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...


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...


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...


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...


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.