Thursday, December 9, 2010

Woman from Maiti Nepal Named CNN "Hero of the Year"



Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A woman whose group (Maiti Nepal) has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery has been named the 2010 CNN Hero of the Year.

Anuradha Koirala was chosen by the public in an online poll that ran for eight weeks on CNN.com. CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed the result at the conclusion of the fourth annual "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

"Human trafficking is a crime, a heinous crime, a shame to humanity," Koirala said earlier in the evening after being introduced as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010. "I ask everyone to join me to create a society free of trafficking. We need to do this for all our daughters."
Koirala was introduced by actress Demi Moore, who along with her husband, Ashton Kutcher, created DNA, The Demi and Ashton Foundation, which aims to eliminate child sex slavery worldwide.

"Every day this woman confronts the worst of what humanity has to offer," Moore said of Koirala. "She says, 'Stop. Stop selling our girls.' By raiding brothels and patrolling the India-Nepal border, she saves girls from being sold into the sex trade, where they are being repeatedly raped for profit, tortured and enslaved...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND WATCH THE VIDEO ON CNN.com

Dec 10: Freedom Friday

Freedom Fridays

In the time it takes you to read this email, as many as twenty vulnerable people somewhere in Asia will be sold into slavery: a victim of human trafficking. Sold into a factory to work 7 days a week, 14 hours a day. Sold onto a fishing boat for years of cruel mistreatment. Sold into a brothel to experience horrific violence and abuse.

None are paid for their work, and none are free to leave.

This is slavery.

How can you help?

December 10th, 2010 is Human Rights Day. To mark this day, do something that over 20 million people living in slavery today cannot do:
buy some freedom.

On 10 December, we are asking companies to either donate US$10 per staff member and buy them some freedom or give your employees a chance to buy some freedom for themselves.

Making freedom work in your organization.

You decide what form that freedom takes and who in your organization participates.

For some, US$10 might buy freedom from the computer for an hour or maybe a day. For others, it may buy a staff member out of a meeting or free him from photocopying. It is up to your organization to decide what works. Each person freed with your donation will be contributing to the fight against human slavery in Asia.

Check Out Some Creative Freedom Campaigns

Every bit counts.

Your US$10 per staff member donation will be part of a regional effort to stop slavery.

Donations can be used for something as powerful as safe transport for a victim of trafficking to a shelter, removing the risk of being caught and re-sold; something as simple as safe migration messaging that can prevent a person from being trafficked in the first place; or something as potent as moving a trafficking case through the courts to ensure that a criminal gets the punishment he deserves.

Whether you're 1 person, 50 people, or 5000 people, your contribution counts.

The funds raised on 10 December will be used by the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) and the international partners and NGOs they work with to combat human trafficking, rescue and rehabilitate victims of slavery, and break down the trade in human lives.

COMMIT NOW!

AND SEE HOW MANY STAFF YOU CAN SIGN ON FOR US$10 A HEAD


Need to understand the issue better?

Go to UNIAP's website.

www.no-trafficking.org

OR

Visit one of UNIAP’s partners, MTV EXIT and take a minute to watch this music video that highlights the issues of modern day slavery.

www.mtvexit.org/somethings_muse.html


Thanking you in anticipation of making this heroic decision.

Jude Mannion,
Robin Hood Foundation Asia
mannion@robinhoodasia.com
021 434 464

Matt Friedman
Regional Project Manager,
The United Nations Inter Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP)

matt.friedman@one.un.org

Swedish Inst: Targeting the Sexbuyer


From the Swedish Institute: A new publication on human trafficking and prostitution has been released - Targeting the sexbuyer. The Swedish example: stopping prostitution and trafficking where it all begins is written by Kajsa Claude. The publication is available in English, Russian, Spanish and Turkish (all open as PDFs)

NYT: A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave.

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times -- Americans tend to associate “modern slavery” with illiterate girls in India or Cambodia. Yet there I was the other day, interviewing a college graduate who says she spent three years terrorized by pimps in a brothel in Midtown Manhattan.

Those who think that commercial sex in this country is invariably voluntary — and especially men who pay for sex — should listen to her story. The men buying her services all mistakenly assumed that she was working of her own volition, she says.

Yumi Li (a nickname) grew up in a Korean area of northeastern China. After university, she became an accountant, but, restless and ambitious, she yearned to go abroad.

So she accepted an offer from a female jobs agent to be smuggled to New York and take up a job using her accounting skills and paying $5,000 a month. Yumi’s relatives had to sign documents pledging their homes as collateral if she did not pay back the $50,000 smugglers’ fee from her earnings.

Yumi set off for America with a fake South Korean passport. On arrival in New York, however, Yumi was ordered to work in a brothel.

“When they first mentioned prostitution, I thought I would go crazy,” Yumi told me. “I was thinking, ‘how can this happen to someone like me who is college-educated?’ ” Her voice trailed off, and she added: “I wanted to die.”

She says that the four men who ran the smuggling operation — all Chinese or South Koreans — took her into their office on 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan. They beat her with their fists (but did not hit her in the face, for that might damage her commercial value), gang-raped her and videotaped her naked in humiliating poses. For extra intimidation, they held a gun to her head...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Friday, November 5, 2010

Native Women Vulnerable to Trafficking

Amnesty International
Vigil in Ottawa, Canada, honoring missing and/or murdered Native women


American Indian, Native Alaskan and Native Canadian women and girls from rural areas are prime targets for sex traffickers.

“Joker waited until I had brought myself down really low. That’s when he pushed me to work for the gang,” Maggie told me.

Maggie, 41, is from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. She is describing how her boyfriend, Joker, began trafficking her into the sex trade.

Fleeing a violent husband, she left the reservation for a new life in Minneapolis. She became addicted to drugs and came to rely on her boyfriend, a member of a local street gang, for drugs and companionship. Soon, however, he insisted that she be initiated into his gang, a process involving gang rape by several members. He also insisted that she must contribute to the gang by trading sex for drugs and money. He routinely drives her to meet “dates,” men with whom she will trade sex for money or drugs.

“He told me he loves me and that all his friends did the same thing with their girlfriends,” she said.

Sometimes, Maggie admits, she helps coerce other Indian girls into prostitution for the gang.

“He said if I really loved him, I would do anything for him,” she said.

Local social services removed her children from her home when she abandoned them in her search for drugs. Her world now revolves around Joker and the gang...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT DailyYonder.com

Romania: Rescuing Young Women From Traffickers' Hands

Davin Ellicson for The New York Times
Iana Matei in her office at the shelter she founded for sex trafficked women.

CONSTANTA, ROMANIA -- The 15-year-old had been “trained” in prostitution in a nightclub in the southern Romanian city of Calarasi. Now, the sex traffickers were getting ready to sell her off to a Turkish brothel for $2,800.

Iana Matei, Romania’s leading advocate for the victims of trafficking, had made contact with the girl and offered to wait outside the nightclub in her car, ready to take the teenager away if she could get out on the street for a cigarette break. But the girl had tried to escape before, and had been beaten severely. Ms. Matei was not sure she would have the courage to try again.

Then she appeared, bolting for the car and scrambling into the back seat. The hitch came a few minutes later.

As Ms. Matei gunned the engine and raced down unfamiliar streets, worried that the traffickers would follow, she got totally lost.

“I kept shouting at her to tell me where to go,” Ms. Matei said. “And she was not being very helpful, and I was not being very nice to her. And finally, I stopped the car and looked back and the face I saw...

“I realized it was me who was being dumb. She was so scared, there was no way she could help me.”

For more than 10 years, Ms. Matei, a psychologist by training, has been pulling young women out of the hands of traffickers, sometimes by staging “kidnappings,” sometimes just by offering them a place to stay, heal and rebuild their lives...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

UN: End Obstetric Fistula Campaign

Video from EndFistula.org

UN calls for $750 million to treat 3.5 million women with obstetric fistula by 2015

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for at least $750 million to treat some 3.5 million cases of obstetric fistula by 2015 in an effort to cure the debilitating injury caused by obstruction in giving birth.

“Obstetric fistula is one of the most devastating consequences of neglect during childbirth and a stark example of health inequity in the world,” he says in a report to the General Assembly released today, in which he calls for intensified investment in cost-effective interventions, including surgery, to address the problem that afflicts women with the leakage of bodily wastes.

“Although the condition has been eliminated in the developed world, obstetric fistula continues to afflict the most impoverished women and girls, most of whom live in rural and remote areas of the developing world.”

Reconstructive surgery can repair fistula injury and most women can be treated and, with appropriate psychosocial care, reintegrated into their communities, but few health-care facilities are able to provide high-quality fistula treatment owing to the limited number of health-care professionals with the appropriate skills...

READ FULL ARTICLE AT UN.org

Monday, October 11, 2010

UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Report



At its sixtieth session, the Commission on Human Rights adopted decision 2004/110, by which it decided to appoint, for a three-year period, a Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children to focus on the human rights aspects of the victims of trafficking in persons. In the same decision, the Commission invited the Special Rapporteur to submit annual reports to the Commission together with recommendations on measures required to uphold and protect the human rights of the victims. The Commission requested the Special Rapporteur to respond effectively to reliable information on possible human rights violations with a view to protecting the human rights of actual or potential victims of trafficking and to cooperate fully with other relevant special rapporteurs, in particular the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and to take full account of their contributions to the issue. The Commission also requested the Special Rapporteur to cooperate with relevant United Nations bodies, regional organizations and victims and their representatives. The Economic and Social Council, in its decision 2004/228, endorsed Commission on Human Rights’ decision 2004/110.

On 18 June 2008, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur has been extended for another three years by the Human Rights Council resolution 8/12.

In the discharge of his/her mandate, the Special Rapporteur:

a) Takes action on violations committed against trafficked persons and on situations in which there has been a failure to protect their human rights (See Individual complaints)

b) Undertakes country visits in order to study the situation in situ and formulate recommendations to prevent and or combat trafficking and protect the human rights of its victims in specific countries and/or regions

c) Submits annual reports on the activities of the mandate

Please send an email to SRtrafficking@ohchr.org if you would like to submit information to the Special Rapporteur.

Cambodia: Mostly Local Men Abusing Minors, Study Finds

CAMBODIA - The vast majority of former child sex workers surveyed on behalf of a local NGO said their main clients were Cambodian men.

The executive director of the NGO that commissioned the study described the finding as “very surprising”.

A report detailing the findings of the study states that paedophiles “tend to be Cambodians, rather than foreigners, contrary to the usually held assumption that paedophilia is a Western problem and that Cambodians are not engaged in such activities”.

Chin Chanveasna, executive director of End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia, said that local demand for commercial sex with children was often overlooked, as NGOs and other stakeholders focused on foreigners.

In the study, done earlier this year and presented at a conference on trafficking, all but one of 43 former child sex workers surveyed in Phnom Penh said their regular clients were Cambodian men.

Of the 13 respondents who reported having sold their virginity, 68 percent said their clients had been Cambodian, according to the study...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT the PhnomPenhPost.com

Watch a report from Al Jazeera on child prostitution in Cambodia:

New Report on India Sex-Trafficking Available Online


Stolen Lives: Dignity, Forgiveness, Hope, and Future-Mindedness For Victims of Sex Trafficking in India by Victor Joseph, D.Min, edited by Kent R. Hill, Ph.D. is available in its entirety online at Templeton.org (opens as a PDF).

Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the report focuses on trafficked victims between the ages of 14 and 22 who were sold into brothels. The research analyzes their psychological and emotional stages in a post-brothel setting, and also looks at the impact of forgiveness and future-mindedness on their lives.

With over 700,000 victims trafficked throughout the world each year, and with India serving as a major trafficking hub, psychological research on trafficked victims is an important tool for NGOs, universities, governments, and law enforcement personnel who work to not only tackle this global issue, but also help restore the lives of these traumatized victims.

US: California Signs "Chelsea's Law"

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - Anyone convicted of certain sex offenses against a child in California will get life in prison without parole after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed "Chelsea's Law" last month.

The law was named for 17-year-old Chelsea King, who was murdered this year by a registered sex offender who also admitted having killed 14-year-old Amber Dubois.

"Because of Chelsea, California children will be safer," Schwarzenegger said. "Because of Chelsea, this never has to happen again."

The "one-strike" provision applies to forcible sex crimes against minors that include aggravating factors, such as the victim's age or whether the victim was bound or drugged...

READ MORE AT CNN.com

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

US: Some See a Ploy as Craigslist Blocks Sex Ads

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Craigslist, by shutting off its “adult services” section and slapping a “censored” label in its place, may be engaging in a high-stakes stunt to influence public opinion, some analysts say.

Since blocking access to the ads as the Labor Day weekend began — and suspending a revenue stream that could bring in an estimated $44 million this year — Craigslist has refused to discuss its motivations. But using the word “censored” suggests that the increasingly combative company is trying to draw attention to its fight with state attorneys general over sex ads and to issues of free speech on the Internet.

The law has been on Craigslist’s side. The federal Communications Decency Act protects Web sites against liability for what their users post on the sites. And last year, the efforts of attorneys general were stymied when a federal judge blocked South Carolina’s attorney general from prosecuting Craigslist executives for listings that resulted in prostitution arrests.

“It certainly appears to be a statement about how they feel about being judged in the court of public opinion,” said Thomas R. Burke, a First Amendment lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine who specializes in Internet law and does not work for Craigslist. “It’s certainly the law that they’re not liable for it, but it’s another matter if the attorneys general are saying change your ways.”

Attorneys general and advocacy groups have continued to pressure the company to remove the “adult services” section. A letter from 17 state attorneys general dated Aug. 24 demanded that Craigslist close the section, contending that it helped facilitate prostitution and the trafficking of women and children...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Saturday, September 4, 2010

US: Craigslist Blocks Access to 'Adult Services' Pages



Craigslist, the popular Web site for classified ads, has blocked access to its “adult services” section and replaced the link with a black label showing the word “censored.”

Law-enforcement officials and groups that oppose human trafficking have been highly critical of Craigslist, saying that the adult ads helped facilitate prostitution and the selling of women against their will.

Craigslist, which is based in San Francisco, did not respond to requests for comment, and it was unclear whether the block represented a permanent shift in policy or a temporary protest against the outside pressure on the company, which has lasted several years.

Last month the attorneys general from 17 states sent a letter to Craigslist’s chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, and its founder, Craig Newmark, asking the company to immediately remove the adult services section...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NY: Accusation of Misconduct in the Gambino Case

NEW YORK - When federal authorities charged recently that the Gambino crime family had been involved in sex trafficking with girls as young as 15, one prosecutor suggested that the activity might represent “a new low for the Gambino family.

But now a defense lawyer in the case contends that the government helped promote that same kind of illegal activity.

The lawyer, Gerald J. McMahon, said in newly filed court papers that one of the men running the trafficking ring was a convicted sex abuser who had a cooperation agreement as a federal witness.

“A reasonable person might wonder,” Mr. McMahon wrote, “whether the government — in its zeal to make a racketeering case against the Gambino family — allowed a 15-year-old girl to be shamefully and criminally exploited.”

The witness began cooperating with the government in 2008, court papers show, while the sex trafficking occurred in 2009. While he was a witness, he acted as the 15-year-old girl’s pimp, Mr. McMahon said...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Thailand: Trafficking Realities of Young Girls

NORTHERN THAILAND - At an age when we would regard them as still being children, thousands of young children from Northern Thailand have and continue to be, lured, forced or coerced into prostitution. Girls as young as 10 years old have been sold into the brothels of Bangkok and other cities in the region and even overseas. In some areas as many as 90% of girls have left their village to work.

While Northern Thailand has long provided traffickers with a supply of young girls the mid 1980's saw a new trend emerge. Traffickers expanded their networks further a field into Thailand's neighboring countries. Agents have now established networks reaching into Thailand's neighbours including Burma, Laos, the southern Yunnan province of China, Cambodia and Vietnam (the Mekong Sub-Region). The children are mainly brought in through North and Northeastern Thailand where they are then taken to other areas within the country. Although there are no exact figures available regarding the numbers of children being trafficked into Thailand for sexual exploitation, estimates nevertheless provide an indicative picture. From Burma, it was estimated in 1994 that as many as 20,000 to 30,000 women and girls had been trafficked primarily into brothels in Thailand, with 10,000 new recruits being added each year...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT DEPDC.org

Nepal: Catwalk Cat Charged with Trafficking

KATHMANDU, NEPAL - Anita Nakarmi wanted to be a professional beautician. To pursue this dream of hers, she sold her beauty parlour in Kathmandu and boarded a flight to Singapore to enroll in a beautician course there.

Nakarmi paid Rs. 800,000 to Ramita Bhandari, a model-turned-dancer who happened to be her relative, hoping that she would get herself admitted to a prestigious beautician training school in Singapore.

Nakarmi's dreams were shattered when she found out that she was instead taken there to work in dance restaurants and brothels.

“Bhandari started forcing me to work in a dance restaurant,” Nakarmi said. “When I refused, she started misbehaving with me.”

“I had never thought Bhandari, who is my close relative, will do such a thing to me. Many other Nepali girls are trapped there,” Nakarmi said. She found that Bhandari was a member of a trafficking racket whose job was to lure Nepali girls to Singapore and then force them into prostitution.

Bhandari and her associates, who are also said to be into prostitution, used to get commission from owners of the dance bars and brothels.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT eKantipur.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Essay: The Swedish Approach to Sex Trafficking, Prostitution & the Sex Industry

ESSAY BY JANICE RAYMOND - There is no doubt that the Nordic countries lead the world on most indicators of gender equality. Gender equality experts and advocates have long pointed out that in economics, politics and social services, the Nordic countries top the charts. A less noticed equality indicator is that the Nordic countries outpace others in legal action to stem the sex trade by addressing its unnoticed perpetrators -- the mainly male purchasers of women and children in prostitution.

In 1999, with the approval of over 70% of its surveyed population, Sweden passed groundbreaking legislation that criminalized the buyer of sexual services. Part of a larger Violence Against Women bill, the legislation was based on the foundation that the system of prostitution is a violation of gender equality. Sweden's legislation officially recognizes that it is unacceptable for men to purchase women for sexual exploitation, whether masked as sexual pleasure or "sex work." Equally important, its law acknowledges that a country cannot resolve its human trafficking problem without addressing the demand for prostitution. The law
does not target the persons in prostitution.

This month, the government of Sweden published an evaluation of the law's first ten years and how it has actually worked in practice. Compared to the report's understated and cautious tone, the findings are strikingly positive: street prostitution has been cut in half; there is no evidence that the reduction in street prostitution has led to an increase in prostitution elsewhere, whether indoors or on the Internet; the bill provides increased services for women to exit prostitution; fewer men state that they purchase sexual services; and the ban has had a chilling effect on traffickers who find Sweden an unattractive market to sell women and children for sex. Following initial criticism of the law, police now confirm it works well and has had a deterrent effect on other organizers and promoters of prostitution. Sweden appears to be the only country in Europe where prostitution and sex trafficking has not increased...

READ THE FULL ESSAY ON PortSide.org

US:: State Legislatures Step Up Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON POST - A burst of activity among state legislatures to target human trafficking has ushered in dozens of laws to step up criminal penalties against traffickers and offer new help to victims.

The laws focus on practices that have remained largely hidden -- traffickers' coercion of victims into becoming prostitutes, forced laborers or domestic slaves. Some states have introduced measurers that criminalize human trafficking specifically for the first time. Advocates say the efforts signal that lawmakers are gaining a fuller appreciation of the scope of human trafficking.

So far this year, more than 40 bills have been enacted and roughly 350 introduced. That compares with just eight bills adopted across the country in 2006, according to the Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking group based in Washington.

Ann Morse, a director at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), said bills tackling human trafficking are "the latest big trend." The efforts have followed coverage of high-profile cases and a growing grass-roots campaign among advocates.

The term "trafficking," said Bradley Myles, executive director of the Polaris Project, "makes people think of whips, chains, brute force and channel slavery." In reality, he said, traffickers may simply use threats or blackmail, or confiscate a victim's travel documents to gain control over them. Victims have included U.S. citizens forced into work without being moved across a border...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WashingtonPost.com

Int"l US Policy a Paper Tiger Against Sex Trade in War Zones

WASHINGTON POST - An eight-year-old policy that forbids government contractors and employees to engage in sex trafficking in war zones has proved almost impossible to enforce amid indications that such activities are occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The policy, instituted eight years ago by President George W. Bush and still in effect today, calls for the prosecution of government employees and contractors who engage in trafficking and the suspension or disqualification of companies whose workers do. Bush's get-tough language also threatened criminal prosecutions for solicitation of prostitutes because many of the women are forced into the work.

Agencies say the cases are difficult to pursue because of limited investigative resources and jurisdictional questions. But some experts and lawmakers believe that authorities are turning a blind eye to evidence of such crimes.

"Zero prosecutions," said Martina Vandenberg, a lawyer and former Human Rights Watch investigator, "suggests zero effort to enforce the law."

The State Department reported recently that allegations of contractors' employees procuring commercial sex acts were "well publicized" but that no contractors have been prosecuted and no contracts terminated.

Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), author of a 2000 U.S. anti-trafficking law, questions whether agencies vigorously pursue allegations. He suggested that if authorities really cared about the women being exploited, they would not look away "when those we are paying to do jobs for us are exploiting them."

Justice Department spokesman Alejandro Miyar said the agency "investigates all credible allegations of human trafficking."...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WashingtonPost.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sweden: Legalising Prostitution is Not the Answer

Last month, Captive Diaries posted an article about similar findings in Germany


A new report backs the effectiveness of an 11-year-old Swedish law that criminalises those who pay for or attempt to pay for sex.
Photograph: Suvad Mrkonjic/Scanpix/PA Photos

SWEDEN -- It is rare to have academic consensus on controversial areas of study, but currently in the UK it seems that the vast majority of academics studying prostitution and the sex industry are in agreement. It is almost impossible to find even a handful involved in this massively expanding area of study that will deviate from the opinion that the sex industry should be legalised or decriminalised, and that penalising sex buyers has a negative effect on those selling sexual services. Most academic studies produced in the past few years conclude that little harm is caused to those involved in prostitution, despite the thousands of testimonies on record of survivors of this abusive trade.

Today, Förbud mot köp av sexuell tjänst: en utvärdering 1999-2008 (Prohibition of the Purchase of a Sexual Service: an Evaluation 1999-2008), a report on the evaluation of the 11-year-old Swedish law that criminalises those who pay for or attempt to pay for sex, is released, and its conclusion is that the legislation has been overwhelmingly positive for all (except the pimps, traffickers and punters, of course). I hope it will put paid to the scores of assertions bandied about during the past decade that the law has been detrimental to those in prostitution as well as to wider society.

In a letter to a newspaper dated January 2006, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, reader in psychology and social policy at Birkbeck and an enthusiastic lobbyist for a repeal of all prostitution laws, wrote in response to the Home Office's 2004 green paper on prostitution, Paying the Price: "The government's idiosyncratic attention to the evidence base neglects the vast body of research, which shows that Sweden's policy of criminalising buyers of commercial sex is not progressive but rather that it is retrogressive, dangerous, unworkable and expensive …"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Guardian.co.uk

Kristof: Seduction, Slavery and Sex

NEW YORK TIMES -- Against all odds, this year’s publishing sensation is a trio of thrillers by a dead Swede relating tangentially to human trafficking and sexual abuse.

“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series tops the best-seller lists. More than 150 years ago, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” helped lay the groundwork for the end of slavery. Let’s hope that these novels help build pressure on trafficking as a modern echo of slavery.

Human trafficking tends to get ignored because it is an indelicate, sordid topic, with troubled victims who don’t make great poster children for family values. Indeed, many of the victims are rebellious teenage girls — often runaways — who have been in trouble with their parents and the law, and at times they think they love their pimps.

Because trafficking gets ignored, it rarely is a top priority for law enforcement officials — so it seems to be growing. Various reports and studies, none of them particularly reliable, suggest that between 100,000 and 600,000 children may be involved in prostitution in the United States, with the numbers increasing.

Just last month, police freed a 12-year-old girl who they said had been imprisoned in a Knights Inn hotel in Laurel, Md. The police charged a 42-year-old man, Derwin Smith, with human trafficking and false imprisonment in connection with the case.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department said that Mr. Smith met the girl in a seedy area, had sex with her and then transported her back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Atlantic City, N.J., while prostituting her.

“The juvenile advised that all of the money made was collected and kept by the suspect,” the police department said in a statement. “At one point, the victim conveyed to the suspect that she wanted to return home, but he held her against her will.”

Just two days later, the same police force freed three other young women from a Garden Inn about a block away. They were 16, 19 and 23, and police officials accused a 23-year-old man, Gabriel Dreke-Hernandez, of pimping them...

READ THE FULL COLUMN AT NYTimes.com

Monday, June 14, 2010

2010 Trafficking in Persons Report Released Today, US Ranked for First Time

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Today, the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report was released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the US State Department. This year, the tenth since the report's inception in 2001, marks the first time the United States has been given a ranking - that of "Tier 1," or the top position of the four possible rankings.

Secretary of State Clinton, introduced this year's report with these remarks: "The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report outlines the continuing challenges across the globe, including in the United States. The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.

This year’s report highlights several key trends, including the suffering of women and children in involuntary domestic servitude, the challenges and successes in identifying and protecting victims, and the need to include anti-trafficking policies in our response to natural disasters, as was evident in the aftermath of this year’s earthquake in Haiti.

Ending this global scourge is an important policy priority for the United States. This fluid phenomenon continues to affect cultures, communities, and countries spanning the globe. Through partnerships, we can confront it head-on and lift its victims from slavery to freedom."

VIEW THE FULL REPORT AT State.gov

Friday, June 11, 2010

UN: Fighting Trafficking, New Report from the Special Rapporteur

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - “Trafficking in persons -one of the most appalling forms of human rights’ violations- remains one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, and the role of regional organizations fighting against it cannot be underestimated,” UN Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (left) said on Wednesday, before presenting her annual report on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, to the Human Rights Council.

“While better cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination is key to address this scourge,” the independent expert said, “the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in catalyzing the action of States in combating trafficking in a specific region has not received sufficient attention and support.”

“I am convinced that regional and sub-regional mechanisms play a key role in providing a response that is both multilateral and sufficiently close to countries’ realities and specificities within a certain region,” she added.

The Special Rapporteur’s 2010 report focuses on the role and added-value of these cooperation mechanisms in the fight against trafficking. Ms Ezeilo shares a number of good practices that could positively be reproduced in other areas of the world. She also highlights the most pressing challenges that these organizations face, including the growing use of new information technologies by traffickers around the world.

Noting that the majority of regional and sub-regional organizations still tend to focus almost exclusively on the criminalization of traffickers, the Special Rapporteur urged them to adopt a human rights and victim-centred perspective in the action: “In order to be effective, they should put the rights of the victim at the core of their strategies and actions. By doing so, they will succeed both in protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers.”

“One of my key messages,” Ms Ezeilo stressed, “is that it is only by properly protecting and assisting victims that you can effectively prosecute traffickers”.

The Special Rapporteur plans to hold a consultation on the topic of her report, inviting representatives from regional and sub-regional organizations and other relevant partners.

Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo assumed her functions as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children on 1 August 2008. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has also served in various governmental capacities, including as Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in Enugu State and as a Delegate to the National Political Reform Conference. She has consulted for various international organizations and is also involved in several NGOs, particularly working on women’s rights. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law.

The Special Rapporteur’s report is available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.32.pdf

NY: 8 Charged in Brooklyn Sex Trafficking Case

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- Prompted by a wide-ranging investigation into the cases of about 15 girls who said they were forced into prostitution, District Attorney Charles J. Hynes of Brooklyn said Wednesday that he was creating a Sex Trafficking Unit to take aim at those who sexually exploit women and girls.

Eight people have been indicted on charges that include sex trafficking or promoting prostitution as a result of the investigation.

About eight months ago, a Brooklyn teenager told an official at her school that she had been forced into prostitution. Building on her story, investigators uncovered more cases of girls who were raped, threatened with violence and forced to sell their bodies to meet daily quotas, an official said.

“There are perhaps few more despicable crimes than to force 15- and 16-year-old children into prostitution,” Mr. Hynes said.

The pimps sometimes started off as boyfriends or had acquaintances recruit friends and schoolmates from local high schools and middle schools, luring girls with promises of cash and “a generous lifestyle,” he added.

Instead, the men used threats and violence to force the women to meet quotas of $500 a day or more, meeting clients at sex parties or through the “adult services” categories of Craigslist and other Web sites...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Country Report- GREECE sex trafficking


Country Report- THE NORDIC COUNTRIES sex trafficking


Country Report - HAITI sex trafficking


Country Report- ITALY sex trafficking


Video: The Rebecca Project

CA: Anti-Traffickers to Demonstrate in Sacramento June 28

Supporters of Strong Human Trafficking Law Will Rally in Sacramento

California Against Slavery to call for tougher state laws against human trafficking at State Capitol rally

SACRAMENTO -- June 1, 2010 -- California Against Slavery will host a rally in Sacramento , Calif. , on June 28, 2010, to call for stronger human trafficking laws in California and stress the growing problem of human trafficking in the state.

"Human trafficking is a criminal business that profits from enslaving people for sexual servitude and forced labor. It is flourishing in California because the law is weak," said Daphne Phung, executive director of California Against Slavery. "There is an urgent need for laws that would provide stiffer measures to stop traffickers, better protection for human trafficking victims, and greater funding for organizations that serve human trafficking victims. We are calling all Californians to speak up at the rally. Let's make a big deal of a big issue."

The rally will start at Raley Field at 9:45 a.m on June 28, 2010. The group will march to the State Capitol West Steps at 10 a.m. The rally will feature speakers, musical performances, and visits to the offices of California legislators.

For updates on the rally, please visit our website at:

http://www.californiaagainstslavery.org


About California Against Slavery:

California Against Slavery is a non-profit group organized by Californians appalled by the injustice of modern day slavery in our state and around the world.

Our mission is to strengthen California state laws to better reflect the personal and societal impact of human trafficking.

Germany: Legalized Prostitution Increases Sex Trafficking

GERMANY -- German chief police reported yesterday sex trafficking is on the rise in the country. The chief officer also said that sex trafficking has increased 11 percent from last year and 70% over five year period. While many advocates for legalized prostitution argued that legalization should improve the rights of prostitutes and eliminate discrimination, the case in Germany shows otherwise. Rather, the sex industry in Germany became a magnet for sex traffickers from Eastern Europe and African countries. Further, it became a source of exploitation of German as well as other foreign women rather than their emancipation to support their right to sell their bodies.

German's current prostitution legislation
According to the police report, since the legalization, sex trade is tolerated in most part of German soil except for a few industrialized area. Many Eastern European women are forced into prostitution in Germany, but forced prostitution of African women are on the rise as well. The African women are manipulated or coerced into prostitution by using voodoo rituals to intimate victims in many cases. But the greater concern lies elsewhere. The police said that child trafficking comprises 65 out of 534 cases reported last year, and 41 of them were under the age of 14.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Examiner.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Introducing: Captive Daughters T-Shirts (and More!)


Check out our new store at CafePress.com where you'll find apparel for women, men and children, tote bags, water bottles and other logo items. Your purchase will help us to "Free Them" - the victims of sex trafficking.

USA: Child Prostitution in Portland, Oregon

PORTLAND, OREGON - Child prostitution has become a national problem in this country. Yes, I know that you have trouble believing that. You don't want to believe it, so you tend not to.

"Widespread sex trafficking in children?", you may be saying to yourself. "Sure, it happens overseas in places like Thailand and Moldova, and while there may be some of it here there's not that much of it in our country."

Based on a months long investigation and some reportorial digging, I'm here to tell you that you are wrong. We all are. We're in denial.

In covering news for more than 60 years, I'd like to think that few stories shock me anymore. But this is one of them. We ran across it late last year and the more we dug, the more disturbing it became.

Eighty-year-old men paying a premium to violate teenage girls, sometimes supplied by former drug gangs now into child sex trafficking big time? You've got to be kidding. Nope. That's happening and a lot more along the same lines.

The business is booming. One of the worst areas for it runs along lines running roughly from Seattle to Portland, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Las Vegas. But no place in the country is immune.

To pick just one example among many, Portland, Oregon is without doubt one of the nation's treasures. It has been voted one of the best places to live and work. But according to police, the city and its outlying communities has become a hub for the sexual exploitation of children. In a recent nationwide sting by Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, Portland ranked second in the country for the number of rescued child prostitutes. And according to Doug Justus, the workhorse sergeant in charge of Portland's tiny Vice Detail, many of the children caught up in this are middle class kids from the area...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT HuffingtonPost.com

WATCH DAN RATHER'S VIDEO REPORT HERE.

Iraq: New Report Exposes Prostitution and Trafficking of Women and Girls

IRAQ - A report researched and published by the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) has been published this month. The report exposes the growing problem of prostitution and trafficking of women and girls both within and out of the country of Iraq. As well, the report considers women who were already being prostituted before the war, and examines the prostitution/trafficking problem by historical and political era. -SG

The report begins:

In spite of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) background on women's rights, we did not expect nor comprehend the extent of the problem when we received reports of the kidnapping of women and girls in Baghdad in May 2003. When we started to gather reports from Baghdad neighborhoods the following summer, the numbers were shocking. We expressed our dismay to the media and fearing that a new and vicious era has attacked the women of Iraq. OWFI learned that trafficking of women is the hidden face of war, insecurity and chaos.

In those days, we sympathized with women who were forced or maybe sold into prostitution. We did not have the same consideration for women who were already prostituted in brothels. We thought of them as the unfortunate margins of the society. It was only in 2006, that we noticed an epidemic rise in the number of women who prostituted for a living, whether in formal brothels, in regular working places, or in a hidden neighborhood hideaway. The numbers were obviously no longer something we could consider an unfortunate marginal minority. It was only then that we, in OWFI, decided to investigate the extent prostitution in Iraq, in order to better understand the underground industry of trafficking which thrives on the exploitation of women's flesh.

READ THE FULL REPORT AT EqualityInIraq.com (opens as a PDF)

South Africa: Prostitutes Flock to World Cup

Schalk van Zuydam/AP
A train passes people in the township of Khayelitsha situated on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday. The World Cup 2010 kicks off in South Africa next month, and what awaits hundreds of thousands of visitors is a nation of contrasts.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - As with the 2006 World Cup in Germany, a rampant sex trade is of concern to human rights groups ahead of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, which kicks off next month. Prostitutes, many from impoverished Zimbabwe, are arriving to cash in on an estimated 500,000 visiting fans.

Zimbabwe's sex workers are deserting their country for greener pastures in South Africa as the World Cup 2010 draws nearer, causing human rights and church groups worldwide to call for measures to curb human trafficking and prostitution.

But the economic promise offered by the arrival of some 500,000 World Cup foreign fans is already attracting impoverished workers.

"If ever there was time to make money, this is the right time," says Shuvai, a Zimbabwean commercial sex worker working at Maxime Hotel in Johannesburg.

The 22-year-old says she arrived in Johannesburg on March 27 with eight fellow prostitutes from Zimbabwe, north of the Limpopo River. She says that she came because of all the international visitors for the World Cup, June 11 - July 11.

The event is no stranger to the sex trade. The 2006 World Cup in Germany, where brothels and prostitution is legalized, brought on an additional influx of an estimated 40,000 sex workers – plus a lot of criticism from rights groups. South Africa's Central Drug Central Authority has also estimated that 40,000 sex workers will come to Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, though the agency gives no reasoning for this figure.

A check of eight popular Johannesburg hotels – Maxime Hotel, Royal Hotel, Hillbrow Inn, Ambassador Hotel, Diplomat Hotel, Little Rose Hotel, Summit Hotel, and Orion Devonshire Hotel – and others in Sandton, Fourways, Crego, Rosebank, Midrand, and Boksburg showed them to be filled with newly arrived prostitutes, most of them from Zimbabwe.

Hotel employees also say they have seen a recent influx of prostitutes.

"From the look of the fully booked hotels around Johannesburg and Pretoria, we think these female sex workers could exceed 40,000," says one hotel general manager, declining to be identified. "There are some from outside Africa from as far as China, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, and Venezuela, who are here for prostitution."

Young prostitutes appear to be organized into groups led by a elder women who smuggles the girls here from Zimbabwe, says Ushe Nyahunzvi, a man from Zimbabwe who works at the Hillbrow Inn...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CSMonitor.com

Iran: Trafficking Girls Has Become an Industry

IRAN - A joint research conducted between two independent organizations in Iran, the Center for Cooperative Women’s Affairs and the Committee for the Defense of Victims of Violence indicates the skyrocketing trend of kidnapping and trafficking Iranian women and girls as slaves, to neighboring countries such as the UAE, Pakistan, Afghanistan, as well as Europe and Asian countries.

The result of this research which has been published (in Persian) indicates that the traffickers and slave traders lure girls and young women to places such as parks and other recreation areas in the guise of friendship or courtship, promising these young women who are generally in search of a better life, an easy way out of the country, jobs with decent salaries and generally a higher standard of living.

Elham Aaraam-Nia, sociologist reports: “The human traffickers usually promise to help these women in exchange for the use of the women’s passports to export goods.” That way having deceived the young women with these promises and a small sum of money, they get them onto planes or cars and legally transport them over the borders and out of Iran.
Many of the girls are runaways who leave home due to abject pressures on the home front. In 2005 informal statistics taken by women’s groups inside Iran indicated 300,000 runaway girls in Iran...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Planet-Iran.com

Africa: Cultural Attitudes and Rumors Are Lasting Obstacles to Safe Sex

BWINDI, UGANDA - In a nameless mud-walled bar, over a lunch of roast goat, bananas and Bell beer, a group of AIDS counselors gathers to discuss one question: Why is it so hard to practice safe sex here?

The AIDS crisis seems hopeless because of the new infection rate. For every 100 Africans put on treatment, 250 get infected. Globally, 7,400 people are infected every day.

In the 1980s, Uganda earned renown for pushing its infection rate to 6 percent from 18 percent. Many here still remember the pounding drums on the radio and the slogans “Practice ABC” and “zero grazing” — no extramarital sex.

But infection rates are creeping back up.

Casual sex is on the rise, epidemiological surveys say. Condom use, never very high, has dropped. Even among people who know they are infected, only 30 percent consistently use condoms.

Donors sometimes blame their own flawed efforts. For example, the annual supply of condoms in Africa still amounts to only four per adult male.

But the counselors here — all of whom were infected — blamed no one but themselves and their neighbors.

They were all educated, fluent in English — former teachers, a former army officer, a hospital bookkeeper. But Bwindi, like much of Uganda, is made up mostly of subsistence farmers.

“Many people are just ignorant,” said Gervis Muhumuza, 44. “They have low education, and so many misconceptions. Minus the elite class in Kampala and a few others, nobody is using condoms.”

The 2006 Demographic and Health Survey of 11,000 Ugandans found that 99 percent had heard of AIDS, but only about a third had “comprehensive knowledge” — that is, they could correctly say whether it was spread by mosquitoes, by food or by witchcraft; whether it could be prevented by condoms; and whether a healthy-looking person could have it...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

VIEW A SLIDESHOW ABOUT AIDS IN UGANDA HERE.

Africa: At Front Lines, AIDS War is Falling Apart

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
Dinavance Kamukama, 28, front right, with her cousins in Kampala, Uganda. She is on a waiting list for AIDS medication

KAMPALA, UGANDA - On the grounds of Uganda’s biggest AIDS clinic, Dinavance Kamukama sits under a tree and weeps.

Her disease is probably quite advanced: her kidneys are failing and she is so weak she can barely walk. Leaving her young daughter with family, she rode a bus four hours to the hospital where her cousin Allen Bamurekye, born infected, both works and gets the drugs that keep her alive.

But there are no drugs for Ms. Kamukama. As is happening in other clinics in Kampala, all new patients go on a waiting list. A slot opens when a patient dies.

“So many people are being supported by America,” Ms. Kamukama, 28, says mournfully. “Can they not help me as well?”

The answer increasingly is no. Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.

The last decade has been what some doctors call a “golden window” for treatment. Drugs that once cost $12,000 a year fell to less than $100, and the world was willing to pay.

In Uganda, where fewer than 10,000 were on drugs a decade ago, nearly 200,000 now are, largely as a result of American generosity. But the golden window is closing.

Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

The collapse was set off by the global recession’s effect on donors, and by a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases. Even as the number of people infected by AIDS grows by a million a year, money for treatment has stopped growing...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT NYTimes.com

Vatican: Nuns Launch Anti-Trafficking Campaign, World Cup

A poster for the awareness campaign to fight human trafficking during the June 11-July 11 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa.
(CNS/courtesy of Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference)

VATICAN CITY - An international network of women's religious orders has launched a worldwide awareness campaign aimed at preventing human trafficking during the June 11-July 11 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa.

The campaign titled, "2010 Should Be About the Game," has been targeting fans, religious leaders, potential victims of trafficking and the general public -- warning them about the risks and urging them to spread the word.

Using the 2010 World Cup to exploit vulnerable women, children and men for slave labor, the sex industry or the drug trade is "an outright perversion of the spirit and ethical dimension of sport as well as of the idea and dignity of the human person," said Salesian Sister Bernadette Sangma.

Sister Sangma, who coordinates the anti-trafficking project of the International Union of Superiors General, and others spoke at a Vatican news conference May 6.

A similar anti-trafficking campaign coordinated by the superiors general and the International Organization for Migration was highly successful during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said Stefano Volpicelli, a migration office official who has been working with the sisters...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CatholicNews.com

Egypt: UN Special Rapporteur Warns of Trafficking Increase


CAIRO, EGYPT - The UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (left), warned that Egypt faces growing trends in various forms of trafficking, despite commendable efforts by the Government and urged the Egyptian authorities to step up its efforts in the fight against human trafficking.

“There is a growing trend of sexual and economic exploitation of young Egyptian girls by their families and brokers, who execute marriages that are also popularly known as ‘seasonal or temporary’ marriage,” said the independent expert, noting that these trends also include other forms of sexual exploitation and prostitution, as well as child labour and domestic servitude.

During her fact-finding mission from 11 to 21 April, Ms. Ezeilo found “indications that trafficking for forced marriages, forced labour, transplantation of human organs and body tissues may be much more than current estimates.” Further, she noted that the incidence of internal trafficking is much higher than transnational trafficking. However, she warned that the absence of accurate data on trafficking in persons has made it impossible to measure the magnitude of human trafficking in Egypt.

In this context, the Special Rapporteur reminded the Government of the dynamic nature of human trafficking: “Trafficking in persons knows no borders and every country is affected either as a source, transit and/or destination,” she said, noting that Egypt has been variously described as a transit country, but it may also be a source and a destination country.

The UN independent expert, who visited Cairo, Alexandria, Hawamdia and Sharm el-Sheikh during the mission, added there is a “general lack of awareness and knowledge” about human trafficking in the country, and that its forms and manifestation are not well understood.

Ms. Ezeilo also noted the lack of infrastructure and services specifically designed for assisting and rehabilitating trafficking victims, such as shelters and hotlines, and limited participation of and consultation with civil society organizations in formulating anti-trafficking policies and programmes...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT OHCHR.org

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CD Exclusive: Interview with Photographer, Mimi Chakarova


Mimi Chakarova is a Bulgarian-born photographer who has traveled the world in an effort to give a face and a voice to the silent victims of sex trafficking. She teaches photography at the University of California Berkeley, and is currently touring her exhibit The Price of Sex - an eye-opening, multimedia presentation in which sex trafficking victims from Moldova and Albania tell their stories.

Mimi recently participated in an email interview with Captive Daughters' Sarah Gonzales, in which she explains how she gains access to trafficking victims, relates things she has learned in her travels and addresses misconceptions commonly held about sex trafficking.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT CaptiveDaughters.org

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NY: New Law Expunges Trafficking Victims' Records

NEW YORK -- A bill that would allow former victims of sex trafficking the ability to expunge crimes from their record was passed in the Assembly last month. The bill would give the victims of sex trafficking a fresh start.

The bill (S.4429/ A.7670) sponsored by Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, who chair their house's health committees, was re-introduced into the Assembly in January after being passed last June. The bill is now in the Codes Committee in the Senate.

Sex trafficking is broadly defined under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which is a federal act that defines sex trafficking and provides protection to victims of human trafficking. It is broadly defined due to the fact that it is hard to provide evidence proving someone is a victim of human trafficking.

The bill would allow individuals who have been convicted of prostitution or loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution to have the charges vacated from their records if they have been victims of sex trafficking...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT LegislativeGazette.com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mimi Chakarova Exhibit Comes to San Francisco



Vika was trafficked to Dubai. Her clients were as young as twelve and as old as eighty-three. She was almost nineteen when she was sold and forced to have sex with as many as thirty men a day. At the time this photo was taken, Vika was living in a shelter for trafficked girls. (From "The Price of Sex," photographed by Mimi Chakarova in Moldova)

Photographer, Mimi Chakarova will exhibit her "The Price of Sex" show at San Francisco's Fifty Crow's Gallery.

The exhibit opens April 15 and runs through May 15.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Iceland: 'Women Are Not For Sale'

Johanna Sigurdardottir, prime minister of Iceland.
Photograph: Bob Strong/REUTERS

ICELAND -- Iceland is fast becoming a world-leader in feminism. A country with a tiny population of 320,000, it is on the brink of achieving what many considered to be impossible: closing down its sex industry.

While activists in Britain battle on in an attempt to regulate lapdance clubs – the number of which has been growing at an alarming rate during the last decade – Iceland has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.

Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold." When I asked her if she thinks Iceland has become the greatest feminist country in the world, she replied: "It is certainly up there. Mainly as a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians. These women work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their campaigns and it eventually filters down to all of society."

The news is a real boost to feminists around the world, showing us that when an entire country unites behind an idea anything can happen. And it is bound to give a shot in the arm to the feminist campaign in the UK against an industry that is both a cause and a consequence of gaping inequality between men and women.

According to Icelandic police, 100 foreign women travel to the country annually to work in strip clubs. It is unclear whether the women are trafficked, but feminists say it is telling that as the stripping industry has grown, the number of Icelandic women wishing to work in it has not. Supporters of the bill say that some of the clubs are a front for prostitution – and that many of the women work there because of drug abuse and poverty rather than free choice. I have visited a strip club in Reykjavik and observed the women. None of them looked happy in their work.

So how has Iceland managed it? To start with, it has a strong women's movement and a high number of female politicans. Almost half the parliamentarians are female and it was ranked fourth out of 130 countries on the international gender gap index (behind Norway, Finland and Sweden). All four of these Scandinavian countries have, to some degree, criminalised the purchase of sex (legislation that the UK will adopt on 1 April). "Once you break past the glass ceiling and have more than one third of female politicians," says Halldórsdóttir, "something changes. Feminist energy seems to permeate everything."

Johanna Sigurðardottir is Iceland's first female and the world's first openly lesbian head of state. Guðrún Jónsdóttir of Stígamót, an organisation based in Reykjavik that campaigns against sexual violence, says she has enjoyed the support of Sigurðardottir for their campaigns against rape and domestic violence: "Johanna is a great feminist in that she challenges the men in her party and refuses to let them oppress her."

Then there is the fact that feminists in Iceland appear to be entirely united in opposition to prostitution, unlike the UK where heated debates rage over whether prostitution and lapdancing are empowering or degrading to women. There is also public support: the ban on commercial sexual activity is not only supported by feminists but also much of the population. A 2007 poll found that 82% of women and 57% of men support the criminalisation of paying for sex – either in brothels or lapdance clubs – and fewer than 10% of Icelanders were opposed.

Jónsdóttir says the ban could mean the death of the sex industry. "Last year we passed a law against the purchase of sex, recently introduced an action plan on trafficking of women, and now we have shut down the strip clubs. The Nordic countries are leading the way on women's equality, recognising women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale."

Strip club owners are, not surprisingly, furious about the new law. One gave an interview to a local newspaper in which he likened Iceland's approach to that of a country such as Saudi Arabia, where it is not permitted to see any part of a woman's body in public. "I have reached the age where I'm not sure whether I want to bother with this hassle any more," he said.

Janice Raymond, a director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, hopes that all sex industry profiteers feel the same way, and believes the new law will pave the way for governments in other countries to follow suit. "What a victory, not only for the Icelanders but for everyone worldwide who repudiates the sexual exploitation of women," she says.

Jónsdóttir is confident that the law will create a change in attitudes towards women. "I guess the men of Iceland will just have to get used to the idea that women are not for sale."

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT Guardian.co.uk

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Understanding Islamic Feminism: A Fascinating Interview

We came upon this interview on the Madrasa Reforms in India blog. It's a bit long, but a very interesting insight into the modern Feminist movement in Islamic nations. The intro is below followed by the link to continue reading the Q and A.

Born in Iran and now based in London, Ziba Mir Hosseini, an anthropologist by training, is one of the most well-known scholars of Islamic Feminism. She is the author of numerous books on the subject, including Marriage on Trial: A Study of Family Law in Iran and Morrocco (l.B.Tauris, 1993) and Islam and Gender, the Religious Debate in Contemporary Islam (Princeton, 1999). She is presently associated with the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

In this interview with Yoginder Sikand she talks about the origins and prospects of Islamic feminism as an emancipatory project for Muslim women and as a new, contextually-relevant way of understanding Islam...

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT MadrasaReforms.Blogspot.com

Asia: WWII "Comfort Women" Were Victims of Sexual Slavery


Former “comfort woman” Lee Yong-Soo (L) stands beside her supporters holding portraits of Philippine, South Korean and Chinese comfort women who were sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II, at a protest held in front of the Japanese parliament in Tokyo. Japan on 27 June 2007 brushed aside calls from US lawmakers for a fresh apology to wartime sex slaves, even as the former “comfort women” renewed their demands for Tokyo to acknowledge their plight. Japan said the US move to pass a resolution calling for an “unambiguous” apology from Japan for the coercion of women into army brothels during World War II would not damage relations between the two allies. Inset: Recruitment advertisements for comfort women in the Japanese Imperial Army.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND VIEW MORE PHOTOS AT WorldCulturePictoral.com

US: Florida Modern Day Slavery Museum on Tour

The Florida Modern Day Slavery Museum is touring throughout the state of Florida until April 15. Check their schedule to learn when it will be in a town near you.

The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum consists of a cargo truck outfitted as a replica of the trucks involved in a recent slavery operation (U.S. v. Navarrete, 2008), accompanied by displays on the history and evolution of slavery in Florida.

The museum's central focus is on the phenomenon of modern-day slavery -- its roots, the reasons it persists, and its solutions. The exhibits were developed in consultation with workers who have escaped from forced labor operations as well as leading academic authorities on slavery and labor history in Florida.

For more information about a specific tour stop, contact the person listed as the contact in the table below.

For an excellent preview of the museum, check out this Ft. Myers News-Press article (2/28/10):

"Modern slavery in spotlight: Immokalee coalition debuts mobile museum"

Click here to visit the Slavery Museum News Page for all the latest news from the road

Schedule: Click here to see the museum tour itinerary

Click here to download the museum's accompanying booklet (PDF)

Click here for the museum press advisory