Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sweden: Country Battles Sex Trafficking

Police enforce the Swedish law that targets only the purchaser of sexual services. Photo: Mikael Göthage / Scanpix.

SWEDEN - In Sweden, around 400-600 women a year are forced into the sex trade as victims of human trafficking. The figure is low by international standards, but Sweden remains engaged to further the fight against human trafficking.

Sweden has a unique law criminalizing those who purchase sex. The law, which was passed in 1999 and prohibits the purchase of sexual services, targets only the purchaser. The penalty is a fine or up to six months’ imprisonment. In Norway, similar legislation is being prepared, while Finland already prohibits the purchase of sexual services, but only if the woman is a victim of trafficking.

Anders Oljelund, the Swedish Government’s ambassador for international cooperation against human trafficking, says: “Our Swedish law is good as it focuses on the demand side. If there was no demand, there wouldn’t be any trafficking.

“All men who are thinking about buying sex should bear in mind that it’s usually trafficking victims who are affected.”

Legislation under review

Part of Sweden’s effort against trafficking involves constantly changing and updating rules and laws. In 2002, a law was passed that specifically outlaws human trafficking for sexual purposes. This law, however, has come in for a certain amount of criticism on the grounds that it is difficult to enforce and that few perpetrators are actually convicted. In most cases, the offences are classed as procuring, for which the scale of punishment is lower and which is considered a crime against the state rather than against a private individual...


Friday, December 7, 2007

Cross Border Conference: Kathmandu Dec 17

Captive Daughters, Los Angeles, CA – and Nepali Women’s Global Network

Invite You to Attend

Interaction on Legal Instruments for Combating the Cross-Border Issue of Human Trafficking

A one day conference which will examine Nepal’'s cross-border policy and how it affects human trafficking. Conference speakers and interactive working groups will make recommendations for policy change within Nepal'’s government. Participants and speakers will include:
  • Sandra Hunnicutt, Captive Daughters – Welcome & Introductory Remarks
  • Bindu Manandhar, Nepali Global Women’s Network, M.C.
  • Shanta Thapaliya, Advocate for Women’s Rights
  • Durga Ghimere, ABC Nepal
  • Sapana Pradhan, Legal Aid & Consultancy Center
  • Dinesh Tripathi, Human Rights Advocate
9:30 – 3:00 pm – Registration Check-In – 9:00 am
Monday, December 17, 2007, at Hotel Himalaya, Kupondol, Lalitpur.
Phone: 552-3900, 552-3908.

The conference is free and lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

Because space is limited, all attendees are asked to register their intention to
participate by registering their name, organization and contact information at crossborderconference@gmail.com
You will receive email or telephone confirmation of your registration.

Thank you, we look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Asked, Hillary Answered

In a recent letter to all of the main US Presidential Candidates, Captive Daughters asked those in the running what they knew about sex trafficking, what were their opinions and positions on the issue and what would they do about sex trafficking should they be elected President.

So far, only Hillary Clinton's people have answered with the letter above in which she directs us to her website. In the "Issues: A Champion for Women" section it states: "Hillary has worked to empower women throughout the world, especially low-income women. She has advocated for access to microfinance programs that enable women to start their own businesses and spoken out strongly against the tragic practice of sex trafficking."

The letter to Captive Daughters reads:
Dear Sandra,

Thank you for sharing your views with me. I am grateful that so many Americans are joining our conversation about the serious and complex challenges before us.

I want to be sure that people know my record and agenda on the issues at stake in this election. Please visit http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/ to read about my positions on various issues, and check the news room at http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/ to get the latest news and releases about my policies.

Working together, we will bring about change and restore the promise of our country.

Sincerely yours,
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Iran: Child Victim of Prostitution

Sold into prostitution at age nine, condemned by an Iranian judge to hang at 18, Leila (left) was saved by a group of human rights activists.

TEHRAN, IRAN - "I was nine years old when my mother started selling me. I did not understand what was happening."

Today Leila is a young woman of 22. For the past two years she has been cared for by a private home for destitute young women in Tehran, Omid E Mehr, which means Hope.

"My mother would say: 'Let's go out to buy things, like chocolates'. She would actually trick me. I was a tiny girl. She just took me to places."

Leila still finds it difficult to talk about the past. But we know that the "places" she speaks of are where she was sold for sex and raped.

Leila became the main source of income for a family of five.

The lawyer who eventually saved Leila's life, Shadi Sadr, is a controversial figure in Iran. Although she was imprisoned earlier this year for taking part in human rights demonstrations, she is widely respected and frequently quoted in the press.

Ms Sadr says Leila's story is not unique.

"A girl is considered one of the first commodities or properties that can be traded or sold in the eyes of a parent who is poor in Iran," she says...


Guatemala: Children Commodity in Brutal Trafficking

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA - Children have become a booming business in Guatemala. They are given up for adoption, sold abroad, forced to engage in prostitution, mistreated or killed. Sometimes bodies of minors are found from which internal organs have previously been removed.

In Guatemala, a baby costs up to 40,000 dollars. Between 1997 and August 2007, 29,411 Guatemalan children were adopted - but only 842 by Guatemalan parents.

In 2006 alone, 4,918 adoptions produced revenue of 200 million dollars. The money goes mostly to corrupt officials, illegal baby traffickers, lawyers, doctors and other medical personnel.

However, demand is still greater than supply. Some small children are stolen, and young girls are made pregnant for new "production."

Hector Dionisio of the children's advocacy organization Casa Alianza in Guatemala City describe one 16-year-old who has already gone through three pregnancies starting when she was 12.

"It was the stepfather, who abused the girl as a child factory," he said.

It was not an isolated incident.

Officially, it is extraordinarily difficult to adopt a child in Guatemala.

"It is difficult to give a child up for adoption without the agreement of the parents," said Jorge Meng, spokesman for the Guatemalan attorney general's office.

And it is going to get even harder, with legislation meant to halt the reported abuses taking effect in January...


US: Anti-Human Trafficking Bill Would Send FBI Agents on Trail of Pimps

UNITED STATES - Local vice police officers, who for decades have led the law-enforcement crackdown on prostitution, could soon have unwilling partners: FBI agents.

The Justice Department is fighting legislation that would expand federal law to cover prostitution cases, saying that the move would divert agents from human trafficking crimes. Although local police still would handle the vast majority of cases, Justice officials said the law's passage would force them to bring cases in federal courts as well.

Some anti-trafficking activists and members of Congress say the federal government should be involved in policing prostitution. Prostitution is a social evil, they say, and increased law enforcement can only help the campaign against it.

"It's mind-boggling that the Justice Department would be fighting" the bill, said Dorchen Leidholdt, a founding board member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, an activist group pushing the change. "They have the power to pick and choose the cases they want to prosecute. They don't have to prosecute local pimps if they don't want to."

The new provision is part of a bill reauthorizing the federal human trafficking statute, which passed Congress in 2000 and helped trigger a worldwide fight against what many consider modern-day slavery. The House Foreign Affairs Committee this month approved the legislation, which has bipartisan support and is expected to be taken up by the full House next week. Its prospects in the Senate are unclear...


UK: Britain Cracks Down on Sex Trafficking

UNITED KINGDOM - Joanne is not her real name. She wants to remain anonymous. She says that when she left her war-ravaged home in Rwanda, she thought life would get better.

"It felt like a new chapter, a new life, a new beginning and I was desperate for that," she said.

The man who smuggled her into Britain had other plans.

"He forced himself on me, then he started bringing different people to gang rape [me]. He'll be [he was] paid in the process," she added.

Joanne says her entire family died in Rwanda's civil war of the 1990's and she had no one to help her. Leaving seemed like a good solution, but when she finally made it to Britain in 2000, another nightmare began.

"My first thought was to escape, but to where? I wanted to kill myself, but didn't have the means to do that. I wish I had died with my family," she said.

Joanne is one of thousands here in Britain who have been sold into modern-day sexual slavery.

British government research suggests that 4,000 women involved in the illegal sex trade may have been brought to the country for that purpose, and the number may be twice that.

Authorities say they are tightening controls in a new crackdown in hopes of surpassing previous efforts to curb and eliminate the trade.

In operations last year, police freed 84 women and teenage girls from brothels and massage parlors and made over 200 arrests. Detective Chief Superintendent Nick Kinsella, head of Britain's Human Trafficking Center, says the focus must increasingly be on the gangs that run the trade...


Wales: Hidden Lives of Sex Slaves

WALES - Tanya, an 18 year-old Lithuanian girl, found herself forced to work as a prostitute in Cardiff after being promised a new life as a hotel waitress. She was trafficked and sold into sexual slavery in London by a police officer from her village. Her new owners then took her to Cardiff and gang-raped her to prepare her for her new job.

Tanya is one of thousands of women who are trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution each year. Although it is difficult to monitor the exact scale of human trafficking, by 2003 the UK government estimated that 4,000 victims of trafficking for the sex trade were in the UK at any one time. Prostitution and the trafficking of women is the third highest black market income- earner globally, after arms and drugs, and is growing every year.

One or two court cases that involved trafficking for the sex trade had occurred in Cardiff, and I wanted to find out how extensive an issue this was in Wales. I knew our capital city had a bit of a dark underside, but was it true that there were women suffering this brutal existence within a few miles of my home in the city centre? ...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT icWales.icNetwork.co.uk

NY: Couple Prosecuted for Enslaving Women

CENTRAL ISLIP, NEW YORK — The two tiny Indonesian women know just a handful of English words. They know Windex. Fantastik (the cleanser, not the adjective). They know the words Master and Missus, which they were taught to use in addressing the Long Island couple they served as live-in help for five years in the sylvan North Shore hamlet of Muttontown.

Their employers, Varsha Sabhnani, 35, and her husband, Mahender, 51, (above) naturalized citizens from India, have been on trial in U.S. District Court here for the past month. They are charged with what the federal criminal statutes refer to as involuntary servitude and peonage, or, in the common national parlance since 1865, the crime of keeping slaves.

The two women, the government charged in its indictment, were victims of “modern-day slavery.”

It is a rarely prosecuted crime. But since passage of the 2000 federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, prosecutions have increased from less than a handful nationwide per year to about a dozen. The law is probably best known for its focus on prostitution and child-sex traffickers; yet in the last few years, in a few highly publicized cases like the Sabhnanis’, federal and state task forces set up to deal with sex trafficking have also begun to focus on the exploitation of domestic workers...