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...


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...


UN: End Obstetric Fistula Campaign

Video from

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...