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
Website: noonk.net

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...