Archive for the ‘Prostitution’ Category

An opposition party push to amend the prostitution law, so providing more equality for women, has been rejected by the two ruling parties in the Iraqi Kurdistan government, who claim prostitution is not a big enough problem to discuss in parliament.

“Prostitution is not a phenomenon in Kurdistan,” said Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lawmaker Dilshad Shehab. “If we said it was, it would be an injustice against Kurdistan.”

Opposition parties requested the discussion of a bill amending the prostitution law, but the Kurdish parliament rejected it. This follows the parliament’s 2009 rejection of another bill, designed to clamp down on prostitution, before it even got to the discussion stage.

Although there is general consensus among government officials, rights groups and the general populace in Iraqi Kurdistan that prostitution is not as widespread here as in other Middle Eastern countries, some say Iraqi Kurds have swept the issue under the carpet, often dismissing it as “an Arab problem.”

There are few statistics on prostitution in Iraqi Kurdistan available but, because of the high incidence of honor killing in Kurdish society, prostitution is a particularly high-risk occupation for women in Iraqi Kurdistan, and so, officials and observers say, the role is more often taken up by Arab and other foreign women.

However, Bilal Sulaiman, a senior lawmaker from the opposition Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG, known locally as Komal) – the party that drafted the amendment bill – told Rudaw that, through reading Kurdish author Khandan Hama Jaza’s 2007 book, “An Ocean of Crimes,” he had only recently become aware of the large number of prostitutes in Kurdistan and their “terrible” situation.

“We want to confront prostitution in Kurdistan,” said Sulaiman. “There is a shyness in Kurdistan around prostitution, but that is no reason not to discuss it.”

Ms. Hama Jaza, who had to flee Iraqi Kurdistan to live in Germany because of numerous threats to her safety, had revealed in her book the involvement of Kurdish officials and police in the country’s prostitution trade.

Sulaiman said the existing Iraqi government law, passed in 1988, had “some shortcomings” which needed to be amended, adding that any amendments would only apply to the semiautonomous Kurdish region.

“The law only talks about women,” he said. “We have proposed to include punishment for both women and men, which would include people selling prostitutes and their customers.”

However, the KDP’s Shehab said that, because the existing law “banned prostitution entirely,” no one of either sex was permitted to be involved in it.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) lawmaker Gasha Dara Hafid – head of parliament’s Committee to Protect Women’s Rights – said there were legal gaps in the Iraqi law, as it only dealt with women and homosexual men and failed to make customers accountable.

“If you want to eradicate prostitution you must deal with both sides,” said Ms. Hafid, who, contrary to most PUK lawmakers, voted to discuss the bill. “If there is no body buyer, there will be no body seller.”

She said there was no legal justification for rejecting the discussion of the bill in parliament, and that the chief opponents to the bill – the ruling PUK and KDP – claimed the issue of men and customers involved with prostitution was covered by other existing laws.

“The bill only has a few amendments and will make no difference, so we don’t need it,” said the KDP’s Shehab. “There is not such a big problem with the existing law.”

However, Ms. Hafid pointed to Iraqi Kurdistan’s need to guarantee more equality between males and females, which the law amendments would have addressed.

“We need to make both women and men accountable,” she said. “Women’s souls should not be bought and sold. If the law had been amended it would have decreased prostitution.”

Both Ms. Hafid and the KIG’s Sulaiman stressed that the original law and its proposed amendments were chiefly about reform and the solving of social problems, rather than punishment and retribution.

“We want to reeducate [prostitutes] and teach them how to live normally again,” said Sulaiman. “We want to oblige the government to assist them.”

He said there were both social and religious reasons for the law amendment proposal.

“Prostitution exists because we have so many social problems in Kurdistan,” Sulaiman said. “According to Sharia law, prostitution is a crime, but Sharia is conditional on social problems…Our government should put money into solving these problems.”

Sulaiman said the amendment bill made a distinction between women who were forced into prostitution, whether physically or through poverty, and those who were “willing” to practice it.

“There are women who are rich and just want to be prostitutes,” he said.

However, author Ms. Hama Jaza said in October that, according to her own research interviewing over 1,300 Kurdish prostitutes, 98 percent of them were “victims,” who were forced into the profession.

Sherizaan Minwalla, country director of Heartland Alliance, a United States-based human rights group that is setting up Iraq’s first ever shelter devoted to human trafficking victims in Iraqi Kurdistan, also said people in Kurdistan often did not realize the coercive nature of prostitution.

“They view prostitutes as criminals, [or] think that women do this because they like it,” said Ms. Minwalla, adding that she had seen Iraqi Kurdish girls as young as 14 who had been forced into prostitution.

“There are some cases [in Iraqi Kurdistan] of husbands or fathers forcing their wives and daughters into prostitution,” said Ms Minwalla. “It is almost impossible to reintegrate these women back into the family in Kurdish society.”

Ms. Minwalla stressed that, because of the social importance of the Kurdish family unit, a lone female forced out of the care of her family was extremely vulnerable to human trafficking.

“There’s nowhere to go,” said Ms. Minwalla. “She might even say she wasn’t forced [into prostitution], but was she sexually abused and then had to run away from her family?”

The PUK’s Ms. Hafid agreed that most Kurdish people did not have compassion for prostitutes.

“If a man in this society goes to a prostitute, he doesn’t think of himself as bad; he just looks down on the woman,” she said. “Kurdish society in general, including women, contributes to this looking down on prostitutes. Men are not held accountable for prostitution because there is no law holding them accountable, but in Islam it is clearly stated that both male and females are accountable.”

The KIG’s Sulaiman said he believed there were political goals for the ruling parties rejecting the bill’s discussion.

“All the opposition parties supported it,” he said. “Maybe there are other political reasons too, but that is only my opinion.”

But the KDP’s Shehab denied any political agenda behind the bill’s rejection.

“Some KDP lawmakers voted for the bill,” he said. “There was only a two-vote majority, which is a good indication that there was no political motivation behind it.”

Ms. Hafid said a further attempt to discuss the bill in parliament would be made after some adjustments to the bill had been completed.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurds/3392.html

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Craigslist has closed down its adult services ads on a worldwide basis, just four months after shutting down the listings in the U.S. due to prostitution complaints.

The classifieds web site, started by entrepreneur Craig Newmark (pictured), came under intense pressure because many of the ads were thinly veiled prostitution solicitations. In September, Craiglist took down the adult services listings in the U.S. In doing so, it replaced the listings with the word, “censored.”

Opponents of the sexually-charged listings claimed victory. Evidently, it’s hard for companies that want to be recognized as legitimate to have any kind of association with something unsavory. That’s why companies such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon have also dropped WikiLeaks, which has come under fire for releasing diplomatic secrets.

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal confirmed that the adult services section is shut everywhere and he said, “This worldwide shutdown of erotic services sections on Craigslist is a victory in the fight against sexual exploitation of women and children and human trafficking connected to prostitution.”

Blumenthal fought the removal of the adult services from Craigslist after Boston University medical student Philip Markoff was accused of killing Julissa Brisman in April. Police said the killer found the woman through her Craigslist ad. Craigslist has not offered comment yet.

Newmark was ambushed in an Aug. 13 interview by CNN reporter Amber Lyon, who asked him what Craigslist was doing to protect young girls who advertised in the adult services section of the site. She told him that a number of child protection advocates have told her that Craigslist is the “Wal-mart of child sex trafficking.” Under further questioning, Newmark stared at her and referred Lyon to the company’s blog.

Lyon put Newmark on the spot, saying he was the “Craig in Craigslist” and was responsible. In a subsequent blog post, Newmark said that Jim Buckmaster, chief executive, has been running the site for the last 10 years and that his role is as a customer service rep. Newmark said he should have just referred Lyon to Buckmaster, but, instead, he froze on camera and looked “uncaring.” CNN aired the piece dozens of times. Buckmaster, meanwhile, lashed out at Lyonand wrote how Craigslist was trying to do the right thing, manually screening ads in its adult services site since May 2009. It has also pointed out how similar ads on eBay go unnoticed.

http://venturebeat.com/2010/12/22/classified-interruptus-craigslist-shuts-down-adult-services-worldwide/#

For earlier stories see https://womensphere.wordpress.com/?s=craig+list

A scan of Craigslist’s Canadian websites suggests the U.S.-based classifieds website has taken down its controversial “erotic services” section, following months of political pressure.

On afternoon of Saturday 18th December 2010, most Canadian homepages did not display the section. Previously, the ads had shown blatant sex listings, which included prices and accompanying photos.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he was glad that the San Francisco-based company had taken the section out of its popular listings.

“Our government was concerned that such advertisements could facilitate serious criminal offences, such as living on the avails of child prostitution and trafficking in persons,” he said in a statement sent to The Canadian Press.

For the past four months, provincial and federal politicians have lobbied Craigslist to remove the ads following a similar debate in the U.S., where several attorneys general complained that the section promoted the illegal sex trade.

That public debate prompted Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley to write a pair of letters to Craigslist chief Jim Buckmaster, personally asking him to get rid of the ads in Canada. Governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta followed with the same request.

“It’s an important step and an important signal,” Bentley told CP. “We’re pleased Craigslist appears to have taken steps to protect women, children and the vulnerable.”

No official comment was immediately available from Craigslist, and some ads in Halifax and elsewhere were online Saturday afternoon.

Some advocates for a safer sex trade have said pulling the ads simply sweeps the larger issues of prostitution and sexual exploitation out of the public eye.

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20101218/craigslist-pulls-erotic-services-ads-101218/20101218?hub=Toronto

An survey has shown there are more than 100 children under 18 working in Fiji’s sex trade.

The report, by the International Labour Organisation, says there are an increasing number of children involved in child labour.

It says more than 500 children are involved in the worst forms of child labour in Fiji, including drug trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and collecting and handling scrap metals and chemicals.

The ILO says although the majority of respondents started sex work between the ages of 15 and16 years, the survey also found that some started as early as 10 years old.

More than half of the child sex workers interviewed were living at home with their parents or guardians.

http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=57748

Prostitution is so popular (and socially accepted) in Spain that a United Nations study reports that 39 per cent of all Spanish men have used a prostitute’s services at least once. A Spanish Health Ministry survey in 2009 put the percentage of one-time prostitute users at 32 per cent: lower than the UN figure, perhaps, but far higher than the 14 per cent in liberal-minded Holland, or in Britain, where the figure is reported to oscillate between 5 and 10 per cent. And that was just those men willing to admit it.

To meet this vast demand, an estimated 300,000 prostitutes are working in Spain – everywhere from clubs in town centres to industrial estates, to lonely country roads to roadside bars, the last often recognisable by gigantic neon signs of champagne bottles or shapely females, flashing away in the darkness. And recently, on the French border, Club Paradise opened with 180 sex workers, making it the biggest brothel in Europe.

As the clubs get larger, the clients get younger. According to studies carried out for the Spanish Association for the Social Reintegration of Female Prostitutes (Apramp), back in 1998 the typical client was a 40-year-old married male. By 2005, however, the average age had dropped to 30 – and it appears to be getting lower. “The kids are going because they see it as a quick way of getting what would take a lot longer to happen if they went to a disco,” Alvaro says. “You’ve got the money, you choose the woman you want and it’s all over and done with.” His own logic is even more brutal: “I go when I don’t have a girlfriend.”

There is no single reason, though, why prostitution should be so popular in Spain. Historically it has long been seen as an expression of individual freedom – first as a pressure valve for the strait-laced family-focused environment of the Franco years (when prostitution was quietly ignored), and then consolidating itself after the dictator died. Then, as now, brothels would be listed in the yellow pages, albeit under the coy title of “nightclubs”, and nobody batted an eyelid. Among the young men of the Spanish provinces, even in the late 1980s, sleeping with a prostitute was no longer something you did as way of losing your virginity: it could actually be seen as cool.

In the 1990s, magazines such as Interviú, which prides itself on its investigative journalism, would think nothing of publishing “erotic guides to Spain”. Even today, all-male business dinners can end up in the local “club”. “Every now and then I have to take clients,” says one accountant who did not want to be named, “but it’s OK. They take credit cards.”

If the roots of Spain’s acceptance of prostitution ultimately lie with the sexual and personal repression of the Franco years, the most curious hangover from the sexual revolution is that, even today, most “‘serious” newspapers carry adverts for prostitutes. In the Madrid issue of one major national daily, 75 or 80 per cent of small ads are for prostitutes, offering all manner of services with prices from ¤20 to ¤200. Plans to eliminate the so-called “contact ads” appear to be on a kind of permanent hold, partly justified by the precarious economic state of Spain’s print media.

However, the underbelly of a trade which is legal in Spain but not recognised as an actual job is far from pleasant, with human trafficking constantly rearing its ugly head. In 2009 alone, Spain’s Ministry of the Interior detected 17 international crime rings involved in sexual trafficking in Spain. Between January and April of this year, according to the newspaper El País, the authorities identified 493 cases of women sold into sexual slavery.

Yet that makes no difference, it seems, to the clients who pour through the doors of the brothels. “There is a clear lack of awareness as to what is going on,” says Marta Gonzalez, a spokeswomen for the Madrid-based NGO Proyecto Esperanza, which helps women who have been victims of trafficking. “Clients don’t realise that many of these women could be victims of trafficking. Lots of people would be more wary if the prostitutes were clearly under lock and key or had obviously been subject to physical abuse. They don’t realise that all it takes is a death threat to their families back in Nigeria or Brazil, and the woman is already being coerced into prostitution.”

The laws in Spain are of little help either, with prostitution currently a permitted activity – but with no labour rights. “They’re already frequently leading a double life or are considered social outcasts and often are in dire need of money,” said a Spanish Red Cross social worker running a healthcare programme for prostitutes. “Add the lack of legal rights, and they’re a clear target for exploitation.”

On top of that there’s Spain’s recession. “Economically the women I’m dealing with are at the end of their tether, and the lack of other employment possibilities makes everybody more nervous about keeping clients. In the process they put themselves at risk, too. They’ll be more willing to accept it when a client doesn’t want to use a condom, for example, to be sure they get him to sleep with them.”

When prostitution and trafficking overlap, the legal situation grows even more discouraging. “Glitches in the legislation mean that an identical crime is punished less severely here than, say, in Germany.” Ms Gonzalez says. “Forcing someone to prostitute themselves in Spain gets from two to four years in prison here, while human trafficking gets five to eight. But because the latter charge often can’t be proved effectively because of poor legislation, the criminal gets the lower sentence.”

Meanwhile, Spain’s sex trade continues to flourish. And, in one way, it is literally more visible than ever: recently, in an attempt to cut the number of road accidents, the police in Lerida, Catalunya, issued the prostitutes working in out-of-town lay-bys with fluorescent waistcoats.

Part of a longer article at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/spain-the-world-capital-of-prostitution-2151581.html

Justice Susan Himel issued a ruling on Sept. 28 that declared several laws surrounding prostitution to be unconstitutional.

While prostitution itself is legal in Canada, keeping a common bawdy house or communicating for the purposes of prostitution are illegal. Translation, no brothels in the suburbs and no chatting up hookers on street corners.

Himel ruled that those laws put prostitutes at risk and violated their rights under the charter.

The ruling was stayed to give governments time to respond. The Harper government launched an appeal but that appeal could not be heard before the stay lapsed. On Thursday the Ontario Court of Appeal stayed the ruling until the full appeal is heard.

Terry Bedford, the dominatrix who fought and won in Himel’s court was disappointed with this latest court decision.

Bedford accused the Harper government of hiding behind the courts and said Harper should “be a man” and bring in a new law that works for prostitutes.

Speaking in Mississauga, Ont., Prime Minister Stephen Minister Harper told reporters he’s never been called upon to respond to a dominatrix before but defended the appeal.

“We believe that the prostitution trade is bad for society. That’s a strong view held by our government and I think by most Canadians,” Harper said.

In Ottawa, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he’s confident the government’s view will prevail before the courts.

“It is the position of the Government of Canada that these provisions are constitutionally sound,” Nicholson said.

New Democrat MP Libby Davies said the government is hiding from the issue.

“The government has refused to recognize how harmful these laws are for sex workers,” Davies told QMI Agency.

Davies called for full debate on prostitution in Parliament.

http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/12/02/16409786.html

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi unveiled measures targeting immigrants and prostitutes last week, drawing derision from the Italian opposition who want him to resign in a scandal involving teenage girls at his villa.

A decree passed by his cabinet allows authorities to deport citizens of other EU states after 90 days if they do not meet conditions such as having a suitable income and an address.

The move will extend a crackdown on Roma people, which has been criticised by rights groups as discriminatory, and follows similar moves in France earlier this year when dozens of Roma were put on flights to Romania.

The new measures will also allow police to expel any immigrant working as a prostitute on the street but not affect prostitutes working indoors.

Berlusconi is at the centre of a scandal involving an 18-year-old Moroccan runaway named Ruby. Ruby has said she was paid 7,000 euros ($9,900) after she attended a party at Berlusconi’s private villa near Milan when she was 17 years old.

Ruby has denied having sex with Berlusconi and said she had told him she was 24 years old.

His wife filed for divorce last year, accusing him of associating with minors.

The prime minister has shrugged off the storm of criticism which has come his way over the incident, even stoking the outrage with his trademark brand of provocation by remarking “it’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay”.

Part of a longer article at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE6A413A20101105

See earlier postings: https://womensphere.wordpress.com/?s=Italy%2Bsexism

Women’s rights groups came together to denounce the government’s plan to decriminalize prostitution and allow sex workers to set up small businesses, challenging the administration’s stance by asking whether it wished to boost the sex trade industry or reduce it.

At a press conference centered around the theme of “Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation,” members of The Garden of Hope Foundation and the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation called for Executive Yuan Premier Wu Den-yih to withdraw plans to completely decriminalize the sex trade by the end of this year.

They stressed that until the social community reaches a consensus on the issue, the government should not implement a timetable and make relevant policies or legislation in haste.

Premier Wu has responded to the claims by clarifying that discussions on the topic are currently in the public hearing stage and have not yet become legislative policies.

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said four public hearings have been conducted since August and that the current announcements were made in line with expert and scholarly opinions at the hearings.

The MOI announced on Wednesday its plan to decriminalize the sex trade and allow prostitutes to operate small-scale business brothels in proposed “sex zones.”

Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation director Kang Shu-hua described the government’s declaration as shirking management responsibilities from the central government to its local counterparts, a sign of the government making the sex trade a legitimate industry, thus jeopardizing the disadvantaged women by exposing them to the control of crime syndicates.

Lee Li-fen, a spokesperson for End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) Taiwan said that written in the Grand Justices Council Adjudication Act is the idea that the administration will help disadvantaged women with vocational training, counseling, education, employment or other means to enhance their work capacity and economic situation in order to eliminate sex trade as a means of livelihood.

However, the MOI policy has not only inadvertently presented prostitution as the central means of livelihood for vulnerable women, Lee argued, but also demonstrates that the administration cares only for policies that are easy and expedient though completely ignoring the wellbeing of disadvantaged women.

According to Wang Yue of the Garden of Hope Foundation, the MOI is leaning towards the one-woman brothel model of Hong Kong by trying to integrate sex work with public life, thus condoning the industry of sexual transactions. By opening this window, Wang described the government as ushering in the operations of the underworld, giving more opportunities to crime syndicates in the issue of human trafficking.

All the women’s rights group who attended the “Coalition against Sexual Exploitation” were firmly against the legalization of the sex trade. Describing themselves as strong advocates in reducing the sex industry, the women did say they were for the punishment of clients, who on top of being penalized, should contribute “social monetary donations” to foundations for disadvantaged and sexually abused women.

Taiwan’s existing law bans prostitution, although if caught in the act, sex workers are the ones punished while their clients are free from persecution.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20101017-242690.html

To combat prostitution and sex trafficking, Sweden made it illegal to buy sexual services in 1999. Its record since then stands out amid the failures of legalized prostitution elsewhere in Europe.

At a time when some governments are trying – and failing – to combat sex trafficking by legalizing prostitution, Sweden’s innovative approach stands out as an exemplary model of lawmaking that reduces prostitution, penalizes men, and protects women.

As human trafficking became an increasing global problem in the 1990s, Sweden took an intensive look at its prostitution policy. It concluded that a country cannot resolve its sex trafficking problem without targeting the demand for prostitution. In 1999, Sweden passed landmark legislation that made it illegal to buy sexual services.

The legislation was built on the public consensus that the system of prostitution promotes violence against women by normalizing sexual exploitation. Thus, in a society that aspires to advance women’s equality, it is unacceptable for men to purchase women for sexual exploitation, whether rationalized as a sexual choice or as “sex work.”

Sweden does not penalize the persons in prostitution but makes resources available to them. Instead it targets and exposes the anonymous perpetrators – the buyers, mostly men, who purchase mainly women and children in prostitution.

The key to the law’s effectiveness lies not so much in penalizing the men (punishments are modest) but in removing the invisibility of the buyers and making their crimes public. Men now fear being outed as prostitution users.

Sweden’s success

In July, the government of Sweden published an evaluation of the first 10 years of the law. While acknowledging that much remains to be done, the report’s findings are overwhelmingly positive:
• Street prostitution has been cut in half, “a direct result of the criminalization of sex purchases.”
• There is no evidence that the decrease in street prostitution has led to an increase in prostitution elsewhere, whether indoors or on the Internet.
• Extensive services exist in the larger cities to assist those exploited by prostitution.
• Fewer men state that they purchase sexual services.
• More than 70 percent of the Swedish public support the law.

Initially critical, police now confirm the law works well and deters other organizers and promoters of prostitution, especially traffickers, who find in Sweden an intolerant environment in which to sell women and children for sex. Based on National Criminal Police reports, Sweden appears to be the only country in Europe where prostitution and sex trafficking have not increased during the past decade. [Editor’s note: The original version of this sentence wrongly suggested that National Criminal Police reports made this comparison.]

Sweden’s progress contrasts sharply with the dismal results of other European countries that have professionalized pimping, brothels, and additional aspects of the prostitution industry.

Failures of legalized prostitution

In 2002, Germany decriminalized the procuring of prostitution, made it legally easier to establish brothels and other prostitution enterprises, lifted the prohibition against promoting prostitution, and proposed contracts and benefits for women in prostitution establishments.

In 2007, a federal government report found that the German Prostitution Act had not improved conditions for women in the prostitution industry nor helped them to leave. It had also failed “to reduce crime in the world of prostitution.” Finally, the report stated that “prostitution should not be considered to be a reasonable means for securing one’s living.”

The government is now drafting an impoverished version of Sweden’s law that would merely punish buyers of those forced into prostitution or who are victims of trafficking. Which raises the question: Why would a buyer ask her if she’s a victim – and why would she tell him?

Netherlands’s experiment with legalization has been equally grim. Two reports in 2007 and 2008 heralded official disenchantment with the results of a 2000 law that made prostitution and the sex industry legal.

The government-commissioned 2007 Daalder report found that the majority of women in the window brothels are still subject to pimp control, and their “emotional well-being is now lower than in 2001 on all measured aspects.”

A 2008 Dutch National Police report states it more strongly: “The idea that a clean, normal business sector has emerged is an illusion…” Like the Germans, the Dutch are now proposing an amendment that would penalize the buyers, but only those who purchase unlicensed persons in prostitution. Still, it’s an oblique indication that the concept of penalizing buyers is gaining ground.

The Nordic model

The failed policy of legalization of prostitution in Europe helped the Swedish model to become the Nordic model in 2009 when Norway outlawed the purchase of women and children for sexual activities. Results were immediate and dramatic one year after the Norwegian law came into force.

A Bergen municipality survey estimated that the number of women in street prostitution had decreased by 20 percent with indoor prostitution also down by 16 percent. Bergen police maintain that advertisements for sexual activities have dropped 60 percent. Effective monitoring of the telephone numbers of buyers who respond to such ads not only enables police to identify and charge buyers but also exposes a wider network of criminal groups involved in child prostitution, pornography, and drug trafficking. In Oslo, the police also report that there are many fewer buyers on the street.

The same year as Norway, Iceland passed a strong law criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. Earlier in 2004, Finland approved an anemic version of the Nordic model. This left Denmark as the outlier with no legislation targeting the demand for prostitution.

Criminalizing demand works. Police report that it becomes less profitable for pimps and traffickers to set up shop in countries where their customers fear the loss of their anonymity. Less profit means less prostitution and less violence against women.

Not only in Europe but also in the Philippines and Korea, the prostitution policy tide is turning from legalization to addressing the demand for prostitution. The United Nations has prohibited their peacekeepers and related personnel from buying women for sexual activities in prostitution, even if prostitution is legal in the jurisdiction in which they serve.

Countries that want to fight sexual exploitation cannot sanction pimps as legitimate sexual entrepreneurs and must take legal action against the buyers.

———————————–
By Janice Raymond, professor emerita of women’s studies and medical ethics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a member of the board of directors of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. An earlier version of this piece originally appeared at http://www.portside.org

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0907/Sex-for-sale-Why-Sweden-punishes-buyers

According to a draft Oct. 1 memo obtained by the Star, Ottawa has determined these careers once considered “morally offensive” should be put on the federal government’s Job Bank, which is also available for use by the provinces.

The surprise memo from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has set a few tongues wagging among those wondering how these careers suddenly became respectable, and how Conservatives could allow this to happen.

“This is such a contradiction for the holier than thou family values gang to all of a sudden endorse an escort service as a legitimate occupation for unemployed Canadian women,” NDP MP Pat Martin said.

Terri-Jean Bedford, the dominatrix who went to court and got Canada’s prostitution laws thrown out, said these are legitimate occupations and “it’s high time that people stop being so judgmental about another person’s occupation.”

“There are a lot of unsavory occupations that I would never apply for. Soldier being one of them and politician probably being another,” Bedford said.

The job posting change is at odds with the Conservatives’ outrage over the recent federal court decision stating that Canada’s prostitution violated the Constitution. The government immediately appealed the decision, saying “prostitution is a problem that harms individuals and communities.”

“This is appalling activity by our government because what they are really doing is promoting the subjugation of woman for the most part,” Charles McVety, the president of Canadian Christian College, told the Star.

“It is also hypocritical that this would this would be done under a Conservative government,” he said.

The draft policy, which has yet to be implemented, stated that the following occupations will “be acceptable for posting on Job Bank”:

• Exotic dancer, erotic dancer, nude dancer, striptease dancer and table dancer.

• Escort, chat line agent, phone agent for personal services and telephone agent for personal services.

Many of these occupations in a 2003 memo from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRDC) were described as being “morally offensive by the majority of Canadians.”

It is not the first time that strippers have caused problems for the federal government of the day.

In 2004, the opposition called for then immigration minister Judy Sgro’s resignation over her office’s decision to extend a residence permit to a Romanian stripper, and Ottawa’s controversial program to allow foreign strippers to get special work visas.

“The Conservatives were all over that,” recalled McVety, “that’s why I’m a little incredulous that a Conservative government would do this.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/875107–conservatives-say-escorts-good-prostitution-bad

See also:
* Women are being asked to prostitute themselves after applying for vacancies in job centres, the Government has admitted
* Porn TV presenter job advertised in Jobcentre
* Equality impact assessment for accepting and advertising employer vacancies from within the adult entertainment industry by Jobcentre Plus

In the aftermath of last month’s landmark court decision that lifts the barriers to free trade in the sex trade, women’s rights activists are facing off.

They’re split over whether the ruling will make sex workers safer — or merely pump up profits for pimps and help organized crime to traffic women.

Examples of the divide?

“It is with stupefaction and anger that feminists have learned of the ruling,” the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres said in a media release.

“Worldwide, it is impoverished brown women whose bodies are being bought and sold,” argued the South Asian Women Against Male Violence (SAWAMV) in its statement. “This decision is not what we or our sisters want.”

And from the opposing corner?

“It’s wonderful that the court has recognized the harm of the laws, and has freed sex workers from the threat of criminal prosecution,” said the Pivot Legal Society, which has been fighting in the B.C. courts to overturn the country’s prostitution laws.

At the heart of this dispute is a wide ideological gap between feminists who believe that no woman is a commodity to be bought and sold and those who insist that, as with abortion, a woman has the right to control her body — while not risking life and limb.

That’s why Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court struck down as unconstitutional the bawdy house provision, which, arguably, by preventing sex workers from sharing premises, increased their risk of exposure to violence. Gone, too, is the “living off the avails” section, which criminalizes those being supported by a sex worker. While that was meant to target pimps, it also affects a prostitute’s live-in family, including partners, parents and adult children, as well as security guards who might protect her.

Also declared unconstitutional is the communication law, which experts say put street sex workers in the greatest danger because it did not allow them to safely screen “dates” before jumping into their cars.

“That’s a huge step forward,” says B.C. sex worker rights activist Tamara O’Doherty. “There used to be this idea we have to criminalize sex workers for their own good. So we (with opposing views on the court decision) do have this partly common ground.”

But there isn’t much of it.

“For me it’s not complicated to understand why there’s a divide: it’s two visions,” says Diane Matte of Montreal’s Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation.

Matte has a street-level view of the industry, and says it isn’t a pleasant sight.

That makes it difficult for her to understand why feminists would support the victorious plaintiffs — members of the Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC) — in the Ontario constitutional challenge.

“The SPOC women do not hide the fact that they want to open brothels,” Matte notes. “In other words, they want to prostitute other women. Why is that okay?

“I’m sorry, but why should I, as a feminist, support that a woman wants to sell another woman? And that doesn’t even look at the question of why men should have the right to buy women — and children — whenever and wherever they want. That’s why it’s impossible to reconcile these two visions.”

What abolitionists such as Matte want is to follow the so-called Nordic Model, one in operation in Iceland and Sweden, which has decriminalized sex workers while criminalizing their clients.

Others don’t buy that solution.

“As a criminologist I can guarantee you that that doesn’t work because it doesn’t remove the criminal element from prostitution,” says O’Doherty, who teaches at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Making demand illegal, she says, only serves to drive sex workers underground.

Still, abolitionists believe that demand can be legislated out of existence.

“I don’t see sex work as natural or inevitable; it’s a practice we have constructed,” says Suzanne Jay of the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution. “We can dismantle it and create another system of relationships.”

Article continues at http://www.thestar.com/article/873069–feminists-split-over-judicial-decision-overturning-some-legal-restraints-on-prostitution

See also:

When the state gets involved in a vice, does ‘no’ mean ‘yes’?
Last week’s Ontario Court decision striking down the laws forbidding the operation of brothels, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, and living on the avails of prostitution (which both the federal and Ontario governments have announced it will appeal) is the latest benchmark in the attempted normalization of behaviour that used to be more roundly condemned by the state.

Why it would be wrong to legalize prostitution
If prostitution were a job freely chosen, as the pro-legalization forces would have us believe, it’s unlikely that the average age of entry into that workforce would be 14.

Canadian sex workers win decriminalisation: a victory for women’s right to safety everywhere
The High Court in Ontario, Canada, yesterday abolished the laws banning street soliciting (communicating for the purposes of prostitution),working together from premises (bawdy house) and living off the avails of prostitution as they make sex workers more vulnerable to violence. The decision was a result of a legal challenge brought by three sex workers who argued that the laws endangered their health and forced them into unsafe working conditions. It is a victory for women and sex workers everywhere who have been campaigning for decriminalisation of grounds of health and safety.

The fight against human trafficking in Latin America is ineffective and has led to the emergence of intra-regional markets for the trade, according to experts and activists meeting in the Mexican city Puebla.

450 academics and activists took part in the Second Latin American Conference on Smuggling and Trafficking of Human Beings, under the theme “Migrations, Gender and Human Rights”, Sept. 21-24 in Puebla, 129 kilometres south of Mexico City.

In Mexico some 20,000 people a year fall victim to the modern-day slave trade, according to the Centre for Studies and Research on Social Development and Assistance (CEIDAS), which monitors the issue.

The total number of victims in Latin America amounts to 250,000 a year, yielding a profit of 1.35 billion dollars for the traffickers, according to statistics from the Mexican Ministry of Public Security. But the data vary widely. Whatever the case, the United Nations warns that human trafficking has steadily grown over the past decade.

Organisations like the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) estimate that over five million girls and women have been trapped by these criminal networks in the region, and another 10 million are in danger of falling into their hands.

The United Nations today defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

Smuggling of persons, again according to the U.N., is limited to “the procurement of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.”

Latin America is a source and destination region for human trafficking, a crime that especially affects the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.

The conference host, David Fernández Dávalos, president of the Ibero-American University of Puebla (UIA-Puebla), said in his inaugural speech that human trafficking is a modern and particularly malignant version of slavery, only under better cover and disguises.

On Aug. 31, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to implement a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, because it is “among the worst human rights violations,” constituting “slavery in the modern age,” and preying mostly on “women and children.”

The congress coincides with the International Day Against the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children on Thursday, instituted in 1999 by the World Conference of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).

Government authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Mexico concur that criminal mafias in this country have been proved to combine trafficking in persons with drug trafficking, along both the northern and southern land borders (with the United States and with Guatemala, respectively).

Most Latin American countries have established laws against human trafficking, and have ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, in force since Sept. 29, 2003.

In Mexico, a federal Law to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons has been on the books since 2007, but the government has yet to create a national programme to implement it, although this is stipulated in the law itself.

The Puebla Congress, which follows the first such conference held in Buenos Aires in 2008, is meeting one month after the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which exemplified the connection between drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, and drew International attention to the dangers faced by migrants in Mexico.

IOM investigations and research have found that Nicaraguan women are trafficked into Guatemala and Costa Rica, and Honduran women are trafficked into Guatemala and Mexico.

Women from Colombia and Peru have been forced into prostitution in the southern Ecuadorean province of El Oro, according to a two-year investigation by Martha Ruiz, a consultant responsible for updating and redrafting Ecuador’s National Plan against Human Trafficking.

Out of the 32 Mexican states, eight make no reference to human trafficking in their state laws. Mario Fuentes, head of CEIDAS, wrote this week in the newspaper Excélsior that the country is labouring under “severe backwardness and challenges in this field, because it lacks a national programme to deal with the problem, as well as a system of statistics.”

Part of a longer article at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52940

The authors of a new book, Half the Sky, say the slavery and abuse of women is the greatest moral outrage of our century

In it, they argue that the world is in the grip of a massive moral outrage no less egregious in scale or in the intensity of despair than the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries or the genocides of the 20th. They believe this outrage is a key factor behind many of the most pressing economic and political issues today, from famine in Africa to Islamist terrorism and climate change. Yet they say the phenomenon is largely hidden, invisible to most of us and passing relatively unreported. At worst it is actively tolerated; at best it is ignored.

The fodder of this latterday trade in human suffering is not African people, but women. Which is why they call it “gendercide”. If the supreme moral challenge of the 19th century was slavery, and of the 20th century the fight against totalitarianism, then, they write, “in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world”.

The contention is as startling as the idea of a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist buying up prostitutes. I put it to them that, to some people, the claim will seem overblown. After all, you don’t go lightly comparing the plight of women in developing countries today with slavery or, by implication, the Holocaust.

“This idea is a couple of decades in gestation,” Kristof says. “Over those years, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that this really is the greatest moral challenge of this century.”

“When you hear that 60 to 100 million females are missing in the current population, we thought that number compares in the scope and size. And then you compare the slave trade at its peek in the 1780s, when there were 80,000 slaves transported from Africa to the New World, and you see there are now 10 times that amount of women trafficked across international borders, so you start to think you are talking about comparable weight.”

Yet this huge injustice was going on under their noses, largely unreported, dismissed as “women’s issues” by the mainstream media. “We’ve thought a lot about the failure to see this,” says WuDunn. “Partly, it’s because the news is defined by what happens on a particular day, and a lot of the most important things in the world don’t happen on a particular day . . .”

“And it’s partly that our definition of what constitutes news is a legacy of the perspective of middle-aged men,” adds Kristof. “It may well be that one major reason why high-school girls drop out of school around the world is that they have trouble managing menstruation, and probably one reason nobody has cottoned on to this is that people who run aid organisations and write about it have never menstruated.”
At the end of the book, in similar vein, they give a list of action points that readers can take within 10 minutes to make a difference. And they set us a personal challenge: will we join a historical movement to eradicate sex slavery, honour killings and acid attacks, or are we content to remain detached bystanders? It is the 21st-century equivalent of that ultimately probing 20th-century question: “What did you do in the war, Daddy?”

Part of a longer article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/19/women-slavery-half-the-sky

NB Some women’s groups have pointed out the use of photographs by the authors of women who have suffered violence are an unnecessary intrusion

Campaigners against prostitution and sex trafficking appeared to have won a victory over the weekend when Craigslist, the powerful online advertising website, capitulated to mounting pressure and removed its “adult services” content from US servers.

The move is an important concession in the fierce debate in America between free speech and first amendment advocates and those seeking to clean up the web and protect vulnerable girls and women from exploitation. It follows a sustained campaign by prosecutors across the US to have the sex advertisements removed.

In the absence of comment from Craigslist, it is not clear whether the shift will be permanent. It is also unclear what the concession means for other countries, including the UK, where “erotic” services remained available today. However, the fact that the site’s executives placed a “censored” block over its adult services link in the US suggests that, in word at least, they have not given up the fight.

The sex services portion of the website, previously called its “erotic” section, was criticised as a thinly veiled clearing house for prostitution. It exposed Craigslist to several damaging scandals, the most serious of which was the killing in April last year of Julissa Brisman, a 25-year-old masseuse from New York, in a Boston hotel. Philip Markoff, her alleged murderer, was dubbed the Craigslist killer because he had arranged to meet her through the site. He killed himself in jail last month.

Brandon Petty pleaded guilty last month to sexually attacking with a knife four women who had advertised for sex through Craigslist. He faces up to 45 years in prison.

Also last month, an advert was placed in the Washington Post and another paper under the headline “Dear Craig”, in which two women said they had been forced into prostitution with punters attracted through the website. One of the women said she had been sold by the hour at lorry rest stops while the other said she had been a victim of sex trafficking from the age of 11.

Chief prosecutors from 17 states across the US clubbed together on 24 August to write a joint letter to the website complaining that “ads trafficking children are rampant on it”. They accused the site of profiting from the “suffering of the women and children who continue to be victimised by Craigslist”.

Though Craigslist has faced an intensifying public relations crisis, it is shielded from prosecution by a federal law that protects internet providers from the actions of their users.

According to web advertising monitors AIM group, Craigslist made $45m from its sex ads last year, about a third of its total profits. The website insists it has responded to concerns by introducing in the past year a system of weeding out the most egregious adverts, claiming to have rejected 700,000 items since May 2009.

“Craigslist is committed to being socially responsible, and when it comes to adult services ads, that includes aggressively combating violent crime and human rights violations,” the chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, recently said on his blog.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/05/craigslist-sex-ads-anti-prostitution

Dear Craig,

Although we have not met, we are certain you would not want what happened to us or to thousands of girls like us to ever happen again.

Craig, I am AK. In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend, and my life as an average girl— looking forward to college, doing my chores, and hanging out with my friends—ended. This “boyfriend” soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life. Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times. I personally know over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site —Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot. One Craigslist caller viciously brutalized me, threatening to dump my body in a river. Miraculously, I survived.

Craig, I am MC. I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28 year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age, his house was called “Daddy Day Care.” All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock —and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car.

I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren’t of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths. Craig, we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out, and the men who carry out, and men who arrange them very rich. Craig, we know you oppose trafficking and exploitation. But right now, Craigslist is the choice of traffickers because it’s so well known and there are rarely consequences to using it for these illegal acts. We’ve heard that the Adult Services section of Craigslist brings in $36 million a year by charging for these ads. These profits are made at the expense of girls like us, who are lured, kidnapped, and forced to feed the increasing demand for child rape. New traffickers are putting up ads every day, because they know it’s less risky and more profitable to sell girls on Craigslist than to deal drugs.

Please, Craig, close down the Adult Services section. Saving even one child is worth it. It could have been us.

Sincerely,

AK & MC

Survivors of Craigslist Sex Trafficking

Want to Take Action to Help Girls—Visit: http://www.rebeccaproject.org/site and http://www.womensfundingnetwork.org; http://www.fairfund.org or http://www.thenationalcrittentonfoundation.org

Craigslist is hub for child prostitution, allege trafficked women

The online classified advertising site, Craigslist, is facing accusations that it has become a hub for underage prostitution after two young women placed an advertisement in the Washington Post saying they were repeatedly sold through the site to men who “paid to rape” them.

The allegations came as a federal judge threw out an attempt by Craigslist – named after its owner, Craig Newmark – to stop a criminal investigation over its “adult services” section which is alleged to carry thousands of prostitution ads daily.

In an open letter to Newmark placed in the Washington Post, the two women appealed for him to shut Craigslist’s adult services section.

The ad was partly paid for by Fair Fund, a group working with young women who have been sold for sex. It described Craigslist as “the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking”. Fair Fund said it had checked the women’s accounts and could vouch for them. It said AK had met the US attorney general, Eric Holder.

Craigslist’s chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, said it worked tirelessly with law enforcement agencies to identify ads that exploited children, manually reviewed every adult service ad before posting and required phone verification by the person placing it.

Two years ago, under the threat of legal action by about 40 US states, Craigslist began charging $10 (£6.25) per posting for adult services ads, whereas most of the site is free. Some of the revenue goes to charity. That did not reassure groups working with children forced into the sex trade.

Thousands of ads continue to be placed each day that list charges for encounters. Many include words that the Fair Fund says are flags for underage prostitution such as “fresh” and “inexperienced”.

Last month, dozens of anti-prostitution groups led protests outside Craigslist’s San Francisco HQ to demand an end to sex trade ads.

Last week, Newmark was confronted in the street by a CNN reporter with ads from Craigslist that appeared to offer girls for sex, and the case of a 12-year-old girl forced into prostitution and sold on the site until she was freed in a police raid north of Washington in June. A 42-year-old man was charged with human trafficking. Newmark declined to respond.

The website is under criminal investigation in South Carolina, where the attorney general, Henry McMaster, described Craigslist’s alleged promotion of prostitution as a “very serious matter”. On Friday, a federal judge threw out an attempt by Craigslist to block the investigation. The same day, the attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, called for Craigslist to scrap sex adverts.

Buckmaster has accused McMaster and other law enforcement officials of “grandstanding” and attempting to impose an outdated sexual moral code.

Part of a longer article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/08/craigslist-underage-prostitution-allegations

Plainclothes officers detained a Chinese activist for sex workers’ rights a few days after she publicly called for prostitution to be legalized, her sister said.

Ye Haiyan was nabbed at the offices of her community group, the China Women’s Rights Workshops, and told she would be held for two or three days of “studies,” her sister, Ye Sha, told The Associated Press.

Dissidents in China are often detained by authorities with the explanation that they are “going for studies” or “taking a vacation.” Usually, they are kept at a guesthouse to prevent them from moving about freely during sensitive dates.

Last week, Ye Haiyan and a few supporters asked people in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where she is based, to sign a petition in support of legalizing prostitution, according to an account on her group’s website. She also called for Aug. 3 — Tuesday — to be marked as “Sex Workers’ Day.”

Ye Haiyan argued that making prostitution legal would afford sex workers better protections.

When reached on her mobile phone, Ye Haiyan declined to comment, saying it was not a convenient time for her to talk. Phones rang unanswered in the administrative department of Wuhan’s public security bureau.

Prostitution is rampant in China despite frequent government crackdowns, and sexual services are openly offered in massage parlors, karaoke bars and nightclubs.

Until last month, when the Ministry of Public Security issued a ban, police would sometimes organize “prostitute parades” to shame suspected sex workers. The ban came after an outcry over photos of women being paraded barefoot in the streets of Dongguan in Guangdong province, handcuffed and led by a rope around the waist.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i2v4nkdlQYukNdGln9vA8s5OSObAD9HB9PF00

President says ban is part of a strategy to fight people trafficking and sexual exploitation rife in Spain

The Spanish government has put itself on collision course with the national press with the announcement that it wants to ban adverts offering sexual services from their classified sections.

The explicit adverts, which fill at least a page in most of Spain’s dailies, are worth €40m (£34m) a year to the struggling newspaper industry.

President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero made the announcement during this week’s state of the nation speech, saying it was part of a strategy to fight the people trafficking and sexual exploitation that was rife in the country.

“As long as these advertisements exist, they contribute to the idea of this activity as normal,” he said.

The Association of Spanish Newspaper Editors responded by saying that the logical policy would be for the government to make prostitution illegal. “If it was illegal, then newspapers wouldn’t carry the ads,” a spokesman said.

If the ads are banned, newspapers will want to be compensated and, worryingly for Zapatero, El País, a staunch supporter of his socialist party, is the paper that earns the most from this form of advertising. With its left-liberal sensibilities and readership profile, El País is the Spanish paper that most resembles the Guardian, and yet it earns €5m a year from advertising prostitution.

Yolanda Besteiro of the Progressive Women’s Federation was scathing about what she regards as the newspaper’s hypocrisy. “No media outlet can proclaim itself a defender of human rights when it publishes this kind of advertising, which makes them directly complicit in this type of slavery,” she said.

The most openly religious daily, ABC, also runs the ads. El Publíco is the only national that does not run them as a matter of policy.

Spain is the only European country where the “quality” press carries adverts for sex. With the migration of most classified advertising to the internet, prostitution now accounts for 60% of the Spanish classified ad market.

Prostitution is big business in Spain, worth an estimated €18bn a year. There are about 200,000 sex workers in the country, nearly all of them immigrants, many of them illegal. Prostitutes are a common sight in cities, and it is impossible to go far along any main road before finding an oddly named “alternate club”, rural brothels that can house as many as 100 women.

Most of the newspaper ads are not placed by individual women but by the mafias – largely from Romania, Nigeria and various Latin American countries – who exploit them. Proof of this emerged this month when police broke up a prostitution network in Madrid after following up ads in various papers. The women were being forced to give half their earnings to pimps, and much of the rest went on paying for their lodgings, leaving them, the police said, “in a state of near slavery”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/16/spain-sex-adverts-newspapers

See also: Newspaper and magazine editors have called for prostitution to be made illegal if they are to be banned from featuring advertisements for sexual services.

Lax government enforcement of human anti-trafficking laws has led to an increase in the trafficking of young Nepalese women and girls, mainly for exploitation in Indian brothels, local activists say.

Nepal’s 2008 Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act stipulates punishment for traffickers of up to 20 years in prison and US$2,600 in fines, and provides for the compensation of victims. But it seems the new law has done nothing to reduce the phenomenon.

“The crucial problem is weak implementation of anti-trafficking laws allowing the traffickers to operate easily,” said Shyam Kumar Pokharel, managing director of Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE), an NGO supporting trafficked victims. “Although thousands of traffickers have been arrested, only a few hundred have been convicted.”

“These traffickers are all from local criminal gangs and have strong links with brothel owners in the Indian cities,” said Pokharel, who did research on imprisoned traffickers. He found that the traffickers sourced the girls and young women mostly from villages close to their own, before enticing them to Kathmandu with false promises of jobs and marriage.

In the early 1990s, the government estimated that at least 5,000-7,000 girls and women were trafficked annually to brothels in India, but NGOs say this number has gone up significantly. In the past year, Maiti Nepal, [http://www.maitinepal.org/] the first local NGO to attempt to combat human trafficking, has stopped over 17,000 young women crossing the border with traffickers. The NGO has a 36-member border surveillance team, all whom are victims of human trafficking and trained to identify vulnerable girls.

Local NGOs reckon that more than three quarters of the women and girls being trafficked end up in Indian brothels with most of the rest ending up in similar establishments in the Middle East.

“Unfortunately, there is a lack of official data because no studies have been done to get an accurate estimate, but the situation has worsened,” Januka Bhattarai, project coordinator of Shakti Samuha, [http://www.shaktisamuha.org.np/] an NGO that helps to rehabilitate trafficked victims rescued from Indian brothels, told IRIN.

Until the 1990s traffickers targeted a handful of districts, namely Sindupalchowk and Nuwakot (some 50km south of the capital). These districts, inhabited mostly by ethnic Tamang, were among the poorest in the country and yet readily accessible from Kathmandu.

These days, with a somewhat better road system, traffickers have been able to penetrate the whole country, according to Maiti Nepal.

Monitoring the traffickers is not easy given the 1,800km-long border with India and the fact that over 100,000 female migrant workers go to India every year. They do not need travel documents or work visas. The government has not been intervening in this migration process or attempting to identify traffickers or trafficked people.

“It is often the NGOs who are involved in checking the borders, investigating the crimes, protecting the witnesses and following up cases in court,” Biswo Khadga, director of Maiti Nepal, said.

Many cases go unreported: The legal system has registered only 123 cases so far in 2010 – a tiny fraction of the real number of trafficked women and girls, according to SASANE.

Government officials who preferred anonymity said they had been hobbled by political instability and weak governance.

The Trafficking Act requires the government to set up rehabilitation centres, but so far only three are operational – all run by NGOs.

“We’re getting tired of seeking financial aid from the government. It remains very negligent on this issue,” said Bhattarai from Shakti Samuha, which runs a rehabilitation centre in Sindupalchok District.

The government’s lack of progress on this issue has drawn criticism from the US State Department: Its annual trafficking report [http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/index.htm] released in June called the “complicity” of the Nepalese government a “serious problem” and suggested strengthening the National Human-Trafficking Task Force, as well as establishing more effective ways to monitor trafficking cases.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/5fc9a7c9120380d1173805dabddca5be.htm

Officials Should Investigate and Close Government Centers Where Abuses Occur

The Cambodian government should act quickly to end violence against sex workers and permanently close the government centers where these workers have been unlawfully detained and abused, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch also urged the Cambodian government to suspend provisions in the 2008 Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation that facilitate police harassment and abuses.

Human Rights Watch’s 76-page report, “Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia,” is based on more than 90 interviews and group discussions with female and transgender sex workers in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Siem Reap. It describes how sex workers face a wide range of abuses, including beatings, extortion, and rape at the hands of authorities, particularly in Phnom Penh.

“For far too long, police and other authorities have unlawfully locked up sex workers, beaten and sexually abused them, and looted their money and other possessions,” said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Cambodian government should order a prompt and thorough independent investigation into these systematic violations of sex workers’ human rights and shut down the centers where these people have been abused.”

Police arrest sex workers in regular sweeps on the streets and parks of Phnom Penh. Some of the violence is opportunistic, while other abuses commonly occur in periodic crackdowns and raids by police and district authorities, at times targeting sex workers specifically and other times picking up sex workers along with other groups of marginalized people on the streets.

Police abuse sex workers with impunity. Sex workers told Human Rights Watch that police officers beat them with their fists, sticks, wooden handles, and electric shock batons. In several instances, police officers raped sex workers while they were in police detention. Every sex worker that Human Rights Watch spoke to had to pay bribes or had money stolen from them by police officers.

A 2008 Cambodian law on trafficking and sexual exploitation criminalized all forms of trafficking, including forced labor. Human Rights Watch found that police officers at times can use those sections of the law that criminalize “solicitation” and “procurement” of commercial sex to justify harassment of sex workers. The provisions are also broad enough that they can be used to criminalize advocacy and outreach activities by sex worker groups and those who support them.

Human Rights Watch urged the Cambodian government to consult with sex worker groups, United Nations agencies, and organizations working on human rights, trafficking, and health to review and address the impact on the human rights of those engaged in sex work of provisions in the 2008 law on trafficking and sexual exploitation, before implementing those provisions.

“In an environment where police already act with impunity, the Cambodian government needs to recognize that criminalizing soliciting is a recipe for continuing human rights abuse,” said Pearson. “The government should go back to the drawing board – starting first by consulting extensively with sex workers and other groups – before continuing to implement the provisions which have been abused by police.”

In Phnom Penh, police refer sex workers to the municipal Office of Social Affairs and from there to NGOs or the government Social Affairs center, Prey Speu. Conditions in Prey Speu are abysmal. Sex workers, beggars, drug users, street children, and homeless people held at Prey Speu have reported how staff members at the center have beaten, raped, and mistreated detainees, including children. Local human rights workers, citing eyewitness accounts, allege that at least three people, and possibly more, were beaten to death by guards at Prey Speu between 2006 and 2008.

Following advocacy by Cambodian and international organizations, in 2009 and 2010 the municipal Social Affairs office began sending most sex workers picked up in sweeps to the custody of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) rather than Prey Speu. However, since May 2010, at least eight sex workers have been detained there. Sex workers detained in Prey Speu in June 2010 were locked in their rooms, only allowed to leave their rooms to bathe twice a day in dirty pond water, or, accompanied by a guard, to go to the toilet.

Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to permanently close Social Affairs centers such as Prey Speu where people are being unlawfully detained. In a January 2010 report, “Skin on the Cable,” Human Rights Watch also documented horrific abuses at drug detention facilities in Cambodia against people who use drugs. The Cambodian government should also establish a special commission to investigate abuses thoroughly and independently, and hold the perpetrators accountable. So far, police and other authorities have evaded accountability for these abuses.

“The Cambodian government should immediately and permanently close down detention centers such as Prey Speu where people are being unlawfully detained, beaten up, and abused,” said Pearson. “Prosecuting those who commit these crimes will send a strong message that abuses against sex workers are not tolerated.”

Donors supporting anti-trafficking efforts and police training, especially the US, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and the UN, should review funding to the police and Ministry of Social Affairs until there is a full independent investigation into allegations of abuses and prosecutions of those found responsible and the Social Affairs centers such as Prey Speu are permanently closed. Despite years of training for police, police abuses continue, even by units that have been trained with international donor support, such as specialized anti-trafficking police units.

“Donors should not spend their money on training abusive officials, but instead take steps that will promote accountability from the Cambodian government,” said Pearson.

Part of a longer article at http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/16/cambodia-sex-workers-face-unlawful-arrests-and-detention

Download Off the Streets – Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia from http://www.hrw.org/node/91629

A Swedish law punishing the purchase not the sale of sex, has been so effective it has reduced street prostitution in half, but the Scandinavian country is still facing a growing problem of sex sold over the Internet, a report recently published has said.

“The evaluation shows that the ban on the purchase of sexual services has had the intended effect and is an important instrument in preventing and combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes,” the report said.

The report, handed to Justice Minister Beatrice Ask yesterday, maintained “that prostitution in Sweden, unlike in comparable countries, has not in any case increased since the introduction of the ban” on buying sexual services went into effect in 1999.

While the law punishing the client rather than the prostitute may not have caused a dramatic drop in prostitution as a whole, its true triumph, according to the report, is that “street prostitution in Sweden has been halved.”

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Swedish+pares+street+prostitution/3230448/story.html

See also:
* German’s legalized prostitution brought more exploitation than emancipation to women
* Legalising prostitution is not the answer