Iraqi Refugees Face Sex Trafficking, Forced Marriage

Since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, over a million Iraqis have fled to Syria to escape the violence and poverty in their conflict-ridden country. But now a new specter haunts them — sex trafficking and forced marriage. Iraqi refugees in Syria are increasingly being trafficked into brothels, forced into marriages, or pushed into prostitution as a means of survival. It’s time Secretary of State Clinton helped protect Iraqi refugees from the aftermath of a U.S.-initiated war.

One of those refugees is Um Ali. She fled from Iraq to Syria with her husband and three daughters once war broke out in her home town. In Syria, the family had no money, no connections, and no support. So it wasn’t long before her husband, who had beaten Ali for years, began looking to sell off their only assets — their daughters. Despite the fact that their daughters were young teens, the marriage proposals began coming in, including one offer from an Iraqi man who ran a brothel in the U.S. Thankfully, before he could sell off one of his daughters into marriage or sex trafficking, Ali’s husband was forced to return to Iraq to escape gambling debts in Syria.

Um Ali’s situation is not rare. Upon reaching Syria, many Iraqi refugees find they have no way to earn a living without proper immigration documentation. If women have fled without a male family member, they may be unable to find any form of work. This situation pushes some women unwillingly into prostitution and makes others vulnerable to sex trafficking or forced marriage by male relatives. Even women who managed to scrape together a living on their own in some non-sexual way are often “suspected” of being prostitutes and shunned from family because of that suspicion. So no matter how they survive, female Iraqi refugees are doomed to be damned by society or forced into some form of slavery.


Harmless or Horror Show? Little Girls’ Controversial Dance Routine to ‘Single Ladies’

Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” is a catchy tune, but it was a children’s dance to the song that really caught our eye. No, we’re not talking about the baby who bopped around to the song in his diapers.

We’re talking about the video below, where five girls who appear to be about 7 or 8 years of age perform a controversial dance routine to the song. Check it out:

Once this video went viral around the iVillage office, the opinions on its appropriateness were sharply divided. “I was horrified,” said one mom of twins. “All I kept thinking was, 7-year-olds in red-hot pants should not thrust, bump or grind—while a crowd roars approval.”

Others’ only takeaway was to laud the girls’ talent. “These girls are extremely talented,” said a mom of one, who grew up competing in dance competitions. “A great deal of dedication and hard work goes into what you just saw. I don’t know why comparisons are being made to strippers and grinding? I certainly don’t see that nor did I even think of that for a second.”

So iVillagers, what do you think? Harmless dance routine or a parental horror show?


Published in: on May 15, 2010 at 1:41 am  Comments (2)  
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A Clockwork Orange 7 Ways to Save “Steven Seagal Lawman”

As close readers know, Clockwork is a huuuuuuuge fan of Steven Seagal Lawman. Sadly, the A&E reality series has shut down due to silly allegations of sexual harassment, illegal trafficking of females for sex, failure to prevent sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and false representations about employment lodged against the actor/lawman.

First, can you imagine how much better the show would have been if all those things had happened in front of the cameras? Personal assistant Kayden Nguyen alleges Steven Seagal had two Russian hookers at the ready to fulfill his sex needs. Russian hookers = ratings gold. They spent an entire Lawman last season debating whether to kill rats, fer chrissakes.

B) No doubt rejoicing are the thugs, petty criminals and assorted scum of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, where Steven Seagal served as deputy chief of the reserve deputies. (Don’t go telling me that was a title made up for the reality show; Steven Seagal was the only member of the force always shown in a flak jacket with “Sheriff” emblazoned across the chest.)

Well, good citizens of Jefferson Parish, rejoice. Clockwork presents seven ways to save Steven Seagal Lawman.

* Weave in a plot line about how Steven Seagal was performing an undercover sex trafficking investigation. Why hadn’t Steven Seagal told anyone Steven Seagal was performing an undercover sex trafficking investigation? Because he’s Steven Seagal! Steven Seagal doesn’t follow the suits’ “rules.”

* Point out that the two Russian hookers were actually Sgt. Larry Dyess and Captain Alex Norman in drag.

* Blame it all on PTKSD (Post Traumatic Katrina Stress Disorder).

* Explain Steven Seagal did not reach Steven Seagal’s ham hands up the skirt, try to touch the breasts and stick his ham hands down the pants of Nguyen on her first night just for jollies. Steven Seagal was teaching the 23-year-old the proper way to pat down a perp.

* As for repeating the unscheduled pat down the next day, state that Steven Seagal was again giving a lesson. As Steven Seagal’s sensei taught Steven Seagal: repetition, repetition, repetition!

* Let Fortunato take the fall. Works every time!

* Change the name of the series to Steven Seagal Lawman? Not So Much.


Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 2:36 am  Comments (1)  
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Book Your Next Sex Tour Today

For a little under $3,000, G&F Tours will send you on a 10-day “nightlife” vacation to Thailand, the Philippines, or Cambodia, where you’ll enjoy the sandy and tranquil beaches, eclectic club scene, and of course, all the girls you could ever image. Highlights include a tour guide to help you navigate the local party scene, personal transportation, and an insider’s guide to the best clubs (and brothels) in town — all important tools in your belt to make your sex-cation unforgettable.

But if this isn’t for you, and you’re looking for true love, G&F Tours offers a “marriage tour,” where they promise to help you find a faithful and beautiful Southeast Asian girl: your soul-mate. All of this for a modest fee. Book today, before all seats fill up.

Disgusted yet? Well, this industry is growing. And fast. Not only that, but many of these destinations, including the Philippines and Cambodia, are inundated with underage sex-workers. And while we have a law in the U.S. prohibiting American citizens and companies from traveling abroad to patronize prostitution with minors or assisting others in doing so — laws that G&F Tours claims to abide by — who knows what really goes on during the wild and crazy nights in the clubs of Bangkok.

This law is at least a good start, however. It was adopted in 2003 as part of the PROTECT Act and carries with it a maximum sentence of 30 years behind bars. Americans are strictly prohibited from traveling within the U.S. or abroad to have sex with minors, and companies, agencies, or individuals that facilitate this process for them are as well.

So far, the laws have been put to some use. Last August, three American citizens returning from Cambodia were arrested on allegations of sex tourism and prostitution involving children. More recently, a man from Florida was sentenced to 20 years in jail for purchasing sex from two sisters, who were 11 and 12 at the time, while on vacation to the Philippines.

I’m glad to see some justice being served, but I hope that we can go further and put a stop to sex tourism agencies all together. Who knows what really goes on behind closed doors? Companies like G&F Tours only increase the chances that one of their faithful patrons will spend the night with a child — boy or girl — for a modest fee.

Some may argue that such laws go beyond our jurisdiction and state that intent to engage in such nefarious activities with a minor is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but I believe that it is our duty to protect those that don’t have the means or capabilities to protect themselves and to fight through such skepticism. We need laws like this, because if we don’t have them, who will?

The laws that we currently have in place are crucial to combating human trafficking and exploitation of some of the world’s most vulnerable and innocent citizens. But we must find a way to apply them more heavily and prohibit companies or individuals from helping others exploit the world’s youth. American tourists are still traveling abroad to prey on young boys and girls and “tourist agencies” are still out there helping them do so. Until law enforcement and government authorities begin aggressively fighting child sex tourism, the industry will continue to grow, and the lives of even more children will be ruined.

Photo credit: r e n a t a


Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 5:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Madams and Pimpettes: A Look at Women Who Sell Women

Close your eyes and picture a pimp. What did you see? Based on what the media tells us pimps look like, you probably saw an African-American man in his 30s or 40s with ostentatious clothes and maybe a massive, bejeweled cup. I’m going to guess you didn’t see a 31-year-old white woman with long, curly blond hair. But that’s exactly what one of two women recently charged with pimping-related crimes in Michigan looks like. Female pimps and traffickers are no myth, and they are more common than you might think. But what is it that makes a woman sell another woman (or a girl), for profit? What makes a pimpette, a pimpette?

Take the example of Jenny Lynn Demello, the blonde woman from Michigan. Jenny Lynn and her friend Kelly Marie Smith were caught at a Red Roof Inn with two younger women — 18 and 19 — running a small prostitution ring. Demello had posted photos of the younger women on in exchange for 25% of their earnings. According to police reports, Demello and Smith recruited the younger women into prostitution and were acting as their pimps. Since both the young women were legally adults, and there was no indication Demello and Smith used force, fraud, or coercion to get the women into prostitution, there was no human trafficking. But since they profited from and to some degree controlled other women, they can legally be considered pimps.


Clark County Fire Captain Arrested for Trying to Lure Child

HENDERSON, Nev. — Henderson police say a Clark County Fire Department captain was arrested on Friday for using the Internet to lure a child for sex. The captain, 55-year-old Martin Vohwinkel, is now on unpaid leave as the case is investigated.


LAS VEGAS — A Clark County Fire Captain is accused of luring a minor for sex through an advertisement posted on the Craigslist Web site.Martin Vohwinkel, 55, was arrested by Henderson police Friday.Officials said Vohwinkel is now free on bail.


Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pimp who ‘bought’ young woman for $2,000 and advertised her on Craigslist is sentenced to 25 years

A Queens pimp who “bought” a young woman for $2,000 – and advertised her sex services on Craigslist – was sentenced to 25 years to life.

David Brown, 32, paid $2,000 to an ex-girlfriend for the 19-year-old victim, who was described as homeless and vulnerable.

He took nude pictures of the victim and then posted them online, advertising the woman as a sex slave.

Over 12 days in August 2008 she was forced into sex with 30 men, and Brown collected payments ranging from $60 to $200, prosecutors said.

Brown was convicted on sex trafficking, kidnapping and other charges. He was the first to be charged under a new harsh sex-trafficking law signed by disgraced ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in June 2007.

Ironically, Spitzer was forced from office less than a year later after being identified as “Client 9” – the patron of a $5,500-an-hour call-girl ring.

“You are a con man of the first order,” Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise told Brown. “I’m going to do my best to insure that you never see the light of day again.”

Brown blamed his troubles on a spiteful ex – the woman prosecutors said sold him the woman.

“I did not do the crime,” Brown said. “This was straight jealousy from an old girlfriend that I left. I never touched [the victim.] I never kidnapped her.”

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 8:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rescuing the Superbowl Sex Slaves

Friday, I loaded the backseat of a car headed to Miami with giant packs of condoms, bottles of hand sanitizer, and snacks. Was this going to be the best Superbowl party ever? No, it was part of a massive outreach effort to the child sex trafficking victims who are expected to be brought to Miami this weekend to service men attending the Superbowl. Last year, they found at least 24 kids trafficked to Tampa for sex. And this year, they predicted even more.

Why does the Superbowl mean an uptick in the amount of sex trafficking in a given city? It’s because sex trafficking, like all forms of modern-day slavery, are driven by consumer demand for a product. And when large numbers of men gather in a city, especially without their families, some of them demand commercial sex. Pimps know that demand for prostitution will be higher in Miami this weekend because of the number of out-of-towners flying in for the big game. So they’ll ship the women and girls who they sell to meet the demand and make them the highest possible profit. It’s the exact same business model other entrepreneurs who will travel to Miami use. Except instead of selling hot dogs or t-shirts, they’ll be selling children.

Fortunately, this year advocacy groups were prepared. A team of hundreds of outreach workers from organizations both local to Miami and national were on the streets, perhaps even in greater number than the pimps and traffickers, looking for trafficking victims, armed with outreach supplies like condoms and business cards with subtly scripted hotline numbers. And the volunteers have been trained to recognize that even the girls who are smiling and flirting may be women and kids forced into prostitution by a pimp.

Whether you rocked a blue pony hat or some black and gold Mardi Gras beads this Sunday, just remember that we’re all cheering for at least one team. And that’s the one standing on the street corner, throwing a Hail Mary pass to the girls they see. And unlike the boys on the field, these folks are actually hoping for a safety.

Photo credit: Ed Yourndon


Club fights sexual slavery with education

School, work and fun nights downtown consume most students’ time. But one new student group is advocating that everyone take a minute to think about sexual slavery in other countries instead of last night’s “Sex and the City” in hopes of igniting students to action.

Sarah May

Organizer Sarah May, a junior from Atlanta, first realized she wanted to fight against the sex slave trade after she read the book “Half the Sky” by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.

Her friend happened to pick the book up after seeing something about it in Oprah and told May that this was a must-read.

After feeling empowered by the book about her ability to make a difference to young girls, May decided to make a University-approved club to raise awareness.

She came up with EGGS, which stands for Educating Girls to Guarantee Survival.

Since she closed the back cover on the book, she has organized the group, planned fundraisers and gotten a group  of early members together to help raise money to build a school in Cambodia.

“This book is interesting because they write it from the perspective that we can do something to help,” May said. “They talk about the best ways to make a difference. We were inspired by that.”

According to May, EGGS has been in direct contact with the chair for American Assistance for Cambodia, and the group plans to raise $19,000 to build a school for children so that they can avoid situations like sexual slavery.

“We set that goal for the end of next spring,” May said.

“I think the most important things EGGS will do is establish a school that will serve not just as a place for education, but also a safe place for children to go during the day, reducing their vulnerability to sex traffickers and kidnappers,” said Lily Feinberg, an EGGS’ group member . “Knowing that I could hypothetically be changing girls’ lives through EGGS is a good feeling.”

The group believes that families in extreme poverty are sometimes forced to put their children on the streets to earn what money they can.

EGGS strives to eliminate this sad reality and let families know they have other options.

Once the $19,000 mark has been hit, EGGS plans to continue to raise money for the Girls be Ambitious Program.

The program, which is run through American Assistance for Cambodia, provides incentives for families to keep their young girls and for the girls to attend school.

The organization pays monthly stipends of $10 a month to children who attend school and $120 a year if they have perfect attendance.

“A lot of times the girls will be promised a job far away, and they accept it because the family needs money,” May said.

“Then these girls are kidnapped and chained and forced to work against their will, and their parents don’t hear from them.”

The monthly stipends are designed to allow for these families to have a steady income while allowing their children to continue with their education.

“Women who are more educated are more likely to stand up for themselves in these cases,” May said. “And if they set their goal for going to school, they won’t feel like they have to take this certain job that they know nothing about.”

Sonia Chopra, a junior at UGA, recently joined the group because she said the cause is very important to her.

“There are so many horrible things going on in the world right now that so few people know about, and I believe that child trafficking and the sex-slave industry are two of the worst,” Chopra said.

“Advocacy and raising awareness are such important parts of any organization involved in social justice, which is why it’s great to see a group like EGGS on campus. It’s a group that can get people involved to make a difference in girls’ lives.”

What: EGGS first meeting

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tate room 481

More Information: Email the group at



Sex trafficking is rampant.
The animals who hurt our children must be stopped.

Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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