Women the new pimps in human sex trafficking trade

Pimp___WomanWOMEN are emerging as the pimps of the global trade in humans with a third of countries reporting more female traffickers than male, a United Nations study shows.

The first international report into the scope of human trafficking, published yesterday, found a disproportionate number of female perpetrators, more than in any other crime, selling other women into slavery in countries including Australia.

With demand for cheap goods and services rising with the fall of the world economy, experts fear labour exploitation will grow.

Sex slavery accounts for 79 per cent of all human trafficking, most victims being women and girls, says the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Report On Trafficking In Persons.

It used data from 155 countries to establish patterns in trafficking and what individual nations were doing to fight it.

The office’s executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, was alarmed by cases in which victims went on to become ringleaders in the trade. “We need to understand the psychological, financial and coercive reasons why women recruit other women into slavery,” he said.

After sex, the second most common trade was in forced labour. These victims were harder to identify than sex slaves, whose work was highly visible and concentrated in cities and along major roads, the report said. By contrast, forced labourers worked in mines, factories and in private homes as domestic slaves.

“Their numbers will surely swell as the economic crisis deepens the pool of potential victims,” Mr Costa said.

The view was echoed by Jennifer Burn, the director of the Anti-Slavery Project at the University of Technology, Sydney. She said Australia’s visa system was open to exploitation. “We have a visa system built around the idea that we have a skills shortage,” Professor Burn said.

Trafficked people could arrive as students and temporary skilled workers, and more sophisticated methods of protecting and detecting these people were needed, she said. Increased public awareness of modern-day slavery was necessary to snuff out the demand for it, she said. Instances of trafficking were under-reported, and often victims did not identify as such.

“They know they’ve been held in an exploitative and harsh work environment, but they don’t put that into the legal definition of trafficking,” Professor Burn said. Most reported cases were of women from Thailand, South Korea and China, she said.

In Australia, the UN report found eight people were convicted from the 34 charged with trafficking-related offences in the five years to 2008. According to the Department of Immigration, 17 trafficking victims had been granted three-year temporary witness protection visas. To date, none have qualified for a permanent version of that visa. No trafficked children had been detected since 2003, the department said.

Yesterday the Federal Government proposed new obligations for employers of temporary skilled overseas workers on 457 visas. These included market pay rates and co-operation with inspectors.

source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/women-the-new-pimps-in-human-trafficking-trade-20090212-85zr.html

The Demand: Where Sex Trafficking Begins


The transnational sex trafficking of women and children is based on a balance between the

supply of victims from sending countries and the demand for victims in receiving countries.

Sending countries are those from which victims can be relatively easily recruited, usually with

false promises of jobs. Receiving or destination countries are those with sex industries that create

the demand for victims. Where prostitution is flourishing, pimps cannot recruit enough local

women to fill up the brothels, so they have to bring in victims from other places.

Until recently, the supply side of trafficking and the conditions in sending countries have

received most of the attention of researchers, NGOs, and policy makers, and little attention was

paid to the demand side of trafficking.

The trafficking process begins with the demand for women to be used in prostitution. It begins

when pimps place orders for women. Interviews I have done with pimps and police from

organized crime units say that when pimps need new women and girls, they contact someone

who can deliver them. This is what initiates the chain of events of sex trafficking.

The crucial factor in determining where trafficking will occur is the presence and activity of
traffickers, pimps, and collaborating officials running criminal operations. Poverty,

unemployment, and lack of opportunities are compelling factors that facilitate the ease with

which traffickers recruit women, but they are not the cause of trafficking. Many regions of the

world are poor and chaotic, but not every region becomes a center for the recruitment or

exploitation of women and children. Trafficking occurs because criminals take advantage of

poverty, unemployment, and a desire for better opportunities.

Corruption of government officials and police is necessary for trafficking and exploitation of

large numbers of women and children. In sending countries, large-scale operations require the

collaboration of officials to obtain travel documents and facilitate the exit of women from the country.

In destination countries, corruption is an enabler for prostitution and trafficking. The operation of

brothels requires the collaboration of officials and police, who must be willing to ignore or work

with pimps and traffickers. Prostitution operations depend on attracting men. Pimps and brothel

owners have to advertise to men that women and children are available for commercial sex acts.

Officials have to ignore this blatant advertising.

There are four components that make-up the demand:

1) the men who buy commercial sex acts

2) the exploiters who make up the sex industry

3) the states that are destination countries

4) the culture that tolerates or promotes sexual exploitation

The men, the buyers of commercial sex acts, are the ultimate consumers of trafficked and

prostituted women and children. They use them for entertainment, sexual gratification, and acts

of violence. It is men who create the demand, and women and children who are the supply.

I recently completed a report for the TIP Office, U.S. Department of State on the demand side of

sex trafficking that focuses on the men who purchase sex acts. Typically, when prostitution and

sex trafficking are discussed, the focus is on the women. The men who purchase the sex acts are

faceless and nameless.

Research on men who purchase sex acts has found that many of the assumptions we make about

them are myths. Seldom are the men lonely or have sexually unsatisfying relationships. In fact,

men who purchase sex acts are more likely to have more sexual partners than those who do not

purchase sex acts. They often report that they are satisfied with their wives or partners. They say

that they are searching for more – sex acts that their wives will not do or excitement that comes

with the hunt for a woman they can buy for a short time. They are seeking sex without

relationship responsibilities. A significant number of men say that the sex and interaction with

the prostitute were unrewarding and they did not get what they were seeking; yet they

compulsively repeat the act of buying sex. Researchers conclude that men are purchasing sex

acts to meet emotional needs, not physical needs.

Men who purchase sex acts do not respect women, nor do they want to respect women. They are

seeking control and sex in contexts in which they are not required to be polite or nice, and where

they can humiliate, degrade, and hurt the woman or child, if they want.

The exploiters, including traffickers, pimps, brothel owners, organized crime members, and

corrupt officials make-up what is known as the sex industry. They make money from the sale of

sex as a commodity. Traffickers and organized crime groups are the perpetrators that have

received most of the attention in discussions about the sex trafficking.

By tolerating or legalizing prostitution, the state, at least passively, is contributing to the demand

for victims. The more states regulate prostitution and derive tax revenue from it, the more

actively they become part of the demand for victims.

If we consider that the demand is the driving force of trafficking, then it is important to analyze

the destination countries’ laws and policies. Officials in destination countries do not want to

admit responsibility for the problem of sex trafficking or be held accountable for creating the

demand. At this point to a great extent, the wealthier destination countries control the debate on

how trafficking and prostitution will be addressed. Sending countries are usually poorer, less

powerful, and more likely to be influenced by corrupt officials and/or organized crime groups.

They lack the power and the political will to insist that destination countries stop their demand

for women for prostitution.

In destination countries, strategies are devised to protect the sex industries that generate hundreds

of millions of dollars per year for the state where prostitution is legal, or for organized crime

groups and corrupt officials where the sex industry is illegal.

In the destination countries, exploiters exert pressure on the lawmakers and officials to create

conditions that allow them to operate. They use power and influence to shape laws and polices

that maintain the flow of women to their sex industries. They do this through the normalization

of prostitution and the corruption of civil society.

There has been a global movement to normalize and legalize the flow of foreign women into sex

industries. It involves a shift from opposing the exploitation of women in prostitution to only
opposing the worst violence and criminality. It involves redefining prostitution as “sex work,” a

form of labor for poor women, and redefining the transnational movement of women for

prostitution as labor migration, called “migrant sex work.” It involves legalizing prostitution, and

changing the migration laws to allow a flow of women for prostitution from sending regions to

sex industry centers. The normalization of prostitution is often recommended as a way to solve

the problem of trafficking.

States protect their sex industries by preventing resistance to the flow of women to destination

countries by silencing the voice of civil society. In many sending countries, civil society is weak

and undeveloped. Governments of destination countries fund non-governmental organizations

(NGOs) in sending countries to promote the destination country’s views on prostitution and

trafficking. Authentic voices of citizens who do not want their daughters and sisters to become

“sex workers” in other countries are replaced by the voice of the destination country, which says

that prostitution is good work for women. The result is a corruption of civil society.

In a number of countries, the largest anti-trafficking organizations are funded by states that have

legalized prostitution. These funded NGOs often support legalized prostitution. They only speak

about “forced prostitution” and movement of women by force, fraud, or coercion. They remain

silence as thousands of victims leave their communities for “sex work” in destination countries.

Effectively, these NGOs have abandoned the women and girls to the pimps and men who

purchase sex acts.

When prostitution is illegal, but thriving, government officials often look jealously at the money

being made by criminals, and think they are not getting their share. In countries that are

considering the legalization of prostitution, the estimated amount of the future tax revenue is

often used to argue for legalization.

Germany legalized brothels and prostitution in 2002. German lawmakers thought they were

going to get hundreds of millions of euros in tax revenue. But the newly redefined “business

owners” and “freelance staff” in brothels have not been turned into taxpayers. The Federal Audit

Office estimates that the government has lost hundreds of millions of euros in unpaid tax revenue

from the sex industry. Recently, lawmakers started to look for ways to increase collection of

taxes from prostitutes. The state seems to be taking on the role of pimp by harassing prostitutes

for not giving them enough money.

Although legalization has resulted in big legal profits for a few, other expected benefits have not

materialized. Organized crime groups continue to traffic women and children and run illegal

prostitution operations along side the legal businesses. Legalization has not reduced prostitution

or trafficking; in fact, both activities increase as a result of men being able to legally buy sex acts

and cities attracting foreign male sex tourists.

The promised benefits of legalization for women have not materialized in Germany or the

Netherlands. In Germany, legalization was supposed to enable women to get health insurance

and retirement benefits, and enable them to join unions, but few women have signed up for
benefits or for unions. The reason has to do with the basic nature of prostitution. It is not work; it

is not a job like any other. It is abuse and exploitation that women only engage in if forced to or

when they have no other options. Even where prostitution is legal, a significant proportion of the

women in brothels is trafficked. Women and children controlled by criminals cannot register

with an authority or join a union. Women who are making a more or less free choice to be in

prostitution do so out of immediate necessity – debt, unemployment, and poverty. They consider

resorting to prostitution as a temporary means of making money, and assume as soon as a debt is

paid or a certain sum of money is earned for poverty-stricken families, they will go home. They

seldom tell friends or relatives how they earn money. They do not want to register with

authorities and create a permanent record of being a prostitute.

The culture, particular mass media, is playing a large role in normalizing prostitution by

portraying prostitution as glamorous or a way to quickly make a lot of money. Within academia,

“sex workers” are represented as being empowered, independent, liberated women.

To counter these harmful messages, there is an important role for churches to play in describing

the harm of prostitution to women, children, families, and communities. In the United States, the

Evangelical Christian churches are increasingly involved in the human rights struggle against sex

trafficking and exploitation.

Unfortunately, in the battle against the global sex trade, the voice of moral authority that

condemns all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse is being lost. Some churches are

compromising on their mission and their vision. For example, in the Czech Republic, there is a

government proposal to legalize and regulate prostitution, as a way to combat trafficking.

Catholic Bishop Vaclav Maly, the Auxiliary Bishop of Prague, has made a statement in favor of

legalization of prostitution. According to a

report in April 2002, he has given up the

moral battle saying, “The chances of eliminating it are practically nil. … Under those

circumstances, it is better to keep it in check and under control by giving it a legal framework.

This is not to say that I approve of brothels – but it seems to me that it would be better to have

prostitution take place there – with medical checks-ups and prostitutes paying taxes. It would be

the lesser of two evils.”

More recently, Bishop Maly has been silent in the legalization debate in Czech Republic, but his

original statement is posted on web sites supporting legalization, which gives the impression that

the Catholic Church supports legalization. A voice of moral authority in support of human

dignity and against the sexual exploitation and abuse of victims of prostitution and trafficking is

needed in the Czech Republic. Bishop Maly could be this voice. He has a long history of

supporting human rights. He was an original signer and spokesman for Charter 77, the petition

calling for the communist government of Czechoslovakia to comply with international human

rights agreements they had signed. He knows the importance of resisting abusive power and laws

that enslave people instead of freeing them.

Faith communities, from the grassroots to the leadership, need to use their voice of authority to

combat the increasing sexual exploitation of victims and its normalization.

There is a growing abolitionist movement around the world that seeks to provide assistance to

victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

In Sweden, beginning in 1999, the purchasing of sexual services became a crime. The new law

was passed as part of a new violence against women act that broadened the activities that

qualified as criminal acts of violence. With this new approach, prostitution is considered to be

one of the most serious expressions of the oppression of and discrimination against women.” The

focus of the law is on “the demand” or the behavior of the purchasers of sex acts not the women.

The U.S. government has adopted an abolitionist approach at the federal level. In 2003, President

George W. Bush issued a National Security Presidential Directive. It was the first U.S. opinion

on the link between prostitution and trafficking: “Prostitution and related activities, which are

inherently harmful and dehumanizing, contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons…”

This policy statement is important because it connects trafficking to prostitution and states that

prostitution is harmful. This policy goes against attempts to delink prostitution and trafficking

and redefine prostitution as a form of work for women.

As a result of this abolitionist approach, more attention is being focused on the demand side of

sex trafficking. Destination countries, particularly those that legalize prostitution, are coming

under new scrutiny.

I believe that only by going to the root causes, which are corruption and the demand in

destination countries, will we end the trafficking of women and children.

We need to urge all governments, NGOs, and faith communities to focus on reducing the

demand for victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. All the components of the demand need to

be penalized – the men who purchase sex acts, the traffickers, the pimps, and others who profit,

states that fund deceptive messages and act as pimp, and the culture that lies about the nature of


We could greatly reduce the number of victims, if the demand for them was penalized. If there

were no men seeking to buy sex acts, no women and children would be bought and sold. If there

were no brothels waiting for victims, no victims would be recruited. If there were no states that

profited from the sex trade, there would be no regulations that facilitated the flow of women

from poor towns to wealthier sex industry centers. If there were no false messages about

prostitution, no women or girls would be deceived into thinking prostitution is a glamorous or

legitimate job.

Radio Praha

The Men

The Exploiters

The Culture

source: http://www.uri.edu/

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 6:33 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,