Wednesday, October 28, 2009

US: Operation Cross Country Rescues 52 Child Sex Slaves

WASHINGTON D.C. - Federal officials rescued 52 children and arrested nearly 700 people over the last three days in a nationwide crackdown on child prostitution.

Almost 1,600 agents and officers took part in the raids, which followed investigations in 36 cities, according to the FBI, local law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Included in the arrests were 60 suspected pimps, according to the FBI and local police officials.

Authorities say the youngest victim was 10.

In Southern California, two children were rescued in Riverside, and four adults were arrested, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman. Four suspected customers of child prostitutes were arrested in Orange County.

"It is repugnant that children in these times could be subjected to the great pain, suffering and indignity of being forced into sexual slavery for someone else's profit," Assistant Atty. Gen. Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. He added that the latest raids show that "the scourge of child prostitution still exists on the streets of our cities."

The sweep, dubbed Operation Cross Country, is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative, started in 2003 to address child sex trafficking in the U.S.

The initiative has rescued nearly 900 children; led to the conviction of 510 pimps, madams and their associates; and seized $3.1 million in assets, according to the FBI...


NYT: For Runaways, Sex Buys Survival

Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Nicole Clark, 17, above, at her onetime sleeping spot.

ASHLAND, OREGON - She ran away from her group home in Medford, Ore., and spent weeks sleeping in parks and under bridges. Finally, Nicole Clark, 14 years old, grew so desperate that she accepted a young man's offer of a place to stay. The price would come later.

They had sex, and he soon became her boyfriend. Then one day he threatened to kick her out if she did not have sex with several of his friends in exchange for money.

She agreed, fearing she had no choice. "Where was I going to go?" said Nicole, now 17 and living here, just down the Interstate from Medford. That first exchange of money for sex led to a downward spiral of prostitution that lasted for 14 months, until she escaped last year from a pimp who she said often locked her in his garage apartment for months.

"I didn't know the town, and the police would just send me back to the group home," Nicole said, explaining why she did not cut off the relationship once her first boyfriend became a pimp and why she did not flee prostitution when she had the chance. "I'd also fallen for the guy. I felt trapped in a way I can't really explain."

Most of the estimated 1.6 million children who run away each year return home within a week. But for those who do not, the desperate struggle to survive often means selling their bodies...


Australia: 95% of People Trafficked Into Country Are Used for Sex

AUSTRALIA - Almost all people trafficked into Australia are forced into the sex industry, a new report reveals.

Fully 95 per cent of trafficking victims were females made to work as prostitutes, and most came from Southeast Asia.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor responded to the report from the Australian Institute of Criminology by saying much was being done to combat people trafficking from Asia and the Pacific.

"Australia has adopted a whole-of-government response to people trafficking which includes a national policing strategy and specialist police investigation teams, enhanced visa arrangements, a victim support program and regional cooperation efforts," Mr O'Connor said in a statement.

The report said not enough was known about trafficking and more research was required.

"It is widely recognised in crime statistics that a significant number of incidents go unreported," the report said.

"Once a crime is reported to authorities, further legal and non-legal considerations result in fewer cases being investigated. "This process of attrition also applies to trafficking cases, few of which are thought to reach the attention of authorities due to low rates of reporting and the hidden nature of this type of crime."

Between 2004 and 2008, 34 people were charged with trafficking offences but of them only seven were convicted...


Europe: Increased Trafficking in Women Due to EU Tolerance for Prostitution

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - According to the UN, 79% of trafficking in human beings is for sexual exploitation. Unsurprisingly therefore, more than 80% of these victims are women. To mark its third Anti-trafficking Day, the EU will hold a Ministerial conference on 19-20 October which will focus on global partnerships from a European security and justice perspective. Commenting on this upcoming event, Brigitte Triems, President of EWL/EPACVAW, says: 'The European Women's Lobby (EWL) and its European Policy Action Centre on Violence Against Women (EPACVAW) regret that the conference will not address trafficking in human beings from a gender equality perspective and tackle the real root causes of trafficking in women for sexual exploitation.'

'It is time for the EU and its Member States, to examine the factors that make them attractive all over the world for trafficking in women for sexual purposes', declares Colette De Troy, EPACVAW Director. 'The EU must recognise that its tolerance for the prostitutional system in Europe, coupled with the persistence of historically unequal power relations between women and men, leads to an amplified acceptance of men's use of and control over women's bodies and therefore an increased intensity of male violence against women'...


UN: Trafficking Europe In-Depth Report

Editor's note: the following article on this report notes an interesting and disturbing trend in sex trafficking - many of the traffickers are found to be women. They are forcing other women into sexual servitude. Is this emergent trend an illumination into the hierarchy of the trafficking trade - that the traffickers themselves are forced into trafficking - presupposing that women in their right minds would never traffick other women? Or is it simply another element of the evil that pervades this trade? What do you think? Leave your comments.

UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC), VIENNA, AUSTRIA - In the run up to EU anti-trafficking day (18 October), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued a report showing that trafficking in persons is an under-detected crime in Europe.

The report, based on UNODC's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (launched in February 2009), says less people (1 in 100,000) are being convicted for human trafficking in Europe than for rare crimes like kidnapping. Only 9,000 victims were reported in 2006 – around 30 times less than the total estimated number. "Perhaps police are not finding the traffickers and victims because they are not looking for them", said the UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.

The report shows a high degree of internal trafficking, both domestically within European countries and regionally within the European Union (predominantly from South-eastern to Western Europe). At the same time, European victims represent just a fraction of the total number of victims detected in Europe. Recent trends show a steady decline of flows from
traditional sources, and a marked increase in victims from China and Central Asia.

Most identified victims of human trafficking in Europe are young women, trafficked for sexual exploitation. Around 10% of trafficking victims in Europe are children. There are also detected cases of men in forced labour, like construction and agriculture. "Lives should not be for sale or for rent on a continent that prohibits slavery and forced labour, and prides
itself on upholding human dignity", said Mr. Costa.

Most of the prosecuted traffickers are locals, predominantly men. Where foreign traffickers are present, they are often of the same nationality as the victims. Curiously, for a crime where most victims are women, the number of prosecuted female offenders is higher for human trafficking than for other crimes. "We need to better understand why people traffic their kin, and why women exploit other women", said the head of UNODC.

On a positive note, the report shows that in the past six years since the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children came into force in December 2003, most European countries have criminalized trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour.

It also highlights the progress that has been made to improve collection of data on human trafficking within the European Union.


The Failure of Anti-Trafficking Efforts, by Ruchira Gupta

Ruchira Gupta at the Clinton Global Citizen Award event with actress Demi Moore

[Ruchira Gupta is founder and president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-trafficking organization based in India. She recently won the Clinton Global Citizen Award for her leadership in civil society.]

Naina, a teenager rescued from a brothel in Bihar by my organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, once told me: "As long as there are customers, there will always be other little girls that can be bought." Naina is right. India has witnessed an alarming rise in the sex-trafficking of women and girls in recent years.

On May 13, 2009, the Home Secretary of India said in a seminar organized by the Central Bureau of Investigation that there are 1.3 million prostituted children in India right now. Most of them are girls. The National Human Rights Commission of India has stated that the average age of entry into prostitution for young girls is now between nine and twelve.

The fact that the numbers of the trafficked are going up and the ages coming down displays the failure of those government and non-government strategies which only focus on HIV/AIDS management and half hearted rescue operations combined with shelters for victims. These ignore the root cause, which is the demand for women and girls for sexual exploitation. Even the Sept. 19 Ministry of Home Affairs advisory to state governments on combating human trafficking falls short of asking for higher arrests and convictions of buyers and traffickers, though it recognizes that "trafficking in human beings, especially of women and children, is the fastest growing organized crime and an area of concern."

Demand for trafficked people -- from end-users (buyers of prostituted sex) to traffickers who make a profit off the trade (the recruiters, transporters, pimps, brothel owners, money lenders, etc., who form the intricate chain in the organized criminal networks) -- has become the most immediate cause for the expansion of the trafficking industry. But the existing outdated law, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, (ITPA), does not address it adequately.

Apne Aap Women Worldwide has been campaigning to have ITPA amended. This survivor-led campaign is seeking to penalize buyers and traffickers. If the numbers of convictions against buyers and traffickers go up, the cost of human trafficking will become untenable. Increased convictions will also restore a sense of justice to the survivors of prostitution.

Countries like Sweden have gone after the traffickers by bringing them to book, confiscating their illegal assets created out of trafficking, making them compensate for the damages and penalizing end-users (buyers of prostituted sex). This has seen a significant decrease in trafficking. In 1999, it was estimated that 125,000 Swedish men bought about 2,500 prostituted women one or more times per year, before the law came into force. By 2002, this figure had fallen to no more than 1,500 women.

In running this campaign, Apne Aap Women Worldwide has come up against some entrenched interests. Ironically, this opposition has included many HIV/AIDS management projects that work in red-light areas and hire pimps and brothel managers as "peer educators" to gain easy access to the brothels for the purpose of condom distribution. They turn a blind eye to the little girls and adult women kept in a system of bondage and control, who cannot say no to unwanted sex let alone unprotected sex. In fact a representative of the National AIDS Control Organization once told me: "If the brothels didn't exist, where will we distribute the condoms?"...