Monday, April 21, 2008

UK: Police Raids Over Online Brothels

LONDON, ENGLAND - Fifteen people arrested as part of an operation targeting brothels operating via the internet in central London are still being questioned by police.

The arrests were made when more than 100 officers searched 19 premises.

Police suspect that those arrested are part of a criminal network involved in prostitution and people-trafficking.

It is alleged the network operates by trafficking women from abroad, the majority from Thailand, and then coercing them to work as prostitutes.

Up to 110 officers are involved in Operation Gib, led by the Metropolitan Police with support from Surrey Constabulary and Norfolk Constabulary.

Police believe criminals have been using an internet escort agency as a front for organised prostitution...


Norway: Proposes Jail, Fines for Buying Sex

OSLO, NORWAY - The Norwegian government proposed on Friday to fine or jail clients of prostitutes for up to six months in a bid to stamp out human trafficking, and said the law would also apply to its citizens abroad.

Norway signalled in mid-2007 that it would make it a criminal offence to buy services from prostitutes, following the example of Scandinavian neighbour Sweden which introduced a similar ban in 1999.

The amendment will now be put to parliament for approval and if passed will take effect in January 2008, officials said.

"People are not merchandise, and criminalising the purchase of sexual services will make it less attractive for human traffickers to look to Norway," Justice Minister Knut Storberget said in a statement.

Prostitution is allowed in Norway although procuring, or "pimping," is illegal. A rise in street prostitution in the capital, Oslo, in recent years has triggered calls for a ban.

Proponents of the measure say it makes sense to try to stop prostitution by punishing those who use the service rather than the women themselves, who are often poor, young immigrants.

"The goal is that the ban should contribute to ... reducing demand and thereby give a lesser market for human trafficking," Storberget said.

Opponents of the ban say it will jeopardise women in the trade by driving prostitution underground where they will be even more vulnerable...


NY: Massage Parlor Owner Pleads Guilty in Prostitution Ring

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - The main target in a 15-month human-trafficking investigation pleaded guilty in federal court in Buffalo on Thursday to forcing women to work as prostitutes in her four area massage parlors.

In exchange for her plea, Len Wah Chong promised to help prosecutors make their case against others who are believed to have used their authority and influence to illegally bring the women to Western New York, control their lives and force them to perform sexual acts.

Chong, who is from Malaysia, could have received a minimum 15-year prison term but will be sentenced to 5v to 6z years if she cooperates fully with law enforcement officials.

Under terms of the plea agreement entered before U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny, Chong, 43, admitted recruiting female employees through newspaper advertisements and contacts in New York City, sometimes representing her establishments as “licensed” and “safe” from law enforcement action.

“It’s seedy to think that she so quickly forgot what it meant to be an immigrant woman coming into this country — not having a skill, not having legal status,” U.S. Attorney Terrence P. Flynn said after the court proceeding.

Under the plea agreement, Chong, who is also known as Lisa Tsui and is a North Tonawanda resident, must pay $350,000 in restitution to 11 women who are former employees. She also will have to pay a forfeiture to the federal government of $350,000.

Chong was taken into custody until she is sentenced Aug. 14. At that time, she could also face a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release...


CA: Orinda Man Sought on Charges of Sex Tourism

ORINDA, CALIFORNIA - Authorites are looking for a 61-year-old Orinda man accused of traveling repeatedly to Costa Rica to engage in sex acts with a child and of possessing pornographic pictures of her, the U.S. Attorney's office announced today.

Leonard Auerbach was charged with "sex tourism" in connection with more than three dozen trips to Costa Rica from 2003 to 2007.

Federal agents who searched Auerbach's home found pornographic computer photographs of a 12-year-old child. Agents also quoted from secretly-recorded conversations in which Auerbach refers to having sex with his "girlfriend," according to an affidavit filed by the U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello.

Auerbach failed to appear in court on April 9 for arraignment and is considered a fugitive. He faces up to 60 years in prison, the U.S. attorney's office said.


NY: State to Amp Up Sex Trade Fight

NEW YORK - A 15-year-old runaway from a juvenile facility is offered up on Craigslist for sex at a Rockland County motel. Immigrants working at a massage parlor at a local strip mall sell sexual services. A travel agency tailors trips abroad for men seeking sex with prostitutes and children.

These are some of the outlets for human trafficking locally and in cities and suburbs throughout the country. Trafficking involves victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labor, many of whom end up working in the sex trade.

Though the sex trade is a historic and pervasive problem, the tools for fighting it have become more modern and effective in New York state, said Ken Franzblau, a Rockland County resident who has been fighting human trafficking for the past 13 years. Now it's just a matter of getting law enforcement to use those tools, he said.

"Part of the whole national failure on human trafficking has been the historic approach to prostitution. Once you've arrested somebody for prostitution, too often that represents the end of the case as far as law enforcement is concerned," said Franzblau, who became the state's first director of human trafficking at the Division of Criminal Justice Services in September.

A few agencies are starting to take on trafficking and the sex trade more aggressively. Franzblau said the Spring Valley Police Department has been one of the most effective and comprehensive police forces in the state when it comes to handling prostitution cases. He also praised Clarkstown for passing a law requiring massage parlor employees to have professional licenses, which was intended to tackle prostitution...


Monday, April 14, 2008

Niger: Woman Sues Government Over Slavery

NIAMEY, NIGER — A woman who says she was held as a slave for 10 years took Niger's government to court on Monday for allegedly failing to implement its own laws banning slavery, the first case of its kind in the West African nation.

The case of Hadijatou Mani, 24, was heard by a regional court run by the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States because Hadijatou "believes she cannot get fair redress at any national court in Niger," said Romana Cacchioli, Africa coordinator of Anti-Slavery International.

Hadijatou, who says she was held as a sexual slave and domestic servant, is demanding about $100,000 in compensation, according to one of her lawyers, Ibrahima Kane, with the International Center for Legal Protection of Human Rights.

"We want her to be treated as a human being like everybody else," Kane said. "We want to make sure all her suffering ends, and she needs compensation from the state for not doing anything to stop it for so long."

The case is unprecedented in Niger. Decisions of the regional court are binding on member states and could set a precedent throughout the region for tougher enforcement of anti-slavery laws...


Spain: Smashes Russian Sex Ring

SPAIN - Spanish police say they have smashed a major Russian prostitution ring, arresting 76 people and detaining 400 women suspected of illegal residence.

The gangs were based in Lerida and Gerona in the north-east of the country and Almeria and Granada in the south, police said.

Russian-Spanish couples - married or cohabiting - were involved in the sex trafficking, police said.

Illegal remittances to Russia may have totalled more than 2m euros (£1.6m).

The police operation was launched in November 2006.

The prostitutes lived in cramped apartments, police said. The payments for each sex trafficking victim were reportedly made in transfers totalling less than 3,000 euros each, to avoid detection by the fiscal authorities...


Las Vegas: Major Destination for Sex Trafficking Victims

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - Las Vegas has been named a major destination for the sex trafficking of minors. A new report from the group Shared Hope International reveals just how serious the problem is.

Nationwide, 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk for sexual exploitation. The average age for children to be sold into prostitution is 12 to 14. Here in Clark County, 30-percent of victims were sold for sex by family members.

Our county also has the highest number of juvenile prostitution cases in the U.S. The study found that one third of the minors trapped into prostitution in Las Vegas are from here. Two thirds are from 40 different states and brought here to be bought.

The study is the first of four looking at different cities showing just how much of an epidemic the sex trafficking of minors really is.

Child prostitutes are arrested every month in Las Vegas. It's big business done in the shadows -- back rooms and in the hotels. Now, a new report confirms the prostitution of minors is a major problem in Las Vegas.

There is no way to put exact numbers on how many children are involved, but the women's crisis group, Shared Hope, tried to shed light on the extent of the sex trafficking of minors. The organization provided these interviews with child prostitutes as well as traffickers to highlight the problem.

"When I turned 12-years-old, I started street prostitution. I had a pimp," said Tonya, a sex trafficking victim...


Thailand: Anti-Trafficking Agreemet Signed With Vietnam

HANOI, VIETNAM - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej opened a three-day visit to Vietnam Monday with the signing of an agreement between the two countries on combating human trafficking.

Thailand and Vietnam "have the same development situation," Samak told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. He said he looked forward to improving cooperation and trade relations.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on combating human trafficking by Thai Social Development and Human Security Minister Sutha Chansaeng and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem.

The agreement is part of a joint anti-trafficking initiative launched in 2004 between the six countries in the Mekong subregion, which also includes Myanmar, China, Cambodia, and Laos...


Canada: Rise in Human Trafficking Prompts RCMP to Recount Canadian Victims

MONTREAL, QUEBEC — The sex-slave market in Canada is feared to be much larger than existing official estimates, which has prompted authorities to recount the number of victims in the country.

Joy Smith, the Conservative vice-chair of the parliamentary committee on the status of women, said several analysts have been assigned to the RCMP's human trafficking unit to go over their figures.

The RCMP believes 800 to 1,200 people in Canada have been victims of human trafficking but some activists peg the figure as high as 15,000.

"There's a big gap in those numbers," Smith told The Canadian Press. "This needs-assessment is critical to finding out exactly what we're facing and exactly what we have to deal with here in Canada."

Smith pointed out that the RCMP's figures come mainly from arrest reports, which can provide a misleading snapshot of the situation.

"When the NGOs are saying 15,000, these are the people that take care of the victims," she said.

United Nations tallies suggest 2.5 million people worldwide, including some 1.2 million children, are involved in forced labour through global trafficking...


Solomon Islands: It's an Issue for All of Us

SOLOMON ISLANDS - Eight young girls were caught in a Fishing vessel in a Joint Operation undertaken by the Police, Customs and Quarantine recently.

The eight girls that were caught were just part of a huge number of women and young girls who were lured on to these boats for sex in exchange for cash and fish.

The story of these girls has hit the headlines of all major newspapers in the last couple of days.
It has created controversy and has posed a challenge for a concerted effort from all stakeholders to address this issue effectively.

In a similar case at the Central Market a woman has asked two young girls to follow her to one of these fishing vessels.
The two girls have trusted the woman and accompanied her to the boat.
Arriving at the boat, the woman asked the girls to get on board while she was getting salt fish ready to sell.
When return to the shore with the fish, the woman asked the two girls to wait on the ship to be picked up.
The two girls waited and waited until one of them was lured by an Asian man who had just returned from work...


Monday, April 7, 2008

PHX: Avg. Age of Child Prostitute is 13; Documentary 'Branded'

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - The number of teen girls selling their bodies on Valley streets is growing.

"The average age of the child prostitute is about 13," said Phoenix Police Sergeant Andy Hill. "There's been a tremendous increase in the number of child prostitutes that we arrest. Just last Friday, Phoenix PD went out and arrested eight child prostitutes. It's just a tremendous problem."

Hill said there is such a need for understanding and awareness that community leaders developed a documentary called ‘Branded.'

Hill said the name was chosen because pimps brand their girls like cattle.

To learn more about the movie, visit

Mozambique: Acting on Child Sex Trafficking After 'Hairdresser' Case

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE - Mozambique's Justice Minister Benvinda Levi on Thursday urged tougher action against the trafficking of women and children, many of whom are smuggled to South Africa and forced to work in the sex trade. Levi was addressing a special parliamentary hearing on human trafficking, an issue that has dominated headlines in the country over the past week following revelations that three girls were lured to South Africa in January and forced to work as sex slaves for two months.

Levi urged parliament to quickly pass draft legislation on human trafficking and protection of minors, including stiffer jail terms for convicted child traffickers.

The case of the three young trafficking victims from the capital Maputo has rocked Mozambique. Earlier this week a high-level delegation of crime-fighting officials travelled to South Africa to try to obtain the extradition of the main female suspect in the affair who faces charges of abduction, entrapment and document forgery in Mozambique.

The former Portuguese colony is one of the world's poorest countries.

In an interview with state TVM television last week the three girls, aged 16 to 20, said the woman, whom they met on the beach in Maputo, lured to Africa's biggest economy with the promise of getting them work as hairdressers.

Once there they were forced to work as sex slaves for nearly two months in a brothel in a leafy suburb of the administrative capital Pretoria, servicing up to 10 mostly older men a day, with no pay. One girl said she was beaten when she failed to perform...


DC: Sex Worker Measure Splits DOJ, Baptists

WASHINGTON D.C. - A seemingly uncontroversial bill introduced by the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has stuck a wedge between a powerful conservative religious group and the Department of Justice.

The bill, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, passed the House in a 405-2 vote in December but faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The bill marks a rare instance of the Bush administration opposing a major conservative religious group over legal policy.

It would authorize the use of federal resources and create an office within the Department of State to fight the trafficking of sex workers in the U.S. and overseas.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Bangladesh: Sigma Sentenced

DHAKA, BANGLADESH - A Dhaka court sentenced former communications minister barrister Nazmul Huda to 12 years in jail on Thursday, and fined him Tk 1 crore or another year in prison, on charges of amassing illegal wealth and concealing wealth-related information.

The court acquitted the ex-minister's wife Sigma Huda who was accused of abetting her husband. However, Sigma will not be freed as she had already been sentenced to three years in jail in another case.

The verdict of judge Md Ashraf Hossain, of the Special Judge's Court-5 set up in the Sangsad Bhaban premises, also ordered confiscation of the couple's illegal assets. Huda's sentences will run concurrently and will be effective from the date of his arrest. Joint forces arrested Nazmul Huda on Feb 3, 2007.

Sigma Huda was arrested on July 5. The Anticorruption Commission filed the graft case against the Huda couple on July 11, 2007, with Dhanmandi police.

The case details accused Nazmul Huda of illegally acquiring wealth of Tk 7.62 crore, and concealing information regarding assets worth Tk 2.59 crore in his wealth statement submitted to the ACC.

Sigma Huda was accused of abetting her husband. Charges were framed against the couple on Dec 9 and witnesses depositions began on Jan 13.