Wednesday, January 20, 2010

UK: Stag Parties 'Fuel Sex Trafficking'

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - Prague, Amsterdam, Riga, Krakow, they have all become popular destinations for the British stag party industry. But some of the estimated £500m spent each year is also finding its way to criminal gangs trafficking women for the sex trade.

The British stag party has changed in the past 10 years. The drink down the pub with dad or your mates is gone. It has been replaced with three or four nights in a foreign city, far from prying eyes and geared to meet the stag party's every desire.

And that is often much more than a visit to a strip club. For a large number of stags, visiting a prostitute has also become part of the ultimate lads' weekend.

Prague has 70 brothels and numerous strip clubs. It is not hard to find some of the half a million stag visitors, many British, that the Prague tourist board say visit every year. I found them at every sex establishment I went to.

There was a strip party bus, lap-dancing, and even a brothel that offers free sex provided you agree to be filmed. And many of the British stag groups had at least some, if not all, members buying sexual services.

A local charity worker was in no doubt that British stag parties coming to Prague had increased local demand for sexual services.

"If a British stag sleeps with women in a brothel or sleeps with her on the streets it could be a women brought… because of the sex industry, to be trafficked there from any part of the world."

Criminal gangs

The Czech Republic has long been a transit point for the trafficking of women in and out, and I wanted to find out how easy it would be to buy trafficked women for the sex trade.

Through contacts in the criminal underworld, we managed to arrange an undercover meeting with a trafficker. Posing as a London brothel owner, I arranged to meet him at a motorway service station.

As I secretly filmed our meeting, it became clear how straightforward the deal would be.
"I have two girls here for you now. That I can give to you. They have papers, they can travel you know, no criminal record, anything," he told me.

In the world of international sex trafficking, the leasing of girls has become common and it is big business.

"One girl makes me 90,000 krona (3,500 euros, £3,119) a month - around 50,000 euros (£44,561) a year. You give me 3,500 euros per month and I will come and visit you every month in England and collect the money every month."

The meeting lasted 20 minutes, and I could have bought two women...


UNICEF: Legislative Reform Initiative for Children

Harmonizing National Legislation with International Human Rights Instruments
DPP_GRaCE_GRU_Legislative Reform Initiative

© UNICEF/HQ04-0604/Giacomo Pirozzi
While virtually every country in the world has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), children's rights are frequently not realised. One important aspect of creating an environment within which children's rights will be realised is the creation of an appropriate legislative framework which enshrines their rights. While this is not sufficient to guarantee their rights, and implementation of the law remains a major challenge around the world, getting laws and the mechanisms and institutions for their implementation right is one of the most essential steps to realising children's rights.

UNICEF's Legislative Reform Initiative (LRI) supports efforts for the realisation of the rights enshrined in the CRC and in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). It recognises that legislative reform must go beyond the letter of law to address polices and programming in order to make the laws effective and enforceable. The LRI includes papers and tools which can inform legislative reform efforts and share global experience.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti: Danger Grows for Girls After the Quake

All but three girls at Le Foyer des Filles de Dieu orphanage are safe after the earthquake. For impoverished Haitian girls, schools and centres like this all-girls facility offer protection from a constant threat of rape or exploitation.

HAITI - Long before the earthquake struck, long before the schools where they could be safe crumbled, girls and young women were the most vulnerable in Haiti. Now, in the aftermath of a disaster, there are greater fears for girls' safety in a country where hundreds of thousands of children live as indentured slaves and the poorest girls in Port-au-Prince slums are targets of gang rape.

"My worry is we put a lot of effort into bringing relief, but we have to have some protective measures to benefit women and girls to avoid their being victimized and sexually assaulted. It was already difficult in ordinary times," said Gerardo Ducos, Haiti researcher for Amnesty International.

A Haitian women's organization documented 238 rapes in an 18-month period ending June 2008: 140 of those were girls aged 19 months to 18 years.

Prosecutions for rape, which became a criminal offence only in 2005, are pitifully few. The Guardian newspaper reported in a documentary film last year only 12 rape cases went to trial and that the police unit in charge of child protection has only 12 officers for 4 million children.

"I am not able to go to the police because I am really frightened," a girl named Stephanie, who was raped during carnival in February 2007, told Amnesty International. "The attackers really pressured me not to report them although I don't know them. This is all so humiliating. I had to stay quiet."

A girl named Laure described to Amnesty International how her landlord forced her to have sex – sometimes at gunpoint – so her family would not be evicted. When Laure's mother complained to the police, she was beaten up and Laure was raped again...


Monday, January 11, 2010

Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today, January 11, is the international Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Today is the day to remember victims of trafficking, to learn more about the terrible practice that occurs throughout the world, to have a conversation about it with your friends, family and co-workers and to continue educating yourself about trafficking.

Here are five things you can do today to promote awareness about trafficking or learn more about it:
1. Visit our website, and browse the many articles and informational pages.

2. Write a letter to your representatives - asking them what they are doing on trafficking or encouraging them to continue working to fight it.

3. Post "Human Trafficking Awareness Day" as your Facebook status, along with a link to more information such as our website or this blog.

4. Visit the Rescue and Restore website for more information about US trafficking, and learn how to recognize and report a suspected victim of trafficking so they can be helped.

5. Donate money to anti-trafficking groups to assist their ability in fighting this heinous crime against the basic rights of humans.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Anti-Trafficking Alliance Launches Trafficking Awareness Game

The UK-based Anti-Trafficking Alliance has launched a new online game to educate and raise awareness about sex trafficking.

The interactive teaching tool, meant for men, is called "On the Game in Soho" and involves characters in a pub out for a stag night. The object is to interact with other characters, including possible prostitutes, and raise your "Real Man" status from "Scumbag" to "Living Legend" by making appropriate decisions. Players can win an iPod Touch.

In addition to the game, the ATA has also produced a web-video called "Behind the Smile" that recounts the experiences of real sex trafficking victims.