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, 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...


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."


Korea: Still Discriminates Agaist Women

KOREA -- The United Nations found that Korea still has plenty of room for improvement with regard to discrimination against women despite recent progress promoting gender equality.

The U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women concluded its two-week 39th session, issuing dozens of recommendations for Korea to better protect women from societal mistreatment.

Lauding the Korean government's effort in abolishing the patriarchal family registry, known as "hoju," its report said it remains concerned that "no clear timeline has been established" for the elimination of what it called a "prime example" of gender discrimination in Korea.

It also recommended that the government criminalize marital rape and punish offenders even without complaints from their victims. The report expressed concern over the low rates of reporting, prosecutions and convictions of cases of violence against women. In addition, it urged the government to ensure all women, including those who live in rural areas, have access to immediate means of redress and protection from domestic violence.

In regards to the persistence of trafficking, exploitation and prostitution, the committee said it was particularly concerned about adolescent girls' sexual relationships with older men for money.

Regarding interracial marriage the report urged the prompt adoption of the draft law on regulating marriage brokers. The committee was troubled by an increase in international marriages, which "may lead to foreign women being trafficked" into Korea for purposes of marriage and exploitation...


Thailand: MTV Turns Programming to Sex Trafficking

BANGKOK, THAILAND -- MTV, the most popular music channel in the Asia-Pacific region, will soon be playing a different tune. Half-hour shows, beginning Sep.18 for MTV Thailand, will have live and hip music giving way to the harrowing accounts of human trafficking victims.

No glam shots and glitzy productions here, just raw and oftentimes shocking images that will make young MTV fans sit up.

Trafficking will get a human face through the personal accounts of Anna, Eka and Min Aung. Anna was forced into prostitution in the Philippines, while Eka is an Indonesian who was an abused domestic worker in Singapore. Min Aung from Burma recounts his experiences working and being practically imprisoned in a Thai factory for two years.

"Why is MTV involved in the issue of human trafficking? It's primarily because our audience, who belong to the 15 to 29 age range, are the main target of traffickers. We believe that the key to solving the problem is to raise awareness especially among the young people," said Tom Ehr, chief executive of MTV Europe Foundation (MTVEF) at the launch of the documentary, titled 'MTV Exit: End Exploitation and Trafficking', here on Tuesday.

The programme, hosted by popular Thai singer Tata Young, was produced by the Britain-based MTVEF and MTV Networks with the full support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The documentary, which will be presented by different hosts in the region, will be shown in Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, to name a few...


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PhiliPpines: Senate Chief Calls for Probe into Mail-Order Bride Racket

MANILA, PHILIPPINES -- About half-a-million Filipino women leave as mail-order brides every year, making them vulnerable as soon as they arrive abroad to meet their online husbands for the first time, Senate President Manuel Villar observed.

"There is a need to investigate a report which said that 300,000 to 500,000 Filipinas leave the country every year as mail-order brides," said Villar moving a resolution asking the Senate committee on youth, women, and family relations to conduct an inquiry into the condition of such women.

"We have to look into violations of the law by those recruiting mail-order brides from the Philippines," said Villar.

Villar came out with a long list of websites which, he said, were operated by underground syndicates to lure and recruit mail-order brides from the country. "Several internet sites openly market Filipino women as mail-order brides.

"For example, one website has been luring Filipinas to write letters of introduction to men in the United States and Europe who are looking for girl friends and wives. The website charges $5 (Dh18.37) per transaction," said Villar...


New Zealand: Massage Therapists Want Differentiation From Sex Workers

NEW ZEALAND -- Massage therapists want Yellow Pages directories to list massage parlours under a heading such as adult services to differentiate them from qualified therapists.

Outgoing president of Massage New Zealand Barry Vautier said the heading should be changed, as every state in Australia had already done.

"This is important to us as some therapists still get sex calls because of the 'misnaming' in the Yellow Pages," he said...


Spain: Many Happy Returns? Celebrating the Abolition of Slavery

Whilst the bicentenary of the British abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is something to celebrate, the occasion is an apt moment to draw attention to the continuing existence of slavery in new forms around the world. The Olive Press investigates Spain’s historic role in the slave trade as well as the types of slavery which are becoming entrenched here today - finding some disturbing parallels along the way.

Celebrations are taking place to mark the 200th anniversary of the UK abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Important as this milestone may be however, the transportation and use of African people for free labour actually continued long after abolition, with the Spanish continuing to use slaves abroad until 1886.

Spain’s role in the slave trade was pivotal: the country already owned around 10,000 North African slaves or ladinos by the time of the reconquista (re-conquest from the Moors) in the 15th century. Spain’s further conquests across the Americas wiped out much of the indigenous populations, thus creating a need to import sub-Saharan African slaves (bozales) to work in the mines. Spain depended upon foreign slave ships known as slavers to supply Africans to its colonies and continued this practice well beyond the abolition treaties of the early 19th century.

After losing most of its colonies, Spain persisted in using slaves in an attempt to maintain those territories that remained - with Cuba being the recipient of the last recorded slaver in 1867, although slavery continued for a further 20 years on the island.
The administrative centre of colonial Spain was undoubtedly Sevilla. This Andaluz city had the exclusive right to trade with the colonies in the Americas from its Trading House (Casa de ContrataciĆ³n) and the docks of Sevilla were the embarkation point for every ship bound for the Americas...


Ireland: Major Route for Child Trafficking

IRELAND -- Ireland has been pinpointed as a major route for trafficking children doomed to a life of slavery or prostitution in Britain.

An official report from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) explicitly names Ireland as a route for bringing illicit human cargo into the UK.

It comes after garda and immigration authorities said there was no major problem, in the wake of a BBC documentary where a suspect admitted to smuggling children through Rosslare port. The government document, to be published online today, was designed for children's agencies across Wales.

The report says that traffickers are finding the "classic" routes into Britain -- ferries from France or through the larger London airports -- increasingly difficult to get through due to heightened security. So they are now looking to other points of entry, with the Ireland-Wales ferry links a major alternative. The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland last night said it believes the law gives Ireland a "soft touch" image for traffickers...


UK: Shocking Tactics to Stop Sex Slavery

CAMBRIDGESHIRE, UK -- Hard-hitting posters depicting the grim reality of the trade in sex slaves are being distributed by police.

The posters and postcards, with graphic images designed to shock anyone with information into coming forward, are being put out as part of Operation Radium, a high profile crackdown on human trafficking in Cambridgeshire.

Police believe as many as 100 brothels are running in Cambridgeshire, many under the guise of other businesses or even in quiet residential areas.

Not all of the women who work in them do so by choice.

According to detectives, some of the women working as prostitutes are smuggled into the country, or lured in with the promise of other jobs, then are forced to work as sex slaves...


UN: Urges Action on 'Scary' Levels of Trafficking in Southern Africa

-- UN agencies urged governments in southern Africa on Monday to draw up legislation to combat frightening levels of human trafficking, saying action was vital ahead of the upcoming football World Cup.

"None of the countries in southern Africa has specific anti-human trafficking legislation in place," Thomas Zindl-Cronin of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told reporters in Johannesburg.

Specific legislation to tackle the issue was needed to help the law enforcement agencies get to grips with the situation.

"South Africa and Mozambique are more advanced than the rest of the region, but the capacity of the police and the judiciary to deal with the problem is low."

With South Africa due to become the first country on the continent to host the World Cup in 2010, fears were expressed during the joint press conference about the numbers of foreign women who could be coerced into prostitution...


UN: Human Rights Expert Does Not Have Immunity From Corruption Charges in Bangladesh

UNITED NATIONS -- A Bangladeshi woman jailed on corruption charges in her country does not have immunity from prosecution because of her work as a U.N. human rights expert, a United Nations spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Sigma Huda, a lawyer appointed by the U.N. in 2004 as an independent expert on human trafficking, faces trial on charges of abetting her husband in extorting more than 20 million takas (US$294,000) from a construction firm while he was communications minister. She was jailed earlier this month.

Under international conventions, Huda enjoys certain diplomatic privileges that prevent her arrest or detention while she is acting in her role as a U.N. rights expert.

But U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has determined that "the charges against Ms. Huda appear not to be related to, or otherwise fall within, her functions" as a U.N. rights expert, said spokeswoman Marie Okabe.

She said the Bangladeshi government has been informed that Huda does not have immunity from prosecution on the corruption charges...


UN: UNICEF Calls for Increased Efforts to Prevent Child Trafficking

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) marked the Day of the African Child today by calling on governments, communities and families to boost efforts to prevent child trafficking.

“Globally, an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year, within countries as well as across borders,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Children are trafficked into prostitution, into armed groups to serve as child soldiers, to provide cheap or unpaid labour, and to work as house servants or beggars.”

Trafficking exposes children to violence, sexual abuse, severe neglect, and HIV infection, she pointed out, while violating children’s right to be protected, to grow up in a family environment and to have access to education.

UNICEF called for punishing the perpetrators of human trafficking, which generates an estimated $9.5 billion a year and fuels other criminal activities...


South Africa: Lack of Laws Lets Human Trafficking Flourish

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- Although the United Nations (UN) protocol to suppress and punish trafficking in persons has been ratified by more than 100 countries, few countries had antitrafficking legislation, making the prosecution of offenders difficult, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) .

SA was being lobbied by the UN to help fight the battle as it was increasingly becoming the traffickers' country of choice. Because of its infrastructure, the syndicates were using SA as a transit point.

The protocol came into force in December 2003. It encourages the prosecution of offenders and promotes international cooperation. Countries have to adopt measures to protect the victims of trafficking and help them return safely to their own or another country...