Thursday, May 22, 2008

CA: Underage Prostitutes on CraigsList

A young prostitute targeted because she was thought to be underage waits in handcuffs after a Sacramento police vice team led by Sgt. Pam Seyffert and working with FBI agent Minerva Shelton arranged a hotel-room meeting with her via the Internet. Officers subsequently learned that the suspect was not a juvenile.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - If she tried hard, 14-year-old Jasmine could have sex with nine men a day. She'd start posting ads online at 2 or 3 p.m., in time to set up appointments with early commuters.

She'd finish by 5:30 a.m., exhausted and disgusted. The money – about $100 per trick – went to whichever pimp was profiting from her lost innocence.

In September, Sacramento police Sgt. Pam Seyffert and her vice unit picked up Jasmine at a Good Nite Inn near California State University, Sacramento. They'd found her the same way so many men had: on craigslist.

Well-known as a free online community bulletin board, craigslist has gained the dubious distinction of being a popular site for pimps to market young girls to customers, or "johns."

The young prostitutes often are disguised behind photos advertising older women, Seyffert says, and almost always claim to be at least 18.

It is difficult to estimate just how many children are being pimped out, either locally or nationally. In 2003, the FBI reported about 1,400 juveniles were arrested nationally for prostitution...


Monday, May 19, 2008

Malaysia: Man Accused of Luring Thai Women in Prostitution

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - A Malaysian man who allegedly lured two Thai women into the country to become sex workers became the first person charged under a tough new law against human trafficking, a lawyer said Tuesday.

Ee Chin Kai pleaded innocent in a court in southern Malaysia on Monday to two charges of bringing in the 27-year-old women and exploiting them to work as prostitutes, said Ee's lawyer, Noordin Hussin.

If convicted, Ee faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine for each charge under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act that came into effect last year.

"This one could be a test" of the new law, Noordin said.

The court scheduled a hearing for Sept. 17 and released Ee on bail.

Ee was arrested in March while the women were allegedly staying with him, Noordin said.

Human rights groups have long lobbied for Malaysia to punish human traffickers, many of whom previously escaped prosecution because there was no specific law to use against them.

The U.S. State Department, in its annual "Trafficking in Persons Report" released last June, downgraded Malaysia from a watch list to a blacklist "for its failure to show satisfactory progress in combating trafficking in persons."

Malaysian officials have said the new law could resolve such complaints by encouraging police, immigration departments and other authorities to pursue, prosecute and convict alleged human traffickers...


Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Yorker: The CounterTraffickers

Stella Rotaru, at left, of the International Organization for Migration, with one of the group’s beneficiaries. Photograph by Bela Doka.

NEW YORKER MAGAZINE - Stella Rotaru’s cell-phone number is scribbled on the wall of a women’s jail in Dubai. That’s what a former inmate told her, and Rotaru does get a lot of calls from Dubai, including some from jail. But she gets calls from many odd places—as well as faxes, e-mails, and text messages—pretty much non-stop. “I never switch off my phone,” she said. “I cannot afford to, morally.” She looked at her battered cell phone, which has pale-gold paint peeling off it, and gave a small laugh.

Rotaru, who is twenty-six, works for the International Organization for Migration, a group connected to the United Nations, in Chisinau, Moldova. She is a repatriation specialist. Her main task is bringing lost Moldovans home. Nearly all her clients are victims of human trafficking, most of them women sold into prostitution abroad, and their stories pour across her desk in stark vignettes and muddled sagas of desperation, violence, betrayal, and sorrow.

Her allies and colleagues in this work are widely scattered. An ebullient Dubai prison officer named Omer, who calls Rotaru “sister,” has been a help. So have Russian policemen, an Israeli lawyer, a Ukrainian psychologist, an Irish social worker, a Turkish women’s shelter, Interpol, and various consulates and embassies, as well as travel agents, priests, and partner organizations, including an anti-trafficking group called La Strada, which has offices downstairs from Rotaru’s and a dedicated victims’ hot line.

Rotaru is often at the airport in Chisinau to meet those Moldovans who manage to get home with her help. In some cases, she goes to pick them up in Odessa, the Black Sea port in Ukraine—Moldova, an ex-Soviet republic, is half-encircled by Ukraine—where a twice-weekly ferry from Istanbul docks. If a victim’s family is also present, there may be little or nothing for Rotaru to do. Or there may be a lot.


Germany: Punishers Customers of Forced Prostitution

German authorities are worried about women being forced into the sex trade

GERMANY - German officials are drafting legislation to sentence men for up to 10 years in prison if they obtain sexual services from women forced into prostitution, according to a report in a news magazine.

A Justice Ministry spokesman confirmed to German news agency dpa that a draft of the bill was under review, but gave no details. He said both Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDU) and their junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, had agreed to clamp down on forced prostitution.

Regular prostitution is legal in Germany, with cities zoning land for brothels. Prostitutes appear on TV and pay income tax.

But authorities are concerned that some women, typically illegal immigrants from poor nations in eastern Europe, are employed against their will by pimps who demand repayment of vast "recruitment fees."..


WA: Spokane's Teen Trafficking Problem

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON -- Human trafficking is a "considerable concern" in the Spokane area, contributing to teenage prostitution, forced labor and other ills, according to a new study.

"Trafficking victims work on our streets, are often held captive in residents' homes and hotels and travel over our highways to other destinations where they will experience further exploitation and abuse," according to the report prepared by Debbie R. DuPey for the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety.

Such "victimization is of considerable concern for this region," DuPey wrote. "There is a wide spectrum of trafficking activities that include sex slavery, forced prostitution, forced panhandling, farm labor, janitorial work and domestic servitude."

The study consisted of a written survey and interviews with 25 service agencies last year.

Human trafficking "is a new issue for our region, and we are only beginning to assess the nature and extent of the problem," DuPey concluded.

Law enforcement agencies "frequently fail to understand the severe human rights abuses and suffering occurring through the exploitation of vulnerable humans of all types," said former Spokane County Sheriff John A. Goldman, institute director.

Washington state adopted the first anti-human-trafficking law in the nation, but few cases are prosecuted under that statute or the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, partly "due to perception and misunderstanding," Goldman said.

"Too often, the victims are viewed first as criminals and enforcement is aimed at the low-hanging fruit - prostitutes and illegal immigrants," he added...


Australia: Slavery Laws Face Test in Court

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - The first person convicted of possessing and using sex slaves in Australia should soon find out whether she can plead her case at a retrial.

Brothel owner Wei Tang was found guilty in 2006 of five counts of possessing a slave and five counts of exercising a power of ownership over a slave.

She was sentenced to 10 years' jail for her role in enslaving five Thai women at her brothel, Club 417, and forcing them to work off debts of between $40,000 and $45,000.

But in June last year, Tang successfully appealed her convictions in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

She argued the trial judge had not correctly identified the elements of the offence or the scope of the "intention" required.

Tang's convictions were quashed and a retrial ordered.

But the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed that decision in the High Court.

The full court will hear the matter starting on Tuesday in Canberra...


Special Report: Deconstructing the Demand

Deconstructing The Demand for Prostitution:
Preliminary Insights From Interviews With Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex

is at the following link

Spain: Romanian Prostitutes Turn in Spanish Police

COSLADA, SPAIN - Five Romanian prostitutes in Spain caused a genuine revolution in the locality of Coslada, near Madrid. The head of the local Police and 30 of his subordinates were arrested on Thursday night based on the women’s disclosures.

The investigators learnt from the prostitutes that the police officers in Coslada were involved in trafficking in human beings, in drugs and were also cashing protection fees. This is believed to be the largest-scale anti-corruption query in the local Spanish Police. The members of the mafia of the local Police force in Coslada were also obtaining free services from the Romanian prostitutes by pressure, threat and blackmail. The prostitutes even stated that the head of the local police and his acolytes were often organising parties and orgies in the city night clubs. Domiciliary searches found large amounts of money and unregistered firearms at the addressees of the arrested policemen. The Romanian prostitutes have been included to the witness protection programme, being given a new identity...


LA: City Atty Seeks to Bar Figueroa Sex Trade

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - City attorney asks a judge to keep 36 convicted prostitutes and five known pimps from walking anywhere on a 5.7-mile stretch of Figueroa in South Los Angeles.

Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said Monday that he had asked a judge to bar 36 convicted prostitutes and five pimps from walking anywhere on a 5.7-mile stretch of Figueroa Street, part of a larger effort to crack down on a brazen sex trade in South Los Angeles.

Delgadillo's proposed injunction is designed to provide relief for neighborhoods along Figueroa, which police say is the busiest corridor for prostitution in the city.

Prostitutes work the sidewalks in broad daylight, standing on routes used by children to travel to and from school, said Det. Bill Margolis, a 35-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. As pimps seek to protect their turf, prostitution has generated more violent crimes, he said.

"If this kind of activity was occurring in other parts of the city, people would be in an uproar," he said. "They wouldn't stand for it. But this has plagued this neighborhood for years."

Delgadillo now relies on 36 separate injunctions to limit gang activity in neighborhoods stretching from Wilmington to the San Fernando Valley. But the Figueroa proposal, which was filed in court Friday, represents the first effort by the city to use such a tactic to target the illegal sex trade...


Sunday, May 11, 2008

India: Debt Woes Lead Farmers to Suicide, Trafficking

KOCHI, INDIA- On the last night of his life, the farmer walked into his dusty fields, choked down pesticide and waited to die.

He owed more than $1,000 to banks and moneylenders and he had told his wife that if the cotton harvest was bad this year, he would kill himself.

Pandurang Chindu Surpam left the near-barren fields he worked with his sons to share a last meal with his family. Hours later, he died. He was 45.

Crushed by debts most Westerners would deem inconsequential, farmers like Surpam killed themselves at a rate of 48 a day between 2002 and 2006 - more than 17,500 a year, according to experts who have analyzed government statistics. At least 160,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997, said K. Nagaraj of the Madras Institute of Development Studies.

The epidemic dates to the 1990s, and is generally attributed to a toxic blend of slashed subsidies, tougher global competition, drought, predatory moneylenders and expensive genetically modified seeds.

"It's one of the largest public health disasters to hit India since independence," said professor Charles Nuckols of Brigham Young University, an anthropologist who has studied Indian village life for decades.

In northern India, authorities have gone so far as to ban a type of cheap hair dye because it was being drunk to induce death by kidney failure.

But it is India's cotton belt, a land of searing temperatures and backbreaking work, that has been hit hardest by the suicides.

In rural Maharashtra state, farmers say things have never been harder. Owing more than they earn, these steadiest of workers have become gamblers of the highest stakes, betting their land - and their lives - on one more good crop.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has visited some of the widows, and the 2008 budget offers some debt relief...


Editorial: Some Men Say Using Prostitutes an Addiction

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - As anti-prostitution groups try to thwart sex trade by going after customers, they said they have faced a big problem: researchers have only the crudest grasp of why men buy sex.

Even scholarly understanding of prostitution demand has been colored by a boys-will-be-boys attitude toward sex, activists said.

To get a better understanding, a group of researchers—most of them young women—invited more than 100 Chicago-area men who frequently use prostitutes to talk about their attitudes and experiences.

They were overwhelmed by the response. More than 200 men answered the ads the researchers placed in local sex-service classifieds and were willing to sit down with strangers to discuss at length their illegal sexual practices.

While the survey, which is not peer-reviewed, is likely to draw criticism from some academics, the project offers a window into the attitudes of men who buy sex in Chicago.

The results, to be made public Wednesday, show men are often deeply conflicted about their behavior, said Rachel Durchslag, director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, which conducted the survey in Chicago with the Evanston-based Justice Project Against Sexual Harm.

Though most of the men interviewed said they believe there is nothing wrong with prostitution, a large majority, 83 percent, view buying sex as a form of addiction, according to the study...


Commentary: Sex Worker or Trafficking Victim?

ALTERNET COMMENTARY - New legislation could expand the definition of trafficking to treat many sex workers as crime victims instead of criminals.

A teenage girl from Chicago is being sexually abused by her mother's string of boyfriends. So she flees home with a boyfriend of her own. They hit the road but run out of money, so the boyfriend shows her how to work the truck stops, and she becomes a prostitute. Several years later, she is working for a pimp who forces her to serve 10 or more customers a night, driving her to different locations in the city and suburbs, and keeps almost all the money himself. She wants to leave prostitution, but is emotionally and financially dependent on the pimp and afraid he will physically harm her if she tries to leave.

This story is a composite of very common situations, according to a groundbreaking study of 100 young prostitutes and their relationships with pimps released by DePaul University's College of Law and the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on May 7.

Public and governmental attention has been increasingly focused on victims of international sex trafficking over the past few years, with immigration visas and social services offered to victims. By current legal and social definitions, the girl described above has not been trafficked. But advocates argue the DePaul study shows U.S.-born prostitutes working in the United States should, in many cases, be defined as trafficking victims, exploited and trapped in situations beyond their control. The House version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA, also HR 3887), passed overwhelming in December 2007, redefines trafficking to include many domestic prostitutes. If a similar bill is passed in the Senate and becomes law, it will mean that women -- and some men -- in this situation would be treated as crime victims deserving of resources and institutional support, rather than as criminals. And their pimps and traffickers would face increased criminal penalties.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

India: 15 Million Prostitutes

INDIA - According to Human Rights Watch, there are approximately 15 million prostitutes in India. There are more than 100,000 women prostitution in Bombay, Asia’s largest sex industry center. Girl prostitutes in India, Pakistan and the Middle East are tortured, held in virtual imprisonment, sexually abused, and raped. Girl prostitutes are primarily located in low-middle income areas and business districts and are known by officials. Brothel keepers regularly recruit young girls. Girl prostitutes are grouped as common prostitutes, singers and dancers, call girls, religious prostitutes or devdasi, and caged brothel prostitutes. Districts bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka, known as the ‘devadasi belt’, have trafficking structures operating at various levels. The women here are in prostitution either because their husbands deserted them, or they are trafficked through coercion and deception. Many are devadasi, dedicated into prostitution for the Goddess Yellamma.
An oft-repeated cause of prostitution is poverty. But poverty is not the only reason. The helplessness of women forces them to sell their bodies. Many girls from villages are trapped for the trade in the pretext of love and elope from home, only to find themselves sold in the city to pimps, who take money from the women as commission. The other causes of prostitution include ill treatment by parents, bad company, family prostitutes, social customs, inability to arrange marriage, lack of sex education, media, prior incest and rape, early marriage and desertion, lack of recreational facilities, ignorance, and acceptance of prostitution. Economic causes include poverty and economic distress. Psychological causes include desire for physical pleasure, greed, and dejection.


UK: Target the Demand Side to Stop Trafficking

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - Would the hundreds of men who paid to have sex with "Alicia" have cared if they knew she was being held captive by a trafficker who raped her and pimped her, and that she was infected with HIV?

"I don't think they would have come back. If they really knew," says the Rwandan woman, who was brought from Africa to a south London apartment and forced to have sex while her captor collected her earnings.

"But it's not their concern at the end of the day: you've paid your money, and you got what you are paying for," she told Reuters, asking that a pseudonym be used in place of her name for fear those who exploited her would track her down.

The rise of international sex trafficking is causing many countries to rethink their laws on prostitution and re-examine legal frameworks that for decades have treated the purchase of sex as a social nuisance or "victimless crime".

Norway's government proposed last week to fine or jail clients of prostitutes for up to six months in a bid to stamp out human trafficking, saying the rule would apply to its citizens in Norway and abroad.

British government research shows that during 2003 there were an estimated 4,000 victims of trafficking for prostitution in Britain. The figures have risen at least threefold since 1998, according to Home Office figures...


Seattle: Child's Pimp Receives Extraordinary Sentence

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - A Seattle pimp who turned a 12-year-old girl into a prostitute received an extraordinary five-year prison term Friday.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour cited the victim's age in sentencing Sean Hart to a term that is almost three times longer than federal guidelines.

The girl went missing in 2006 from her home in Elk Grove, Calif. Passed from pimp to pimp, the girl ended up in Hart's hands May 25, 2006, according to court records.

For 12 days, Hart forced her into prostitution and "coerced her into giving him all her earnings. (She) feared the defendant because he beat her frequently," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake.

In seeking the exceptional sentence, Otake characterized Hart as a man who "caused a 12-year-old girl to believe that her only asset was her ability to have sex with strangers. She now faces a horrific struggle to overcome this belief."

Before sentencing, Hart addressed the court, saying: "I am just ashamed and embarrassed. I'll never do something like this again. I am changing my life."

Coughenour also sentenced Randy Ivey to 30 months in prison for his role in passing the girl on to Hart. That sentence also was an upward departure from sentencing guidelines, which call for a range of 12 to 18 months...


Phillipines: Filipinas Trafficked into Singapore 'Unabated'

MANILA, PHILLIPINES - The Philippine embassy said the trafficking of Filipinas in Singapore "continues unabated."

The embassy’s admission came six month after first reported the sharp increase in the incident of the transnational crime in the island-state.

In the report it submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) dated April 28, the Philippine embassy in Singapore reiterated its warning about the dangers of human trafficking.

The warning came in the wake of meetings between the Philippine embassy, Ambassador Steven Steiner of the United States Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and officials from the Philippine Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking, who went to Singapore to assess the situation there.

In November 2007, posted a special report on the growing number of young Filipino women being lured to Singapore on the false promise of a high-paying job only to end up in prostitution.

The increased incidence of trafficking of Asian women, including Filipinas, to Singapore prompted the United States State Department to downgrade the city-state's rating from Tier 1 in 2006 to Tier 2 this year...


Fighting Trafficking Stereotypes in the Media

SPECIAL UN COMMENTARY - The media is a powerful tool that can inform and raise awareness about human trafficking to a large audience. Coverage of the issue, however, often equates human trafficking with prostitution. Stories tend to perpetuate clich├ęs about victims without offering insight into the root causes of the problem. "It is easier to focus on victims as persons with allegedly questionable moral than to treat them as persons with dignity, who have rights, persons who are like the rest of us," says Marija Andelkovic, President of the Serbian anti-trafficking NGO ASTRA.

Writing about personal ordeals also requires caution. Journalists who interview victims should keep in mind that victims of trafficking are vulnerable and unprotected, even after they escape or are rescued. As Ms Andelkovic explains, when journalists call ASTRA to speak to a victim, "almost 90 per cent of the time there is a positive reaction and they are willing to be interviewed". However, many victims soon change their minds out of fear. They might be portrayed in a bad light, family members might recognize them or traffickers might be able to track them down. Those who do decide to speak to the media have a lot to
say, and it becomes the journalist's responsibility to protect their anonymity.

But what can be done to help dispel stereotypical coverage, increase in-depth understanding of the issue and protect those who are willing to share their stories?

ASTRA's work to promote the effective use of the media to educate the general public has yielded promising results. "Serbians have learned through the media not to confuse trafficking in human beings, prostitution and smuggling," says Andelkovic. To minimize the chances of producing simplistic reports on the topic, journalists should be educated about the nature and complexity of human trafficking. By providing complete information, clearly and chronologically, using several sources, and offering information about how to protect oneself , journalists can also improve the quality of articles .

Journalists and editors must also ensure that they protect their sources by all means. In the world of organized crime, information tends to travel fast. Journalists must be aware of this risk and inform the victims accordingly. Re-telling the story of physical and mental torture also means victims re-live their traumas. Therefore, legal and psychological experts could be called in to support victims .

Writing an interesting and effective human trafficking story does not always require interviewing a victim. Trafficking in human beings is a complex problem that can be covered from several angles. As an organized crime activity, it is never isolated in a single country and is often connected to other profitable illegal businesses - such as the smuggling of drugs. But the business or profit aspects seldom receive attention.

Media power should be used to press authorities and society in general to tackle the factors that drive human trafficking. "And the greatest contribution would be to write about human trafficking as a serious social problem which is very complex and has different aspects, " says Andelkovic. "In that way, journalists will help fight crime."


Bolivia: Traffickers Target Minors

BOLIVIA - Human trafficking does not discriminate between countries, whether rich or poor, large or small. It takes place in every corner of the world. Although it especially affects women and girls, men and boys are also victimized.

Cases of human trafficking have surfaced in Bolivia, demonstrating that this country is not immune from the phenomenon. Studies carried out by different institutions indicate that Bolivia is a country of origin, transit and destination, but also that it is difficult to quantify the problem. "The numbers are not that high and only cover cases that have been reported and cases undergoing trial," says Cristina Albertin, UNODC Representative in Bolivia.

While many women and girls are forced to work as prostitutes, men and boys are usually made to work in mines, factories and fields. These trends are confirmed by Betty Pinto, responsible for the national programme for the human rights of migrants and women of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Since statistics show that more girls and women migrate and disappear than boys and men, Ms. Pinto considers that "human trafficking is a deeply gendered issue." Although both sexes are negatively affected, trafficking mainly affects females "because of how we conceive women's bodies," which are so devalued as to be perceived as objects, mere merchandise...


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Captive Daughters' Signature Jewelry - Buy it Now!

Handcrafted in Bali of fine metal, these earrings and pendants will make a beautiful statement showing your support of Captive Daughters' work.

Why the scallop shell?

The scallop shell is an ancient symbol honoring female sexuality and birth.

This beautiful symbol reminds us that for centuries the Female has been honored and must continue to be protected from gross violations of female sexuality and body rights such as trafficking and sexual exploitation.


Italy: Sex Tourism and Child Exploitation Dicussed at Innocenti Conference

International experts discuss ways to halt the trafficking of children for sex tourism at a conference hosted by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.

FLORENCE, ITALY - Two related topics – combating child sex tourism, and corporate social responsibility – were key discussion points at the expert consultation on child sexual exploitation and trafficking hosted by the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) here this week.

The gathering is the first of series of meetings and workshops with child rights experts, governments, children and other stakeholders to develop recommendations for the third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. The congress will be held in Rio de Janeiro in late November.

Preventing child sex tourism will feature prominently at the Brazil meeting, and several successful regional and national campaigns that are now working with the travel industry were presented in Florence...


Russia: Where MIgration Means Trafficking

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - New efforts have been launched to curb human trafficking across Russia and the ex-Soviet republics.

The Moscow office of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) is implementing a programme 'Prevention of Human Trafficking' jointly financed by the European Commission, the U.S. State Department and the Swiss government.

Aurelius Gutauskas, a Lithuanian legal expert together with experts from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the IOM are adapting features of counter-trafficking legislation in the European Union to bridge gaps in Russian law.

"The project aims at complementing the efforts of the authorities and the civil society, and to enhance prosecution and the criminalisation of trafficking," Alberto Andreani, programme coordinator for prevention of human trafficking at the Moscow IOM office told IPS.

At their annual meeting in Moscow last November, members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose organisation of ex-Soviet republics (excluding the Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) signed an anti-trafficking cooperation programme to last until 2010.

But Elena Govorina from the Angel Coalition, a Moscow-based non-profit organisation that tracks human trafficking in Russia and the region, says government action is still not enough to fight the fast growing problem. And there have been few attempts to study the social conditions that give rise to human trafficking, she said...


US: Donna Hughes on the Reauthorization of the William Wilberforce Act

NATIONAL REVIEW EDITORIAL - The nation’s most recent political sex scandal — New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with a high-end call-girl ring — will doubtless provide much fodder for the late-night comedy shows. But American prostitution is no laughing matter: The victimization of women and girls, and sometimes men and boys, by pimps has been widely recognized throughout U.S. history.

In the mid-1800s, Congress passed a law criminalizing the importation of aliens for prostitution. In the early 1900s as part of the first international movement against sex trafficking, Congress passed the Mann Act, a law criminalizing the act of transporting persons across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.

In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), making the pimping of persons under the age of 18, or pimping by means of fraud, force, or coercion, a serious federal felony. (“Pimping” is an informal term for what the TVPA 2000 calls “sex trafficking”: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.”) And in 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act created new federal anti-trafficking crimes and enhanced the penalties of the Mann Act.

In December, the House of Representatives passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act by a vote of 405 to 2. The legislation modernizes and harmonizes existing federal laws against pimping to create a new set of criminal statutes, which will make the prosecution of sex-trafficking offenses easier and more efficient. It also creates a new international standard as a model for other countries...


Bangladesh/Nepal: Open Border Fuels Trafficking

BANGLADESH/NEPAL BORDER - Porous borders along Nepal and Bangladesh have fuelled the growth of cross border trafficking in and around the tea estates in Darjeeling. And here intense poverty and unemployment, a deadly cocktail, has forced many to the flesh trade.

The Maichi Bridge on the Bengal-Nepal border witnesses late hour rush as visitors on both sides rush back home before the borders shut down for the night.

Besides the long lines of commodities waiting to be smuggled into India at the bridge are young men and women quietly pushing their business - soliciting for sex work.

And security personnel are the usual clients.

A few kilometers away is Khalpara, Siliguri's red light area where many teenagers from tea estates end up earning a livelihood for themselves and their families.

''In north Bengal mainly Jalpaiguri most of the tea gardens are closed which has lead to poverty. Children also see others of their age coming from Delhi and earning so much and get attracted to that and try and go that way. And in this situation dalaals take them to brothels,'' said Mrinal Ghosh, member, Child Welfare Committee.

But the money isn't so good there; the best options are tourists. With tourism picking up once again in the region, the onset of spring brings many young people to the hills.

Once the season ends they disappear earning them the nickname of flying sex workers...


Chicago: Prostitution Looks Chic, But Truth is Ugly

Pretty Woman presented a glammed up version of prostitution, not the reality

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - The problem with much of the coverage of the Eliot Spitzer scandal was not just the pulp fiction-worthy headlines ("Bad Gal!" "The Love Gov!") or the endless loop of commentary about why married men cheat. It was that the media delivered a basic untruth.

This was not a love (or even a lust) story: The now-former New York governor wasn't stepping out on his wife with a consenting "other woman." His was an illegal and dehumanizing business transaction, one in which a man of great privilege purchased the sexual services of a woman of far more limited means.

But instead of treating Ashley Alexandra Dupre—who has said she was abused and once homeless—as a victim, the media have turned her into a vixen. Why address the oppression that is prostitution when we can serve it up as a form of sexual self-expression (or as a savvy career move) instead?

It's tempting to blame it all on "Pretty Woman," the wildly successful 1990 film that launched Julia Roberts' career, and the myth of prostitution as a way to get the guy (and the designer wardrobe).

But that film's wrongheaded celebration of the redeeming possibilities of sexual servitude seems almost quaint in comparison with the "Prostitution Chic" of today.

"Pimp and Ho" nights have become a staple at downtown clubs and uptown benefit parties. "Turning Tricks" pole-dancing classes are offered at Crunch Gyms.

Hit shows such as HBO's "Entourage" and "Cathouse"—where a Nevada pimp and his "girls" are portrayed as one big, happy, sexually uninhibited family—are an ode to the joys of being sexually serviced by women. The Top 40 success of the Pussycat Dolls—part predictable pop music, all bump and grind—has brought the burlesque back to the mainstream.

And here in the Windy City, the Discovery Center's Sex Tour brochure promises to take tourists to the "freaky and little-known locations of Chicago's sex industry."

The new vogue of voyeurism substitutes prostitution for the carnival freak shows of old. The trend is not unprecedented; respectable Victorians also took prostitution tours. But it reinforces the modern-day, market-driven perception that those working in prostitution are merely indulging their own bent for entrepreneurialism and sexual self-expression.

Make no mistake: Our cultural fascination with and glamorization of pimping and prostitution do not make for a kinder and gentler sex trade...


CA: Oakland Teen Rebuilds Life After Prostitution

A 12-year old girl draws on her arm at Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro as she recounts her experiences of being sexually abused, exploited and prostituted. Many young girls are seeking shelter from abuse.

The day after Christmas, 14-year-old Desiree went shopping at the mall with her friends, missed her curfew and never went home.

Desiree's family grew concerned and filed a missing person's report with the Oakland Police Department.

The girl, who stands 4 foot 11 and has an olive complexion and long, wavy dark hair, disappeared for days. Then an uncle was shocked to come across a nude picture of Desiree in the shower posted on the Craigslist Web site.

He called the telephone number listed looking for his niece. She answered and, recognizing his voice, hung up.

Desiree was among the hundreds of children under 18 advertised on the site's erotic services section. With one click on a blue link, girls called"Sexy Blonde Bombshell," "Asian Rockstar Gone Wild" and "Ebony Playmate" appear on the screen wearing thongs and lacey bras.

Technology and cell phones have given pimps greater reach and the ability to solicit pedophiles from all over the country who are willing to pay top dollar for sex with children.

Demand is great, and the profits are huge. But Desiree and many young girls who turn tricks typically don't take in any of that money.

On a busy night, Desiree — who turned 15 on Saturday and is home again with her family in Oakland — said she had sex with as many as four men and made $600 a night, which she turned over to her pimp. But by the end of her one-month stint of being pimped on the Internet, Desiree was out $1,000 and had a busted lip and an excruciatingly painful pelvic inflammatory disease. She also was arrested on charges of possession of drugs and truancy...



NY: Trashy HBO SHow Gets Heat From Public

Advocates protest at HBO's corporate headquarters in Manhattan.

NEW YORK CITY - Women's rights advocates and others are putting the heat on the HBO reality series "Cathouse," which follows the happenings in a legal brothel in Nevada. They say that the cable show is normalizing the demand for prostitution and fueling sex trafficking in the United States. A protest held outside HBO's corporate headquarters in Manhattan last Thursday drew attention to the show's negative social impact.

"In 'Cathouse' the reality of the sex industry is distorted. Pimps are transformed into businessmen. It also shows that the buying and selling of women is harmless and normal," said Norma Ramos, co-director of the advocacy group Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. "HBO cynically labels 'Cathouse' as a documentary when in fact it packages prostitution as entertainment."

An estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States each year, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice. Roughly 80 percent of all trafficked victims are women and girls, 70 percent of whom end up in prostitution, according to statistics from Ramos' group.

Facing protests over "Cathouse," HBO has defended its reputation.

"If one looks at the long list of powerful, award-winning programming from HBO's documentaries that have championed urgent human rights issues women face, it is clear that an accusation of 'promoting prostitution and sex trafficking' is simply an unfair claim of the great work done here," reads a statement from HBO...


Texas: Houston Man Imprisoned for Immigrant Prostitution Case

HOUSTON, TEXAS - A Houston man was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for forcing illegal immigrants to work as prostitutes to pay off smuggling debts.

Victor Omar Lopez was the fifth among eight defendants punished for participating in a human smuggling ring believed to be one of the country's largest.

In his plea deal, Lopez admitted to conspiracy to commit servitude and related trafficking, and to a second conspiracy count involving immigrant smuggling.

During the scheme, which began in November 2001, women and girls were smuggled into the United States under the pretense of legitimate wait staff jobs. Instead, to pay off their transportation debt, as many as 120 were forced to have sex with patrons of northwest-side cantinas owned or operated by Lopez, his brothers and others.

Lopez and his brothers, Maximino "Chimino" Mondragon and Oscar Mondragon, earned money from the servitude of the women, who were brought from Central America with the help of co-defendant Walter Alexander Corea, an admitted smuggler.

The conspirators used fear and violence to keep the women under their control. Those who have pleaded guilty have admitted to sexual assault, increasing the smuggling debts and threatening to harm relatives abroad if the women did not pay...


Las Vegas: Clark County Judge Proposes Safe House for Underage Prostitutes

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - A Clark County judge wants to give underage prostitutes another chance.

Action News reporter Heather Klein explains details behind his plan.

It is no secret that money can buy a lot in Las Vegas, unfortunately girls as young as 11 and 12 years old are also for sale.

Now, a family court judge sick of seeing these kids in his court room has a plan that is two and a half years in the making.

They walk the streets of Las Vegas and most of them should be in a middle school classroom, not under the Las Vegas lights.

"It only takes that one 12 year old that comes through your court that has been pimped out for the last year and that is all the incentive anyone needs," explained Judge William Voy.

Incentive to build a $2 million house is the vision of family court Judge William Voy has.

"In juvenile court we are supposed to try and help kids," said Judge Voy.

Unfortunately, the only place to send these girls is juvenile detention centers.

But Judge Voy believes they are victims of pimps and sending them to lock up does nothing to help break the cycle.

"You may get them out of the game for a while but whenever an issue comes up or something goes wrong in their life they end up back in it," explained Judge Voy.

He wants to put them in a house that is secured by a wall and probation officers...