Wednesday, March 28, 2007

UK: Britian's Hidden Children

Many victims of child trafficking are sexually exploited

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND -- When Marie, a young girl from Cameroon, turned up in Manchester at the end of 2004 she was just one of hundreds of asylum seeking children alone in the city looking for help.

Her story was harrowing. Having been trafficked to France and forced into prostitution by her aunt, she fled to Britain with the help of a man who said he would help her escape.

Suffering from a range of physical and mental health problems, probably as a result of the abuse she endured, Marie was admitted to hospital.

Within two months she was dead. A post-mortem examination revealed natural causes. She was 16.

Sadly, Marie's case is thought to be just the tip of the iceberg and part of a growing industry which contributes to the 5,000 child sex slaves recently estimated to be working in the UK by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

This comes as the UK marks the 200th anniversary of the Parliamentary Act to abolish the slave trade.

According to Ecpat UK, an organisation which represents charities working against child exploitation, Marie's was one of 28 known cases of trafficked children in Manchester in 2005...


UK: Jane Austen Invoked as Porn Defense

WWJ(ane)D? Probably not condone violent & pornographic
images of women being raped and murdered

UNITED KINGDOM -- Jane Austen seems an unlikely standard-bearer for those who defend the right to look at images depicting women being tortured and raped.

The novelist was quoted during a conference at Durham University this week, which debated proposed legislation that would make possession of “extreme pornography” a criminal offence carrying a three-year prison sentence.

The decision to introduce a new law followed a long campaign by a mother whose daughter was killed in 2003 by a man who was said to have been a obsessive viewer of violent porn sites.

Supporters of the new sanction, part of the Criminal Justice Bill that is due to be brought before the Commons in the next few months, see it as a logical extension of laws against child pornography.

The proposed offence covers explicit images of bestiality, necrophilia and serious violence, defined as “acts that appear to be life-threatening or are likely to result in serious, disabling injury”. Such material must have been created solely or primarily for the purpose of sexual arousal, and must show real scenes “or depictions which appear to be real acts”.

It is already illegal to publish or distribute such images in Britain. The Home Office argues that making their possession illegal will give added protection to the young and vulnerable. Opposition among politicians to the new law is likely to be muted. Brave or foolish would be the MP prepared to defend publicly the material shown on a website such as Necrobabes. The site promises users “tastefully erotic death scenes through asphyxia, shooting, knives and more”.

A sister website, Asphyxia, lures browers with the slogan: “Sexy strangled, suffocated, hanged and drowned babes. It takes your breath away.” What sane person could defend the rights of someone who gains arousal from the sight of women being humiliated, degraded and — apparently — murdered?

Step forward Austen, or rather the eponymous heroine of Emma as she remarks to her father: “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” Those words went to the heart of the debate during the conference at Durham, “Positions on the Politics of Porn”, which drew together a range of groups — from law professors to bondage aficionados — with a special interest in the proposed new offence.

The argument went something like this: I may not understand your sexuality, indeed I may find the images you like to view grotesque and repugnant, but is that sufficient reason to criminalise the act of viewing? All parties agreed that possessing internet footage of, for example, a genuine strangulation should be unlawful.


New Zealand: Inside an Internet Porn Addict's Mind

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND -- He was an ordinary man with an ordinary interest in soft porn. But when Alex began to search online for child pornography, he began a 15-year descent into degradation that ended with a knock on his door from police. He talks to Ruth Laugesen.

Standing in a fish and chip shop a year ago, Alex realised something had changed. When a little girl walked into the shop, Alex glanced at her and felt nothing.

"There was no sexualisation going on, and there was no guilt going on. That was the most amazing feeling I can remember having," Alex says.

Alex is recovering from a 15-year compulsion that began with a hunt for soft core adult porn, but saw him become a paying customer of the global internet child pornography industry. Children, toddlers and even babies are obscenely degraded and exploited on film to feed the cravings of men like Alex, men safe on the other side of the world, gaping at their computers.

In his search for sensation, he built up what he believes could be one of the largest New Zealand collections of sexual images of children, perhaps tens of thousands of images. The pictures ranged from fully clothed teens through to little girls and babies and crossed every sick boundary, including rape, violence and bestiality.

When Alex walks into the meeting room at Wellington sexual offenders treatment centre Wellstop, he could be anyone, in any workplace. He is relaxed, pleasant-looking and talks easily. He is neatly dressed in a business shirt and slacks, with a zip-up knit top.

This is how Alex appeared to the world every day at the office. But he was a man divided. By night he trawled through filth, rolling in the virtual gutter of the internet.

Alex is not his real name. He wants to remain anonymous, but he also wants to tell other men trapped in a cycle of compulsive pornography consumption, including child pornography, that help is available. And while child sex offenders and consumers of child porn are notorious for minimising their actions and refusing to accept responsibility, Alex says he has tried to be as honest as he can.


US: FBI Investigates Underage Prostitution on Craigslist

Craigslist depends upon its users to
"flag" inappropriate ads for removal

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA -- An eight-month investigation of underage prostitution advertised on Craigslist, a popular Internet classified site, led FBI agents to raid the home and photo studio of a south Sacramento man, court documents say.

In an affidavit unsealed this week, an FBI agent alleges that Paul Yoshi Moore, 46, took racy photographs of three Sacramento-based girls, one 14 and two 17, and posted them in the Web site's "erotic services" section.

No charges have been filed in the case. FBI officials declined comment, saying the case is under investigation.

The Sacramento case is the latest to focus legal scrutiny on Craigslist and prostitution ads on the highly popular Internet site. Craigslist has been linked in news accounts to prostitution stings from New York City suburbs to Chicago to Seattle. The company did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

In the Sacramento case, one girl, 17, told investigators that a pimp who recruited her from a local high school introduced her to Moore for a nearly-nude photo shoot.

Another girl, 14, said she began working as a prostitute at 12 or 13 and paid Moore a monthly fee to maintain her Craigslist advertisement with nude photos, the search warrant affidavit states.

Moore, polite yet flustered when reached at his south Sacramento house, said he was aware officials were investigating him. He said he did not want to talk, but went on to say he fears his reputation will be ruined.

"I'm going to be crucified," he said...


Moldova: Low Prices Increase Demand for Trafficking Victims

62% of Moldova's population lives below the poverty level

CHISINAU, MOLDOVA -- Two American TV crews have investigated Moldova's growing sex slave trade. In Chisinau, human traffickers now charge as little as $500 for delivering a child prostitute into a life of white slavery abroad. These record low prices are driving up demand, and exports are booming.

Last year, Moldova's best known legitimate export - cheap wine - was blocked from its main market and exports nearly cut in half. Exports of fruit and meat also suffered. But one category increased: The export of human flesh, in the form of Moldovan girls sold into sex slavery abroad. Many never return.

Two American TV crews have investigated this modern slave trade. The first, a team from PBS Frontline, went undercover and pretended to be Western buyers of prostitutes. They were quoted prices between $500 and $600 per girl.

A second report aired on ABC News this weekend, putting the spotlight on a problem which is improving in Pridnestrovie but becoming worse all the time in Moldova. CIA, in unclassified material, describes Moldova as a country with widespread crime and underground economic activity. Moldova is the center of the slave trade of the 21st century. As Europe's leader in human trafficking, people - many of them underage - are today the country's main illegal export.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Looking for 'Girls Gone Wild,' Finding 'Girls Gone' Instead

This is how it works: you enter a search query at Google or Yahoo or MSN and then you are supplied with a mega-list of websites that have something to do with your search query. Webmasters use this "search phrase" info to know how users are accessing their sites and then to develop their site's content accordingly to snag even more users searching for a particularly popular phrase.

Our blog which is all about the seriousness of sex trafficking and sex slavery--the education on, the combating of, how politics, economy and society drive trafficking, tragic victim stories, government initiatives to end trafficking and so forth--is most often found by internet users searching for "Girls Gone Wild".

That's right--people looking for amateur video exploitation of often underage drunk girls flashing nudity and making out with each other sometimes end up finding us instead.
GIRLS that have GONE missing because of trafficking. GIRLS that have GONE insane from being treated like a WILD animal. GIRLS whose childhoods are GONE forever because they were sold into sex slavery.

Good, I'm glad they end up here: those GGW oglers, and all the other users who search for things like "teen rape" and "live forced rape videos" and "preteen girl sex" and "child sex" and "wild sex video" and "teen prostitutes" and end up here. Maybe they will learn something...

UK: Victims Rufused Asylum Fall Prey to Prostitution

Medija, from Albania, was betrayed by a boyfriend
who forced her into the UK sex industry

UNITED KINGDOM -- Almost a year ago to the day residents of the Cornish city of Truro watched in amazement as police officers swooped on a house in a quiet street.

The operation was part of the national operation Pentameter, which aims to tackle exploitation within the sex industry.

Today the fight against sex trafficking continues as officers from the Devon and Cornwall force share information with other forces around the UK.

The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) in Sheffield, Europe's first dedicated centre for victims of people-trafficking, was created in October last year.

It brings together a number of agencies including care organisations and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) to tackle 21st Century slavery, as the UK marks 200 years since the Parliamentary Act which to abolish the slave trade.

Det Insp Martin Warren of Soca in Devon and Cornwall said that since the introduction of the UKHTC, work had been stepped up to identify and care for victims of human trafficking, which was now "commonplace" in the West Country.


The Poppy Project in London is one of the care organisations that works with the UKHTC, and has provided safe accommodation for victims of sex trafficking from the West Country.

Nineteen-year-old Medija, from Albania, is one such victim and this is her story:

"Before I was trafficked, I lived in a small town in Albania with my family.

I left school when I was 14 so I could work in the market with my father.

He was very worried all the time about money, and sometimes he would hit me.

While I was working I met a man called Guri.

He said he had seen me around and liked me. He became my boyfriend.

'Disowned me'

My parents did not approve and said I must choose between him and them. I decided to go and live with Guri, as I was tired of living in a small house.

After a few months he said he wanted to take me to live in Italy. I didn't want to go but my family had disowned me so I had no choice. I agreed to go.

Guri paid for my travel and we travelled by speedboat to Italy, where he gave me false Italian travel documents.

He said I would need them because the UK authorities were prejudiced against Albanians.

From Italy we travelled across Europe by coach to the UK, where we were met by a friend of Guri's.

He drove us to a house. That's when they told me that I would be working as a prostitute.

I screamed and cried and refused.

They beat me badly and raped me, and told me I had no choice. It was true.

I had sex with between five and ten men every day, seven days a week, working in saunas during the day and massage parlours some nights.

I was exhausted and often in pain, from all the men and from the beatings. I had no contact with my family and I was locked in the house all the time, only let out to go to work.

I lived like this for six months until the police raided the sauna.

They took me to the Poppy Project, who gave me shelter and are helping me recover from my experiences.

I still have many problems. I can't sleep and have nightmares, and sometimes I have panic attacks.

I am afraid of people and do not like to leave the house. I don't trust anybody.

I sometimes drink too much, to help me forget what happened. But it doesn't work. I will never forget what those men did to me. "

Heather Sable of Plymouth-based Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support Council, said Medija's plight was "just the tip of the iceberg" of human suffering created by human trafficking in the region.

Each week she and her volunteer workers tackle about 100 cases a week of refugees for whom a paid human trafficker was the only way to get out of their country of origin and into the UK.

Provision of false passports and travel documents all came as part of the illicit trade in humans.

The result when refugees appear in the UK is often not what they expected...


DC: US Gov't Takes Global Approach to Combatting Sex Trafficking

WASHINGTON – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recognizes that trafficking victims have rights and require services and temporary immigration relief, Gabriel Garcia, chief of ICE’s human smuggling and trafficking unit, said March 20.

ICE, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, “has the unique organizational ability to investigate trafficking in persons with a global reach and provide short-term immigration relief to trafficking victims,” Garcia said in testimony before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.

Of the approximately 600,000 to 800,000 people coerced or forced into crossing international borders each year, about 14,500 to 17,500 end up in the United States, according to U.S. government estimates.

ICE is one of several U.S. agencies working to stop trafficking through training to help better identify victims, improving services provided to victims and by public awareness campaigns.

Trafficking victims rescued in the United States are granted “continued presence,” which is a short-term immigration protection that allows certified victims of trafficking to remain in the United States for up to one year to enable them to apply for a “T visa.” Those who receive T visas are able to stay in the United States and bring their families over as well. They have access to federal benefits and services and can accept employment in the United States for up to three years and then apply for lawful permanent residence, Garcia said.

ICE officials conduct their work worldwide. Fifty-six ICE attaché offices help foster strong international relationships, Garcia said. The attaches work with local law enforcement for better coordination of investigations. ICE officials target recruiters, brokers, document providers, travel agencies, corrupt officials, smugglers and businesses engaged in criminal activities at both source and transit countries. ICE also cooperates with foreign law enforcement authorities to target bank accounts, wire transfers and other funding mechanisms that fuel trafficking enterprises, Garcia said...


UK: British Women "Threatened With Sale"

Many trafficking victims are from Eastern Europe. The UK is the main destination for Lithuanians. Others are from Asia, Africa and South America.

UNITED KINGDOM -- The figures are startling.

An estimated 4,000 trafficked women are thought to be working in the British sex trade at any one time, having arrived from across the world.

The majority willingly travel here from eastern Europe, west Africa and south-east Asia with the promise of jobs, more money and a better way of life.

What they end up as are commodities. Coerced, often forced, to work as prostitutes, they are moved from address to address, city to city, by the gangs that control them.

They have little chance of escape, let alone the life they were promised, and live in constant fear of being "sold" on to another gang.

But according to those on the frontline trying to help these women, it is not a threat confined to foreign nationals - some believe it is a two way street.

In short: British women are being threatened with being sold abroad...


Monday, March 19, 2007

US: Queens Man Forced Girl Into Sex Slavery

NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT -- Federal authorities said a man arrested as part of a human trafficking investigation forced a 12-year-old girl to be a sex slave, confining her to a house in Queens and transporting her to Connecticut to work up to 12 hours a day as a prostitute.

The case shows that domestic trafficking of U.S. citizens is a concern along with international human trafficking, U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said.

``We are not going to tolerate any type of trafficking here in Connecticut, particularly when children are being exploited in such an egregious manner as we allege here,'' O'Connor said.

More arrests are expected and authorities said they suspect there are more victims.

Corey "Magnificent'' Davis, 35, face charges of sex trafficking, forced labor, document servitude, kidnapping and conspiracy to transport minors for immoral purposes and transportation of a minor for immoral purposes. Shamere ``Barbie'' McKenzie, 23, of New York, was charged with conspiracy to transport minors for immoral purposes...


UK: Home Sect. Reid to Combat Trafficking

The UK's Home Secretary John Reid

UNITED KINGDOM -- The Home Secretary will this week announce plans for a crackdown on trafficking gangs who force thousands of women and children into prostitution and forced labour.

John Reid will also sign the European Convention on Human Trafficking, which commits signatories to tackling the traffickers and helping victims to recover from their ordeals and give evidence against their captors. The UK Action Plan on Human Trafficking, to be announced on Friday, will set up a network of refuges and support services for trafficking victims in towns and cities across the UK.

There is currently only one Government-funded refuge for women who escape from the gangs. Ministers say many more are urgently needed because of the "alarming" scale of the trade described as "21st century slavery". There is mounting concern over the growing number of child slaves being brought to the UK...


Japan: Comfort Women Were "Raped"-US Ambsdr

JAPAN -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer described comfort women as the victims of rape by the Japanese military during World War II, according to the New York Times on Saturday.

The U.S. daily reported that the ambassador in a meeting with reporters on Friday “described as ‘credible witnesses’ former comfort women who recently testified in Congress about being coerced into prostitution by the Japanese authorities.” He was also cited as saying, “I take the word of the women that testified.”

“I think they were coerced to engage in prostitution. That means that they were raped by the Japanese military at that point in time,” Schieffer said. “I think that happened, and I think it was a regrettable, terrible thing that it happened. I think the events speak for themselves.”

NYT also reported that Schieffer “hoped that the Japanese government ‘would not back away’ from a 1993 statement that acknowledged and apologized for Japan’s brutal mistreatment of the comfort women.” According to the NYT, Japan’s official denial that the Japanese military directly forced women into sexual slavery during World War II has caused a furor not only in Asia but also in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he was “unpleasantly surprised” to hear of the Japanese cabinet’s statement that there was no evidence that Japan directly forced women to serve as sex slaves. The Dutch minister said that he has instructed his foreign minister to summon the Japanese ambassador to explain Japan’s position. Dutch women living in the Dutch colony of Indonesia were taken by the Japanese military to serve as comfort women during the war.


European Study: Health Risks & Consequences of Trafficking

"The health risks and consequences of trafficking in women and adolescents: Findings from a European study"

Source: International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Coalition (ISRRC)

This report represents the findings of a two-year multi-country study on women's health and trafficking to the European Union. It is an initial inquiry into an area about which little research has previously been conducted. Interviews were conducted by researchers in Albania, Italy, the Netherlands, Thailand, and the United Kingdom with women who had been trafficked, health care and other service providers, NGOs working against trafficking, law enforcement officials, and policymakers.

For more information and to download the full text, please go to:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

England: Sex Slavery Widespread

ENGLAND -- Young women tricked into coming to England, often by boyfriends, are being sold off in auctions at airport coffee shops as soon as they arrive.

They are among the thousands of women brought into the UK to be sex slaves, usually with no idea of their fate.

The trade was one of the findings of a BBC News website investigation into slavery in 21st Century England.

As the UK marks 200 years since the Parliamentary Act to abolish the slave trade, slavery goes on in another form.

The slave trade, outlawed by legislation introduced in March 1807, saw people from Africa transported en masse to the Americas by the UK and other European countries.

Modern day victims of slavery are often young women from eastern Europe, thinking they are coming to England to work as cleaners or au pairs, only to be forced into prostitution.

The Home Office
estimated in 2003 that 4,000 women were trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation. It is thought the figure may have grown since.

Police forces from Cornwall to Northumbria have found themselves having to rescue women and prosecute the traffickers who brought them to England to work as sex slaves.

And as well as foreign citizens coming to the UK, charity workers in Manchester told the BBC they believed British women working in massage parlours had been sold abroad, because they owed the owners money.

Child protection organisations and human rights groups also believe there are thousands of child sex slaves in the UK.

The UK Human Trafficking Centre was opened last year to co-ordinate the law-enforcement approach to the problem.

A spokesman told the BBC women were sometimes sold off in auctions in airport coffee shops and restaurants as they arrived in the country.

And he said there were also many cases of English women, from backgrounds of poverty, being sold from town to town to work as prostitutes.

But it is now believed that as many as 85% of women working in brothels in the UK have come from overseas - in the mid-1990s, an estimated 85% were UK citizens.

Operation Pentameter, a Home Office initiative aimed at rescuing sex workers held against their will carried out between January and July 2006, saw 84 trafficked women rescued, including 12 aged 14 to 17.

Some 230 arrests were made and more than £250,000 in cash was seized - but officers were only able to visit about 10% of the estimated number of sex establishments in the country.

The Poppy Project, a London-based scheme which provides accommodation and support for the women, has had 581 victims referred to it since its launch in 2003.

Its own research in 2004 found evidence of "off street" prostitution in every one of London's 33 boroughs, again with the overwhelming majority of workers in brothels, saunas and massage parlours being non-British nationals.

The Helen Bamber Foundation, set up to help victims of torture and other human rights violations, said women being forced into sex slavery in England were experiencing "horrific brutality", with physical violence and the psychological trauma of being forced into sex...


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Editorial: Child Prostitution: Stolen Youth, Stolen Dreams

SEATTLE TIMES EDITORIAL -- It's time to stop blaming the victim.

Currently, children younger than 18 are guilty of solicitation if successfully prosecuted for engaging in prostitution.

But let's call it what it really is — commercial sexual abuse of a minor — to put the onus on the perpetrator instead of the victim.

By conservative estimates, between 200,000 and 300,000 children are exploited through prostitution each year in this country. And the industry is exploding: An estimated 10 million children around the globe are involved in prostitution, with 1 million more each year joining the ranks of trafficking victims.

The health implications are staggering for minors engaging in prostitution: increased risks of physical and sexual assault; sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS; pregnancy; cervical cancer; abortion; suicide; and death.

Childhood prostitution takes other tolls, too, including homelessness and dropping out of school. A sobering 75 percent or more of the girls ages 13 to 18 in our criminal-justice system have been physically abused. Many have been prostituted, used to produce pornography, or suffered or witnessed physical and sexual violence. These children pay steep prices for being paid to engage in sex.

Physical health detriments aside, these youths suffer significant mental-health issues. The majority have been sexually abused — some as young as toddlers, and from multiple adults — and can't form trusting relationships. This devastation becomes more apparent when many teens, offered counseling and social services to leave behind life on the streets, cannot grasp the concepts of choice and independence...


Editorial: Myths & Misconceptions About AIDS

SF CHRONICLE EDITORIAL -- Many myths and misconceptions about the AIDS pandemic are spread by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and other mainstream AIDS agencies and activists, either unintentionally out of ignorance or intentionally by distortion or exaggeration, including fear of a generalized epidemic.

UNAIDS continues to perpetuate the fallacy that only aggressive HIV/AIDS prevention programs -- especially directed at youth -- can prevent the eruption of heterosexual HIV epidemics where prevalence is currently low. More than two decades of observation and analysis point to far different conclusions -- there are no "next waves" of HIV epidemics just around the corner and the AIDS pandemic is now in its post-epidemic phase.

The highest HIV infection rates are found in many sub-Saharan African populations because up to 40 percent of adolescent and adult males and females in these populations routinely have multiple and concurrent sex partners, and they also have the highest prevalence of factors that can greatly facilitate sexual HIV transmission. In most other heterosexual populations, the patterns and frequency of sex-partner exchanges are not sufficient to sustain epidemic sexual HIV transmission.

UNAIDS and most AIDS activists reject this analysis as socially and politically incorrect, saying it further stigmatizes groups, such as injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men. However, all available epidemiologic data show that only the highest risk sexual behavior (multiple, concurrent and a high frequency of changing partners) drives HIV epidemics among heterosexuals or men who have sex with men, anywhere in the world...


Mumbai: Prostituted Minors a Billion Dollar Industry

A commercial sex worker in Mumbai

MUMBAI, INDIA -- For most, Mumbai remains a city of dreams. But, for some, it has become a place full of nightmares.

In recent years, the financial capital of the country has emerged as one of the leading markets for trafficked minors who engage in prostitution or, in other words, the commercial sexual abuse of a minor.

According to estimates released by international agencies, trafficking of minor girls is a $1-billion-a-year industry, and it is thriving due to increased sex tourism in Mumbai, Goa and adjoining coastal areas.

Edging past North-Eastern states, poverty-stricken rural areas of Maharashtra — Beed, Latur, Solapur, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Chandrapur, Washim, Akola, Buldhana, Dhule and the Konkan region — have emerged as one of the biggest suppliers of minors.

States such as Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa have also opened up as the new supply markets, says a Mumbai police source.

As instances of HIV and AIDS reach alarming proportions, demand for younger, pre-puberty girls has hit an all-time high. Girls as little as seven and eight-years-old are being forced into prostitution, both in the red-light areas and as “professional” call girls (always accompanied by an adult), according to a DNA investigation.

Affluent businessmen, some members of the film and advertising industries, diamond merchants and politicians form the “select” clientele who source minors.

“Trafficking in minor girls has seen an estimated 30 per cent increase from previous years,” says a social activist working at Kamatipura — the city’s most notorious red-light district...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Celebrate International Women's Day!

Today is International Women's Day. It's a day to celebrate womanhood all around the world, to reflect on the state of, the treatment of and the rights of women everywhere and to make a decision to get involved in furthering the good causes benefitting women both here in the US and abroad.

And, it's a day to really appreciate the significant women in your life.
Feel proud to be a woman today and always, knowing that you belong to an international sisterhood.

In peace and progress,

Captive Daughters

Japan: Denial Reopens Wounds of Ex-Sex Slaves

Japanese students visiting South Korea view photos of
Korean women who were sex slaves of Japan's army. Ahn Young-Joon/AP

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Wu Hsiu-mei said she was 23 and working as a maid in a hotel in 1940 when her Taiwanese boss handed her over to Japanese officers. She and some 15 other women were sent to Guangdong Province in southern China to become sex slaves.

Inside a hotel there was a so-called comfort station, managed by a Taiwanese but serving only the Japanese military, Ms. Wu said. Forced to have sex with more than 20 Japanese a day for almost a year, she said, she had multiple abortions and became sterile.

The long festering issue of Japan’s war-era sex slaves gained new prominence last week when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the military’s role in coercing the women into servitude. The denial by Mr. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after the war, drew official protests from China, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines, some of the countries from which the sex slaves were taken.

The furor highlighted yet again Japan’s unresolved history in a region where it has been ceding influence to China. The controversy has also drawn in the United States, which has strongly resisted entering the history disputes that have roiled East Asia in recent years.

Ms. Wu told her story on Wednesday outside the Japanese Consulate here, where she and two others who had been sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women, were protesting Tokyo’s refusal to admit responsibility for the abuse that historians say they and as many as 200,000 other women suffered...


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

US: Judge Rules Groups May Deny Funding to AIDS Groups

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Bush administration can deny funding to nonprofit AIDS groups that don't publicly disavow prostitution and sex trafficking.

Overturning a lower court's decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the AIDS groups' free speech rights would not be violated if the money was linked to a pledge to uphold government policy.

At issue is the case of DKT International Inc., which provides family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention programs in 11 countries. The group, which helps distribute condoms to prostitutes and other sex workers in Vietnam, has refused to sign a pledge to support the Bush administration policies.

In 2005, DKT sued the U.S. Agency for International Development, contending its free speech rights were violated by a 2003 law requiring groups to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking in order to qualify for part of a $15 billion AIDS program. A U.S. District Court ruling last year agreed, saying the funding conditions insist that groups ``parrot'' the U.S. government's position on prostitution...


US: Prostitution Debate Rages On--Add Your Comments

Dr. Melissa Ditmore (left) and Dr. Janice Raymond (right)
debate legalizing prostitution

Two scholars debate whether or not to legalize prostitution at The Washington Post's forum forum for online debate: PostGlobal. You can participate in the debate by adding your comment on the issue at PostGlobal.

Professor Janice Raymond is the co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the author of 5 books, and Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dr. Melissa Ditmore was the principal investigator for Revolving Door, the first report released by the Sex Workers Project, and is currently a research consultant for the organization.

Against Legalization

Professor Janice Raymond - When the question of legalization of prostitution is discussed, many commentators start with the unproven assumption that legalization protects women. Who said so? Let’s look at the evidence in countries that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution.

In the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia, legalization has failed to protect the women in prostitution, control the enormous expansion of the sex industry, decrease child prostitution and trafficking from other countries, and prevent HIV/AIDS -- all arguments used for legalization. And it has transformed these countries into brothels.... (MORE AT PostGlobal)

For Decriminalization

Dr. Melissa Ditmore - Prostitution should be decriminalized. This would remove prostitution from the criminal code and thereby render prostitution akin to other businesses. It’d be taxed and subject ot business requirements. Decriminalization of prostitution has been a success in New Zealand and parts of Australia. They cite decriminalization as an advantage over legalization because removing prostitution from the criminal code avoids both the problems of graft and abuse associated with police jurisdiction over prostitution and the sometimes overbearing regulations that accompany legalization. (For example, in Nevada’s brothels, brothel-owners decide whether licensed prostitutes are allowed to leave the brothel during their off hours. Prostitutes can be required to stay on the premises for weeks at a time, no matter their working hours.) Decriminalization would better protect people in the sex industry from violence and abuse... (MORE AT PostGlobal)


Japan: Existence of "Comfort Women" Denied by PM

Comfort women being trucked to a Japanese camp during WWII

JAPAN -- "Comfort women" were forced to work in brothels during World War II; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says there's no proof that ever happened.

In European countries, it is a punishable offense to deny the Holocaust. In contrast, Japanese war crimes have never been fully prosecuted or acknowledged, nor have most victims been afforded redress. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exploited this lack of accountability by asserting that there is "no proof" that women were forced into sexual bondage to serve the Japanese military during World War II, in effect labeling as prostitutes or liars all the thousands of victims of this abhorrent practice. After international outrage erupted, Abe stepped back, but by then the survivors had once more been victimized by his denial of an overwhelming historical record.

The prime minister's revisionist statement contradicts abundant evidence that has come to light despite the government's efforts to conceal or minimize the mistreatment of thousands of women in about 2,000 wartime brothels run by or with the cooperation of the Japanese military. Although no one knows exactly how many girls and women were conscripted to provide sex to Japanese soldiers, most historians estimate the number at between 100,000 and 200,000. Most were Korean and Chinese, though they also included other Asians and Europeans from Japanese-occupied areas. Many were kidnapped and raped, others were tricked or defrauded; some were sold by their families.

Japanese soldiers have come forward during the last 15 years to admit to forcibly taking girls and women on orders of the military. In 1992, documents found in the archives of Japan's Defense Ministry indicated that the military was directly involved in running the brothels. The Japanese government formally apologized to the women in 1993. Since then, Japan's official position has been one of admitting moral but not legal responsibility. A private fund was set up to compensate the former "comfort women," and two Japanese prime ministers wrote formal letters of apology to women who received the payments. Some victims claimed that this ambiguity was unacceptable and refused to accept compensation...