Monday, October 29, 2007

Nicholas Kristof: NY Times' Sex Trafficking Expert & Advocate

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

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

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

NY: Today's Hidden Slave Trade

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NYC: A Modern Slavery

A Poster from VietAct

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

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

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

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


Belgium: Child Traffickers Find a Haven in Brussels

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

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

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

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


Monday, October 15, 2007

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

Read more responses to this tragedy here.

Captive Daughters Announces Recipient of the Annapurna Activists Award

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

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

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

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

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

Harvard: Captive Daughters Author Presents Play

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, October 12, 2007

Annual UNIFEM Report Now Online

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

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Israel: Gov't Drafts Plan to Combat Sex Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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


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

Anna contemplated running away and suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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


Maryland: Stronger Trafficking Law in Place

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

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


UN: Tackle Trafficking With Economics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


UN: Global Initiative Required to Fight Sex Trafficking

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

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

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

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


Nigeria: Female Prostitution - The Case of Youths in Nasarawa

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

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

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

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


US: Slavery in the Suburbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ghana: Women Make a Living On the Street

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Congo: Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bulgaria: Not Standing for Prostitution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Italy: Former Sex Slave Fights Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


MInnesota: Web Drives Human Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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


UK: EU Expansion Brings Sex Slaves to Rural Britian

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

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


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sweden: Punishing Pimps for Sex Trafficking

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

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

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

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


Amsterdam: Red Lights Go Out as Mayor Cleans Up City

The Red Light District in Amsterdam

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

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

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

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

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

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


China: Impoverished Myanmar Girls Turn to Prostitution in China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


US: Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence

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

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

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

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

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