from the New York Times.

In June 2001, two Indonesian women, who paid $3,000 each for a falsified visa, airline tickets from Jakarta and the promise of a well-paying restaurant job in New York, escaped from a Brooklyn brothel. They had arrived in New York only to find that their "debt" had increased to $30,000. The men waiting for them at the airport also threatened to kill them if they refused to work as prostitutes, according to the Brooklyn Rail.

Human trafficking for labor or sex would seem to be something from another century — or at least another place. Stories like these, however, make clear that the practice exists in modern-day New York. Galvanized by such shocking anecdotes, an unlikely coalition of Bush administration officials, Christian conservatives and liberal activists have focused attention and money on human trafficking, passing landmark federal legislation and committing over $150 million to find and help domestic trafficking victims...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT GothamGazette.com

Belgium: Child Traffickers Find a Haven in Brussels

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - As neighbouring countries tighten their borders to migrants, Europe's capital finds itself labelled the capital of children bought, sold and exploited.

On the Brussels Metro, two women returning from a shopping excursion are being entertained by the antics of a grubby boy. He could not be older than eight or nine. Charming them with a cheeky grin, he pesters them for money until one woman finally hands him a few Euros. After the women leave, the boy, no longer smiling, trots to the other end of the platform and drops the coins into the open palm of a waiting man. Such scenes are not unusual in Brussels. The children are easy to recognize: playing an accordion on a train, squatting by a battered cup on Rue Neuve, or trailing an adult companion hovering by the bank machine while passersby stop to withdraw cash.

Dig a little deeper, and the stories get worse. Sleeping pills are being used to sedate infants held by "mothers" who beg in stairwells and on station platforms. Roma girls living on the streets are giving birth to babies who "die" with startling frequency (the babies are, in fact, sold into the illegal adoption market or used as accessories to begging).

The capital of Europe is now also its unofficial capital of child trafficking. As France tightens its borders to clamp down on illegal migrants, Belgium is fast becoming the destination of choice for trafficked minors from Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Canada.com

Monday, October 15, 2007

NY: Letters in Response to the Congo Rape + War Story

In response to the New York Times' story Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War, several readers wrote letters to the editor, including Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues:

To the Editor:

We have both spent time in eastern Congo and met girls and women who have experienced almost unimaginable brutality at the hands of combatants on all sides of the devastating conflict in Congo. As the rapes are unrelenting and the consequences are deadly, V-Day and Unicef (on behalf of United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict) have begun a new initiative to protect women and girls against rape and sexual torture in eastern Congo.

The initiative calls for an end to impunity for sexual violence, for measures to ensure that state armed forces and police do not perpetrate sexual violence against women and girls and for the full enforcement of national laws that protect and empower women.

Rape and other torture against women and girls in Congo and in other conflicts around the world can be addressed. Rape is abhorrent and unacceptable, but it is also preventable.

What is needed is a huge commitment from the government of Congo, the governments of neighboring countries and the entire international community, including the United Nations, to prioritize the safety and security of women and girls in Congo. They deserve no less.

Eve Ensler
Ann M. Veneman
New York, Oct. 8, 2007

Read more responses to this tragedy here.

Captive Daughters Announces Recipient of the Annapurna Activists Award

Annapurna Activist Prize Winner Announced
The Nepali Women’s Global Network (NWGN) is proud to announce the awarding of the first annual Annapurna Activist Prize to Malabika Das.

The Annapurna Activist Prize was founded to recognize a Nepali individual who has made outstanding contributions toward increasing awareness and education about sex trafficking, as well as actually securing rights for women and children in Nepal. This includes working towards ending the suffering of Nepali women and children who are trafficked into sexual slavery throughout the world. The Annapurna Award in the amount of $1000.00 USD is funded by Captive Daughters. The Captive Daughters organization is committed to ending the exploitative practice of sex trafficking through education, awareness, and activism. For more information on Captive Daughters visit www.captivedaughters.org

The first recipient of this award is Malabika Das. Ms. Das is a young Nepali-American women’s rights activist, based in New York City. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work at Columbia University. Since her early college days, she has taken every possible opportunity to both work on anti-trafficking initiatives as well as making mainstream resources available to the Nepali community. She has worked in a variety of arenas addressing the rights of Nepali women including serving as the first Development and Economic Empowerment Coordinator for the organization Sakhi for South Asian Women, which is a community-based association that works to end violence against women of South Asian origin; serving as a research team member and as the Board Treasurer for Adhikaar, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote human rights and social justice in Nepali communities; a member of the New York City Trafficking Meetup, a group of people who organize anti-trafficking events around New York; and she is also planning to participate in an advocacy project around an anti-trafficking initiative through one of her social work groups at Columbia University.

It is clear from Malabika Das’ impressive background that she is the ideal fit to be the recipient of this award. We again congratulate Malabika Das on this honor and look forward to seeing her future endeavors on behalf of Nepali people everywhere.

Applications for the 2008 Annapurna Activists Award will be accepted starting January 1, 2008. Please visit the Captive Daughters website for more information, to apply or to nominate an activist.

Harvard: Captive Daughters Author Presents Play

Catherine MacKinnon, professor and contributing author to Captive Daughters' new book Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking, recently gave a talk and presented a play at Harvard Law School.


Law students, undergraduates, and others from all over the Harvard campus poured into Austin West Monday evening to see Visiting Professor Catharine MacKinnon present Trafficking, Prostitution, Pornography: A Play in Three Acts. MacKinnon's talk was sponsored by the HLS Coalition Against Gender Violence and HLS Advocates for Human Rights.

MacKinnon began by explaining that sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography traditionally are thought to be distinct, the first involving action and presumed coercion, the second involving action but not presumed coercion, and the last involving speech but not action or coercion, among other differences.

In law, trafficking, prostitution, and pornography run the spectrum from patently criminal and illegal to constitutionally protected, such as a freedom of speech. But, asked MacKinnon, are trafficking, prostitution, and pornography really that different, or different at all?

To answer this question, MacKinnon grounded all three in the experiences of one woman, Linda Susan Boreman, more likely to be recognized by her stage name Linda Lovelace. MacKinnon read from Boreman's testimony, which chronicled two and a half years of living with a man who violently coerced her to participate in pornography, pimped her to other men for money, forced her to marry him, and physically threatened and raped her. He refused to let her out of his sight and held a gun to her head when she called home to ensure she would not tell anyone what he was doing...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT HLRecord.org

Friday, October 12, 2007

Annual UNIFEM Report Now Online


The Annual Report 2006-2007 documents UNIFEM's work to strengthen women's economic security, eliminate violence against women, reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS among women, and achieve gender equality in democratic governance. The report also commemorates the 10th anniversary of the UNIFEM-managed UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women with examples that highlight the achievements of grantees over the past decade.

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Israel: Gov't Drafts Plan to Combat Sex Trafficking

ISRAEL -- The government has formulated a multi-faceted plan to fight trafficking in women. Under the plan, it will work to prevent foreign women from being sold into prostitution in Israel, reduce prostitution here and keep Israeli women from being sent abroad to work in the sex industry.

The plan was prepared by a committee including the directors general of nine government ministries, and representatives of the police and anti-women trafficking organizations.

Five teams are now being formed to draft operative steps for the next several months and to calculate the budget needed.

The plan includes 30 measures of prevention, enforcement and protection. It seeks to make monitoring the border with Egypt a top priority - that is where most foreign women are brought into Israel.

Under the plan, the women would be returned safely to their country of origin and would receive medical treatment in Israel if necessary. A PR campaign is to be launched in Israel and in the women's home countries in order to explain the implications for victims of human trafficking...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Haaretz.com

UK: "I was sold for 2,000 euros"

Anna contemplated running away and suicide

Anna is one of an estimated 4,000 women thought to have been trafficked into the UK into a life of prostitution.

Here, she describes how she was forced to have sex and faced ice-cold baths, starvation and beatings if she did not do as she was told.

When Anna was just 12, she ran away from her home in Albania after befriending an older man.

He obtained forged papers for her and took her to Hamburg in Germany where he coerced her into prostitution.

After four years selling herself for sex, she was hidden in a lorry and trafficked into the UK where she was sold on for 2,000 Euros and employed in a brothel.

"In the beginning I was busy. I was younger and slimmer, and I was a new face," she says...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.BBC.co.uk

Maryland: Stronger Trafficking Law in Place

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND -- It is a crime with an ominous ring - human trafficking - and it occurs when boys and girls and men and women are forced to have sex with strangers or work in unimaginable conditions under the threat of physical harm or some other form of intimidation.

Outreach workers and law enforcement officials say they suspect that human trafficking is a growing problem in Baltimore, but, until recently, Maryland's law against it lacked teeth. Pimping a child for sex with adults was a misdemeanor, and forced labor wasn't adequately addressed. That changed Monday when a new, stronger law went into effect...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BaltimoreSun.com

UN: Tackle Trafficking With Economics

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- Millions of humans trafficked around the world will keep falling victim to an insatiable demand for cheap labour unless countries put an end to the "darker side" of globalisation, a U.N. agency said on Wednesday.

"It is no coincidence that most victims are from developing countries," said Jeffrey Avina, director of operations at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

"They are the most vulnerable to predators who exploit the dreams of poor and vulnerable people who are seeking a better life."

The victims, mostly women and children, have high hopes working as domestic servants or in factories will open new opportunities. But many are coerced into forced labour or prostitution, unable to break out of a cycle of exploitation.

More than 110 nations have signed and ratified a U.N. protocol against human trafficking since December 2003 but governments and their criminal justice systems have not curbed the practice.

Avina said relying solely on a moral approach to tackle the multibillion-dollar trade would fail to ease the suffering.

Speaking at an interfaith forum on fighting human trafficking co-hosted by the UNODC and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, he said economic leverage should be used to undermine the networks.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT UK.Reuters.com

UN: Global Initiative Required to Fight Sex Trafficking

UNITED NATIONS -- India is emerging as a leading human trafficking destination in South Asia with children and young women being lured with promises of a good job, a good married life or stardom in entertainment industry but are forced into sex work, forced labour or organ trading, a United Nations report has revealed today.

“Human trading has become the third most profitable illicit industry with an estimated turnover of more than $ 32 billion annually with as many as 1,50,000 people trafficked within South Asia as part of an organised crime,” representative of UN office of drugs and crime, Mr Gary Lewis said here yesterday while releasing the report.

In India, people are trafficked from Bangladesh and Nepal with the purpose of flesh trade and slavery “ to be used as products and are then thrown away,” he said. The more devastating fact is that age of girls being trafficked is going down at an increased rate. “Children below the age of 10 years are found in the flesh trade resulting in a distorted childhood and open to an increased risk of HIV/AIDS”.

The UN official pointed out that 90 per cent of the trafficking takes place inside the country with people from states of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and north-eastern region being taken to Delhi and Mumbai where they are subjected to various forms of exploitation.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NavhindTimes.com

Nigeria: Female Prostitution - The Case of Youths in Nasarawa

Prostitution is about the oldest profession known to mankind. It has become a sad tale in the history of the world as several solutions have been proffered on how to stop teenagers from going into the profession. Despite these solutions, the trend is still flourishing most especially in higher institutions across the country. George Okoh writes

NASARAWA, NIGERIA -- The trend is ever becoming more dangerous in Nigeria today as prostitution is no longer a thing of the street and brothels but is fast turning higher institutions in the country into red light districts. Today, the Nasarawa state University is fast gaining a reputation as an abode for girls of easy going virtues despite the high prevalence of HIV/Aids in the country and particularly in Nasarawa State.

Although it most be said that this trend is not peculiar to Nasarawa State University alone as it has crept in to virtually almost all higher institutions in the country today, but what is pertinent to ask is what the school authority is doing about the menace?

It is of common knowledge today to see students of the Nasarawa State University most especially girls of between 18 to 25 years old due to the proximity of the school in Keffi to the federal capital territory Abuja trooping to Abuja for a weekend night out...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AllAfrica.com

US: Slavery in the Suburbs

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA -- Most people think slavery ended in America back in the 19th century. But thousands of people are sold in this country each year. Some are made to work for no pay. Others are forced into prostitution.

The government has funded 42 task forces across the country to root out human trafficking operations.

It's an industry that's worth some $32 billion worldwide. And as CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith reports in a series for The Early Show, it's making its way into America's suburbs.

At 17, Shauna Newell didn't see it coming.

"She was the new girl at school looking for friends," says Shauna.

A new girl in town invited Shauna for a sleepover in her Pensacola, Fla., neighborhood. A man posing as the girl's father slipped Shauna a drug. She woke up to a nightmare.

“My legs were being held,” she says. “And my head ... my hands were tied like this, above my head. And I remember saying, 'No, please don't do this. Stop.'"

While her parents frantically searched for her, Shauna was drugged, raped and beaten. Investigator Brad Dennis suspected Shauna was a victim of human trafficking, a growing problem in the Florida Panhandle...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CBSNews.com

Ghana: Women Make a Living On the Street

GREECE & GHANA -- Every night besides the town hall of Athens, next to Omonia square, where the narrow streets of the popular entertainment hub district Psirris begin, black girls from Nigeria gather to work.

Dressed provocatively, they approach people who pass by and offer their services. "Come on baby I know you want me", you hear one say playfully with a big smile on her face. Or is it a mask she wears?

The beautiful young Nigerians, between 20 and 25 years old, are victims of trafficking, forced to prostitute themselves for little money.

"Everyone knows that. The young Athenians who gather in Psirris to have fun; the policemen who casually drive through the area to keep an eye on things; the mayor of Athens; most of all the 'customers'," says resident Miltiadis Papathomopoulos, as he stares at the girls, and the people walking by...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AllAfrica.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Congo: Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of War

Hazel Thompson for The New York Times
Maria Shuluba, 53, was raped by armed men near Bukavu, Congo, in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of a rape epidemic.

BUKAVU, CONGO — Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.

Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.

“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”

The days of chaos in Congo were supposed to be over. Last year, this country of 66 million people held a historic election that cost $500 million and was intended to end Congo’s various wars and rebellions and its tradition of epically bad government...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Bulgaria: Not Standing for Prostitution

Kathryn Cook for The New York Times
A woman, 34, who said she was a prostitute,
on a street known for prostitution in Sofia, Bulgaria.


SOFIA, BULGARIA -- The Bulgarian government, which had been planning to legalize prostitution, abruptly reversed itself on Friday, part of a broad trend in Europe to impose bans as a way to combat sexual trafficking.

“We should be very definite in saying that selling flesh is a crime,” Rumen Petkov, the interior minister, said at a forum on human trafficking on Friday, also attended by the president, the minister of justice and the United States ambassador to Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is only the latest European country to shift its approach to prostitution. Finland last year made it illegal to buy sex from women brought in by traffickers, and Norway is on the verge of imposing an outright ban on purchasing sex.

Even in Amsterdam, the city government has proposed shutting down more than a quarter of the famed storefront brothels in the red-light district. And in the Czech Republic and the three Baltic republics, attempts at legalization similar to the Bulgarian one have been turned back.

Prostitution now exists in a legal gray area in Bulgaria, a small but important country for the European sex trade. Women are sent abroad by the thousands each year to work as prostitutes, often against their will, and many others are forced into prostitution within the country’s borders.

Opponents of legal prostitution argue that illegal operations flourish in environments where paying for sex is permitted, and that human trafficking follows the demand. The goal of prohibiting sex-for-money is to reduce the demand, and thus curtail trafficking if not stamp it out entirely...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Italy: Former Sex Slave Fights Trafficking


AOSTA, ITALY -- When Isoke Aikpitanyi boarded a plane in Benin City, Nigeria, she dreamed of a new life in Europe. She found a nightmare instead.

In debt and in the grips of human traffickers, Aikpitanyi began working as a prostitute on the streets of Turin.

She was jeered at, humiliated, raped, beaten and nearly stabbed to death.

"You can't imagine before you come that you're going to end up a slave," Aikpitanyi said in an interview in the elegant main square of Aosta, where she now lives. "You don't realize that the world has returned to an era of slavery."

Her story mirrors that of tens of thousands of women from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe who have been lured to the West by the prospect of well-paid work as salesclerks or in factories.

Once there, however, many find that the organizations they used to handle the travel arrangements had criminal intentions in mind.

Documents are withheld. Women find themselves isolated and are frightened into thinking that they will be deported if they turn to the authorities for help.

Many are forced into prostitution, especially - as Aikpitanyi discovered to her horror - if there is a substantial travel debt to repay (€30,000, or $42,000, in her case) and a large family back home to support.

But three years after Aikpitanyi's nightmare started in 2000, she plucked up her courage and escaped.

She renegotiated her debt and moved in with a man - a former client - who had begun to counsel men about sex addiction.

Word traveled fast on the street. Former colleagues began showing up on her doorstep, asking for help. She took them in.

Laura Maragnani, a journalist with the news weekly Panorama, met her and they collaborated on a book, "The Girls of Benin City," (in Italian) which was published in March and is now in its second printing...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT IHT.com

MInnesota: Web Drives Human Trafficking

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA -- The Internet is making a devastating problem worse, according to officials at a conference, and Minnesota has not been immune.

St. Paul police officer Heather Weyker scrolls through the "personals" advertisements on the Internet every day, peering into the faces of women and girls offering their sexual services.

Weyker, a 10-year police veteran, said the sheer volume of prostituted women and girls has exploded in recent years, as the Internet has made the buying and selling of sex both anonymous and swift.

She said it's a driving force behind the growth in human trafficking in Minnesota -- both local and international -- which was the focus of a conference Friday in St. Paul.

"We're on Craig's List constantly, looking for girls who look young," Weyker said at the conference, describing the popular online classifieds site. "They always have captors. How many 13-year-old girls think, 'Hey, I think I'll put myself on Craig's List."'

While prostitution investigations for years have uncovered slave-like conditions, trafficking has emerged as a distinct category of crime, said participants at the conference, organized by Civil Society of St. Paul and several immigrant groups that work with victims. Trafficking involves individuals who are forced, defrauded or coerced into servitude...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT StarTribune.com

UK: EU Expansion Brings Sex Slaves to Rural Britian

UNITED KINGDOM -- EU expansion might bring more profits to the big business friends of Labour and please those who are working to create a United States of Europe but it has brought with it not just a Polish deli in every town and a flood of migrant workers forcing British people out of jobs but a horrific rise in drug related prostitution throughout rural Britain where young girls from Eastern Europe are sold and exchanged as sex slaves.

An investigation by The Times has revealed international, mostly Russian based, human traffickers are luring girls to the UK from Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic with the promise of well paid jobs. On arrival the girls have their passports removed and sold to a brothel owner for about £2,000, enslaved to pay off that money and controlled by the threat and reality of violence...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT BNP.org.uk

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sweden: Punishing Pimps for Sex Trafficking

SWEDEN --Thomas Bodström, he head of the Swedish parliament’s judicial committee, wants to abolish the crime of pimping, in order to force courts to impose harsher sentences.

Bodström wants pimps to be punished for sex trafficking, for smuggling foreign women into Sweden for the sex trade.

Some courts have recently imposed lighter sentences for pimping only – claiming there was no solid proof that the women were tricked into prostitution and were not necessarily held against their will by the traffickers.

Bodström, who was Minister of Justice in the former Social Democratic government, says the present law against pimping is outdated – from the past when a pimp and the prostitute worked together – and does not reflect the present system of sex slavery.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT Sveriges Radio Int'l

Amsterdam: Red Lights Go Out as Mayor Cleans Up City


The Red Light District in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS -- The narrow streets of the Wallen have been a hangout for hookers and their clients in Amsterdam since the 17th century when the city was the hub of a global trading empire besieged by sailors and merchants.

But the scantily-clad women posing seductively in Amsterdam's red-lit windows will have to find another place to tout for business after a public housing corporation sealed a €25m (£17.5m) deal to buy 18 buildings and their 51 windows – a third of the total – from a brothel kingpin.

The writing has been on the wall for parts of Amsterdam's red light district ever since the city's mayor, Job Cohen, pledged to clean up the downtown back streets, swapping seediness for sophistication and replacing the neon lights and window prostitutes with stylish shops and eateries,

"There's just too much sex in this part of the city," Mr Cohen said. The mayor denies wanting to rid Amsterdam of prostitution altogether – a move which would create enormous headaches for tourism authorities, as well as denting the city's revenues. But he is concerned the surfeit of sleaziness is turning the area into a mecca of drug dealing and petty crime.

"It is not about chasing prostitution of the Wallen," the mayor said. "What we do want is to get rid of the underlying criminality."

Under pressure from Mr Cohen, the city refused to renew the brothel operating licences of "Fat" Charlie Geerts, one of the wealthiest sex bosses in Holland...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Independent.co.uk

China: Impoverished Myanmar Girls Turn to Prostitution in China

The Chinese customs house in the China-Myanmar border town of Jiegao, in China's southwestern province of Yunnan

JIEGAO, CHINA — The spaces behind the rusty garage doors are meant for storage but they instead house dozens of young women from Myanmar like Thin Thin Thay, refugees of the bitter poverty afflicting their home country.

In the late afternoon, Thin Thin Thay's big brown eyes peer out from the half open garage door onto the street in Jiegao, a Chinese town bordering Myanmar where prostitution has followed on the back of flourishing trade.

Across this secluded street only a flimsy wire fence separates Jiegao in southern China's Yunnan province from Myanmar, but at night under the hue of garish pink lights it is a world apart.

As a quiet darkness descends across the border, this nameless street in Jiegao turns into a bustling sex market, with groups of young women in high-heels impatiently awaiting for itinerant Chinese and Myanmar traders.

"Of course, I'm not happy here and I don't like what I do," said the thin 23-year-old sitting on a filthy sofa beneath the walls papered with posters of women.

"But there was not much else I could do," she said.

Like most of the girls here Thin Thin Thay is a product of a nation that despite its immense natural wealth is devastated by poverty, appalling school standards and lack of work...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AFP.Google.com

US: Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Outrage was mounting at the 1999 hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, where congressmen were learning about human trafficking.

A woman from Nepal testified that September that she had been drugged, abducted and forced to work at a brothel in Bombay. A Christian activist recounted tales of women overseas being beaten with electrical cords and raped. A State Department official said Congress must act -- 50,000 slaves were pouring into the United States every year, she said. Furious about the "tidal wave" of victims, Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) vowed to crack down on so-called modern-day slavery.

The next year, Congress passed a law, triggering a little-noticed worldwide war on human trafficking that began at the end of the Clinton administration and is now a top Bush administration priority. As part of the fight, President Bush has blanketed the nation with 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million -- all to find and help the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims of forced prostitution or labor in the United States.

But the government couldn't find them. Not in this country.

The evidence and testimony presented to Congress pointed to a problem overseas. But in the seven years since the law was passed, human trafficking has not become a major domestic issue, according to the government's figures...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WashingtonPost.com

Monday, September 10, 2007

NY: Prostitutes Turn to Craigslist, Law Takes Notice


A detective in Nassau County monitors Craigslist’s “Erotic Services” category.
Kirk Condyles for The New York Times

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The eight women visited Long Island this summer along with vacationing families and other business travelers, staying in hotels and motels in commercial strips in middle-class suburbs like East Garden City, Hicksville and Woodbury. Their ages ranged from 20 to 32.

Three had come all the way from the San Francisco Bay area, one from Miami. Two lived less than 60 miles away, in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J. and two even closer, in Brooklyn.

All eight were arrested on prostitution charges here, snared in a new sting operation by the Nassau County police that focuses on Craigslist.org, the ubiquitous Web site best known for its employment and for-sale advertisements but which law enforcement officials say is increasingly also used to trade sex for money.

Nassau County has made more than 70 arrests since it began focusing on Craigslist last year, one of numerous crackdowns by vice squads from Hawaii to New Hampshire that have lately been monitoring the Web site closely, sometimes placing decoy ads to catch would-be customers.

“Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now,” said Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives. “Technology has worked its way into every profession, including the oldest.”

Augmenting traditional surveillance of street walkers, massage parlors, brothels and escort services, investigators are now hunching over computer screens to scroll through provocative cyber-ads in search of solicitors...

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UK: Men Who Buy Sex Could Face Prosecution

UNITED KINGDOM -- Ministers are considering proposals to prosecute men for buying sex in a new effort to curb the demand for prostitution, the Guardian has learned.

Senior members of the government are discussing whether to criminalise the purchase, rather than sale, of sex - as Sweden did eight years ago - in part because of the growth in sex trafficking. According to the government, 85% of women in brothels come from outside the UK.

Men have been convicted for trafficking women into Britain, but none has been prosecuted for paying for sex with women or girls forced into the sex trade.

One minister acknowledged the move would be "quite a dramatic step", but added: "There's no doubt whatsoever it's being talked about. There is increasing awareness among senior ministers, particularly women, that demand for prostitution is an area which needs to be tackled seriously and hasn't been."

A number of senior women in government - including Jacqui Smith, the home secretary; Patricia Scotland, the attorney general; Vera Baird, solicitor general; and Harriet Harman, leader of the house - are thought to be sympathetic to the calls.

Other proposals being considered include large-scale programmes to name and shame men caught kerbcrawling, which is already illegal. But campaigners believe that only by criminalising clients can they help women working in brothels as well as on the streets and send out a signal that paying for sex is not acceptable.

Fiona Mactaggart MP, who as a home office minister was in charge of tackling prostitution until last year, said: "The criminal justice bill that comes back on the first day [after the parliamentary recess] includes changes to the prostitution strategy. It would be possible to put into it some amendment which deals with this issue of men who pay for sex," she said.

She dismissed arguments that prostitution was an inevitable part of society, adding: "We have always had murder - that doesn't make it right. The price of prostitution is enormously high for women...[And] the more vulnerable the woman is, the cheaper the price is for men."

READ THE FULL EDITORIAL AT Politics.Guardian.co.uk