Thursday, November 29, 2007

United Arab Emirates: Man Tried for Forcing Girl into Prostitution

Dubai's skyline at night

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

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

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

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

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

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


Austria: Corrupt Police Dept in Trouble Again

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

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

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

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

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

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


Atlanta: Sex Trafficking Victim Recounts Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Antigua: Minister Takes Stance Against Prostitution

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 19, 2007

Cyprus: Leaving Ourselves Open to Sex Trafficking Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


India: Women Emerge as Primary Victims in Trafficking

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

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

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


Burma: Child Prostitutes $100 a Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NY: Films on Trafficking; 'Holly'

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

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

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

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


Netherlands: Parliament Adopts Resolution on 'Comfort Women'

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

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

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


Canada: Social Networking Sites Used for Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Brazil: 241 Trafficking Routes

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, November 9, 2007

New York: NY Magazine to Drop Sex Ads

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Ohio: RAND Study Examines Human Trafficking

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

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

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

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


MInnesota: US Atty Cracks Down on First of Sex Traffickers

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

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

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

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

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


Israel: Fight Against Sex Trafficking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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