Monday, March 31, 2008
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Friday, March 28, 2008
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The legalization of prostitution has been a long neglected topic in the City of Vancouver. It’s time to revisit the question, consider alternatives, and look at solutions once again. The coming 2010 Winter Olympics make the topic especially timely.
How will a mega-event that will bring thousands of tourists to Vancouver affect the sex trade in the city? Will the recent implementation of a sex worker's cooperative help or merely compound the problem and further exploit already marginalized women? Is there a solution to Vancouver's sex trade? What about the trafficking of women? Can a rationale policy that recognizes the multiple dimensions of the sex trade be found?
Constance Carter-Davis owned a two-family home in Queens where her son, Corey "Magnificent" Davis, confined four girls aged 12 to 18 and forced them to work as prostitutes, authorities say. According to court papers, she forfeited the house as part of her son's plea agreement.
"Constance Davis knew absolutely nothing about whatever occurred at that house, which was located three counties away from where she lived," said Kevin Keating, attorney for Corey Davis. "If she knew it she would have been the first to put a stop to it. There is not a shred of evidence that she was aware of her son's activities at that house."
Telephone messages were left Monday and Tuesday for Carter-Davis. Prosecutors declined to comment...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NewsDay.com
The law will increase the minimum punishment for trafficking from three to seven years imprisonment and will impose a fine of $20,000, said IRIN, which provides editorial services and is part of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"We want to have the best legislation in the world to counter the issue of trafficking," said Farouk al-Basha, a leading member of the committee drafting the bill on trafficking, and a member of the Committee for Family Affairs.
"Most importantly, for the first time the trafficked person will be considered a victim and not punished. We will go after the perpetrators and the causes of trafficking," he said.
According to IRIN, there are no separate laws on trafficking in Syria. Offenders are prosecuted under standard criminal law, which sometimes punishes the victims more than the traffickers.
Article 509 of Syrian Criminal Law makes prostitution illegal, and stipulates prison terms for offenders of between three months and three years, or a fine of up to $115 for anyone involved in the sex industry.
"Syrian law does not protect the rights of women," said women's rights activist Maysa Hilyoa. "The same punishment applies for a woman, who is the victim, as for the man, who is often the one forcing her into the work."
IRIN said that there are now an estimated 100 recruitment agencies in Syria offering young girls for domestic service and that many of the girls have been brought into the country against their will.
Trafficking for the sex and entertainment industries is also significant, according to the report...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NaharNet.com
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Stemming domestic violence and human trafficking remains a challenge in the newly independent nation.
PRISTINA, KOSOVO -- She purses her lips in a "tsk-tsk" when asked difficult questions. Questions about her life, about the husband who beats her, the father who denies her an inheritance and a place to live.
Slightly hunchbacked, her thin frame barely fills the several layers of donated clothing she wears. At 26, she looks 15. She has three children and an elementary-school education. When she showed up at the door of a women's shelter here, purple bruises blotched her face and framed her shattered, crooked nose. Chunks of her hair had been ripped out.
"I've been beaten a lot," said Fatima. "They beat me so badly the last time, I could not care for my children."
In the last couple of years, she says, she has spent more time at the shelter, hiding, than in her husband's house. It is only a slight exaggeration.
Fatima is actually luckier than many women in Kosovo, a harsh region weighted by twin burdens of poverty and unenlightened tradition. A United Nations study in 2000 estimated that one-fourth of the female population of Kosovo suffered physical or psychological abuse; Kosovo police last year recorded 1,077 cases of domestic violence.
Fatima and her children were able to escape to a shelter, one of a dozen or so that now operate here. It has given her refuge from the violent men of her family and an alternative to an even darker fate: being sold into the expansive networks that traffic women like chattel in this part of the world.
But for every woman in Kosovo who is saved, an untold number do not make it, according to women's advocates and social workers...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT LATimes.com
Slavery In Our Times
An actress learns human trafficking doesn't just happen 'over there.'
When I was growing up in London, I walked past a massage parlor on the way to school every day. If my friends and I ever gave a thought to what went on behind its doors, we saw it as a bit of a giggle; it existed in a world away from our own.
Fast-forward 30 years to 2006, when I first met 19-year-old Elena through my work with the Helen Bamber Foundation, a U.K. charity that helps abuse victims. Elena's story was all too common but had a huge impact on me.
An intelligent girl with ambitions, Elena had been enticed to London from Moldova with a promise of a good job and a bright future. Once in the U.K., however, her passport was taken from her and she was kept in solitary confinement to break her will. She was warned that her family in Moldova would suffer harm unless she did what she was told. And then she was put to work as a sex slave, servicing a procession of men in the most appalling circumstances.
What made her story so personal for me was where she'd been imprisoned: the same massage parlor I'd once treated as a joke. It underlined an awful truth: that human trafficking is not just a problem for other communities or other people. It exists on our own doorsteps, and our lack of action shames us all.
It's hard to put an accurate figure on the full scale of this misery. But the International Labor Organization estimates that there are at least 2.5 million forced laborers who are victims of human trafficking at any one time. Their plight can be seen as the hidden side of globalization: a sickening business worth more than $30 billion a year.
It is a crime that scars every region and almost every country. Some 120 nations are routinely plundered by traffickers for their human raw materials, and more than 130 countries are known as destinations for their victims.
Like Elena, these victims may end up in the sex trade. Many others find themselves condemned as slave laborers, forced to work in domestic service, in hazardous factories or at grim sites like the cocoa plantations of West Africa. Thousands more, many just children, become unwilling conscripts in bitter wars. Nearly all suffer physical or sexual abuse, creating mental and physical scars they carry for the rest of their lives.
To help people understand their plight, a powerful and disturbing exhibition has been put together. Called "Journey," the exhibit is based on the testimony of Elena and other girls like her. It has had a searing impact on all who have seen it. But "Journey" also contains a message of hope. It reveals?as I have learned from Elena and other survivors?the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit. It shows how, with support and care, these courageous women can rebuild their lives.
The exhibit traveled from London to Vienna early last month for an extraordinary international gathering of 1,400 experts, legislators, law-enforcement officers, business leaders and campaigners, all determined to help stamp out this evil trade. And it should be coming to the United States soon.
A unique initiative of six organizations under the rubric of the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), the Vienna Forum highlighted how little is being done to fight the problem internationally. U.S. State Department figures show that in 2004 (the last year for which numbers are available), there were only about 3,000 successful convictions of criminals worldwide for related offenses. With more than 80 women being smuggled into Britain alone each week for the sex trade, this lack of action should make us all very angry.
I passionately hope the Vienna Forum and UN.GIFT manage to persuade countries to step up their enforcement efforts. But I left Vienna more certain than ever that, while leadership at the top is crucial, each of us must also step up to the mark.
Much as we need international organizations, national governments, the police and courts to bring traffickers to justice, we must all examine how we behave. The solutions lie in all our hands. Businesses must ask searching questions about their suppliers and not let themselves be fobbed off with convenient answers. As consumers, we need to think about what we buy, where it comes from and under what conditions it's made. Everyone can make a difference. If we explain to our own kids how children are forced to work as slaves in cocoa plantations, for example, they will press us to buy Fair Trade chocolate.
Above all, we have to keep our eyes open and not be afraid of letting our voices be heard. This is not a problem happening somewhere else. It is on all our own doorsteps.
Elena and many thousands of people like her need us to come to their aid. We can no longer keep walking past their door and ignore their cries for help.
Thompson is an Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter and the chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation.
While women in escort prostitution tell us it's a last resort and they want to escape it, Alan Dershowitz, who defends the U.S. government's use of torture, declared that prostitution is "a victimless crime."
Who are the sources of the myth that "prostitution is a victimless crime?" Well, mostly they're johns. They spew out the myths that many people unquestioningly accept as fact: women choose prostitution, they get rich, it's glamorous and it turns women on.
Assuming that men's sexual incontinence is inevitable, johns and their apologists assume prostitution is also inevitable. "I'm here for a purpose. I know what my purpose is. I'm not a ... moron ...," said the woman used by Spitzer in a wiretapped conversation with one of her pimps. Her purpose, one john patiently explained, is "renting an organ for 10 minutes."
Studies of johns in several different countries are now revealing what some have suspected all along: Although they use women under the cover of "gentleman's clubs" or escort agencies, johns are sex predators. They pay extra to "erase the no" in the prostitution transaction. Many enjoy the psychological control of prostitution as much as the sexual domination. Insisting that women are turned on to the sex of prostitution, they at the same time insist that the payment of money removes all ethical responsibility for its psychological harm...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT SFGate.com
The governor buttonholed me because he wanted credit for passage of a tough state law against sex trafficking. Frankly, he deserves credit, for the law took the innovative step of cracking down on johns by increasing penalties.
The big worry now among those working to stop trafficking is that the Spitzer scandal will add to perceptions of prostitution as a “victimless crime.” On my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground, one person named “Carmen” argued, “if a man can hire a pro to help improve his golf, why not let him hire a pro to help improve his sex?”
Another poster, who identified herself as a former prostitute in Australia, said she had “never felt exploited or trapped” and added, “It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”
Yet the evidence is overwhelming that, in the United States, prostitution is only very rarely just another career choice. Studies suggest that up to two-thirds of prostitutes have been sexually abused as girls, a majority have drug dependencies or mental illnesses, one-third have been threatened with death by pimps, and almost half have attempted suicide.
Melissa Farley, a psychologist who has written extensively about the subject, says that girls typically become prostitutes at age 13 or 14. She conducted a study finding that 89 percent of prostitutes urgently wanted to escape the work, and that two-thirds have post-traumatic stress disorder — not a problem for even the most frustrated burger-flipper...
READ THE FULL OP-ED AT NYTimes.com
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
WASHINGTON D.C. - Federal prosecutors have unsealed an affidavit that details a rendezvous in a Washington hotel room last month between a prostitute and a client who a source tells CNN was New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
The affidavit does not mention Spitzer by name, but a source with knowledge of the case said the subject identified as Client-9 is the governor.
Spitzer took office in January 2007 after serving eight years as the state's attorney general, when he rose to national prominence as a hard-charging prosecutor.
He has not been charged.
Spitzer, who is married with three children, went before reporters Monday to confess to an undisclosed personal indiscretion, saying he had acted "in a way that violates my obligations to my family, that violates my or any sense of right and wrong."He did not acknowledge the allegations, which were revealed Monday in The New York Times, nor did he take questions...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CNN.com
Asian Development Bank projects aimed at improving transportation and infrastructure in Asia could be fueling the spread of HIV in some parts of the region, according to an ADB study released Thursday, AFP/Google.com reports. According to the study, large construction and transportation projects draw men into rural areas, increasing the demand for sex. In addition, commercial sex work, as well as drug and human trafficking, follow major construction and transportation projects, increasing the spread of HIV in the areas surrounding the projects, the study found.
According to the study, long-distance truck drivers in Bangladesh have the highest rates of HIV in the country. It also found that the incidence of sexually transmitted infections in China is four times higher among truck drivers than the general population. The study also found an HIV prevalence of 16% along a transport route in southern India, compared with an HIV prevalence of less than 1% nationwide. In addition, the study found that the 1997 construction of the Mandalay-Muse highway, which connects Myanmar and China, led to an increase in injection drug use, fueling the spread of HIV among IDUs in three of Myanmar's provinces...
READ THE FULL REPORT AT KaiserNetwork.org
Darren Hilton, 28, was sentenced yesterday to 77 years and four months to life for sexually assaulting four teenagers he had targeted to work for him on the streets.
Hilton was convicted in Chula Vista Superior Court in January of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, committing lewd acts on a child aged 14 or 15, pandering and kidnapping.
When police searched the suburban Chula Vista home Hilton shared with his mother and stepmother in February 2006, they found training books and videotapes on how to become a pimp.
Hilton said little in court yesterday, but in a probation report filed with Judge Alvin E. Green Jr., he told probation officials: “I didn't do these things.”
His lawyer, Raymond Aragon, told the judge that Hilton would appeal after Green refused his motion for a new trial...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT SignOnSanDiego.com
UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today kicked off a multi-year global campaign bringing together the United Nations, governments and civil society to try to end violence against women, calling it an issue that “cannot wait.”
“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist,” Mr. Ban said in his address at the opening in New York of the latest session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Violence against women impedes economic and social growth, and thus the new campaign will run until 2015, the same target year as the internationally agreed aims known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Noting that weapons of armed conflict today include rape, sexual violence and abduction of children to be conscripted as soldiers or sex slaves, the Secretary-General recounted his visits to war-torn areas and his conversations with survivors of violence...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT UN.org
15th February Proceedings
- Presentation: Ms. María Isabel Nieto Jaramillo on Transnational Organized Crime: Impact from Source to Destination
- Radio Interview: First Global Anti-Human Trafficking Forum Concludes in Vienna
- Presentation: Ms. Kristin Kvigne on Transnational organized Crime – Impact from Source to Destination
- Presentation: Mr. Arqile Koca on Trafficking of human beings by Albanian Criminal Groups
- Speech: Closing remarks by Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director, UNODC
- Speech: Dr. Helga Konrad, International Consultant on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings
- Media Release: Vienna Forum strengthens global fight against human trafficking
- Media Release: Business comes together for the first time to tackle human trafficking
- Photos: Glimpses of 15th February Proceedings
• February 2008
Article: Kirche macht gegen Menschenhandel mobil
Article: World: UNODC Chief Talks About Trafficking Challenge
Article:Today’s society favours trafficking, UN warns
Article: Top UN Official Calls for Greater Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking
Article: Human trafficking is slavery and must be battled: UN forum
Article: At UN anti-trafficking forum, participants raise awareness of tainted goods
Article: Former sex slaves let audience relive trafficking horrors - Feature
Article: Ex-Utahn's song underscores tragedy of human trafficking
Article: Chinese envoy sets forth position on human trafficking
Article: Expert: Organ trafficking among surgeons
Article: Celebs rally against human trafficking
Article: End 'wall of silence' on human trafficking - UN forum
Article: UN Warns on Soaring Human Trafficking
Article: Film, pop stars headline UN anti-human trafficking campaign
Article: Celebs Rally Against Human Trafficking
Article: UN forum on human trafficking opens in Vienna
Article: Vienna forum on new slavery
Article: Russia’s pop singer Valeria becomes goodwill ambassador at IOM
Article: Emma Thompson In Vienna Against Human Trafficking
Article: UN seeks human trafficking action
Article: Soaring human trafficking demands government crackdown - UN
Article: Eerste VN-forum over mensenhandel
Article: Sultanate to take part in meeting on human trafficking
Article: International Herald Tribune - Human trafficking
Article: UN-backed container exhibit spotlights plight of sex trafficking victims
Article: Thompson exhibit exposes sex trade
Article: UAE committed to fighting human trafficking, says official
Article: Editorial: Not for sale
LONDON, ENGLAND - Penny was almost 29 when she was trafficked from Rwanda to the UK, tricked into believing she could start a new life.
Instead, she ended up trapped in a small flat in south-west London.
She had unwittingly stepped into a trap laid by a trafficker, becoming a commodity in what campaigners say is the world's fastest growing illegal trade - in people.
Yet when Penny agreed to meet the agent, introduced to her by a friend, she was unaware that human trafficking even existed.
"I didn't think about the consequences. I just took the opportunity to get out of the country," Penny said.
I had never heard what trafficking was all about until I was here. I didn't know anything about it at all."
Penny's story is just one of many that remain hidden. The UN estimates that some 2.5 million people are in forced labour at any given time, as a result of trafficking...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.BBC.co.uk
The women, in their 20s, were found in two separate properties, after spending thousands of pounds to be smuggled overland to begin a new life in the UK.
Two Chinese males were arrested at the same time and are currently being quizzed on alleged sex and immigration offences.
One police source said yesterday: "This is an excellent result and once again illustrates the insidious extent of the sex trade in Scotland.
"This weekend is the start of Chinese New Year, and for these four girls, the Year of the Rat should be an awful lot happier than recent times that they have endured."
He added: "Girls like these tend to come from very rural and very poor parts of China. They would have been forced to hand over many thousands of pounds to the snakeheads, after being promised jobs here as waitresses, dancers or nannies...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT ScotlandOnSunday.Scotsman.com
In a press release, she described prostitution as an illegal and undignified activity even when it is practised among adults."And it is even more horrendous and extremely injurious when it involves children", she said.
Ms. Anna Bossman said it is particularly difficult to assess the extent of child prostitution because this type of exploitation and abuse is usually hidden, taking place behind closed doors and most children feel much guilt, shame and fear to seek help.
Ms. Bossman talked about the 140 children alleged to have escaped from the Social Welfare Department after being rescued from prostitution by the police.
This incident, she said, presents a critical setback because it creates more opportunities for the children to be continually abused...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT AllAfrica.com
More than 1,000 delegates from over 100 countries are attending the forum to discuss solutions, including techniques to monitor criminal gangs.
There are believed to be millions of victims of trafficking worldwide - in a multi-billion dollar industry.
UN officials say human trafficking is the hidden crime of globalisation and nothing short of modern day slavery.
International celebrities among the delegates included British actress Emma Thompson, Latin pop star Ricky Martin and Egypt's First Lady Suzanne Mubarak...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.BBC.co.uk
Speaking to journalists at the end of UN-sponsored anti- trafficking event UN.GIFT, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) head Antonio Maria Costa said that the "dramatic trend" towards exhibiting women, for example in ads, created a vulnerability towards this crime.
"It is ... preying on women. I am also talking about rich countries, not just the gender disparities we see in developing countries," Costa said.
Furthermore, the drive to cut costs, engendered by globalization, led to more exploitation.
"People feel the moral right to go and exploit other individuals just to cut costs," Costa warned, also slamming the "benign neglect" many nations still displayed towards human trafficking, a crime significantly more challenging to combat than drug trafficking, due to lack of information and political will.
At UN.GIFT, representatives from 116 nations, international organizations and NGOs gathered to raise awareness and launch on-the-ground measures to combat trafficking, both the supply of victims and demand for goods or services produced by the victims...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT EarthTimes.org
"We need to move into a better knowledge of the problem," Antonio Maria Costa, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
"It's a beast of which we only know the footprints but don't know the size of it."
Costa was talking to journalists at the end of the three-day forum in Vienna sponsored by UN.GIFT (the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking), an offshoot of the UNODC funded by the United Arab Emirates.
British actress Emma Thompson, Latino pop star Ricky Martin and Egypt's First Lady Suzanne Mubarak were among those who lent their names to an international campaign when the forum opened on Wednesday...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT News.com.au
According to the Queens district attorney’s office, the detective, Wayne Taylor, and the girlfriend, Zalika Brown, would parade the girl at parties and other places where adult men had gathered and force her to have sex with them for money — $40 for oral sex, $80 for intercourse.
The child was an investment. The couple allegedly told her that she had been purchased for $500 — purchased, like the slaves of old, only this time for use as a prostitute.
Other than the fact that one of the accused in this case is a police detective, there was nothing unusual about this tale of trafficking in young female flesh.
Our perspective is twisted. It was a big story when a television newsman was crude and thoughtless enough to use the term “pimped out” in a reference to Chelsea Clinton. The comment generated outrage — as it should have — and the newsman was suspended. But if someone actually pimps out a 13-year-old child, and even if that someone is alleged to be a police detective, it generates a collective yawn...
READ THE FULL EDITORIAL AT NYTimes.com
IASI, ROMANIA - This is the story of Monica; she is fourteen. These hidden camera images show her being sold to a London prostitute ring by her Romanian pimps. She is 14. Chris Rogers spent seven months charting how the girls' journey begin.
The taxi driver drops us outside a petrol station on a busy road. I start swigging whisky and smoking, trying to look the part.
Anything to avoid suspicion. I'm in Iasi, northeast Romania, filming undercover for an ITV News At Ten investigation.
Tonight I'm planning to do business with the gangs that sell and traffic young women. I am going to buy a sex slave.
I approach two hard-looking women in their late thirties on the petrol station forecourt.
They are wrapped in fur coats to survive on the freezing streets. They don't seem surprised to see a foreigner here.
They beckon me towards them, out of sight of the CCTV cameras. Police cars drive past – it must be obvious what's going on, but I've been told officers simply turn a blind eye.
It is so poor here that the trade in humans is commonplace.
Young girls are prostituted on the streets until they are conditioned enough to be sold on.
As I was to find out, girls are often sold or leased from gang to gang and country to country.
The women are pimping a young girl called Monica.
I ask if she is for sale.
"Yes," one of the women tells me.
"You can take her for one hour, a night or a week, it's up to you." Monica's little face pokes between the two of them. She is pretty but looks worn. Her hair is greasy and tangled, her skin dirty and bruised...
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT DailyMail.co.uk