Monday, January 29, 2007

NYC: City Council + Prominent Citizens Push for Anti-Trafficking Laws

NY City Councilmember, John C. Lui
is working for anti-trafficking laws

QUEENS, NEW YORK -- A Queens man, Do Hyup Bae, pleaded guilty on Friday, January 12 to attempting to recruit a Korean woman whom he believed to be a minor to work as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced.

Bae’s brothels, which operated under the cover of legitimate business typically employed between two and eight prostitutes, the majority of whom were Korean nationals. He faces a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution payments for human trafficking charges.

This case is one of many in what City Councilmember John Liu and many other prominent New Yorkers have come to think of as the modern day slave trade.

In response to complaints Liu’s office has received about illegal brothels and sweatshops operating in Flushing and other areas of Queens, he has joined with New York feminist Gloria Steinem and the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, a group of leading New York-based organizations, to call on the state legislature to pass laws outlawing human trafficking.

The Advisory Council, chaired by Gloria Steinem, includes Mario Cuomo, Meryl Streep, Linda Fairstein, Eve Ensler, Karenna Gore Schiff, and Deputy Mayor Carol Robles among its members.

On January 11, Liu, Steinem and others launched “Albany Watch,” a series of weekly rallies, to be held every Thursday, intended to mobilize public pressure from across the state calling for the swift passage of a strong anti-trafficking laws.

At present, New York is not one of the 20 states that ban human trafficking, even though the City is one of the most important gateways to America for legal and illegal immigrants...


Friday, January 26, 2007

Boston: Wheelock College Presents Porn + Pop Culture Conference

Wheelock College presents: Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Re-thinking Activism March 23-25, 2007

The so-called “porn wars” that were fought over the feminist critique of contemporary mass-marketed pornography derailed important academic and activist work. It is time to move on by reframing our thinking on pornography, especially in light of the important changes that have occurred in both technology and pop culture over the past two decades.

In the world of the internet, cell phone porn, shock jocks and sexually degrading reality TV, the central insights of the critical feminist perspective are more important than ever. What was once called soft-core pornography has become the norm in mainstream pop culture, while hard-core porn has become increasingly accepted and increasingly misogynistic. What do such economic and cultural shifts mean for feminist theory and activism, and how can we rebuild a vibrant feminist movement that addresses the harms of misogynist images that help define our culture, our visual landscape and our sexuality?

These issues will be addressed at a national conference on March 23-25, 2007, at Wheelock College in Boston. Titled "Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism," this conference will

  • feature recent feminist theory and research on pornography, prostitution and pop culture, and
  • provide space for collaborative discussion on how we can prepare the ground for building a broad-based, energized and vibrant feminist movement that can address the harms of pornographic images in the context of a more general political and cultural crisis.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

US: CNN's Anderson Cooper Highlights Sex Slavery

US -- CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 highlighted slavery and trafficking throughout the world last night in a segment entitled "Invisible Chains: Sex, work and slavery."

For those of us who daily track sex trafficking this story was not, of course, "news," but reading some of the comments on the 360 blog it is evident that this issue is fresh news to many Americans. Kudos to CNN and Cooper for bringing sex trafficking to primetime.

Last night's story is featured on the 360 blog, as are two additional stories concerning sex trafficking:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

UK: Blair to Sign Anti-Trafficking Treaty

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Britain will sign up to a European convention to "stamp out" human trafficking, Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced.

It means trafficking victims will not be immediately deported, but given time to recover and consider testifying.

Mr Blair warned the "evil" of slavery was still around. He was speaking at a Downing Street reception to mark the abolition of the slave trade.

"There are still people that suffer tremendous injustice," he said.

"One of the things that we need to do is remind people this is an evil that is not yet stamped out in our world."


BRITAIN -- Blair committed to ending 'modern-day slavery'

Victims of sex trafficking will get the legal right to stay in Britain temporarily under plans to be unveiled by Tony Blair to encourage women to testify against their captors.

The Prime Minister will say fears that such rights could encourage immigration are overriden by the need to tackle a modern-day form of slavery. He will outline his views at a Downing Street reception tomorrow [Monday, Jan. 20] to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, emphasising the parallels between historical and modern forms of exploitation.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Special: 'Girls Gone Wild' Pornographer Fined $500,000; Acts Like Martyr

Joe Francis, founder of "Girls Gone Wild" at his recent birthday party

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- A federal judge on Monday sentenced the founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" empire to 200 hours of community service for failing to adequately document the ages of performers in his videos.

The heavier-than-expected punishment handed down to Joe Francis in Los Angeles was similar to a sentence his Santa Monica-based production company, Mantra Films Inc., received in Florida last month.

Monday's sanctions on the 33-year old entrepreneur included two years' probation — twice what his lawyers requested — and a $500,000 fine, which Francis had agreed to pay under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Under that agreement, reached with the Justice Department in September, Francis admitted to filming underage women — who were often nude and intoxicated — for his videos. Francis pleaded guilty to two felony counts of violating federal record-keeping laws.

Monday's sentence marked the second time that a federal judge had surprised Francis with a community service obligation.

Last month, Judge Richard Smoak in Florida ordered Mantra to serve 32 hours a month for 30 months, eight hours of which Francis must personally serve each month. Smoak told Francis he could reduce the total number of hours required by doing more of the service himself. His attorney, Aaron Dyer, has said Francis would appeal the Florida sentence, which included a $1.6-million fine to be paid by Mantra.

Francis built a $40-million-a-year business filming spring-break revelers and selling soft-porn videos using late-night infomercials. The felony violations involved a failure to document the ages of women who performed in videos filmed during 2002 and part of 2003.

Federal law requires producers of sexually explicit materials to file documents proving that performers in sexually explicit videos are adults. The laws are aimed at preventing the sexual exploitation of children.

Francis' attorney argued Monday for leniency in the sentencing, calling his client an "exemplary citizen" and his crime "just a record-keeping violation."

But U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow told Francis she considered the charges serious and indicative of an "endemic" problem at his company.

The judge dismissed Francis' request to be able to travel without restriction to his Mexican villa. According to Morrow's sentence, Francis must seek permission before traveling outside the country on business or to travel anywhere for pleasure.

Dyer told Morrow that Francis had a meeting planned in China. The judge said Francis would have to file court papers before taking the trip.

Outside the courthouse, Francis said he believed he had been persecuted by the Justice Department.

"Of course I've been unfairly targeted by the government," Francis said. "What better target than Joe Francis?"


Monday, January 22, 2007

NEW! "Nepal Watch" Page & Annapurna Activists Prize

12,000 girls are trafficked from Nepal to Indian brothels every year

Captive Daughters is pleased to announce the newest addition to their website: the Nepal Watch page.

This section of will focus on sex trafficking specifically within the country of Nepal, while providing news and information about the latest anti-trafficking endeavors there, and links to other organizations working to end sex trafficking within the country.

Captive Daughters, in cooperation with the Nepali Woman's Global Network, is also pleased to announce the first annual Annapurna Activists Prize. This $1,000 prize will be awarded in recognition of the anti-trafficking efforts of one Nepali individual.

Please visit for more information, a downloadable application form and to view a press release.

Russia: Pipeline Projects Bring Oil, Sex Trafficking, AIDS

The Caucasus pipeline route

RUSSIA & THE CAUCASUS -- Two oil pipelines in Russia and the Caucasus boosted prostitution and poverty according to a recent report. Authors hope the findings will heighten awareness of gender-related development needs at this weekend's World Social Forum in Kenya.

When multinational oil companies first visited towns along the proposed routes for two new pipelines in Russia and the Caucasus they promised to create jobs, build schools and hospitals, and invest in small businesses.

What the local communities got instead was a large population of migrant men and an increase in pollution, disease, sex trafficking, poverty and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV-AIDS, along the pipeline routes, with women carrying the brunt of the burden, according to a study by two nongovernmental organizations.

The groups came to these conclusions after visiting the affected communities in April 2006 and analyzing thousands of pages of documents relating to the roughly four-year construction period of the $3.2 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the $20 billion Sakhalin II pipeline.

The Caucasus pipeline, which began flowing in May 2006 through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, is expected to transport 1 million barrels of crude oil daily from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean for the European market when it reaches full capacity.

The Sakhalin II, on Russia's Sakhalin Island, north of Japan in the Okhotsk Sea, aims to transport 340,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily. Production is anticipated to begin in 2008, with 60 percent of the oil and gas going to Japan.

The groups that authored the report are the Washington-based Gender Action and the Central and Eastern European Bankwatch Network, a coalition of environmental organizations headquartered in Prague, the Czech Republic. They are calling on the public aid banks that partially financed the pipelines--the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's corporate lending arm--to adopt more stringent measures to protect local women for future projects...


Friday, January 19, 2007

Turkey: Gang Forced Mentally Disabled Women into Prostitution

TURKEY -- With concurrent operations held in Malatya, Gaziantep, Diyarbakır and Elazığ on Wednesday, police have captured a gang who was accused of forcing mentally disordered teenage girls for prostitution.

Police have captured 15 suspects.

According to an information obtained, Elazığ security directorate officers had been following the gang members for the last 4 months. The operation which is called "Impact-2" has started when police detected all of their addresses.

With raids organized concurrently in four cities, police have captured 15 suspects.

Suspects are now under arrest for establishing an organization for prostitution and forcing women to have sex with men for money. It was learned that some of the girls the gang was employing were in fact mentally disabled teenagers.


Germany: Nazi Sex Slavery Exhibition

Ravensbrück was a concentration camp for women

RAVENSBRUCK, GERMANY -- An exhibition on sexual slavery under the Nazis will open Sunday at the former Ravensbrück concentration camp, organizers said.

The Foundation of Brandenburg Memorials, which operates museums at the former camps, said in a statement Thursday that the forced prostitution system in the camps was a "little known phenomenon."

"The female prisoners who were forced to do sex work remained silent after 1945 about their experiences as well as about the brothel users -- male, and above all German, prisoners who were allowed by the SS to visit the brothels under a rewards system," the foundation said.

"Forced Sex Work in Nazi Concentration Camps" covers a system that ran in 10 camps between 1942 and 1945. Most of the women involved were prisoners at Ravensbrück, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Berlin.

Male prisoners were allowed visits to the sex slaves to boost their productivity in the Nazi arms factories during World War II.

The foundation said that encouraging sex with women was also a means of curbing homosexuality, which the Nazis feared would "break out" among male prisoners confined to their own camps...


Johns Hopkins: New Course on Mail Order Brides

NEW JERSEY -- The prestigious Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore is offering a course on Filipina mail-order brides, calling it a “serious course” that would help explain the stereotyping of Filipino women.

“Mail-Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context” will be offered in the Spring, with an expected enrolment of 35 students. British Prof. Fenella Cannell, who has spent 15 years in the Philippines and has written scholarly books about Southeast Asia, is teaching the course.

The course is offered by JHU’s Department of Anthropology and is cross-listed with studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Political Science. There have been some inquiries about the course, but the department said the number of students was not yet available at the time of interview.

“I can see why people might misread, but this is a serious academic course,” Cannell told Philippine News. “We want to find out about the Philippines and address some of the stereotypes and misconceptions and why people tend to think of Filipinas as transnational migrants or as marrying partners of distant foreigners.”

She said the course would introduce the Philippines and examine the different aspects of its culture and history. She added the course would also give students who don’t know anything about Southeast Asia, generally, a chance to learn something about the region and “probably to be surprised and challenge their preconceptions.”

The course syllabus has a reading list of books, and a list of websites for Filipino mail order marriages. Cannell, however, cautions prospective students not to submit fake applications for pen pals and/or spouses and to view the information as purely part of academic exercise.


Monday, January 15, 2007

NYC: NOW Sponsors Anti-Trafficking Event Jan 18

New York City -- NOW is sponsoring an anti-trafficking event on Thursday, January 18, to include a panel discussion and a film screening at 6:30pm at Brooklyn Law School’s Feil Hall, 205 State Street.

Panel members include:

Pamela Chen: Chief of Civil Rights, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
Rachel Lloyd: Founder, Girls Education and Mentoring Services
Jane Manning: Former Assistant DA and Attorney at Equality Now
Carol Smolenski: Executive Director of ECPAT-USA

The film screened will be: “Sex Slaves” An undercover film that tracks the world of sex trafficking by following one man’s journey to rescue his wife- kidnapped and sold into the global sex trade.

Brooklyn Law School’s Feil Hall- 205 State St. Brooklyn, NY.
Take the 4, 5, 2, 3, A, C, or F train to Borough Hall. Walk three blocks down Court Street (in the direction of McDonald’s) to State Street. Make a left on State. Feil Hall is located at 205 State Street. Only 20 minutes from Midtown.

Please RSVP by calling 212-627-9895. NOW members FREE! Suggested donation $7


Florida: Nun Says Trafficking Thrives in US

MANATEE, FLORIDA -- Many Americans grow up learning that, by signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery forever.

Not true, says Sister Patrice Colletti. It still exists in today's society.

"Not only is slavery, unfortunately, alive and well in our world," Colletti said, "it's alive and well in the United States."

Human trafficking, or modern-day slavery, is the second-largest problem facing the United States, said Colletti, a member of the Salvatorian order. She spoke Saturday to a crowd of 50 at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Holmes Beach as part of a worldwide push to create awareness.

Human trafficking most commonly is found in the sex trade, but also plagues the lives of farmworkers, domestic servants and hotel and restaurant workers.

The $10 billion annual revenue generated through human trafficking, Colletti said, can start like it did for a Chinese girl, "Maria."

Maria is not her name but is a documented example of trafficking. She was sold in China for $2,000 and taken to France. She was then shipped to the United States, where she was sold to her owner for $8,000.

Maria logged 12-hour days in a Florida manufacturing company and received $20 per week. She earned $55,000 annually for her owner but had to pay from her own pocket for housing and food.

"What we need to do is recognize yes, it does exist," Colletti said.

More than 700,000 people are trafficked worldwide annually, according to Colletti, citing the United Nations. In total, 27 million people have been trafficked and 4 million sold across international borders...


Netherlands: Amsterdam Cleans Up Its Act

Famous as a social experiment,
the red light district also has vocal critics

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS -- The famous red light district in Amsterdam is a haven for organised crime, according to the city council at least. Not so, say brothel owners who are resisting the capital's crackdown. Nicola Smith investigates further.

One third of the famous 'window' brothels and sex clubs of Amsterdam are facing closure after the city council recently refused to renew 33 licences in a crackdown against organised crime.

The narrow alleyways of Amsterdam's red light district have attracted prostitutes and their clients since the 17th century and have now become a major tourist attraction.

But the council edict could change the face of the area, removing the sight of scantily clad women beckoning custom in the glow of the street windows' neon lights.

City councillors say the clampdown is necessary to tackle suspected money laundering in some brothels. Some human rights groups claim the move also shows resolve to fight the trafficking of women and forced prostitution.

The accusations of links to organised crime have been shot down by the nine brothel owners set to lose their money-spinning businesses. The group is set to challenge the decision in a court case on 19 January.

Twenty of the buildings and 60 of the 'windows' are owned by "fat" Charlie Geerts, a big player in the porn industry and the red light district for decades.

Last week, his lawyer Han Jahae said previous investigations had proven Geerts had no links with criminal activities and that the council's information was both wrong and out of date.

"Basing such drastic action on information this old is totally unreasonable," he said.

Nevertheless, Geerts has since sold a fifth of his brothels and windows, selling three buildings with 13 rooms. The buyers were two brothers.

Geerts said the sale had been planned before Amsterdam's crackdown. "I simply want to enjoy old age," he said.


New York: Op Ed-Albany Must Pass Anti-Trafficking Law

NEW YORK (Errol Louis) -- Albany needs to wake up and pass a law that will quash human traffickers and protect the most vulnerable.

Human slavery - not just crummy pay and lousy work conditions, but outright forced servitude, including the kidnapping, buying and selling of people - is going on in New York City, which is a major hub and destination in a monstrous, global slave trade.

The modern resurgence of this ancient horror will continue for exactly as long as cynical politicians and an apathetic public allow it.

Some estimates put the number of people in bondage worldwide at 12 million, with as many as 17,500 people newly smuggled into the U.S. every year to be forced, or sold, into brothels, sweatshops and domestic service. Many are women and children, and you may be walking past them every day.

"New York is a major port of entry, transit and destination for human trafficking," says Taina Bien-Aime, the executive director of Equality Now, a Manhattan-based international human rights group. "It's in our own backyard."

In 2005, my Daily News colleague Nicole Bode traveled to the slums of Tijuana, Mexico, to trace one strand of the slavery network from the Southwest border to the streets and brothels of New York.

"Pimps promise to smuggle the impressionable girls into the United States, telling them they can get jobs as nannies, cooks and maids - making enough money to support their families back home," Bode wrote. "These traffickers charge the girls as much as $7,500 in illicit crossing fees - but once they get to the United States, the girls are raped and forced into prostitution. By the time the girls realize they have been kidnapped, it's too late for them to escape."

A few months later, sexual servitude burst into the headlines again when a Korean couple accused of running brothels in Queens allegedly bribed two undercover cops.

That led to a federal investigation that netted dozens of arrests and freed 70 sex workers caught up in a multistate human trafficking network stretching from Rhode Island to Virginia.

Much to its credit, the Bush administration has put modern slavery high on its agenda, committing hundreds of millions of dollars and using the bully pulpit of the White House to condemn the practice.

But New York remains one of several states with no law that specifically outlaws trafficking.


Pakistan: Boys Trafficked for Sex, Too

As daylight fades, boys aged 8 to 18 begin to gather
in and around the Old City of Lahore.

LAHORE, PAKISTAN -- Sexual exploitation of girls is well documented but boys are often overlooked. In Pakistan, child rights workers fear rural poverty is pushing greater numbers of boys into selling their bodies for food and shelter.

As daylight fades, boys aged 8 to 18 begin to gather in and around the Old City of Lahore. To the unassuming eye they are just enjoying a leisurely night out. But those frequenting the same haunts know by their signals and mannerisms that many of them are waiting at specific spots to be picked up by men for sex.

Resting against the grille encircling a merry-go-round in Karim Park, by the Minar-i-Pakistan, a 60 metre-high monument to independence, a teenage boy looks around. He is dressed in traditional shalwar-kameez, loose trousers and a long shirt, with a thick shawl thrown casually around his shoulders. Despite a drop in temperature the park is crowded and people are sitting on benches sipping hot tea, munching peanuts or eating nan halim.

The boy against the grille speaks to no one until a smartly dressed man in tightly fitting blue jeans and a black pullover approaches him. Within seconds another older man appears from nowhere and places his arm around the boy. He says something to the young man in blue jeans who turns to leave.

Salman Malik, Community Project Officer for the government of the Punjab and also for Pehchaan, a Lahore-based non-governmental organisation, confirms that the young boy comes here regularly to pick up clients and had been approached for sex. "His 'protector' runs a tea stall behind the Lahore Fort, where the boy also works as an errand boy," says Malik. "At night the boy is taken to the Minar-i-Pakistan to attract men. His protector probably didn't trust the man in jeans."

Malik has been working with abused and sexually exploited boys for nearly two years and is currently involved in a project for the government of the Punjab to monitor child sex workers for HIV infection. "In my experience nearly every child you see working on the streets of Lahore is sexually abused, with the majority involved in sex work," he says...


California: San Bernardino Officers Put the Squeeze on Sex for Sale

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA -- At police headquarters, a gaggle of gruff cops, guys with scraggly hair, goatees and tattoos prepare to roll in unmarked cars to the city's de facto red-light district.

They make their first arrest a few ticks past sundown.

Undercover Officer Jerry Beall picks her up on Fifth Street, where she stood in front of a motel wearing green sweat pants and tattered house slippers.

After asking Beall, who wore a knit cap with a pinch of tobacco tucked in his lip, a half-dozen times if he was a cop, she agreed to a sex act for $20.

Moments later, police had her out of Beall's pickup truck and cuffed in a trash-strewn alley. A pack of Newport cigarettes and a crack-cocaine pipe pulled from her pockets lay on the hood of an unmarked police car. A female officer removed the woman's wig, revealing her face, lined and hard, impassive.

In the cold, she shivered.

Prostitution is not a new problem in San Bernardino. It goes back decades, as much a fixture on Base Line as its many shops and restaurants.

Over the past year, police have conducted 44 prostitution stings, targeting so-called working girls and their customers. They have made 242 arrests - 156 women and 46 men, some arrested more than once, said vice Officer David Baughman, who along with Officer Jerry Valdivia teams with narcotics officers to conduct the stings.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

New York: Law Against Trafficking Urged

NEW YORK -- Twenty-one states have laws against human trafficking. But the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition says that although state legislators have approved weak measures, they have yet to enact one into law in New York.

Janet Manning of the group Equality Now says human trafficking is simply a trade in human beings, something most Americans think is illegal.

"It means taking a person with a heart and soul and hopes and plans and trapping that person in a position of servitude against his or her will," said Janet Manning. "It happens in the sex industry, mostly to the young, mostly to girls and very young women. It happens in labor settings in sweatshops, on farms, in delis and restaurants."

Advocates says laws against rape and kidnapping do not usually apply in human trafficking situations because the laws require victims to prove the use of imminent force or show that they were abducted and held in a place where they could not be found.

Many of the victims are forced into prostitution and often find themselves prosecuted rather than protected. They are often lured with promises of jobs as domestics or marriage proposals.

Kika Cerpa knows from firsthand experience. She was brought from Venezuela to New York by a boyfriend who took her passport and sent her to work in a brothel.

"When I was in the burdel [brothel], I met a lot of women that were trafficked also," said Kika Cerpa. "Also when I was working my friend Annie died. She was killed by a customer because she did not want to be with him. I am standing up not only for me because whatever happened to me is in the past, but to build my future I have to face it. And this is how I want to face it. I want New York City to make a strong law to help women going through trafficking to rebuild their lives and also to punish the customers in trafficking."

According to the US Justice Department, New York's John F. Kennedy Airport is the hub of cross-border trafficking in the United States. Ken Franzblau of Equality Now says the victims come from everywhere, including the United States.


Baltimore: Advocates Seek Tougher Trafficking Laws

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND -- Prosecutors and state advocates who are pushing again this year for tougher anti-trafficking laws against those who force women to become sex slaves are facing a major roadblock — Joseph F. Vallario.

Vallario, the powerful state delegate who chairs the House Judiciary Committee says such laws duplicate federal laws already on the books. “There are plenty of laws for handling this type of problem on the federal level,” he said. “Federal authorities also have the resources to deal with it,” Vallario said.

In fact, two similar bills that tried to address the problem never made it out of committee in the past sessions.

This time, however, advocates hope the bill they are introducing along with several disturbing cases where teenage girls were plucked from the streets of Baltimore and forced to work as prostitutes in Washington will get Vallario’s attention. The bill calls for a criminal statute against involuntary slavery and for changing the sale of a minor from a misdemeanor to a felony. Penalties range up to a 20-year prison sentence.

Supporters of the legislation formed a task force and have armed themselves with dozens of cases to support the bill.

“It’s a growing problem in Baltimore; women and sometimes children are being prostituted out of the city,” said Sidney Anne Ford, who is part of the task force and executive director of You Are Never Alone, a Baltimore-based outreach organization that provides counseling and drop-in services for prostitutes.


The UK: Sex Profits Drive Trafficking

UNITED KINGDOM -- How big a problem is it?

No one really knows because accurate figures are hard to find. Police raids last year under Operation Pentameter found 84 trafficked women in different parts of the country, 12 of whom were minors. The officer in charge said teenage virgins fetched as much as £4,000.

Who is behind the trade?

The sex trade is largely run by east European gangs, while Chinese and African criminals are behind much illegal migrant labour trafficking. The profits are vast — second only to drugs. But human trafficking is growing faster. One study suggested there were 264,000 men spending at least £6.6 million a year in massage parlours, saunas and brothels. A House of Lords committee recently heard evidence of the encroachment of sex trafficking into lap dancing, limousine services and escorts.

Where are the victims from?

The majority originates from eastern Europe and the Balkans, or from the Far East, particularly China and Thailand. Britain has seen a growing trend in sex trafficking from within the EU, especially Lithuania and other newly-acceded nations.


Las Vegas: Court Treats Teen Prostitutes as Victims, Not Criminals

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- The girls, none older than 17 and some as young as 12, trudge into Judge William Voy's courtroom every Wednesday morning with the most heartbreaking and seemingly intractable problems imaginable.

Last Wednesday, one 15-year-old came into court pregnant. Another teen, a recovering alcoholic, had just gotten out of drug rehab. Almost every girl there had suffered through physical and sexual abuse at some point in her life.

Las Vegans may not want to acknowledge that a dark side has come with the city's long-standing, de facto acceptance of adult prostitution.

But the ranks of teen prostitutes are growing here, and in Voy's court - one of the few of its kind in the country designed specifically to deal with these cases - the judge, prosecutors, public defenders, police, probation officers and social workers have come together to try to address the problem.

In short, they're looking to treat the girls as victims in serious need of help, instead of juvenile delinquents who deserve punishment.

"It finally dawned on me that these girls are victims, and we've all agreed on that," said Voy, a Family Court judge. "We knew we wanted to get them special attention."


Kenya: An Inside Look at Trafficker's Schemes

NAIROBI, KENYA -- When police arrested a Sri Lankan national for overstretching his visit in Kenya on November 28, 2006, they had no idea how well-oiled his human trafficking racket was.

The man, claiming to be a businessman, bragged to his victims of his connections with powerful individuals and how he was receiving special treatment in police custody as he awaited appearance in court on charges of being in the country illegally.

He went on to claim that there was little that could be done to him; that he would soon be out, travel to Sri Lanka and return to continue the racket.

This is the story told by six of his Sri Lankan victims, who had been stranded at a two-room shack at Kiserian trading centre -relying on the generosity of well-wishers and neighbours for basic survival - before they were deported.


Monday, January 8, 2007

Atlanta: A Young Woman Escapes from City's Sex Slave Trade

ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- When three young girls walked over and handed a wad of cash to the driver of the green Cadillac, the 14-year-old girl in the back seat was paying attention.
The cash seemed like a fortune to her: $789.

Trey, the driver, glanced at Nicole, the girl in the back: “Know how long they’ve been working?” he asked, gesturing to the girls standing in the parking lot of the auto parts store on Metropolitan Parkway. “Three hours. That’s the house note right there,” he laughed.

Then he climbed into the back seat and looked Nicole dead in the eyes. Just a day earlier, Trey had picked up Nicole from a gas station near Greenbriar Mall, taken her to a party and let her spend the night at his house. That day, he’d taken her on a shopping trip and outfitted her in low-cut jeans, a tight T-shirt and flashy shoes. The heels were so high, Nicole could barely walk in them.

“I’m not no fool,” he told her. “I know you ran away from someone because since I picked you up, you ain’t called nobody to tell ’em you’re OK. You're young and you have nowhere to go. You’re on Metropolitan and you have no money. You're fixing to work.”

And that's how Nicole became one of the legions of underage Atlanta girls forced into sex for money. Which should come as no surprise: The appalling fact is that Atlanta does a booming business in selling children’s bodies for sex, according to a study commissioned by the Atlanta Women’s Agenda, which advises Mayor Shirley Franklin.


Burundi: Reports of Sexual Misconduct by U.N. Peacekeepers

D.R. CONGO -- The UN has suspended two peacekeepers serving in Burundi following allegations of sexual misconduct.

An official UN investigation is under way into the incident, which allegedly took place last weekend in Muyinga in the country's north-east.

The latest allegations come on top of a probe into charges of rape, paedophilia and prostitution involving UN troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are currently more than 5,000 UN peacekeepers in Burundi.

The UN has not released further information on the Burundi allegations, but a spokesperson said the organisation would not waiver from its responsibility to ensure zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse by its personnel.

Sexual exploitation

The latest allegations come a month after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledged UN peacekeeping personnel in DR Congo had been involved in sexual exploitation.

Mr Annan vowed to root out such practices of gross misconduct throughout the UN.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that, according to a draft UN report, investigators looking into the allegations in the DR Congo were being obstructed by peacekeepers.

UN officials say they are investigating some 150 allegations in total and that there is photographic and video evidence for some of them.


READ THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon AT UN.ORG

Thursday, January 4, 2007

California: Agencies Battle Child Sex Trafficking

OAKLAND — Along San Pablo Avenue, International and MacArthur boulevards, underage women hang out talking on cell phones.

The calls they take are in response to Craigslist sex ads they've posted, said Jim Saleda of the Oakland Police Department's Child Exploitation Unit.

Over the years, police and local agencies have seen the phenomenon of child sex trafficking increase tenfold, officials said Thursday.

To combat the complex problem, county and city officials and service agencies have launched a public awareness campaign that includes two one-minute public service video announcements created by the Youth Uprising staff.

"What we found as prosecutors is that a great number who are abused as children ... end up being very vulnerable to predators we know as 'pimps,'" said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who helped write a recently enacted state Senate Bill (SB 3042) that allows pimps and Johns to be prosecuted more harshly.

The campaign was announced Thursday during a news conference at the Youth Uprising center, 8711 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland.

The numbers are staggering: an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 children are involved in prostitution nationwide, and one in five children under 18 is sexually exploited on the Internet, the officials said.

Debbie Hoffman of C-Care, an Oakland Police Department program, said the youngest person she has encountered on the streets was a 10-year-old girl.


Romania/Bulgaria: Sex Slavery Plagues Eastern Europe

BUCHAREST, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Anca thought girls who spoke on television about being sold into sex slavery were paid to invent such stories to boost tv show ratings.

That was until she answered a friend's invitation to join her in Germany and work as a dishwasher in a town near Hamburg.

When she arrived, her passport was taken away and her captors forced her to work as a prostitute for their clients.

Three months later she slid down two floors on a drainpipe, ran several kilometres (miles) through a forest and finally found a taxi that took her to a police station and safety.

"The girl who invited me won her freedom by bringing in two other girls," said Anca, a quiet 20-year-old from a Romanian village. She asked for her real name to be withheld to protect her from her captors.

As they prepare to join the European Union, Romania and Bulgaria are struggling to contain human trafficking and smuggling, particularly in drugs, which is endemic in the Black Sea region that will soon become the EU's eastern border.

Every year, thousands of women such as Anca, some as young as 13, are kidnapped or lured by promises of well paying jobs or marriage and sold to gangs who lock them up in night clubs and brothels or force them to work on the streets.

Observers say even more women could be at risk after the two countries join the EU in January and traffickers seek to increase business by taking advantage of easier access to western Europe, where most of the victims end up.

"There is a lot of exploitation in Romania and I am sure the numbers will get bigger," said Gina-Maria Stoian, Anca's case manager and the director of The Adpare Foundation, a Romanian organisation that helps victims of human trafficking.

"Already there is sex tourism around the Black Sea."