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...



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...


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...


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...



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...


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...


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...