When Victims Become Traffickers

Burmese police announced this week that out of the hundreds of human traffickers they have arrested over the past several years, at least 100 of them were once victims. Sadly, trafficking victims becoming traffickers is not unusual. But what makes a person go from victim to trafficker?

Most of the 100 victims-turned-traffickers were trafficked from Burma into China and Thailand for forced labor, forced prostitution, or forced marriage. Once discovered, they were shipped back to Burma, sometimes deported, and usually with no compensation. Back in Burma, there were no support services for them, no money for counseling or job training, no help with medical bills or education. The lack of support for victims traps them in a vicious cycle. Some people end up trafficked again and again because they cannot break out of that cycle. Others eventually break the cycle, by becoming traffickers themselves.

Victims can turn into traffickers for a number of reasons. For those trafficked as children, there may be no other conceivable industry for them to enter other than the one they were sold into as a child, whether that’s commercial sex, brick making, or domestic service. So as an adult, they follow the only career path they’ve known and recruit other children into the same industry. Others many find that the only model of power in their life is the person who owns and controls them — their trafficker. When they look around for ways to empower themselves, becoming a subjugater of others is all they see. Still others, as is the case with many of the 100 Burmese nationals, may not even realize what they’re engaging in is against the law. They know the trafficking routes, brokers, and bosses from the time they were forced to work. That they should recruit others to do the same thing might feel like the natural extension of their previous “job.”


Published in: on August 28, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Virginia as a source of human trafficking

For many Virginians apart from those living in Northern Virginia, sex trafficking victims have the faces of Asian girls in massage parlors or Eastern European ladies in strip clubs. To them, that the victim’s face can be one of many American children sexually exploited anywhere in the United States does not seem to enter in their mind. However, the past reports show that Virginia is nowhere near to be a safe haven for the minor trafficking victims in the United States. The domestic minor sex trafficking in fact may go unnoticed when general public as well as law enforcement authorities are unaware that American children can be trafficked just as much as Asians or Russians are. 

Virginia as a source of human trafficking

A few cases show the glimpse of the truth behind Virginia as a source of human trafficking:

In October 2009,  police arrested a man who recruited two minors for forced prostitution in Virginia. The two minors were recruited from the state of Virginia, where they were forced into prostitution. The man promised the minors that if they “would serve as prostitutes in Virginia, for a short period of time, they and he would earn enough money to go to Florida for an extravagant vacation.”  As soon as they arrived in Florida, the Virginia minors were also forced into prostitution to pay for hotels, food, and other items. 

In July 2007, A 15 year old girl was taken from a group home in Virginia. She was advertised on Craigslist and forced into prostitution. She was rescued through a software program developed a few years later. 

 And these are, of course, only two cases in addition to numerous examples of sex trafficking in massage parlors and other cases in Northern Virginia. 

Awareness raising is essential

 Some people may argue that human trafficking, apart from Northern Virginia, does not happen in the state because they do not hear about it on the local newspaper. However, this is not to say that children in Virginia are immune from the danger of being trafficked out of the state. Pimps may not choose to sell children in the middle of cornfield in Virginia. But, pimps will, as they certainly have, recruit children in Virginia and force them into prostitution in bigger cities outside of the state. The cases mentioned above therefore are only a reminder that awareness raising effort to protect Virginia children becomes more vital. So, what can you do to educate public and law enforcement authorities to protect Virginia children from being trafficked out of the state? 

source: http://www.examiner.com/x-24740-Human-Rights-Examiner~y2010m8d10-Virginia-awareness-raising-effort-for-minor-sex-trafficking-is-vital

Iraqi Child Sex Slave? Welcome to Prison!

Iraqi prisons are filled with young girls. Some of them were jailed for having relatives with ties to terrorist groups. Others have been charged with crimes ranging from petty to serious. But among the population of Iraqi girls in prison are victims of child sex trafficking, sold into prostitution against their will. In Iraq, imprisoning victims too often passes for justice.

One of those girls is 15-year-old Zenia. Two years ago, her father took her to Syria to visit her grandfather. But when they arrived, Zenia learned that this was no average family trip. Her family had brought her to Syria to sell her to a sex trafficker, who took her from Syria to the United Arab Emirates. There, Zenia was forced into prostitution.

Distraught and desperately looking for a way to escape, Zenia fled her captors and contacted the police in the UAE. Sure, prostitution is illegal in both the UAE and Iraq, but Zenia was just a child forced into it against her will. Surely the police would understand?

They didn’t. Zenia was unceremoniously deported to Baghdad. And when she arrived, her reward for summoning the courage to escape slavery, to protect herself from abuse, and notify the police about criminal activity, was rewarded with a two year prison sentence. Apparently, in Iraq, this passes for justice.


Men Trafficked from Africa to Scotland for … Sex?

Human trafficking service organizations in Scotland recently reported identifying two new male victims. But they weren’t working in factories, farming fields, or constructing buildings like many other male trafficking victims. They were being forced into prostitution. Are these two cases unusual outliers or the beginning of a new trend of trafficking men into prostitution?

The two men in question were trafficked from Africa (countries not specified) into Scotland separately. One was forced to make pornography and the other was sold into traditional street prostitution. Both men, however, thought they were accepting non-sexual jobs in Scotland, only to be forced to have sex once they arrived. Male prostitution is not a new phenomenon in Scotland, with about 400 male escorts listed on the web. But most of those have been Scottish men who chose to go into the industry. There have been some cases of homelessness or drug addiction forcing men to sell sex acts, but those cases have thus far been relatively rare.

As it turns out, men trafficked into commercial sex may actually have a great deal in common with women in the same situation. Julian Heng, who manages a support project for men in prostitution, says that male and female sex trafficking victims likely have the same repeat clients. That’s because sex with someone held against their will isn’t about sexual pleasure or orientation, he says. It’s about power and control. Men rape male trafficking victims for the same reason they rape female trafficking victims — because they want to assert their control. Even the act of paying for sex, for some men, is a way of exercising control.


Steven Seagal Sued for Sex Trafficking, Assault

Action film star Steven Seagal is being sued by a former assistant Kayden Nguyen for the kind of action he was getting off the screen. She claims he sexually assaulted her multiple times, lied to her about the nature of the job he hired her for, and trafficked young women in from Russia whom he forced to serve his every sexual need. Looks like Mr. Seagal might be the one under siege this time around.

In the suit, Nguyen claims that she answered a Craigslist ad seeking an “executive assistant” for the film star while he shot a televisions series “Steven Seagal: Lawman” in New Orleans. Is it just me, or is anyone else wondering why someone with Seagal’s resources and name recognition has to advertise for an assistant on Craigslist? Sketchy. Regardless, Nguyen was excited when she landed the job, packed her bags, and jumped on a plane to New Orleans. The first red flag, she said, was that almost immediately upon her arrival in the city, Seagal told her his wife “wouldn’t mind if we had a sexual relationship.” Uh oh.

Then it got worse when she met Seagal’s “attendants.” The star had flown in two young women from Russia, who were “on-call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to have sex with the star whenever he wanted. While the lawsuit indicates those women were trafficking victims, they haven’t made a formal complaint, and it’s not yet known whether or not they were free to leave Seagal’s service. Nguyen, it turned out, was not. While she surely expected to be put to work as an executive assistant, she was instead driven to a secluded house where Seagal sexually assaulted her. She pushed him away, and complained to some more senior employees the next day. But the assaults kept happening. At one point, Seagal confessed that one of his “attendants” had recently left (escaped?), and that she had really been hired to fill that role. The ordeal went on for days, until Nguyen fled the city, saying family members were waiting for her and would be worried if she didn’t show up. Seagal allegedly chased her to the cab she left in with a gun and a flashlight, trying to prevent her from leaving.


Bangladeshi Child Sex Slaves Force-Fed Bovine Steroids to Look Older

Life is getting even more dangerous for the young girls enslaved in the many, massive brothels across Bangladesh, thanks to a disturbing and growing trend: force-feeding child trafficking victims a steroid used to fatten cattle. The long-term side affects of such drugs on humans are largely unknown, but the short-term effects range from dangerous to deadly.

By law in Bangladesh, any woman working in a brothel must be 18 years or older. But in practice, that guideline is practically laughable. For decades, Bangladeshi brothels have been filled with young girls, ranging from pre-pubescents to teens, who have been sold to the brothels are are held there as slaves. Some are sold by family members to work off a family debt, others have no where else to go and become indebted to the brothel for their food and housing. Brothels use so many children because they are cheaper to feed than adults, are less likely to run away, and are more easily financially exploited. But a brothel full of 11-year-olds will draw police attention, even in Bangladesh. What’s a madam to do?

Enter, Oradexon. The Oradexon family of drugs was originally developed by farmers and the livestock industry to force cattle to produce more fleshy tissue that would sell for more money on the market. In Bangladesh, the drug is cheap and widely available. So some bright brothel owner had the idea: if it makes cattle bigger, why not the kids I enslave in my brothel. Could it make them look more like adults?


Haiti: Girls and Women, From 2 to 72 Years Old, Are Being Raped.

By now, people are aware of the earthquake’s toll in Haiti. Two months later, the smell of dead bodies trapped under the rubble still lingers in the air, and food, water, and security barely exist. On top of this devastation is a second natural disaster that followed: girls and women, from 2 to 72 years old, are being raped in their make-shift shelters.

Just as we assisted in the aftermath of the earthquake, we now need to assist in the aftermath of this new devastation. We do this by invigorating a policy already in place, called humanitarian parole, an immigration status that allows the most vulnerable to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, for an urgent, compelling reason such as life-threatening medical need, or to promote a significant public benefit.

Consider Solange, a 16-year-old straight-A student whose dream was to become a nurse. In forty seconds, her life collapsed as her parents and siblings lay under the crumbled blocks of her home. She wandered the streets alone until an elderly man offered to help. He brought two men to rape her.

Solange received no protection, and cannot find food or water. The cement wall that took her family also injured her back, but she cannot receive the urgent surgery in Haiti that is required to fix it.

The earthquake demolished safety networks of family and community. Women are fearful of going to get distributed goods protected by men who demand sex-for-aide. They have lost their husbands in the earthquake, and are forced to become financially independent without the skills or educational background. With children and orphans dependent on them, they are not free to relocate for work.

Sexual predation after societal devastation is not particular to Haiti. We tend not to think of ourselves as forces of nature, but we are. As agents of nature, when people experience acute trauma, some may multiply disaster by forcing their power onto others, out of psychological strain on the moral poise of being idle, angry at losing control, or frustrated with a lack of basic needs and uncertainty about the future. Indonesia had rape and abuse that threatened the physical and psychological safety of women and children in temporary camps after the tsunami. New Orleans endured rapes and sexual violence in the aftermath of Katrina.

Humanitarian parole has been used in the past, for Hungarians escaping communism, Cubans fleeing their country, Indochinese migrants who fled at the end of the Vietnam War, and others from China, Iraq, El Salvador, India, Iran, and Lebanon to name a few. No one disagrees that Haiti is a dire humanitarian crisis right now. As responsible neighbors, we need to act quickly to offer relief to these women and their children who are the future of Haiti.

Secretary Napolitano allowed humanitarian parole for Haitian orphans in the process of adoption, but parole should be extended to Haitians in need of emergency treatments, especially when treatment is only a short few hours away.

Haitian-Americans are weaving into the fabric of American politics and culture. Massachusetts and Florida both have Haitian-American officers in the state legislature. There are eight Haitian-Americans in elected office in South Florida and there is talk about sending a Haitian-American to Congress. New York and New Jersey also have Haitians that are running for state and local offices.

Americans are weathering difficult economic conditions ourselves. Many worry about immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) using publicly funded health-care, taking unskilled jobs away, using public resources like schools, and resisting assimilation.

But countries are becoming more dependent on each other, so it may be useful to build communities with our neighbors. Humanitarian parole would allow Solange admission to the U.S., to contribute economically to our country by finding meaningful work, to obtain health care for her life-threatening medical concerns, and to learn skills to provide a life for herself and help re-build her country.

We can help parole Solange out of the prison of human squalor that she’s wrongly been subjected to, surrounded by death, destruction, and rape. We can offer her humanitarian treatment for her potentially life-threatening medical and psychological suffering.

source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-song/haiti-addressing-atrociti_b_520353.html

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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This story speaks for itself. From the free Sara Kruzan action page at change.org:

“Life without parole means absolutely no opportunity for release,” said Senator Yee. (of California) “It also means minors are often left without access to programs and rehabilitative services while in prison. This sentence was created for the worst of criminals that have no possibility of reform and it is not a humane way to handle children. While the crimes they committed caused undeniable suffering, these youth offenders are not the worst of the worst.”

“As a society we’ve learned a lot since the time we started using life without parole for children,” said Elizabeth Calvin, a children’s rights advocate with Human Rights Watch. “We now know that this sentence provides no deterrent effect. While children who commit serious crimes should be held accountable, public safety can be protected without subjecting youth to the harshest prison sentence possible.”

Watch. Listen. Weep. Take Action.

source: http://www.feministing.com/archives/018500.html

Being An Underage Prostitute

Have you heard of a “choosey Suzie” or a “wife in law?” Do you know what being “in pocket” is? Thousands of underage kids trapped in prostitution know all too well. What is the day–to–day reality for an underage prostitute? How do they get forced into “the life?” How can they successfully leave the industry? Today — stories of underage sex trafficking from girls who’ve been there. We’ll also learn what intervention helps.

Plus, Cliff Mass joins us with a weekend weather forecast.

Related Event

Tune in to Morning Edition next Tuesday through Friday, March 16 to 19, to hear a series of reports on labor trafficking by KUOW’s Sara Lerner.


Noel was in the sex industry for 15 years, starting at age 16. She was pimped for 7 years, before she left to be an escort on her own. After stripping for five years, she finally left the industry. She’s been out now for six years.

Joanna Ward is Detention Case Manager at YouthCare’s Orion Center.

Cliff Mass is an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington.

source: http://kuow.org/program.php?id=19636

Human trafficking appeal rejected

Leonard Ray Russell won’t get a new day in court.

Russell, convicted of human trafficking, among other charges, will continue to serve a 25-year prison sentence for his part in the forced prostitution of two Nebraska teens.

The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the conviction Wednesday, although it said the state did not have authority to levy a $1,000 fine against Russell. The case, tried in Denison, Iowa, was the state’s first conviction under its 2006 human trafficking laws.

Russell will be resentenced to address the errant fine.

His conviction came more than a year after two girls, ages 15 and 16, ran away from a Fremont, Neb., group home and met Russell at an Omaha motel. He gave the girls fake identification cards and took them to Iowa and then Illinois, where they performed at strip clubs and solicited sex. The bulk of the money they earned was turned over to Russell in exchange for food and shelter, according to court testimony.

Russell appealed his conviction on several grounds, arguing that his lawyer was ineffective and did not adequately argue against the prosecution’s claim that Russell was guilty of ongoing criminal conduct and human trafficking.

The appeals court denied both of those claims, saying his lawyer did argue against the state’s claims, but the state proved its case.

Russell also said District Court Judge Edward Jacobson made a mistake by not granting Russell a new trial immediately after his conviction. Russell had argued that the two Nebraska teens, who testified against him at trial, weren’t credible witnesses.

In denying the motion for a new trial, Jacobson said “these certainly were not the most credible witnesses I have ever heard testify.” According to Jacobson, the girls told the jury that they had lied while giving statements but were telling the truth at trial. The jurors were allowed to decide the credibility of witnesses for themselves, Jacobson said. The appeals court upheld Jacobson’s decision.

Convicted murderer loses second appeal

For the second time, Dennis E. Stonerook lost an appeal of his conviction for first-degree murder.

Stonerook was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Mark Mayberry in 2005 at Midwest Lanes bowling alley in Glenwood, Iowa. Stonerook shot Mayberry four times with a .44-caliber rifle in front of about 35 witnesses.

Stonerook appealed the verdict in 2006, contending that the jury was not properly instructed. The appeals court denied the appeal.

In his latest bid, Stonerook appealed a district court dismissal of a post-conviction relief petition in 2007.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals ruled that the dismissal was correct.

source: http://www.omaha.com/article/20100310/NEWS97/703119851/0

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 10:57 am  Comments (1)  
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