She had posted and removed the story twice before and no one cared. To garner more interest this time, she made it darkly funny while preserving the gist of what happened. And she has no regrets. "I made people who probably wouldn't want to hear a sex trafficking story want to be a part of it," she says, "because it was entertaining."Rolling Stone interviews and fact-checks Aziah "Zola" Wells, whose 158-tweet-long story about a trip to Florida (archived here) became an overnight sensation, receiving accolades from Selma director Ava DuVernay and Missy Elliot (quoted in the title), along with many, many others. The Washington Post has released its own report on the story. A movie is reportedly in the works.
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]
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."
Behind Claude’s Doors
In 1960s Paris she became known as the world’s most exclusive madam, whose client list was said to include John Kennedy, de Gaulle, Onassis, and multiple Rothschilds, and whose beautiful and cultivated girls often went on to marry wealth, power, and prestige. But among the many secrets Madame Claude kept, perhaps the greatest were her own. William Stadiem, who knew the elusive Claude in the 1980s, follows her trail to the South of France.[more inside]
It's not exactly news that Somaly Mam, head of the anti-trafficking non-profit The Somaly Mam Foundation, has been accused of fabricating her own story of sexual slavery and abuse. But today, the story made it all the way to Newsweek. Respected former call girl Maggie McNeill blogged about the issue in 2013 and 2011, and in 2012 wrote about the psychological self-deception that might be at play. Dr. Laura Agustin wrote this piece attacking Somaly Mam's idea of sex worker empowerment over a decade ago, and in this 2011 blog post criticizes a live-tweeted brothel raid carried out by Mam and Nicholas Kristof. Previously. Previously. Previously.
Don't believe France's reputation as a country where sexual peccadillos are always overlooked. After a vote by the country's National Assembly on Wednesday, it has just joined a growing group of European nations where buying sex is now illegal. France is not alone in its fresh efforts to curb prostitution. The move follows similar bans in Sweden and Norway, while other European countries are also scaling back laissez-faire prostitution policies. Germany is poised to change its liberal sex trade laws, while Ireland is also debating a measure similar to France's. Is the end of legal prostitution in Europe in sight?
(Don't miss the deep and interesting links found within the article.)[more inside]
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]
I’d always dismissed the idea of human trafficking in the United States. I’m Indian, and when I went to Mumbai and saw children sold openly, I wondered, Why isn’t anything being done about it? But now I know—it’s no different here. I never would have believed it, but I’ve seen it.
The Price of Sex: Women Speak Since the collapse of communism in 1989, millions of former Soviet bloc residents have migrated abroad, looking for opportunities. These waves of migration breathed life into one of the oldest yet darkest criminal enterprises--the trafficking of human beings into sexual slavery. Hundreds of thousands of Eastern European women have been sold into prostitution. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, a Bulgarian who immigrated to the United States in 1990, has documented their journeys from villages in Moldova to the streets of Turkey and nightclubs in Dubai--where prostitution is an equation of supply, demand and desperation.
The modern slave trade is thriving. The Dept of State estimates that 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are trafficked - brought across borders and forced to labor. Among them, DOS estimates, hundreds of thousands are minor children. Some of those children - as young as 5 years old - are being sold as slaves and kept in cages while they are raped and sold for sex, some servicing as many as 30 men a day. They are bought for as little as $10 from desperate parents. But all is not lost: Somaly Mam, a former child prostitute, is the Mother Theresa of Southeast Asian child prostitutes, using AFESIP as her vehicle for saving them. Glamour awarded her their Woman of the Year honor, and she has been lauded in other ways internationally. Cambodian sex traffickers weren't as happy with her, though - her opponents kidnapped her 14-year old daughter, held her hostage for days, and raped her. It's hard to be on the wrong side of this issue, but some advocates raise a few hackles by claiming legalized prostitution and porn contribute to sex trafficking and child prostitution. Sex trafficking, and child prostitution, is a sizeable problem in the US as well. Although trafficking is illegal in the US, combating trafficking is tough in part because victims often fear authorities, personal reprisals, harm to their families at home, or even deportation (although special visas - T visas - are available to them in certain circumstances). In Southeast Asia (and throughout the world), child sex tourism is even harder to stop.
The demand side of sex trafficking In international policy circles, it is increasingly common to hear talk of the need to address “the demand-side of trafficking”, and a number of research studies on this phenomenon have recently been commissioned. Though the idea that “sex trafficking” is stimulated by the demand for commercial sexual services has a certain commonsense appeal, this paper argues that questions about the relationship between exploitative and abusive labour practices in the sex sector and the demand for commercial sexual services are rather more complicated than is allowed in dominant anti-trafficking discourse.