Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cambodia: The Truth Behind the Smiles (N. Kristof)

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA -- Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right.

But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann (at left), who was once one of those smiling girls.

Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man — she doesn’t know his nationality — who had purchased her virginity.

After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive.

“My first phrase in Khmer,” the Cambodian language, “was, ‘I want to sleep with you,’ ” she said. “My first phrase in English was” — well, it’s unprintable.

Sina mostly followed instructions and smiled alluringly at men because she would have been beaten if men didn’t choose her. But sometimes she was in such pain that she resisted, and then she said she would be dragged down to a torture chamber in the basement.

“Many of the brothels have these torture chambers,” she said. “They are underground because then the girls’ screams are muffled.”

As in many brothels, the torture of choice was electric shocks. Sina would be tied down, doused in water and then prodded with wires running from the 220-volt wall outlet. The jolt causes intense pain, sometimes evacuation of the bladder and bowel — and even unconsciousness...


Sunday, December 28, 2008

India: Modern Face of Slavery

Meena Tirki, 17, left her village with the promise of a new life in East Delhi,
but was soon being abused

DELHI, INDIA -- She came to Delhi dreaming of a new start, of escape from a life of poverty and hardship. Yet when she arrived, Sushma Kumari quickly realised she had been tricked.

Far from being trained in the skills of acupuncture, for two years she was forced to work as an unpaid domestic help in the home of the "doctor" supposed to be teaching her. She toiled from 5am to midnight, seven days a week. She was abused and mistreated. Almost certainly she was brought to Delhi by a professional trafficker; what is beyond doubt is that once she got here she lived the life of slave.

For a woman who has the right to burn with anger, Sushma talks in little more than a whisper. "I really wanted to go home but I was not allowed to talk to my father," she says. "I felt desperate, cheated."

The story of Sushma is a journey to the dark side of the new India, away from the tales of soaring economic growth and gleaming fashion malls, of Western-style coffee-shops filled with a newly wealthy class. The two are surely connected; chief among the reasons for the growing demand for young, poor women from places like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and other desperately poor states to come to toil in India's growing metropolitan centres, is that a new generation of professional women entering the workforce no longer have the time or inclination for household chores. Human traffickers fill the gap...


Africa: Goldman-Sachs Educates Women in Emerging Nations

Female business students in Lagos in class this year with the support of Goldman Sachs, which is based in New York.
(Marc Bryan-Brown)

LAGOS - Finding time away from building a new business is never easy, but Ngozi Okoli-Owube gladly set aside her daily schedule this year to go back to school to learn marketing, accounting and managerial skills that she never had the time to master.

For five months, Okoli-Owube, 31, alternated her work establishing a preschool for learning-disabled children in Lagos with weeklong stints at the Lagos Business School, joining a class of two dozen women to earn a certificate in entrepreneurial management.

"I have a university degree, but I did not have the training in how to run a business," said Okoli-Owube, who had been struggling to get enough students to enroll at her "Start Right" school. "I have to learn to keep the books, how to market and to get advice from women who've come out the other side."

So when she saw a local newspaper advertisement last spring for 10,000 Women, a global entrepreneurship program run by Goldman Sachs, she and about 100 other women jumped at the chance to apply.

The welfare of girls and women has long been on the agenda of international agencies. The World Bank, for example, this year announced steps to increase support for women entrepreneurs by channeling some $100 million in commercial credit lines to them by 2012...


CA: Child Domestic Slavery Spreads to US

AP – Shyima Hall, 19, discusses her domestic enslavement Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008, in Beaumont, Calif.

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA --Late at night, the neighbors saw a little girl at the kitchen sink of the house next door. They watched through their window as the child rinsed plates under the open faucet. She wasn't much taller than the counter and the soapy water swallowed her slender arms.

To put the dishes away, she climbed on a chair.

But she was not the daughter of the couple next door doing chores. She was their maid.

Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors and dust the family's crystal. She earned $45 a month working up to 20 hours a day. She had no breaks during the day and no days off.

The trafficking of children for domestic labor in the U.S. is an extension of an illegal but common practice in Africa. Families in remote villages send their daughters to work in cities for extra money and the opportunity to escape a dead-end life. Some girls work for free on the understanding that they will at least be better fed in the home of their employer.

The custom has led to the spread of trafficking, as well-to-do Africans accustomed to employing children immigrate to the U.S. Around one-third of the estimated 10,000 forced laborers in the United States are servants trapped behind the curtains of suburban homes, according to a study by the National Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley and Free the Slaves, a nonprofit group. No one can say how many are children, especially since their work can so easily be masked as chores...


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Czech Rep: Financial Crisis Tames Demand for Prostitution

A prostitute in Dubi, the Czech Republic, waited for clients. The town’s conservative mayor thanked the downturn for “helping to keep sex tourists away.”

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - On a recent night at Big Sister, which calls itself the world’s biggest Internet brothel, a middle-aged man selected a prostitute by pressing an electronic menu on a flat-screen TV to review the age, hair color, weight and languages spoken by the women on offer.

Once he had chosen an 18-year-old brunette, he put on a mandatory terry-cloth robe and proceeded to one of the brothel’s luridly lighted theme rooms: an Alpine suite decorated with foam rubber mountains covered with fake snow.

Nearby, in the brothel’s cramped control room, two young technicians worked dozens of hidden cameras that would film the man’s performance and stream it, live, onto Big Sister’s Web site.

Customers can have sex free of charge at Big Sister, in return for signing a release form allowing the brothel to film their sexual exploits.

But even with this financial incentive, Carl Borowitz, 26, Big Sister’s marketing manager, a Moravian computer engineer, lamented that the global financial crisis had diminished the number of sex tourists coming to Prague.

“Sex is a steady demand, because everyone needs it, and it used to be taboo, which made a service like ours all the more attractive,” said Mr. Borowitz, who looks more like Harry Potter than Larry Flynt. “But the problem today is that there is too much competition and our clients don’t have as much disposable income as before.”

In the Czech Republic, where prostitution operates in a legal gray zone, the sex industry is big business, generating more than $500 million in annual revenues, 60 percent of which is derived from foreign visitors, according to Mag Consulting, a Prague-based research firm that studies the industry.

Big Sister is not the only brothel suffering the effects of a battered global economy. While the world’s oldest profession may also be one of its most recession-proof businesses, brothel owners in Europe and the United States say the global financial crisis is hurting a once lucrative industry...


Monday, December 8, 2008

EU: Danish Sex Workers Angry Over EU Proposal

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - A new regulation being put up for proposal by the European Parliament would forbid any MEP from staying at a hotel that maintains contacts with prostitutes. The Sex Workers Interest Organisation (SIO) in Denmark has condemned the move by the EU, saying that it stigmatizes prostitutes.

The SIO has called on all European sex workers to boycott any politician who supports the policy at next year’s European Parliament elections. According to the Politiken newspaper, SIO’s reaction was a response to the actions of Soren Sondergaard of the People’s Movement Against the EU and Karen Riis-Jorgensen of the ruling Liberal Party, who both raised the issue with the Parliament’s chairman.

One sex worker named Sue told Politiken: “The hotels are where we work. We can’t do it in backyards or in cars. The proposal will force many out into the streets.” But the threat of a boycott by European sex workers appears to have little effect on MEPs, or Sondergaard, who claims to have 37 Nordic politicians backing him in the European Parliament.

Sondergaard defended his position by saying that his proposal is neither for nor against prostitution; but that he is primarily concerned about protecting the women. “If you’re just a little bit internationally founded and don’t just sit around fiddling with your navel, you’d know that lots of women are kept as slaves and have no free choice in what they do. If the Sex Workers Organisation can’t see that, they’re a really bad union,” Politiken quoted the left-wing Sondergaard as saying...


Dubai: Sex Double Standards

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -Last summer, at a lavish party thrown by the company I was working for in Dubai, the guests were warned we would burn in hell unless we obeyed our boss. Alcohol was not involved: the directors had flown in a respected cleric from Iraq to deliver a moral message to employees. The core of his rhetoric involved a one-way trip into a pit of fire, and he meant it all quite literally.

The lecture was typical of the sort of moral and religious views that are colliding headlong with the modern world in the United Arab Emirates – a problem highlighted by the very public trial of two Britons who allegedly had sex on a beach. The laws and morals widely applied in the UAE (the country's stances on homosexuality and cohabiting couples are particularly backward; the position on public indecency less so) are simply not compatible with the country's population, 90% of which is foreign, many of whom are lured to the kingdom by tax-free wages and sun – two ingredients for having a very good time.

Of course, local laws need to be heeded, even if you disagree with them. But the local media's depiction of the British pair as morally bankrupt and their subsequent letting-off by the Dubai appeal court judge – they will merely be deported – poses the awkward question of how far such moral values can (and should) be imposed on a population that has a very different demographic from that of the leaders who establish and enforce the law. The UAE relies on foreign workers to run the country and its industries but, according to Dubai's moral code, most shouldn't even be in the country (or at least in jail) if they're living with a girlfriend or boyfriend or have made a public display of affection towards someone of the opposite sex. (Unless you're two Arab male friends, in which case it is quite usual to walk along the street holding hands. That one threw me for a while.)

Walk down the Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai's main thoroughfare, and you'll find prostitutes, many of them Thai, touting for business in the early hours. Further away from the main city centre, Russian prostitutes entertain a rich clientele in clubs. This goes on in every major city in the world, but Dubai ruthlessly clamps down on certain behaviour – minor public indecency for example – while completely ignoring blatant corruption of other laws, as embodied by the sex workers on the streets. One hand punishes those who break certain aspects of their moral code; the other massages and encourages those who are doing something far more harmful...


Britain: Sex for Sale - The Truth About Sex for Sale in Britain

In the UK there are some 80,000 sex workers, a figure that is said to include 4,000 women and children trafficked into the country to work as sex slaves

LONDON, ENGLAND - Who are the key players in Britain's 21st-century sex industry? "Not me," you're thinking. But the term "sex industry" is a catch-all for such a multifarious collection of sex-associated objects and activities, that there is scarcely an adult in Britain whose life it doesn't touch in some way.

The sex industry encompasses anything that joins sex and commerce, be that a plastic toy bought from Ann Summers, a copy of Playboy, dialling a premium-rate number for phone sex, or paying a tenner for a hand job down a back alley, not to mention erotic fiction, porn films, stag-night strippers and lap-dancing clubs.

In terms of prostitution, the stories we tend to hear are the most tragic – such as the murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006; a horrific story, but a quantum leap, thank God, from the experiences of most women who sell their bodies for a living – from those working in saunas, massage parlours and brothels to escorts and companions who can earn six-figure incomes.

One in 10 British men has visited a prostitute. Yes, that's 10 per cent. And who is servicing them? Around 80,000 sex workers, a figure that is said to include 4,000 women and children trafficked into the country to work as sex slaves. Our laws on paid sex, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith declared, are long overdue for a rethink...


UK: Home Office Plan for Tackling Prostitution

UNITED KINGDOM - This November 2008 report outlines the results of a six-month review into methods for dealing with prostitution. The Home Office launched this review to explore what further action could be taken to reduce demand.

Tackling the demand for prostitution is an integral element of the government's coordinated prostitution strategy, and the UK action plan on tackling human trafficking.


Uganda: MP Praises New Trafficking Bill

UGANDA - The chairperson of the parliamentary Forum for Children Ruth Tuma has praised the new bill on child trafficking saying that it will help reduce the practice in the country which has caused enormous suffering to children and women.

The recent UN report indicated that women and children are trafficked out of the country to developed countries like USA, UK and Canada and neighboring countries like Sudan, Kenya for sex and child labor.

Speaking at parliament today, Tuma said that the bill has been long overdue and it will help to ensure the safety of women and children.

She appealed to the government to start sensitizing people on the dangers of the practice at the grass root level so as to increase their vigilance in reporting cases of people involved in such bad practices.

The bill was tabled this week in parliament. If passed it will now make it hard for people to sell other people especially children and women for sex and child labor.

In Karamoja children and women have been openly sold in cow markets to people who want to use them as sex workers and child laborers.

This follows intense lobbying by child and women activists who have been appealing for a proper legislation to ensure the elimination of the practice.


Botswana: Phikwe Suffocating Under Volcanic Sex Trade

SELEBI-PHIKWE, BOTSWANA - The sun has set and in the distant horizon, a spectacular glow provides a breathtaking view. Weary figures trudge along Botswana Road while vehicles roar past. The day has gone, as darkness replaces sunlight. The evening has set; a normal evening on a brisk Friday as the month winds away.

As darkness slowly engulfs the area, the number of figures heading into town dwindles significantly. Actually, it is reduced to a trickle. However, some figures pace up and down the street. The motive is not clear as they slowly become a permanent feature on this road.

A closer look unmasks young female figures, their conversation hardly inspires hope. An approaching vehicle seemingly brings hope to the scantily dressed figures. To some who walk this 'innocent' road, it is just a passing vehicle, but to the desperate figures, the sound of a vehicle brings with it hope. This is probably where the next meal will come from.

The women who ply their trade on this street are hungry. Driven by a desire to escape grinding poverty, the young women are forced to give away their bodies. Commercial sex or prostitution is widely regarded as the world's oldest profession. Despite the advent of the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic, commercial sex continues to thrive the world over...


Ireland: Trafficked Girl Can Avail of Protection in Nigeria

IRELAND - In the case of a Nigerian girl trafficked into Ireland for the purpose of prostitution, it was open to a member of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to decide, based on the material before him, that state protection would be available to her were she to return to Nigeria, and therefore to reject her application for refugee status.

The case was first brought on behalf of the girl by a social worker, as the girl was under 18. She was in the care of the HSE following a Garda raid on a house in Sligo where she was found with two other girls and taken into care. She has since reached the age of 18 and was pursuing the case herself.

Following her displacement from her home village to Lagos, she met a woman who said she would help her find work outside Nigeria. This woman brought her to a shrine where a ritual was performed and she had to swear not to run away.

The boyfriend of this woman brought her to Ireland via Frankfurt, London and Belfast. She was told she would have to work as a prostitute to earn €60,000, and that she would be killed if she tried to escape. She met two other Nigerian girls in the house in Sligo, and three days later they were all rescued by the Garda raid. Two of them were placed in HSE care in Chester House, and the third elsewhere.

CCTV footage shows that some time later three unidentified Nigerian woman came to Chester House looking for the girls. The applicant remained in her room but the other girl disappeared, as did the third girl, who later turned up in a brothel in the UK.

An application was made in November 2006 for asylum on behalf of the applicant, who cited her fear of violence in her home village and her fear of the shrine in Lagos as grounds for her application. Evidence was given on her behalf by a member of the Garda Síochána and a social worker. The officer in the Office of Refugee Applications Commissioner made several negative findings in relation to her credibility, and refugee status was refused...


UK: Penalising the Punters

The Bunny Ranch in Reno, Nevada

A sign for a brothel in Nevada, the only US state to have legalised prostitution. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex Features

UNITED KINGDOM - When I meet the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, on Wednesday afternoon, she is at the centre of frenzied press attention. She has just announced planned legislation to target those who buy sex from trafficked women, and though she has been talking about the subject all day, she shows no signs of flagging. She tells me she is "very proud" to have taken this step. I ask what motivated it. "I thought it was important to continue to look at the way in which we tackle prostitution," she says, "and we had not, until this point, looked at the impact demand has made on the sex industry." She explains that demand is one of the main reasons so many women are involved in the sex industry, including those who have been trafficked here to service the market. "We need to send out a message to men and to society in general, that most women do not choose to be in prostitution, whereas the buyers have free choice."

The proposals follow a six-month governmental review of the demand side of the sex trade. It should soon be a criminal offence to pay for sex with someone who is controlled for another person's gain - and it will be no defence for buyers to claim that they were unaware that a person was trafficked, pimped, or debt-bonded to their drug dealer or landlord. Kerb crawlers will also be penalised more than they have been: police currently have few powers to deal with a kerb crawler on a first offence, but the expected new law will remove the need to prove repeat violations. Police will also be given powers to close premises associated with sexual exploitation.

An estimated 80,000 women are involved in street, escort and brothel prostitution in the UK. According to government statistics, 4,000 women and children have been trafficked into prostitution in the UK at any one time, but the police suggest the real figure is far higher - studies have found that at least 70% of women working in UK brothels are trafficked from places such as Africa, Asia and eastern Europe. The fact is that a thriving sex industry, left to operate largely without government or police interference, is naturally a green light for traffickers keen to make easy profits in a welcoming environment.


Florida: Women Trafficked For Sex Freed

MIAMI, FLORIDA - In coordinated South Florida raids, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested at least four suspected sex traffickers and rescued nine victims who had been forced into prostitution in several brothels, federal authorities said on Friday.

Officials said the arrests were in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Officials said the women were kidnapped in Mexico and put in various brothels across South Florida to service as many as 100 clients per week.

In a statement, authorities identified the four suspects as Arturo Rojas-Gonzalez, Elodia Capilla-Diego, Fidel Gutierrez-Gonzalez and Rosalio Valdez-Nava.

According to criminal complaints, ICE conducted an investigation into more than a dozen brothels and stash houses where immigrant women were forced into prostitution.

The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Newsweek Opinion: Prosecuting Johns

NEWSWEEK OPINION - Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in March 2008 after it was discovered that he had used women in prostitution, a violation of New York's comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Last week, we learned that the former prosecutor will not be prosecuted for breaking the law. (Click here for reader response on this story.)

Mr. Spitzer feels that he has paid for his "sins," as he put it. His description of prostitution as sinful carefully positions the buying of a woman for sexual use within the realm of tawdry scandals rather than the harmful sexual exploitation that it actually is. Although Mr. Spitzer apologized to New Yorkers, his friend, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, has said the governor's use of prostitutes is "no big deal."

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Mr. Spitzer for buying women in prostitution is a stunning betrayal of the public trust. Citing precedent, Mr. Garcia indicated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) does not typically prosecute johns who buy women from pimps, except in cases of prostitution of children. ("In light of the policy of the Department of Justice with respect to prostitution offenses and the longstanding practice of this Office, as well as Mr. Spitzer's acceptance of responsibility for his conduct, we have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter," he said in a statement.) The DOJ also chose not to charge Mr. Spitzer for transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution—a violation of the Mann Act. Congress might be interested to learn that its laws are being effectively nullified by DOJ policy.


US: Craigslist Agrees to Crack Down on Erotic Ads

NEW YORK, NY - Craigslist, the popular Internet classifieds listing service, agreed on Thursday to crack down on advertisements posted by prostitutes in a pact struck with 40 U.S. states.

The listings site has been under pressure to screen out cyber advertisements that offer sexual services. These listings have given prostitutes easy access to potential clients cruising the Web, law enforcement authorities say.

Craigslist will require that posters of erotic services listings on its site give a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. The site will provide the resulting information in response to law enforcement subpoenas, he said.

"Prostitutes will hopefully stop using Craigslist to break the law, knowing that their posts could lead to arrest and conviction," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal led the effort to negotiate an agreement and was joined in the pact by 39 other states.

Craigslist, a privately held company, provides classifieds and online forums for more than 550 cities in more than 50 countries, according to its website. The company's terms of use state that advertising illegal services, including prostitution, is prohibited...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

US: Discussion On Human Trafficking in Santa Fe, NM

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - When human trafficking came up in the New Mexico Legislature earlier in the 2008 session, victims’ advocates had to tread carefully: State officials were hesitant to get involved in enforcing federal immigration laws. However, as Assistant Attorney General María Sánchez-Gagne explains, the focus of the law on victims, rather than smugglers, motivated the Legislature to back the proposal and, in February, New Mexico became the final border state to establish human trafficking as a felony. Ten months later, Sánchez-Gagne, who also is the director of the Attorney General’s Border Violence Division, explains the challenges of educating communities across the state on the local implications of a global crime.

SFR: How did the human trafficking bill come about?
MSG: In developing the Attorney General’s Border Violence Division, we learned of human trafficking affecting other border states, as well as our sister state of Chihuahua, across the border. It’s huge. Human trafficking is the second largest industry next to drug trafficking, tied with illegal arms as the next largest industry in terms of profit. We learned that many states had human trafficking laws in addition to the federal laws and New Mexico did not have a human trafficking law. We needed a law to fight this crime that we are discovering exists in states around us, in both rural and metropolitan areas.

What are the key components of the legislation?
The elements require that a person is exploited for either labor or commercial sexual purposes using force, fraud or coercion. Not unlike kidnapping, a person may be psychologically kept against their will for fear of deportation, fear of reporting them to law enforcement. It provides for penalties: three years if an adult is trafficked and we have higher penalties for children. More than half of trafficking victims are children.

Is there a difference between human trafficking and smuggling?
Good question. Yes, this is the first thing we explain in our trainings because this is often confused and misinterpreted. In Arizona, human trafficking and smuggling are enforced at the state level. At the state level in New Mexico—and this was one of the sticky points for us in the Legislature—New Mexico as a state was not going to move into the realm of enforcing federal immigration law. However, a trafficking case could arise from a smuggling arrangement. A person may want to be smuggled and pay a coyote a fee of $500 but, once they arrive in New Mexico, that fee then goes up and the person owes a debt that keeps mounting or their papers may be held or threats made against their family and they’re not free to leave. At that point, that person is no longer an illegal immigrant but is a trafficking victim. That distinction is very important because a person who is here illegally may be seen as a criminal on a federal level, however, if they’re being exploited they are a trafficking victim and should be entitled to some victim services and benefits...


Sweden: Action Plan against Prostitution and Human Trafficking for Sexual Purposes

SWEDEN - On 10 July 2008, the Government adopted an action plan for combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes.

The plan covers five priority areas: greater protection and support for people at risk, more emphasis on preventive work, higher standards and greater efficiency in the justice system, increased national and international cooperation, and a higher level of knowledge and awareness. Altogether, the Government will be investing SEK 213 million in 36 measures up to the year 2010.

Amsterdam: Brothels to Feel a Longer Arm of the Law

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - Patrons visiting one of the Netherlands' red- light districts may soon find themselves on camera. One by one, authorities in cities across the country are stepping up their efforts to regulate, scrutinize and generally clean up the country's sex business.

This week the mayors of the cities of Alkmaar and Utrecht followed moves by Amsterdam in 2007 to toughen regulation and reduce the ability of the sex trade to act as cover for and cause of other illegal activities.

Authorities have cited drug-dealing, money-laundering and the trafficking of women as crimes that are to be targeted.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance of sex districts is just one method that has been proposed.

The mayor of Utrecht, a city in central Netherlands, announced on Friday that the entire area of Zandpad in the city would be placed under CCTV surveillance in an effort to tackle the trafficking of women.

"We need to know which women are being forced to work as prostitutes," Mayor Aleid Wolfsen explained, "or if women are abused or exploited. Filming the area, and knowing which pimps are connected to which women, will increase our opportunities to help the women."

Wolfsen said that two independent studies had concluded that between 50 and 90 per cent of the women working in the Utrecht prostitution zones were not doing so voluntarily...


Ireland: Ads Target Men Who Use Trafficked Women

IRELAND - Men who buy sex from women trafficked into Ireland for prostitution are being targeted for the first time in an advertising campaign that warns they could go to jail.

The ads, devised by Ruhama, a voluntary group that works with women trapped in the sex industry or escaping from it, will run on RTÉ television and Setanta Sports for a month starting this week.

Ruhama director Kathleen Fahy said the appeal was being made directly to the clients of the sex trade because new legislation makes it an offence to solicit sex from a trafficked woman for the first time, but also because the trade would not exist without its customers.

“The focus is on the users and exploiters of trafficked women. Without them, the trade in human flesh would not be profitable,” she said. “It seems clear that they have bought into the myths that sex is just another commodity for sale and is a mutually beneficial exchange and nobody is hurt in the process, but many are hurt.”

The ads feature an actress playing a young eastern European woman who responds to an advertisement for restaurant staff in Ireland, but arrives here to have her ID and travel documents stolen by her “employer” who puts her to work in a brothel.

The scenario is a familiar one to Ruhama who are coming into contact with trafficked women at the rate of one a fortnight.

Ms Fahy said, however, she believed the true scale of the problem to be far higher as Ruhama usually only discovered the women when they had broken free.

“We need a far more pro-active approach so that more women can be detected and rescued earlier. Ideally we would have a dedicated unit within the gardaí who could focus specifically on this very specialised area,” she said.

Under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act that came into effect in June, anyone found guilty of soliciting sex from a trafficked woman can be imprisoned for up to five years. Ms Fahy said she hoped prosecutions would follow soon...


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Global: The Feminization of Migration

UNI GLOBAL UNION - As the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Manila comes closer, women’s groups such as The World March of Women Pilipinas (WMW) and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) held a forum on 24th October,2008 near the PICC, Manila, site of GFMD, to bring to light the exploitation suffered by women looking for work. The Women’s groups were joined by victims-survivors of sex trafficking to condemn the Philippine government's labor export policy and the lack of local full employment program.

WMW-Pilipinas is part of an international feminist action movement connecting grassroots groups and organizations working to eliminate the causes at the root of poverty and violence against women."We struggle against all forms of inequality and discrimination directed at women. Our values and actions are directed at making political, economic and social change," said Jing Geaga,of WMW-Pilipinas.

Andrea Luisa Anolin, Executive Director of Batis Center described the continuing increase of Filipino women overseas, despite government data to the contrary. "More and more of them are leaving as undocumented migrants," says Anolin. She elaborated that marriage channels have been exploited more by traffickers both in Korea and Japan. According to Anolin, in 2007, deployed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are 1,077,623 and 811,070 are land based and 266,553 are sea based.

Female OFWs out number male OFWs in Middle East and Asia. In the Middle East,118,393 are female OFWs and 89,217 are male OFWs. As for Asia, 52,336 are female OFWs and 22,297 are male OFWs.

Deployed female domestic workers (2007) are:

Hong Kong -22,127

Italy---------- 4,951

Kuwait------- 4,806

UAE --------- 3,149

Saudi Arabia - 2,581

Qatar ---------- 1,912

Cyprus -------- 1,763

Singapore ----- 1,568

Deployed Overseas Female performing artists in 2007 are: Japan -4,592, Korea -1,350, Hong Kong-113, UAE -100 and Saipan-45.

The exploited migrants who testified came from the urban poor, labor and peasant sectors, illustrating that the poorest of women are pushed to the edge, leave their families, given the lack of local job opportunities. Ms. Marites Bagasala, an overseas worker who sought the help of Kaisa-Ka,aWMW member testified that she is one of eight women who came back from Kuwait. "One of us was sold and sexually exploited and another's spine was broken because of her employers' violence" cried Bagasala...


US: Baltimore Imported Sex Trade

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - Baltimore police said they recently closed a "well-organized house of prostitution" in Upper Fells Point and a related residence in Butchers Hill, a community of well-kept rowhouses and close-knit residents. City prosecutors say it is apparently a case of human trafficking, involving Mexican women who arrived in Durham, N.C., and were transported to Baltimore to work as prostitutes.

The rare city-level case, which moved this week to Baltimore Circuit Court, exposes a flourishing underground world of human sex trafficking that is often overlooked in a city with daily exposure to more conspicuous crimes such as robbery and gun violence, said Assistant State's Attorney Joyce Lombardi.

"This kind of thing is hidden so well in the fabric of a neighborhood," said Lombardi, who helped form the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force last year. "The ringleaders are smart. They pick up and move to a new house when they're detected, so they are extremely hard to catch."

Sterling Clifford, a police spokesman, said that while "the vast majority of our prostitution issues, like many other issues, are local and drug-related," police have found other prostitution set-ups similar to the one in East Baltimore...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FBI Announces Results of Three-Day Child Sex Trafficking Sweep

Today the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced the conclusion of a three-day law enforcement action—Operation Cross Country II—aimed at combating sex trafficking of children. A similar enforcement action took place in June of this year as part of Operation Cross Country. Information obtained from the June enforcement action led FBI special agents and task force officers to identify other underage victims of sex trafficking. Both enforcement actions are aimed at disrupting the cycle of victimization of children involved in prostitution by getting them off the streets and at developing sufficient evidence to bring serious federal charges against the pimps who are profiting from the sale of children in this way.

Last week, the FBI joined with more than 92 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Operation Cross Country II across 29 cities. This effort led to 642 arrests and most importantly, the removal of 47 children from the cycle of victimization.

“Sex trafficking of children is one of the most violent and unconscionable crimes committed in this country,” said FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole. “For that reason, we are committed to working with our partners to bring those who exploit children to justice. There are few law enforcement missions more important than protecting our nation’s children.”

“The FBI's leadership in attacking the problem of domestic trafficking of children is unprecedented and historic. These kids are victims being used as commodities for sale or trade. The unique partnership between the FBI, the Justice Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is saving lives and bringing organized criminals to justice,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In June 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Crimes Against Children Unit, in close cooperation with the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitations-Obscenity Section (CEOS) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address criminal enterprises involved in the domestic sex trafficking of children. This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from around the country to NCMEC, where the groups are trained together. In addition, CEOS has reinforced the training by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities plagued by child prostitution. Our alliance is proving to be a success. To date, the work of our 28 Innocence Lost task forces and working groups around the country have resulted in 265 indictments, 365 convictions on a combination of state and federal charges, 46 criminal enterprises disrupted and 36 successfully dismantled. Most importantly, our efforts have led to the recovery of 575 child victims.

The FBI extends its sincere appreciation to our partners who participated in Operation Cross Country II and ongoing enforcement efforts:

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Police Department, Anchorage Police Department, Ann Arundel County Police Department, Arlington Heights Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, Atlantic City Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Boston Police Department, California Department of Justice, Campbell Police Department, Chelsea Police Department, Chicago Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, College Park Police Department, Concord Police Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Costa Mesa Police Department, Dallas Police Department, DC Metropolitan Police Department, Delaware State Police, Denver Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Dublin Police Department, Edmond Police Department, Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Elk Grove Police Department, Fulton County Police Department, Glenview Police Department, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Grays Lake Police Department, Gurnee Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Hapeville Police Department, Harris Country Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Honolulu Police Department, Houston Police Department, Howard County Police Department, Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement, Indianapolis Police Department, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood Police Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Livermore Police Department, Louisiana State Police, Madison Heights Police Department, Maryland State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Dade Police Department, Michigan State Police, Midwest City Police Department, Milpitas Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Moreno Valley Police Department, Morgan Hill Police Department, Mundelein Police Department, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Norman Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Office of Inspector General - Social Security Administration, Oklahoma City Police Department, Ontario Police Department, Phoenix Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Pomona Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, Reno Police Department, Riverside Police Department, Rolling Meadows Police Department, Rowan University Police Department, Sacramento Police Department, San Bernardino Police Department, San Diego Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, San Jose Police Department, San Mateo Police Department, San Rafael Police Department, Santa Rosa Police Department, Shreveport, Police Department, Southfield Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, Tampa Police Department, Toledo Police Department, University of Nevada at Reno Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The charges announced today are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

For more information about the Innocence Lost National Initiative, visit

Thursday, October 16, 2008

UNIFEM: Say No to Violence! Sign the Petition Now


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

India: Police Arrest Mother for Selling Daughter to Brothel

SHILLONG, INDIA - A team of Meghalaya police would soon leave for Bangalore to arrest a woman for selling her foster daughter to a brothel in Mumbai, police said today.

16-year-old Naomi (name changed), who escaped from a brothel in Mumbai last week, had alleged that her step-mother Basil Nongrum sold her to a brothel at Dongli, Mumbai, after her father died.

The teenager, who returned here on Friday last, told police that she managed to run from the brothel through one of its ventilators.

Quoting the girl's statement, police said a Nepali lady rescued the girl by taking her to a police station at Nagpara area before she was handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Mumbai.

''We are still investigating the matter. After collecting all the necessary evidence, we will leave for Bangalore to arrest the step-mother of the girl,'' a police official said.

Meanwhile, the state police said trafficking in women has reportedly increased in the north eastern states as the tribal Khasi women were aiding and abetting human trafficking.

''Most of the local girls were whisked away to metro cities by the tribal Khasi women, who are already involved in flesh trade in different metros of the country. Mostly young village girls of the state are easily trapped into the flesh trade with false promises of better career and job prospects,'' the police official said...


Connecticut: Media and the Sex Slave Industry

This Gucci ad, provided by the Gender Ads Project, depicts the image of men in control. The group's goal is to provide gender studies educators and students with a resource for analyzing the advertising images that relate to gender.

EAST HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - Federal prosecutors have said one-time East Hartford “pimp” Brian Forbes sold two young women to another “pimp” for a promised payment of more than $1,000 in late 2003.

The sale — for which Forbes never actually received payment, according to prosecutors — came after Forbes had already held the two women in an East Hartford apartment, raped them, and “shared them” sexually with friends, federal authorities charged.

Forbes denied the human-sale allegation, but pleaded guilty to a variety of sex-trafficking crimes, including the use of child prostitutes and threatening serious bodily harm to keep two 18-year-olds in his service after they started working for him voluntarily. He was sentenced this year to 13 years in prison.

“Pimp” is here marked by quotations because, technically, a pimp is a person who solicits clients for a prostitute, and in its most positive interpretation prostitution is a voluntary act entered into by individuals who choose to exchange their bodies for money.

Forbes, in this particular case, was not a pimp, but a slave owner.

The case in East Hartford is by no means unique. According to a 2004 report by John Miller, then director of the federal Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in Washington, D.C., modern slavery plagues every country, including the United States.

Not an easy question to answer is why our country, considered by many to be a progressive nation at the forefront of securing individual human rights, is one of the principal destinations for 14,500 to 17,000 women and children trafficked annually for the purposes of slavery.

In a 2004 Trafficking in Persons Annual Report, Miller noted that information on slavery is inexact, “but we believe that the majority of slave victims, in the neighborhood of 80 percent, are of the female gender.” He added, “We believe the largest category of slavery is sex slavery.”

Ms. magazine reported in the summer of 2007 that sex trafficking is one of the most profitable crime industries in the world — second only to the drug trade — and that U.S. trafficking victims are most prevalent in New York, Texas, Florida, and California. The question now becomes, how is it females have come to be considered a viable, and apparently an even somewhat palatable, commodity, particularly in the United States?

While it’s not possible to blame the use of female slaves on any one factor, it’s difficult not to question the effect media and advertising could have on a society’s perception of women.
Mabelle M. Segrest, Fuller-Matthai professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and chairwoman of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Connecticut College, says that to be objectified is to be turned into an object, and to be commodified is to be turned into an object for sale.

“The sex slave is the ultimate of a commodified body, which I think we are numbed to with all this advertising,” she says. “We’re so used to the female body being commodified.”

Women can be used to sell anything from insurance to perfumes to vacations, Segrest says. Even a phone book advertisement uses a young woman in a tight yellow shirt to draw attention to the publication, and an Internet domain registration Web site uses a large-breasted woman in a tight shirt to lure online customers.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Movie Trailer: Call & Response

Call and Response trailer - Justin Dillon

CA: Law Provides Treatment For Trafficking Victims

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - Underage prostitutes in Alameda County will get treatment and counseling under a new California law meant to strengthen protections for victims of human trafficking.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is signing two bills to stem human trafficking.

California and its large immigrant population have seen trafficking victims in everything from prostitution to industrial sweatshops.

In Oakland, juveniles made up most of the 27 human trafficking prostitution cases investigated there in 2006 and 2007. A San Francisco Bay Area-wide prostitution sting in 2007 caught four girls under 18, including one who had brought her 8-month-old child with her to work.

The bill signed on Sunday creates the pilot counseling and treatment program in Oakland and the rest of Alameda County.

A second bill lets victims of human trafficking keep their names out of the public record and requires law enforcement to diligently investigate trafficking cases regardless of citizenship status.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

US: Report Finds Gaps in Sex-Trafficking Enforcement

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - The report, released today, says pimps and customers don't face the same risk of arrest that prostitutes do.

Working as a prostitute in Chicago decades ago, Beth Jacobs said she frequently got arrested, caught by both undercover stings and uniformed police officers.

It wasn't the same for her customers or her pimp.

"My pimp never went to jail and I went all the time, because I was the one that was out there," said Jacobs, who now works as public policy coordinator for Breaking Free, an organization in St. Paul aimed at helping women out of prostitution.

It's a pattern that is often true in Minnesota, according to a Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment report released Monday at the state Capitol.

Changing that pattern to place pimps and customers in greater jeopardy is one of more than two dozen recommendations in the report...


NY: Protest Against HBO; Prostitution as Entertainment

CATHOUSE PROTEST: HBO’s television series ‘Cathouse’ is in the doghouse. According to protesters it promotes the cultural mainstreaming of prostitution, which in turn expands the international demand for the sex trade and human trafficking.

NEW YORK CITY - HBO’s offensive reality series ‘Cathouse’ is in the doghouse.The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)’, and the U.S Department of State’s Ambassador for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Mark Lagon, picketed outside HBO Headquarters on 42nd Street on Tuesday.

They sent a clear message to HBO that the so-called reality show about a brothel in Nevada distorts the reality of the harm of prostitution and sexual exploitation, and plays a key role in the cultural mainstreaming of prostitution.

“It (HBO’s show) builds up the demand, it makes it seem like it is just fine to sell a woman for sex. You’ve got to realize that selling a woman’s body for 30 minutes defines the slavery of our time,” said Mark Lagon, currently visiting New York to promote the fight against sex trafficking world wide at the UN meetings this week...


US: Man Indicted on Sex Trafficking Charges

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - A 41-year-old Memphis man nicknamed “Daddy” was indicted on federal charges of recruiting or forcing young girls to work as prostitutes, federal authorities said today.

Leonard Augusta Fox enticed girls ranging in age from 13 to 17 to engage in commercial sex between Feb. 14 and Sept. 5 this year, federal authorities said.

The indictment indicates that other, unnamed persons also were involved, but no other details were available.

He is charged with three counts of child sex trafficking. Each count carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the FBI at 747-4300.


NYT Editorial: A Herione From the Brothels

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORAL (NICHOLAS KRISTOF) - World leaders are parading through New York this week for a United Nations General Assembly reviewing their (lack of) progress in fighting global poverty. That’s urgent and necessary, but what they aren’t talking enough about is one of the grimmest of all manifestations of poverty — sex trafficking.

This is widely acknowledged to be the 21st-century version of slavery, but governments accept it partly because it seems to defy solution. Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession. It exists in all countries, and if some teenage girls are imprisoned in brothels until they die of AIDS, that is seen as tragic but inevitable.

The perfect counterpoint to that fatalism is Somaly Mam, one of the bravest and boldest of those foreign visitors pouring into New York City this month. Somaly is a Cambodian who as a young teenager was sold to the brothels herself and now runs an organization that extricates girls from forced prostitution.

Now Somaly has published her inspiring memoir, “The Road of Lost Innocence,” in the United States, and it offers some lessons for tackling the broader problem.

In the past when I’ve seen Somaly and her team in Cambodia, I frankly didn’t figure that she would survive this long. Gangsters who run the brothels have held a gun to her head, and seeing that they could not intimidate Somaly with their threats, they found another way to hurt her: They kidnapped and brutalized her 14-year-old daughter.

Three years ago, I wrote from Cambodia about a raid Somaly organized on the Chai Hour II brothel where more than 200 girls had been imprisoned. Girls rescued from the brothel were taken to Somaly’s shelter, but the next day gangsters raided the shelter, kidnapped the girls and took them right back to the brothel.

Yet Somaly continued her fight, and, with the help of many others, she has registered real progress. Today, she says, the Chai Hour II brothel is shuttered. In large part, so is the Svay Pak brothel area where 12-year-old girls were openly for sale on my first visit.

“If you want to buy a virgin, it’s not easy now,” notes Somaly, speaking in English — her fifth language...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Review: 'The Road of Lost Innocence' by Somaly Mam

BLOGCRITICS BOOK REVIEW - I am often amazed at human nature and how cultural differences such as education, religion, and culture affects it. Rousseau, for instance, believed in the noble savage. I have read so many memoirs of missionaries in far-off lands, histories of the wild west, and war stories that I have come to believe that innate human nobility is a rare find. Sure there are those one-in-a-million tribes and countries where everyone in the clan is like a living saint but usually it’s not that way with we humans. Especially when power and money is involved.

In The Road to Lost Innocence, Somaly Mam’s account of her life in Cambodia before and after the Khmer Rouge, we see this kind of savagery. Now, I’m not an expert in Southeast Asian history and born even before the war it seemed that certain cultural cruelties were pretty ingrained, as if they were a part of a thousand-year culture. Specifically, the oppression of women, racial prejudice against dark women and dark tribes.

Somaly belongs to the Phnong, a dark tribe that lived in the deep forests of Cambodia. Unlike the Khmer, who were lighter, the Phnong were considered savage, stupid, dirty. Yes, yes, I know. Sounds familiar, but as Somaly Mam writes, all these Asian countries like light or white skin. War and poverty, of course, only made these racial prejudices and the oppression against women even more cruel...


Al Jazeera Everywoman TV: Maxim Magazine and Mail Order Brides

Berkeley: Keep Trafficking Out of City (EDITORIAL)

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA - It took nearly two years for authorities in Berkeley to extricate its fragrant tree-huggers from their lofty heights on the UC campus, pretty much cementing the city’s place as the wackiest in the West. But wait — don’t count San Francisco out — it’s about to give Berkeley another run for its (streetwalking) money.

Four years ago, Berkeley voters soundly rejected a measure to decriminalize prostitution, which would have directed cops and prosecutors to stop enforcing state laws on prostitution. Now, the same ballot plan goes before San Francisco voters in November under the guise of Proposition K, brought to us by the same sex-trade worker who saw another sales opportunity across the Bay.

That person, Mary Ellen (Maxine) Doogan, happens to be a convicted pimp who ran an escort prostitution agency in Seattle a little more than a decade ago. Doogan was in Superior Court in San Francisco this week with her attorney, Philip Horne, trying to get a judge to block voter information for the ballot pamphlet that would have let people know what Prop. K will do if passed.

The view from the experts: It would be very, very bad for prostitutes and very, very good for pimps and sex traffickers...


Facts About Proposition K

Press Advisory from No on K, Committee to End Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
Date and time: Monday Sept 8, 2008 9:00am Press Conference
Place: San Francisco Courthouse 400 McAllister, Room 302
Contact: 415-722-5959

Proposition K Proponents Sue to Block Voter Information about Decriminalizing Prostitution
The Committee Against Proposition K appear in court today to defend their right to explain to San Francisco voters the disastrous effects of non-enforcement of California’s laws on prostitution in the city.

In Superior Court, proponents of Proposition K, which seeks to make anti-prostitution laws unworkable, argued that certain ballot arguments by the measure’s opponents should be stricken from the voter pamphlet. Opponents argued that voters have a right to be fully informed and their expression of their views is protected by freedom of speech. The groups differ on whether the measure’s decriminalizing provisions will offer pimps a welcome mat in San Francisco.

Facts about Proposition K that its proponents want to strike from voter handbooks:

1) Proposition K will effectively decriminalize pimps and traffickers.

Weakening laws against prostitution obviously makes life easier for those who prey on and live off of prostituting others.

2) Proposition K would hobble the San Francisco District Attorney and the Police Department in investigating sex trafficking.

District Attorney Kamala Harris has said that Proposition K “would expressly bar the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes. Human trafficking is a serious problem in San Francisco. Many people in the commercial sex trade have been trafficked and forced to participate in commercial sex. This measure would attempt to provide safe harbor to their traffickers.”

3) Proposition K would prevent the San Francisco Police Department from seeking or accepting federal or state funds to investigate organized crime rings that exploit trafficking victims of an identifiable race or nationality.

Trafficked women are primarily women of color and/or immigrants. San Francisco is a hub for the sex trade in Asians who are often captive in massage parlors. Culturally appropriate outreach to these vulnerable people is absolutely necessary. It is NOT, as Proposition K construes it, “racial profiling.”

”It is our right to inform the public that Prop K will harm those it claims to protect, empower those who profit from the rape of children, embolden sex traffickers and at the same time de-fund the few investigative and exit services currently available. Prop K hangs a neon “Welcome Predators & Pimps” sign on the Golden Gate Bridge and forces San Franciscans to turn our backs on the most vulnerable among us.” Norma Hotaling, No on K Committee

No on K is a coalition of health and human service providers, doctors; scientists and researchers, artists and activists, civic leaders, and the leaders of S.F. progressive law enforcement including specialists in harm reduction, human trafficking, and units that enforce, investigate and prosecute crimes against prostitutes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bulgaria: Among Leaders in Child Trafficking

PLOVDIV, BULGARIA - Bulgaria is among the leading countries in Europe with regard to victims of child and youth trafficking.

This was announced today during a seminar, organized by the National center “European Youth Programs”.

Leaders and volunteers from Bulgaria and abroad gathered in the Old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, informs Radio Plovdiv.

There was a presentation of the program “Youth in action”, part of which is the prevention of young people's trafficking. The process affects poor people, Roma people and other marginalized groups – potential victims of the crime channels.

From the Bulgarian network for prevention of child and youth trafficking- Smolyan claimed that the first projects will target the school children. The aim of the program at this stage are not the victims of trafficking. The idea is young people to get involved and they to help their friends and the younger children...


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nigeria: Curbing Child Sex Trafficking

NIGERIA - The act of child trafficking in Nigeria and West Africa in general, has become a common phenomenon, which involves young boys and girls on the average age of 15 years. Majority of them are girls. 60 to 80 per cent of them are sent to Italy for sex trade and the common route is the west coast of Nigeria to Mali, Morocco, Spain or west coast of Nigeria to Libya and Saudi Arabia. It has been estimated that about 15 million children are engaged in child labour in Nigeria and 40% of them are at the risk of being used for entertainment, pornography, armed conflict, rituals and forced labour.

It has been revealed that traffickers lure children to leave their homes promising them education and training abroad, though due to poverty some go willingly. Sometimes officials at borders and traffickers conspire to smuggle children out for selfish interest.

Ignorance and poverty are central reasons some parents allow their children to be taken away from them for menial jobs. Parents with large families also willingly give out their wards to strangers for money to enable them cater for the rest of the family...


Russia: Pop Star Promises to Help Sex Slaves

Valeriya with her envoy diploma

GENEVA -- Pop star Valeriya says she is drawing on her experience as a battered wife and "slave" to help migrant workers break free of sexual exploitation and forced labor in her homeland.

Valeriya last week was formally named as goodwill envoy for the Russian Federation on behalf of the International Organization for Migration, an agency she has teamed up with for the past year to combat human trafficking.

"I meet and talk to these people," the blonde 40-year-old told a news briefing. "I am not a professional psychologist, but I am sure I can help people with my own experience as an ex-victim of slavery. I suffered a lot of domestic violence."

"I was forced to work for a man, my [former] husband, who treated me like a slave. So I feel I know the subject maybe even more than many others and am ready to help people with all my heart," she said.

Valeriya -- who only goes by her first name -- has sold 100 million CDs. She is entering the British music market, where she has been dubbed the Russian Madonna, with an English version of her album "Out of Control."

Her anti-trafficking clips already appear on Russian television, and she plans to dedicate some of her concerts around Europe next year to raising public awareness of the problem...


Scotland: New Amnesty Research Suggests Modern-Day Slave Trade Extends Across Scotland

New research published today (20 August) suggests that people trafficking - the modern-day equivalent of the slave trade - is occurring around Scotland.

The "Scotland's Slaves" briefing paper, launched today by Amnesty International, The brings information from the police, local authorities, support services and voluntary organisations for the first time and presents the most comprehensive picture to date of the extent of people trafficking in Scotland.

"Scotland's Slaves" will be launched by Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen at an event in the Scottish Parliament, as part of the 2008 Festival of Politics. Findings include:

· During 'Operation Pentameter 2', Scottish police forces raided over 50 premises in Scotland: 59 people were dealt with as victims of trafficking and 35 suspects were arrested
· The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) estimate that Scotland has 13.5% of the UK's trade in human beings (despite having less than 10% of the population)
· Cases of trafficking have been found in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Stirling and Tayside
· Victims from Lithuania, Slovakia, Nigeria, China, Estonia, Somalia, Thailand, Guinea and Russia have been found in Scotland...


NYT Editorial: Taking on the Traffickers

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL - The Federal Trafficking and Victims Protection Act of 2000 was an ambitious attempt to rescue women and children who are smuggled into the country as sex slaves and to step up prosecution of the pimps and traffickers who drive this ghastly business. It has fallen short on both counts.

The law is now up for reauthorization, and Congress must strengthen it and extend protections and services to victims born in the United States.

The legislation provides federal funds to local trafficking task forces made up of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and social service groups. The social service groups are supposed to help identify victims and then provide them with the guidance and support they need to rebuild their lives.

According to federal estimates as many as 17,000 people — most of them women and children — are brought into this country and forced to work in brutal and inhumane conditions, often as prostitutes. The 42 federally funded task forces that have been set up have only been able to identify a small fraction of those victims.

There are many reasons for this. Traffickers are experts at moving people around without being detected. They also train the women they exploit to fear the police. The task forces are often understaffed, with too few investigators to do the job effectively. That needs to change if the country is going to get at this problem...


S. Africa: Protect Women Forced to Sell Sex

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - Moves to legalise the sex industry that suggest women voluntarily choose prostitution as a viable profession should be vociferously opposed, a multinational conference focusing on the impact of the 2010 World Cup on trafficking of women and children was told.

Gunilla Ekberg, of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, on Wednesday told 80 delegates from six continents that all paid-for sex was in fact a form of violence.

The three-day Cape Town conference is highlighting the 2010 World Cup as an important opportunity to develop a response to violence against women generally, but more specifically to the trafficking of women and girls.

Conference host and director of the Masimanyane Women's Support Centre, Lesley Ann Foster, said it was necessary to actively develop and enforce effective legislation which would offer safety and security to victims of trafficking and reduce the vulnerability of women and children.

Ekberg told the delegates that any country wishing to call itself democratic was obliged to put in place laws and policies to close down legal and illegal brothels, and to strongly enforce those laws in a bid to target the root cause of prostitution, men who buy sex and human traffickers...


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Nigeria: More Graduates Now Prostitutes

NIGERIA - An ugly trend is manifesting in the Nigerian social circle: more graduates of tertiary institutions are going into the illicit trade of prostitution.

A LEADERSHIP Sunday survey carried out in the nation's Federal Capital Territory, FCT, has revealed that many young women who have taken to prostitution as a means of livelihood actually went through the four walls of universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. It was also revealed that most of these schools of higher learning have become breeding grounds for these young ladies who cut their teeth in the act of satisfying the lecherous tendencies of the menfolk for a fee. The students combine the primary assignment of studying to gain a certificate with perfecting the art of prostituting. Once out of school after graduation, these ladies plunge themselves headlong into the business widely described as the oldest profession...


Thursday, August 14, 2008

NYT Editorial: Prostitution and Prevention

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL - Child prostitution, a large and growing problem across the United States, is especially severe in tourist and convention cities. Atlanta, for example, has been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of 14 American cities with the highest rates of child prostitution. Georgia’s lawmakers, religious groups and juvenile justice advocates are taking this issue very seriously, but they may miss an important opportunity unless they focus on programs that have a lasting impact on the lives of Georgia’s most vulnerable children.

State lawmakers will be tempted to ratchet up penalties for the crime of child prostitution and declare the problem solved. But Georgia already has very tough laws in this area. Like the rest of the states, it needs to significantly expand treatment programs for sexually exploited children. And even more important, it needs to broaden community-based prevention programs that spot and help troubled children before they end up selling their bodies on the streets.

A report earlier this year by the Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic at Emory University estimated that hundreds of children were being used as prostitutes throughout Georgia. They come from troubled families and often have histories of truancy. They typically run away from home after being sexually abused.

Once on the street, they face increased risks of being battered or killed. They are also likely to experience drug addiction or psychiatric disorders and contract — and spread — diseases. They may eventually recreate their personal disasters in the lives of their children...


Dubai: Slavery's New Mecca

Men and women interact in a bar in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Friday, Oct. 19, 2007. Dubai has transformed itself from a trading village to the Persian Gulf's financial and tourist hub with lower .

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - To enter Dubai's most notorious brothel, the Cyclone, I paid $16 for a ticket that the bursar stamped with the official seal of the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing. Prostitution is illegal in Dubai, whose laws are rooted in Islam, with penalties ranging up to death. But the stamp was only the first of several contradictions in a place of slavery for women that one well-travelled British monger referred to as "Disneyland for men."

One sign read No Soliciting; another read No Camouflage in the Disco Area. In the club, no less than 500 prostitutes solicited a couple dozen prospective clients, some Western servicemen among them.

An Indian living in London owned the place, and had not updated the decor in a decade, as if taste would reduce the charm and thus deter tourists. I walked over to the bar, and two Korean girls, who looked no older than 15 and claimed to be sisters, approached me...


WA: Human Trafficking Increasing Worldwide

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - Human trafficking crimes are increasing around the world but remain misunderstood and seldom prosecuted, underscoring the need for a more targeted response by government and private industry, panelists said during a legal conference Monday in Seattle.

Although the public often perceives trafficking as children forced to work in the sex trade overseas, the problem also involves domestic servitude and other forms of modern-day slavery in the U.S.

Trafficking occurs not just in foreign lands but on "the next street over," said Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

He moderated a panel of the Conference of Western Attorneys General, which continues through Wednesday.

"It's the third-largest and fastest-growing crime worldwide (because it combines) high profit and low risk," said Bradley Myles, deputy director of the Polaris Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that works to combat human trafficking internationally.

The organization often hears about American-born pimps, he said, as well as about immigrants from Central and South America and Asia who are forced or coerced to work in mom and pop operations, nail salons, farms and garment factories...


Sunday, July 20, 2008

CA: New Ads Reach Out to Trafficking Victims

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are trying to reach out to human-smuggling victims through advertisements featured in major cities, including San Diego.

Advertisements posted on billboards and transit shelters with the slogan “Hidden in Plain Sight” were put on display recently around San Diego County.

The goal is to educate the public about the existence of human trafficking in the country and urge them to report such crimes, officials said.

“These victims are domestic servants, sweatshop employees, sex workers and others lured here by the promise of prosperity, then forced to work without the ability to leave their situation,” Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge in San Diego, said in a news release.

ICE officials say 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders every year. Traffickers often take away the victims' travel and identity documents, and threaten to hurt their families physically and financially if the victims try to escape.

In addition to San Diego, advertisements have been posted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, Baltimore and New York City. Displays are also planned for Houston, Miami and Washington, D.C.

People can give anonymous tips to ICE agents at (866) 347-2423.