Mobsters ran a fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana for 10 years, flying the flag and issuing visas for $6,000 [more inside]
Hundreds of Buddhist nuns trained in Kung Fu are cycling through the Himalayas to oppose human trafficking
Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Department Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager [East Bay Express] According to a stunning set of allegations, a teenage human trafficking victim in the Bay Area was coerced into sex by at least 22 officers over a six month period. [more inside]
In Counterpunch, Franklin Lamb, an American academic living in Lebanon writes about his personal experiences with human trafficking of Syrian refugees [more inside]
Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves. by Margie Mason, Robin McDowell, Martha Mendoza and Esther Htusan [Associated Press] [more inside]
Does "human trafficking" mean "modern-day slavery," as President Obama says? No, "the word is a way to target marginalized groups like immigrants and sex workers in the name of a (confused or cynical) humanitarianism." [more inside]
The Detainee’s Tale by Ali Smith Over the last few weeks, writer Ali Smith has taken part in the Refugee Tales project, a group of volunteers who befriend and support immigration detainees. This is her response:
So: the first thing you remember knowing is that there isn’t any more school. Your mother dies when you are three, you don’t remember. You never see your father, so you can’t remember him. You know, from being told, that your father’s family fought with your mother’s family; his were Hausa, hers were Christian. So you get given by your father’s family to a man in the village and for a short while there’s school under the great big tree, where you sit in the shade on the ground and the teacher sits on a seat and you get taught letters and reading. Then the school has to have money so the man you’ve been given to takes you to the farm. You are six years old. There is definitely no school on the farm.Story contains descriptions of trauma/distress.
Over the last couple days, 1,600 refugees, many of them Rohingya, have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia. Many more are still stranded at sea. [more inside]
"Post Hurricane Katrina, a whole new American dream was designed for some [South Asian] Indians — how to get trapped in a guarded labor camp by an American company".
In the upcoming A&E "docudrama" 8 Minutes, Santa Ana vice cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown, founder of the faith-based non-profit Safe Passage OC, poses as a john and tries to convince sex workers to leave the life. Backed by a team of volunteers, including former sex workers, Brown gives himself eight minutes to make his pitch - ideally before a pimp suspects something is up - and offers to connect the women with shelter, addiction and employment services if they want. Not all of them do. Of course, it's all filmed. (Sex workers' faces are blurred.) And perhaps inevitably, it's drawing significant criticism for putting a vulnerable population at greater risk. [more inside]
Pivot: A Tool to Empower Human Trafficking Victims
Pivot provides rescue information to human trafficking victims without detection by their captors. Ordinary-looking sanitary pads are distributed by activists and healthcare providers to suspected victims. Hidden inside each pad is an insert with rescue information and a trafficking hotline number. A victims accesses the insert in the privacy of a restroom, detaches the phone number (disguised as a fortune-cookie tab), and flushes the rest of the insert in the toilet.[more inside]
Despite the claims of reformers like Judge Lippman, [Human Trafficking Intervention Courts] are as controlling as any other court. Prostitutes might be called victims, but they're still arrested, still handcuffed, and still held in cages. The only difference is that they're now in a system that doesn't distinguish between workers and trafficked people. To the courts, anyone who's been arrested for sex work is raw material, incapable of making his or her own choices. Those like Love, who did sex work out of financial necessity, before leaving of her own volition, might as well not exist.Molly Crabapple: Special Prostitution Courts and the Myth of 'Rescuing' Sex Workers.
Somaly Mam [previously] responds to the Newsweek article last spring that raised questions regarding the legitimacy of her work as a Cambodian anti-trafficking activist, tainting the nearly two-decades-long work on behalf of victims that catapulted her into the global spotlight. "I didn't lie."
Writer and sports personality Brittney Cason thought she had been recruited for what seemed like a legitimate network job covering the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Only days before she left, flags started going up.
Cambodia Daily just ran two controversial features on Somaly Mam, a well-known trafficking survivor and head of the anti-trafficking non-profit, the Somaly Mam Foundation that funds shelters in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Somaly Mam, Cambodia's most well-known anti-trafficking activist, partly due to Nicholas Kristof whose "live tweeting" a brothel raid with Somaly Mam was roundly criticised by other NGOs in Cambodia, is accused of false stories of abuse, murder and kidnapping of young women, and the organization of hugely over-paying top staff including Somaly Mam herself. [more inside]
Since the 80s Tony Galeota managed Porky's, a Hialeah dive notorious for drugs, prostitution, and violence, where he was part pimp, part bouncer, and completely untouchable. When he left to open a bona fide brothel in Panama, Galeota thought the country's lax prostitution laws (NSFW) would make him rich. Instead, he's trapped in a labyrinthine legal system, alone and unable to speak Spanish.
The U.S.'s military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq are mostly staffed by Third Country Nationals (TCN), who are often victims of human trafficking. [more inside]
“My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.”
Paul Haggis Vs. the Church of Scientology. Haggis' defection was discussed previously on the blue, as were allegations of abusive practices in Scientology's Sea Org. This week's New Yorker includes a massive investigative piece by Lawrence Wright, part of an upcoming book by Wright that has already been the subject of some speculation.
I've never known of a single colleague who has been tortured, or who lives with the threat of death and persecution for their work, in such a confused state of mind that they believe that working in the defence of individual and collective freedoms is an act of heroism. We know full well that it is nothing more than an exercise in survival and shared dignity. [more inside]
Now in its fourth year, CNN Heroes highlights and rewards "Everyday People Changing the World." This year's Hero of the Year (chosen by public poll) is Anuradha Koirala, whose group Maiti Nepal has rescued more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery along the India / Nepal border since 1993. [more inside]
In Afghanistan, the bacha bereesh -- "boy without a beard" -- is dressed in women's clothes and taught to dance like a woman at weddings or parties. After the dancing is over, the boy is often shared as sexual chattel among his male audience (the bacha bazi) which is often composed of powerful warloads. The underground practice, though illegal, is widespread despite Taliban homophobia. The PBS series Frontline went inside the world of the bacha bazi, who seemed willing enough to talk about the forbidden practice. [54-minute flash video, well worth watching.] [more inside]
From Hunter to Hunted "In his quest to free slaves around the world, Aaron Cohen thought he’d seen it all. Then he went to Myanmar."
The 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US State Department has been released. It reviews 150 countries.The introduction provides a broad overview of the report with anecdotal stories, legislation imperatives, methodology, definitions, specific country reviews and suggested remedies. It is a commendable document and well worth perusing. UN page. via
Slavery is not just the shameful stuff of history books - not in Florida. Last year, 7 journalists spent 9 months in a behind-the-scenes exploration of the state's immigrant workers. In more than 30 articles and photo essays, they revealed a system where workers are threatened, beaten, locked up, injured, forced into prostitution, and trapped in a spiral of debt and abuse. Powerful forces are arrayed against them in a state where agricultural laws are shaped by politician-farmers who have a vested interest in the status quo. - more -
Anti-Slavery International, the world's oldest international human rights organization, says that 27 million people around the world live in slavery. That is a staggering number. (More information on slavery at iAbolish). Also, the OSCE says that the trafficking of humans has become the world's largest illegal business. The advancement of international human rights has a long way to go.