Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taken - Trafficking Film with Liam Neeson Opens Tomorrow

20th Century Fox's Taken, a film starring Liam Neeson and dramaticizing the topic of trafficking in women, opens tomorrow, January 30 in wide release.

Synopsis from Yahoo Movies:
Former government operative Bryan Mills begins the longest 96-hours of his life--and the hunt for the fearsome organization that has taken his daughter Kim. Mills had only recently given up his government career as what he calls a "preventer" to be near Kim, who lives with Bryan's ex-wife Lenore and her new husband. To make ends meet, Bryan joins some former colleagues for special security details (like guarding a pop diva), but most of his time and energy are spent re-connecting with Kim. Bryan's familial goal is nearly derailed when Kim requests his permission to spend time in Paris with a friend. All too aware of the dangers that could lie ahead for Kim in a foreign land, Bryan says no, but Kim's disappointment leads him to very reluctantly relent.

Bryan's worst fears are realized when Kim and her friend Amanda are suddenly abducted--in broad daylight--from the Paris apartment at which they've just arrived. Moments before Kim is dragged away by the as yet unseen and unknown assailants, she manages to phone Bryan, who begins to expertly piece together clues that will take him to the darkness of Paris' underworld, and to the City of Lights' plushest mansions. He will face nightmares worse than anything he experienced in black ops--and let nothing and no one stop him from saving his daughter.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Africa: Desperate Chldren Flee Zimbabwe for Lives Just as Bleak

Joao Silva for The New York Times

Williad Fire, 16, crossed illegally into South Africa from Zimbabwe with eight friends after the deaths of his parents and an uncle. More Photos >

MUSINA, SOUTH AFRICA - They bear the look of street urchins, their eyes on the prowl for useful scraps of garbage and their bodies covered in clothes no cleaner than a mechanic’s rags.

Near midnight, these Zimbabwean children can be found sleeping outside almost anywhere in this border city. A 12-year-old girl named No Matter Hungwe, hunched beneath the reassuring exterior light of the post office, said it was hunger that had pushed her across the border alone. Her father is dead, and she wanted to help her mother and younger brothers by earning what she could here in South Africa — within certain limits, anyway. “Some men — men with cars — want to sleep with me,” she said, considering the upside against the down. “They have offered me 100 rand,” about $10...


Spain: Human Traffickers' Assets to be Seized

MADRID, SPAIN- The Spanish government announced a new plan Friday to combat human trafficking, which includes a measure for the immediate seizure of the assets of anyone convicted of involvement in such activities, in particular, those who force foreign women into prostitution.

The General Association in Defence of the Rights of Prostitutes, Hetaira, Spain’s largest association of sex workers, welcomed the government’s announcement, which it sees as a step forward, although it maintains that there are many things that should be done differently to protect the human rights of trafficked persons and prostitutes in general.

The Integral Plan to Combat Human Trafficking for the Purposes of Sexual Exploitation includes 61 measures aimed at raising social awareness and implementing a zero tolerance policy against human trafficking-related crimes...


Israel: 2009 WUNRN Human Trafficking Report

ISRAEL - The Women's United Nations Report Network has released a new report entitled:

Human Trafficking & The State of Israel: Deported and Dispossessed:
Between Economic Struggle and Systemic Depression

Download the full report here (as a PDF)

Learn more about the WUNRN

Hotline for Israeli migrant workers website:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Norma Hotaling, Anti-Sex Trafficking Activist Dies

Norma Hotaling, who has died aged 57 of pancreatic cancer, was internationally renowned for her advocacy work in the US on behalf of victims of sexual violence, in particular prostitution and trafficking. The Florida-born campaigner founded a world-famous programme to deter men from paying for sex.

Hotaling herself had endured the worst type of violence. Shortly after the death of her father, when she was three years old, she was sexually abused for the first time, with further occurrences between the ages of five and seven. She went to school in Palm Springs, but by the time she was 18, she was on the streets selling sex and soon became a heroin addict.

In 1989, after 21 years in prostitution, Hotaling decided she had had enough. She turned herself in at the nearest police station and insisted that she be put in jail, where she stayed for six weeks, almost dying during drug withdrawal. She soon began to devote her life to helping other women. First working with Aids sufferers, in 1992 she founded Standing against Global Exploitation (Sage), a San Francisco-based centre offering services to help women out of prostitution.

Furious that street prostitutes continued to be arrested and blamed for their circumstances, Hotaling decided to try to educate people living in neighbourhoods most affected by the trade. She began meeting regularly with community leaders, explaining that the women were not there out of choice, but that the kerb crawlers were. It was then that she decided to do something about the demand side of prostitution.

Ironically, it was her collaboration with the police officer who had arrested her countless times in the 1980s for soliciting, Lieutenant Joe Dutto, that enabled her work with sex buyers to take off. She contacted him after hearing of his concern about the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the city, and, by then armed with a degree in health education from San Francisco state university, offered her skills.

Hotaling devised a programme that was to become known as the John's school, which came to be replicated across scores of cities in the US, Canada and the UK. Formally known as the First Offenders of Prostitution Program (Fopp), charges against first offenders were dropped if they paid a fee and attended a day-long course, including sessions run by former prostitutes, on the realities of the sex trade. Most of the fees went to help women attend the Sage programme.

"I was scared," she said about the first time she ran Fopp. "I knew they would hate me. I never thought in my wildest dreams they would get anything out of it. At the end of the programme they were all crying." Very few men who attend Fopp are known to reoffend, and its existence has enabled a change in emphasis to focus on the demand for prostitution as the cause of the problem.

In recognition of her work with Sage and Fopp, Hotaling received more than 20 awards, including Oprah's angel award in 2001, presented to her on air by Winfrey herself. She also advised governments on how to tackle trafficking and prostitution and addressed conferences all over the world.

Asked in 1997 how she managed to work with women who have complex problems, she replied: "It's like caring for orchids. They die so easily. But you take the dead-looking stem to someone who knows orchids and that person can look at the root and say, 'Look! There's still a little bit of life here.'"

Hotaling never married. She is survived by her mother and brother.

• Norma Hotaling, campaigner, born 21 July 1951; died 16 December 2008

Canada: Winter Olympics 2010 a Sex Trafficking Target

VANCOUVER, CANADA - Imagine finding yourself working in a brothel or in the back of a massage parlor after you were promised a well-paying job as a model or a waitress.

This is a brutal reality for a growing number of unsuspecting young women and men who become trapped in the sex trade after being lured to Canada with false promises.

Canada is a source, transit and destination country for women, men and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.


And there are fears that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver may become a catalyst for a massive boom in trafficking of women into the city’s sex trade from outside and within Canada.

That’s why the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) is trying to educate young Canadians on the issue.

The CRC, in conjunction with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, recently released an awareness and action kit on human trafficking for Catholic high school students across Canada.

The purpose of the kit is to introduce students to the issue and raise awareness of the link between high profile sporting events such as the Winter Olympics and increased trafficking in persons for sexual and labour exploitation, explained Dave Bouchard, spokesperson for the CRC.

“We just want young people to be more aware of what’s happening. And most of the time this is happening to people their own age, people between the ages of 14 to 22.”


The kit, titled Being a Global Village: Human Trafficking and the 2010 Olympics, provides material for about three 60-minute class periods. It can be inserted in curriculum areas such as social or human rights or as a social justice component of religious studies.

The kit contains teacher notes, a Power Point presentation on human trafficking, a documentary/play called the Oldest Oppression, as well as prayers, reflections and action handouts. The kit is available in English and French and can easily be adapted to a parish youth program of catechesis.

“Young people need to become more aware of the issue of human trafficking for two reasons: to avoid any traps that come their way in terms of how traffickers work and to help them get more involved in advocacy work to try to help victims of human trafficking,” says Bouchard.

He will be speaking to teachers’ conventions in February and March to make educators aware of the kit...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE Western Catholic Reporter

Friday, January 9, 2009

CA: Guatemalan Girl Describes Aleged Enforced Prostitution

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - When Sandra agreed to make the perilous trek from her native Guatemala to the United States in 2006, she said, she was lured by the prospect of a job as a housekeeper that would enable her to send money to her impoverished family back home.

Her father had a hernia that prevented him from working, and money was so tight that she and her 12 siblings sometimes didn't have shoes or enough to eat, the young woman testified Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles.

But not long after Sandra was delivered to L.A. by human-smuggling "coyotes," she learned that the job awaiting her had nothing to do with cleaning houses.

Instead, she said, she was told that she would have to "lay with men."

"Did you understand you were going to be working as a prostitute?" asked Assistant U.S. Atty. Cheryl Murphy.

"I did not know what that word was," Sandra responded through a Spanish-language translator. "Now I do."

Sandra's last name was not disclosed in court because she is the alleged victim of a sex crime and because prosecutors contend she is a minor.

She went on to testify how she was held captive, beaten, raped and forced to have sex with as many as 10 men a day by a group of fellow immigrants. She was the first in a string of young women to testify in what is expected to be a weeks-long trial before U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow...


Thursday, January 8, 2009

S. Korea: Ex-Prostitutes Say South Korea and U.S. Enabled Sex Trade Near Bases

Bae worked as a prostitute near an American military base in South Korea, an activity that American and Korean authorities permitted, some Koreans say.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - South Korea has railed for years against the Japanese government’s waffling over how much responsibility it bears for one of the ugliest chapters in its wartime history: the enslavement of women from Korea and elsewhere to work in brothels serving Japan’s imperial army.

Now, a group of former prostitutes in South Korea have accused some of their country’s former leaders of a different kind of abuse: encouraging them to have sex with the American soldiers who protected South Korea from North Korea. They also accuse past South Korean governments, and the United States military, of taking a direct hand in the sex trade from the 1960s through the 1980s, working together to build a testing and treatment system to ensure that prostitutes were disease-free for American troops.

While the women have made no claims that they were coerced into prostitution by South Korean or American officials during those years, they accuse successive Korean governments of hypocrisy in calling for reparations from Japan while refusing to take a hard look at South Korea’s own history.

“Our government was one big pimp for the U.S. military,” one of the women, Kim Ae-ran, 58, said in a recent interview.

Scholars on the issue say that the South Korean government was motivated in part by fears that the American military would leave, and that it wanted to do whatever it could to prevent that...


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cambodia: If This Isn't Slavery, What Is? (N. Kristof)

Long Pross, her eye was gouged out by her former brothel owner

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA -- Barack Obama’s presidency marks a triumph over the legacy of slavery, so it would be particularly meaningful if he led a new abolitionist movement against 21st-century slavery — like the trafficking of girls into brothels.

Anyone who thinks it is hyperbole to describe sex trafficking as slavery should look at the maimed face of a teenage girl, Long Pross.

Glance at Pross from her left, and she looks like a normal, fun-loving girl, with a pretty face and a joyous smile. Then move around, and you see where her brothel owner gouged out her right eye.

Yes, I know it’s hard to read this. But it’s infinitely more painful for Pross to recount the humiliations she suffered, yet she summoned the strength to do so — and to appear in a video posted online with this column — because she wants people to understand how brutal sex trafficking can be.

Pross was 13 and hadn’t even had her first period when a young woman kidnapped her and sold her to a brothel in Phnom Penh. The brothel owner, a woman as is typical, beat Pross and tortured her with electric current until finally the girl acquiesced.

She was kept locked deep inside the brothel, her hands tied behind her back at all times except when with customers...