Sunday, August 9, 2009

Raising Awareness

Blog Post 8

"Intersection," an anime film produced by MTV EXIT's (End Exploitation and Trafficking) hopes to raise awareness about human trafficking by spreading its message through schools and nongovernmental agencies. The film, which depicts a brothel owner, a trafficker and the victim, is played by five famous people, including Chinese actress Yuan Quan and Taiwanese singing and acting veteran Alec Su. “Intersection” has been described as both humorous and darkly depressing, and is designed to put its message across young people who can relate to it.

Similarly, the United Nations (UN) has released a second series of videos to raise global awareness about human trafficking by warning potential victims that contracts for work abroad are often modern-day slavery. Because trafficking is one of the fastest growing areas of organized crime, “the UN hopes to alert the public and the criminal justice system in destination countries of the crime (BBC News, 2002).” The UN estimates that more than 700,000 people are smuggled from their home countries each year.

Women from south-east Asia pay about £20,000 to go to the United Kingdom to join the sex trade (probably unknowingly). They work for about 15 hours a day for six months to pay off the debt and get their passport back; however, the traffickers hit them with a bill for expenses they had supposedly run up –and they cycle continues.

Some European countries, such as Sweden, have created stiffer sentences for human trafficking for sexual purposes by up to ten years in prison. “Britain says it intends to increase the maximum penalty from ten to fourteen years (BBC News, 2002).”

The first video, produced by the UN on sexual slavery, was released in January 2001 and has been shown in 35 countries. The two recent videos, made by the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP), are no more than 60 seconds long and have been produced in nine languages.

Creating short films to raise awareness is a different approach that just might work! Many young people do not read news articles relating to human trafficking or they do not have access. But if schools and organizations show these kinds of films, they will be more cautious when approached by a stranger offering them a job. “Intersection” has also been aired on China’s Music Television (MTV), and I am sure many young teens watch this channel. I believe the United States should also air short films about human trafficking on MTV and various channels.

China’s “Intersection”

BBC News

Yuan Quan
Alec Su

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Movie “Taken”

Blog Post 7

Kim and Amanda travel to Paris for a fun vacation, and while they are waiting for a taxi at the airport in Paris, they meet a cute guy, Peter. He offers to take a picture for them and also suggests they ride together because the fees are expensive. Amanda agrees with no hesitation and the girls are dropped off first at Amanda’s cousins’ apartment. She tells Peter that her cousins were in Madrid for the summer and that they had the whole fifth floor to themselves. Moments later, a few men break into the apartment and kidnap Amanda while Kim was on the phone with her dad, Bryan Mills, a former CIA agent. He begins recording their conversation and tells her to stay calm and when they grab her, to yell out every description of the man she could see.

He has Sam, a friend, translate the kidnappers’ language and look up information on them. He finds that the men who kidnapped the girls were speaking Albanian, probably from Triposia, and the man on the phone is Marco. They work for a mobster boss, Marco Ocha, who is a big fish known for trafficking women. They used to bring in women from other countries promising jobs as nannies and waitresses, but found it cheaper to kidnap traveling young women. Their tattoo is a group ID. With the help of Stuart, Lenore’s rich husband (Bryan’s ex-wife), he gets a flight to Paris. When he arrives to Paris, he uses his skills and association with Jean-Claude Pitrel, a former co-worker, to trace his daughter’s steps.

During his mission, he encounters prostitutes and their “pimps” on the streets, as well as a trailer in a constructions site where girls are drugged and forced to have sex. The area is filthy where curtains are used to make rooms and men pay before entering the trailer. Once they pay, they are given a number to the room where the girl is. However, he begins searching the rooms and finds the jean jacket Kim was wearing when he dropped her off at the airport. He takes the girl with him and she later tells him that she only remembers they were at a place with red doors. After he finds the place with red doors, he kills all of the men except Marco, whom he tortured till he told him his daughter was sold to Saint Clair. Bryan pays Jean-Claude a visit at his home and accuses him of being involved with the Albanians and shoots his wife, demanding to know who Saint Clair is and his location.

He poses as Jean-Claude to gain access into the party Saint Clair is hosting, but soon finds out there are girls auctioned off at the lower level. He disguises himself as a waiter and enters into one of the bidding rooms. Kim was saved for last because she is a virgin. Bryan forces one of the buyers to outbid the others and purchase her, but is knocked unconscious and about to be executed. However, he managed to escape and surprises Saint Clair at the elevators. Saint Clair begs for his life and tells him Kim is at the docks. He kills Saint Clair and makes his way to the boat where he finds the Arab man holding a knife to his daughter’s neck. Bryan shoots him and saves his daughter, bringing her back home to reunite with her mother.

This movie was great because it portrays human traffickers and the victims in a different light. Even young women who come from well-off or rich families can become a victim –they are young, vulnerable and just want to have fun. Amanda was not smart and gave a lot of information to a stranger. Unfortunately, Amanda dies due to drug overdose. However, the movie over exaggerates how the skills of a former CIA agent can take down a human trafficking mob to save his daughter. I wish more girls could be saved and returned home, but even many organizations these days have a hard time finding human trafficking rings and helping the victims. This is a must see movie!

Credits to the movie: "Taken"

Photos: Peter taking s picture of the girls

Bryan Mills

Kim held hostage

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Escort and Massage Parlors with Happy Endings

Blog Post #6

amNewYork, a free tabloid owned by Cablevision and Newsday, has an advertising section called “Feeling and Looking Good.” Many of the ads show pictures of Asian women and various services they offer, such as facials and body scrubs.

It is hard to tell which ads are legitimate massage businesses and which ads are disguised sex services (Lee, 2008). And although there are some legitimate massage ads, there are some that direct readers to therapeutic services also listed on Craigslist. According to Jennifer Lee, one phone number listed in amNewYork as “Asaka Spa" came up in the erotic services section of Craigslist. And an Internet search of a phone number listed in amNewYork as "Zuki," leads to Utopia Guide, which is a guide for adult entertainment. “In one review, a man discussed in graphic detail how he was serviced by a Korean lady named ‘Miki (Lee, 2008).’”

Ads with vague locations are usually places that offer sex services because they want readers to call rather than visit. “For example, the ad for "Zuki" gives an address only as ‘30th Street in Manhattan between Fifth Avenue and Broadway (Lee, 2008).’”

Lee interviewed the publisher of amNewYork, Terry Jimenez, and he said that they don’t accept ads for strip clubs or prostitution, only ads for spas and massage therapy services, and rejects anything that may be inappropriate. “Asked how amNewYork determines that, he said, ‘We visit (Lee, 2008).’”

Women who work in massage parlors that offer more than just massages may seem like they want to earn extra cash. However, some are brought here and forced to perform sex services, which is a form of human trafficking. And with the recent news about women selling themselves on Craiglist, I believe it makes it even harder for law enforcement to detect human traffickers and the victims. These types of ads on Craigslist, various magazines and internet sites should be taken down, and serious penalties should be imposed if they are not. To ensure these spas and massage parlors are legit, they should be checked by law enforcement regularly. If they are not legit, they need to be shut down.

Lee, Jennifer 8. 2008.

Photo of ads by Jennifer 8. Lee:


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Victims Who Fall Prey to Human Trafficking

Blog Post 5

Human trafficking is easy to understand, yet complex. First, it is easy money and very profitable. Second, the demand for labor and sex is universal and difficult to prosecute. Third, it looks like everyday prostitution, which is tolerated, to observers and even cops. Therefore, it has been difficult to pinpoint the traffickers, let alone victims. And with corruption within law enforcement, it feels like a dead end to people who want to help.

Who are the victims and how do they become the prey?

The first encounter is usually in a mall, playground or neighborhood. Children who appear to be lost, left at a mall, an arcade or the movies usually becomes the victim. Traffickers are attracted to kids on their own with low self-esteem. They solicit in a kindly way: “You are beautiful,” “Have you ever thought about becoming a model?” Some are offered drugs or an opportunity to be in a movie.

Children and teens that run away from home are seen as vulnerable victims. Traffickers know exactly what to say to lure their victims into feeling security and comfort with a promise of a new life. They give the victim the impression that it is their own choice –that they are independent. The victim feels grown-up and believes this person understands them and their parents do not.

They are then beaten, drugged, raped and made to believe it was their choice. “They are told that they will be arrested for prostitution and that the trafficker/pimp is the one who will protect them now and keep them safe (Kennedy & Smith, 2007).” Victims are traded, sold, or brought to a prostitution district or large work site –like New Orleans and the Mississippi coast. They are brought to places with high demand.

I now understand why my mother used to make sure I was by her side when we were shopping. She used to tell me that kids were kidnapped and sold, but I thought she said those things to scare me. And I did not know that run away kids and young teens were such vulnerable people, but it makes sense –they are emotional. They are angry at their “strict” parents and wish they had someone that understood them or that they had a better life. Some victims may come from lower socioeconomic class, abusive homes, have alcohol or drug addicted parents, and may even be addicted to drugs themselves. But raising public awareness through ads, commercials, children television programs, school and parents will help decrease the chances of victims lured by traffickers.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blog Post 4

Long Pross was kidnapped from her village in Cambodia when she was thirteen years old. She was trafficked to Pinam Pin and forced into years of prostitution and torture.

She told Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for New York Times, that when she resisted, the brothel owner would bring her to the dungeon and electrocute her. And when Long Pross would argue too much, she got electrocuted two times. They would wet her shirt, tie her up and put a live wire inside of her. Kristof heard of the dungeons under the brothel before, but never thought they were real, so Cina Van, an ex victim, brought him to a brothel that had been torn down.

Long Pross’s virginity was sold four times and you’re probably thinking, “I thought we’re only virgins once!?” Imagine this, she was stitched THREE TIMES! These victims are NOT PAID, are NOT allowed to ask for condoms and forced to get abortions. Long Pross got pregnant twice and did not get her second abortion till she was four months. She was in so much pain that she broke the code and begged for time to rest. The brothel owner got mad and stabbed her left eye with a metal piece and discarded her because she was of no value anymore.

This interview took place on January 4, 2009, which shows how recent and real human trafficking is. Human traffickers have no sympathy and feel no shame in torturing these young girls. How can human beings be so cruel and gouge someone’s eye out? It was painful for Long Pross to think back, but shared her story hoping it would awaken others. The Somaly Mam Foundation took her in and is trying to help her get a glass eye. She is doing well now –taking classes and hoping to become a seamstress.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Girls for Sale in Poipet

Blog Post 3

Nicholas D. Kristof is a columnist for New York Times and has written several articles about human trafficking. I found “Girls for Sale” rather interesting because it was not just an article about sex slavery, but an undercover interview with two girls from Poipet.

Poipet, located in northwestern Cambodia, is known as one the wildest places where girls are bought and sold. Many of the alleys are lined with brothels, where girls grab at any man walking by (Kristof, 2004). Since Kristof would not be able to have a conversation with any of the girls, he had to act like a customer. It was $8-a-night at Phnom Pich Guest House, where a female pimp brought Srey Neth to his room.

Srey Neth said that she was 18 years old (but appeared to look younger) and was not controlled to work at the guesthouse. But she soon told him she was sold by one of her female cousins. When asked if she thought about escaping, she said that girls get beat up for trying. And when Kristof asked her why not ask the police for help, she told him that they get bribes from the brothel owners and sometimes even have sex with the girls.

After he interviewed her, he was walking down the street when another girl, Srey Mom, grabbed at him. He paid $8 for a room and $2.50 to have her for the evening, whereas Srey Neth was $10 because of her lighter complexion.

To free the girls, someone would have to pay off their debts and the price of the girl. Srey Neth was worth $150.

No one should be bought and sold, nor should they have to do things against their will. It’s alarming that a girl can be free for $150, yet she cannot make enough to buy her own freedom. And to have sex with a girl can be as low as $2.50 –which is disturbing! Many of these girls die from AIDs by the time they reach their 20s. With this knowledge, it's time to do something about these brothels. I applaud Kristof for doing what he did to write this article.

Picture of Nicholas D. Kristof:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sex Slavery

Blog Post 2

Sex trade or sex slavery is another form of human trafficking. Countless numbers of children and women are kidnapped or lied to about a potential job…just like the picture to the left.

“A man offered Maria a job as a waitress in Johannesburg. Eager to earn some money, she agreed to travel with him from her home country to South Africa. But when Maria arrived in Johannesburg, there was no waitressing job. Instead the man beat her and forced her to work as a prostitute.”

In UK, Operation Pentameter (UK’s first national campaign to target sex trafficking) found victims in brothels, saunas and massage parlors across the county. According to Operation Pentameter, 515 properties were raided, 84 victims were recovered, 232 arrests were made and 134 charges were brought. The victims were from Africa, Malaysia, Thailand and eastern Europe, and the youngest victim was 14 years old.

One victim said that she was forced to see 10 to 25 customers every day. She also said, “Even if you had to see people you didn’t want to see, even if it was painful, even if you had to let people touch you, you just had to think the main important thing was to remain alive (George, 2006).”

It is hard to believe that through all the pain and torture, the victim stayed strong to remain alive. I know many would rather be dead. The number of properties raided, victims and arrests are surprising! If there are more organizations like Operation Pentameter, the number of victims would decrease.

Photos from:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Labor Trafficking

Blog Post 1

Labor trafficking is a form of human trafficking that is also known as modern-day slavery. Men, women, and children of all ages are lured to work in the United States, where the perpetrator paints a pretty picture of a better life with a great paying job. However, it is all a scheme that hundreds of thousands fall for each year.

Between January 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008, there were a total of 1, 229 alleged incidents of human trafficking reported to the Bureau of Justice Human Trafficking Task Force. Labor trafficking accounted for 12% of those reported incidents (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009). Keep in mind that the number of labor trafficking would be higher if there were more incidents reported. However, many of them are lied to and threatened with deportation if they were to tell anyone about their situation.

In Kansas City, twelve people were accused of labor racketeering, forced labor trafficking and immigration violations. “The defendants used false information to obtain fake work visas for the foreign workers, who were then threatened with deportation while living in substandard apartments and working for inadequate pay (Twelve Charged, 2009).” In addition to low income, the illegal immigrants are required to pay a very expensive rent, which ensures that they will not have enough to buy a plane ticket home or even live comfortably in their barely furnished apartment. They also have to pay for their transportation to and from work as well as work uniform fees.

This is just one example of human trafficking. Victims are deceived and brought into a whole new world with nothing. Their living conditions are awful and they live each day with fear that their families or themselves will be killed if they do not comply. They are also threatened with deportation which may mean trouble with the law because they went to America illegally. They are scared and trapped. What little money do they have left after paying for rent and the necessities to live? They are left with nothing –not even enough to save.