Lawmakers in the U.S. Work to End Underground Sex Trafficking

5611594783_8e9a533564_z.jpg

Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 1:06 p.m. DST, 22 May 2014

"For Sale" Photo by: Spring Tripp-Reilly

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -  The FBI estimates that 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked in the underground sex trade. Lawmakers in the House are proposing a bill package aimed at shutting down the nation’s multimillion dollar sex trafficking industry, up for vote on Tuesday.

The measures include exploitation close to home as well as resolutions condemning the kidnapping in Nigeria of 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram, an armed terrorist group that has threatened to sell the girls into forced marriages.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri sponsored a bill that would make it a federal crime for advertisers to display child and adult trafficking victims on their websites.  Another bill urges states to enact laws that treat minors who have been sold for sex as victims rather than criminals when they are arrested.

The legislation includes a formal condemnation of the Nigerian schoolgirl kidnapping on 14 April, a requirement for states to identify and address sex trafficking of children in foster care, and a request of the State Department to give “advance notice of intended travel” for sex offenders convicted of child abuse.

Additionally it would impose additional financial penalties on sex traffickers and increase restitution to victims.  It offers employment assistance through Jobs Corps to the victims, and provides more resources to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. It would require convicted sex traffickers to report to authorities every three months and appear on the National Sex Offender Registry for life.

Cindy McCain, co-chair of Arizona governor’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, and wife of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said, "This is beginning to reach critical mass in the U.S. and people are paying attention to it.” McCain, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, met with Mexican government officials to discuss ways to end sex trafficking across the border.

“We can’t lead worldwide unless we clean up our own house first,” McCain told CNN. Human trafficking is the third-largest international crime behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking according to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Of the estimated $32 billion profits from human trafficking, it is estimated that $15.5 billion comes from industrialized nations.

In Portland, a pimp and his coworker approached Katie Rhoades, a 19-year-old homeless, drug-addicted stripper. Offering a better life as their recording studio production assistant, they lured in the teen. 72 hours after Rhoades moved from Portland to San Francisco she was held captive by the pair and forced to have sex for money. She was held hostage with other women in a building surrounded by a 6-foot fence topped with barbed wire and cameras, and guarded by pit bulls and an alarm system. When she finally escaped, she enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program, got clean, and earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work.

Rhoades now runs a victim advocacy group and helps to train hotel staff on recognizing sex trafficking. "We need stronger laws penalizing folks who facilitate the sex trade," Rhoades said. "If a hotel manager consciously turns a blind eye to allow this to occur in his hotel then he needs to be penalized."

There needs to be more resources for victims once they’re rescued, according to Dedee Lhamon. She is the executive director of The Covering House, a St. Louis shelter for children rescued from the sex trade. Children in her shelter are usually from suburbs or small towns, where they are conned into the sex trade under the guise of things such as a study-abroad program or “girls who are going to school or church and being rented out by a parent or someone who needs to get their drug supply.”

29 people in Minneapolis have been indicted in a significant sex trafficking case where the victims (some under the age of 14) were repeatedly victimized over several years and transported several places.

"As a parent, I can sympathize and only imagine how horrible it is as a parent to have a child that has been subjected to this horrific crime," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

This coming Wednesday, National Missing Children’s Day, the Department of Justice will honor seven people who helped to rescue missing or abused children. Holly Smith, author of “Walking Prey,” a book written about her experiences when she was sex trafficked at 14, will speak at the event.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCELswick

Plight of Sex Slaves From Moldova to Dubai

Sex for sale from Moldova to Dubai. Mimi Chakarova tells a powerful story through photos and in the words of the victims of this heinous crime. The booming "Sex Tourism" industry is no longer a threat to women and children in remote, impoverished countries, it is a plague that is infecting all countries. The men and women who abuse and use other human beings for their own sexual gratification do not live in isolation. They could be and probably are someone to whom you are married and sleep with, or with whom you work or attend religious functions, or who educates your children. We must be more vigilant in trying to stem the tide of this worldwide crisis.

Read More

Thailand's Human Trafficking Record

Sam Hargadine, ContributorLast Modified: 14:48 p.m. EDT, 7 March 2013

Crying Girl, Photo by London Street ArtBANGKOK - Thailand and America are bracing for an awkward situation. In June, the US State Department will release its annual human trafficking report. In this year's release it is widely believed that Thailand may be relegated to the 3rd tier watch list. In other words, the worst of the worst.

Thailand's economy and civil society is a leader in the region. It is the United States' strongest ally in mainland Southeast Asia and in many ways does not deserve to be on the same list as Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, or Zimbabwe.

But there are two Thailands. One: the shimmering lights of Bangkok and the beautiful beaches and rice fields. The other: where two million legal immigrants and another few million illegal ones toil away in harsh labor conditions; keeping the Thai export economy afloat.

A report from The Economist looked at the Thai shrimp industry, worth roughly $1 billion a year. In the Samut Sakhon province, shrimp-peeling outfits have been observed physically abusing workers, denying pay, and confiscating workers' international paperwork. The State Department asserts that in Samut Sakhon, "nearly three-fifths of workers experience conditions of forced labor."

Relegation with respect to Thailand's standing in the State Department report would bring about automatic sanctions from the United States. However there are several ways Thailand and America can reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement for the current year to avoid such a measure.

Despite current conditions, there are vast incentives for the Thai and American governments to avoid the public loss of face such a downgrade would bring. After all, both governments want to have friendly relations.

Thailand is currently trying to attack the enabling environment it hosts by enforcing a 2008 law against human trafficking. Instituting penalties for police who tip off shrimp boat owners prior to inspection for instance would be a good start. Also the Thai government is encouraging illegal immigrants to now get temporary papers and be properly registered - without the immediate fear of deportation (a quasi-guest worker program). Laborers who are properly registered are then entitled to a daily minimum wage of $10/day, a strong incentive to self-register.

Only June will tell which way the report will go. However it is unlikely either party, America or Thailand, will let this impasse continue. Perhaps though, for as long as real improvements come for Thailand's most vulnerable, that is a welcome result.

Follow Sam Hargadine on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributor: @SamHargadine

FBI Rescues 79 American Child Sex Slaves

fbi-badge-gun-source-wikipedia.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:20 PM EDT, 25 June 2012

FBI Badge & Gun (Cropped), Source (Wikipedia)The FBI announced the results of a three-day operation during which 79 minors were rescued and 104 pimps were arrested. Today’s announcement demonstrated that the problem of large-scale trafficking of children into sexual slavery is not limited to foreign countries.

This latest coordinated effort marked the sixth deployment of “Operation Cross Country," implemented to free children who became ensnared in the nightmare of prostitution through online media venues such as social media websites, chat rooms and text messaging.

Despite aggressive television, billboard, and internet campaigns warning parents and caregivers of the insidious tactics employed by increasingly sophisticated predators, young people continue to post personal information on the web at an alarming rate.

According to the website Internet Safety 101.org:

  • 29% of Internet sex crime relationships were initiated on a social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 2010)
  • In 26% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim's personal social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)
  • 33% of all Internet-initiated sex crimes involved social networking sites. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)
  • 72% of teens have a social networking profile and nearly half (47%) have a public profile viewable by anyone.
  • Frequently children in 4th-6th grade levels engage in social networking activities. In the process they post personal, potentially exploitable, information about themselves online. Specifically, and within the last school year: 16% posted personal interests online, 15% posted information about their physical activities and 20% gave out their real name. In addition, 5% posted information about their school, 6% posted their home address, 6% posted their phone number and 9% posted pictures of themselves.
  • Teens often include the following information on their social networking profile.
  • Real age (50%)
  • Photos of themselves (62%)
  • City they live in (41%)
  • School name/location (45%)
  • Videos of friends (16%)
  • Videos of themselves (14%)
  • Their cell phone number (14%)
  • Places where they typically go (9%) (Source: Internet Safety 101.org)

The majority of the children rescued were girls between the ages of 11 and 13, but there were some boys. Most of the children were enticed by the promise of greater liberation from parental authority, while others were tempted by things as inconsequential as cell phones or other minor gifts.

As with most human trafficking cases, once captured the victims remain enslaved through psychological abuse and torture. Many are told that either they or their loved one will be killed if they try to escape or contact the authorities. The children freed during this operation are at the beginning of their journey to freedom.

Though these children have been physically freed, they have a long road ahead of them to achieve physical and psychological healing. Previous reports state that victims liberated during previous phases of "Operation Cross Country" have had severe difficulties adjusting and in some cases their behaviors were so anti-social that battered and abused and runaway shelters refuse to admit them.

These raids are a promising start and hopefully the American public will continue to increase its national and international awareness, advocacy and support of the hundreds of thousands of children who fall victim to perfidious sex traffickers every day.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Dutch-Moroccan 'Lover Boy' Pimps

female-sex-slave-cropped-photo-by-ira-gelb.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:46 p.m. EDT, 17 May 2012

Anti-Sex-Slavery Campaign, Photo by Stevens James Collins PhotographyNETHERLANDS - Al Jazeera reported on the release of a film about the explosive increase in the Netherlands of forced prostitution of girls as young as 12 by their Dutch-Moroccan ‘boyfriends.’

The film by Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare features Ibrahim, a Dutch-Moroccan social worker who made the brave decision to speak about this troubling phenomena.

He starts by telling viewers that he is proud of his heritage as a Moroccan of biracial descent; however, this growing problem of ‘Lover Boys,’ who are also often also of Dutch-Moroccan descent, is one that needs to be publicized and eradicated. The term ‘Lover Boys’ refers to young boys and men who woo young women with promises of love and acceptance, lavish attention, and expensive gifts before turning them out into the street as prostitutes.

This new brand of pimping is subtle at first but later turns violent. Both the pimps and the prostitutes have a difficult time escaping the lifestyle. Many of the young men are vulnerable, at risks kids who are just trying to survive, and when they are introduced to this method of making money by seducing young girls, they choose this form of crime rather than other more risky ventures such as selling drugs.

In the Netherlands prostitution is a legal and well-regulated industry for women 18 years or older. However, the problem with prostitutes pimped out by ‘Lover Boys’ is that fact these girls are often under-aged and can eventually become so ensnared that they can be sold into sexual slavery after enduring incredible abuse at the hands of their ‘lovers.’

Ultimately, Ibrahim chose to work with the film’s producers, Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare because he felt that the risks outweighed the potential of reducing human suffering. Exposing the problem of ‘Lover Boys’ has the potential of further polarizing the Dutch population, which like other European nations, struggles to assimilate different immigrant populations including Muslims. Anders Brievik of Norway is an extreme representative of a group of Europeans who would prefer to deport all Arabs, even those who were born in Europe.

The silence that masks the problem of 'Lover Boys' is similar to hidden plight of the Bacha Bazi. These unfortunate Muslim boys are used as sex slaves by Afghanis men, but this aberrant practice is relatively unknown outside of the country because the subject of sex and prostitution in Muslim communities is taboo and contrary to the teachings of the Qu’ran.

1 2 Next Page »

Published: 17 May 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

Also, the demarcation in Islamic culture between what happens 'inside' and 'outside' the house belies the fact that Islamic nations struggle against many of the same ills that beset every nation - prostitution, pedophilia, rape, etc.

Because of the generally monolithic perception Western cultures have about Islamic culture, hidden human right's abuses continue to exist and flourish unabated. The problem is further compounded by many Muslims refusal to speak out and expose not only the hypocrisy but also the immorality that exists in their communities.

Growing up in Africa I was acutely aware of the diminished status of a woman who is perceived by the community to have ‘compromised’ her virtue. When African and Arab immigrants arrive in America, it has been my experience that they view American and European women as ‘loose,’ and thus can be treated poorly without fear of retribution since they have no men to protect them.

For men from patriarchal cultures where the women are sequestered and their every action determined, ‘outside women’ are viewed as fair game and willing accomplices. When they encounter women who are free to make decisions about with whom they will have sex, when and what venues they will frequent, and make the choice to drink and get drunk, in some (NOT ALL) African and Arab men’s minds these women deserve whatever happens to them.

What is also disturbing is the fact that most of these men are usually married to women in their home country or even in the city to which they have immigrated, but unlike the ‘outside women,’ their wives conform to the strict rules of decorum as determined by their community and are never allowed to venture forth unescorted. By contrast their husbands can and do present themselves as free agents and engage in extramarital affairs.

Some of the men and boys who agreed to be interviewed for the film with the condition of anonymity, gave chilling accounts of their disdain for the girls they pimped, and the callousness they demonstrated toward their former 'girlfriends' was chilling.

The film also interviews some of the girls who were forced into a life of prostitution by their ‘boyfriends,’ but have subsequently escaped. After watching the film I encourage you to visit Al Jazeera to read the entire interview with Ibrahim. (Source: Al Jazeera | Film by Julia Rooke and Caroline Pare)

Return to Page 1 »

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

 

Liquid Lust in India's Parliament

female-mannequin2.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 21:32 PM EDT, 8 February 2012

NEW DELHI, India - News channels have broadcast footage of three Indian politicians from a morally conservative party watching pornography during a session of state parliament. This revelation would have been noteworthy in itself, but what captured our attention was the fact that one of the men is the minister for women and child development.

The broadcast showed footage of Karnataka state Minister for Cooperation Laxman Savadi sharing a porn clip with his colleague C.C. Patil, the minister for women and child development. The phone is purported to belong to Krishna Palema, the state Minister for Ports, Science and Technology.

All three men have subsequently resigned, though they each categorically deny deliberately watching the porn. The three state politicians explained that they tendered their resignations because they did not want to cause any embarrassment for their party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state and is in opposition at a national level.

Pornography is not harmless as some would assert. Proponents of this billion dollar industry advertise that all the actors in the industry are willing participants who are well compensated. On the revenue side, porn moguls defend their massive profits by claiming any type of restriction would infringe upon freedom of expression.

Many men and women who have become addicted to porn, in particular internet and video, have seen their lives ruined because of their unnatural attachment to unrealistic body types and contrived sexual situations. As the addiction progresses they are only able to achieve sexual gratification through the images presented in this LCD universe.

Since most men and women do not look like the people featured in these movies, it becomes difficult for those addicted to porn to develop conflict resolutions skills that are required to maintain intimate relationships in the non-LCD world. Though the industry would be loathed to admit it, pornography contributes to the objectification of the women and men who perform in these films. With regard to women, who in many societies are already marginalized or objectified, pornography can further inure men to their humanity and thus the suffering of all women in their societies.

Girls and women in largely patriarchal India face a barrage of threats including rape, dowry-related murder, forced marriage, domestic violence, honor killings and human trafficking. For these ministers to watch pornography further reinforces the rights of men over women in a country where there already is this social mindset that women are disposable commodities and are seen as transferable property.

Renuka Chowdhary, a former federal minister for women's development and a member of the Congress Party told CNN-IBC that "it really is troubling that the people who are in positions of power and have the responsibility to change things actually have the same mindset and are busy watching porn."