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Sex Trafficking – Where is the News Coverage?

4 January 2009 10 Comments
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Where is the Coverage?
One social issue that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should is the sex trafficking that occurs all around the world. The sex traffic business continues to loom large yet the atrocities involved never quite see the day light. Somehow someway the industries manages to keep it hush hush.

Sex trafficking revenue of people is estimated to be between $5 billion to $9 billion dollars. Often it is misunderstood as something people do voluntarily due to money or debt issues when in actuality many girls are abducted and kidnapped from an early age and forced into prostitution by force and torture. Up to 50% are minors. Sex trafficking occurs not just in notorious countries like Cambodia, Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe but here at home in the United States.

One recent “opinions” article that speaks of the issue and is highlighted below. (Why it an opinion article? Shouldn’t this be headline world news!?)

Full Article – Excerpts Below

Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man — she doesn’t know his nationality — who had purchased her virginity.

After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive.

Again, I want to emphasize that many prostitutes found in third world countries are there not because they need to make money or chose to do it for a living. Many, if not most are there by force, trapped unable to escape. Others were deceived at a young age with promises of one thing only to find the old bait and switch. Below you’ll find a graphic description on what kind of “methods” are used to keep the girls in check.

As in many brothels, the torture of choice was electric shocks. Sina would be tied down, doused in water and then prodded with wires running from the 220-volt wall outlet. The jolt causes intense pain, sometimes evacuation of the bladder and bowel — and even unconsciousness.

Shocks fit well into the brothel business model because they cause agonizing pain and terrify the girls without damaging their looks or undermining their market value.

After the beatings and shocks, Sina said she would be locked naked in a wooden coffin full of biting ants. The coffin was dark, suffocating and so tight that she could not move her hands up to her face to brush off the ants. Her tears washed the ants out of her eyes.

She was locked in the coffin for a day or two at a time, and she said this happened many, many times.

Often when these girls are finally freed, they have the courage to stick around to help others who are in need, but at a tremendous cost. In many countries the sex trafficking is managed by large criminal organizations with immense power. Other countries, the law enforcements and infrastructure is not stable or strong enough to do anything about it. Often times the law enforcement themselves are corrupt.

Finally, Sina was freed in a police raid, and found herself blinded by the first daylight she had seen in years. The raid was organized by Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who herself had been sold into the brothels but managed to escape, educate herself and now heads a foundation fighting forced prostitution.

After being freed, Sina began studying and eventually became one of Somaly’s trusted lieutenants. They now work together, in defiance of death threats from brothel owners, to free other girls. To get at Somaly, the brothel owners kidnapped and brutalized her 14-year-old daughter. And six months ago, the daughter of another anti-trafficking activist (my interpreter when I interviewed Sina) went missing.

I hope this article and perhaps many more to come will offer some insight into the wrongs still found in our world that often goes unnoticed.

Thoughts? Comment Below.

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Media Impact on Sexual Freedom
Distorted Perception of Beauty – Dove Campaign
Onslaught Beauty – Dove Campaign

10 Comments »

  • concetta said:

    I hope the world will open its eyes! I am sorry for what happened to you. men need to see these women not as objects for their pleasure but as victims who are forced into rape. SHAME ON THEM. THERE ARE GOOD MEN IN THE WORLD WHO ARE HELPING RIGHT NOW FREE THESE WOMEN.

  • Danny said:

    The other day I heard a story about a shooting on BART for 30 minutes, and then the next 30 minutes on someone fighting the war in Congo and specifically targeting the sex trafficking (rape) that is used to promote war. I was heart broken as I heard the details of how many people have died in the Congo over the past 10 years (Over 5 million!) and as I read this blog it occurred to me: Why only 30 minutes! Doesn’t this deserve more attention, more time, more effort to let people know? I found it insightful that one of the main activists spent most of her time trying to get people aware of the issue. Part of me is just cynical and thinks that we used to live in a world where people cared about others, people would go to fight a war to stop an evil empire, but now all people care about is their small little world and if it doesn’t directly involve them, then they are not interested. This is a direct consequence of buying into a world view that in the end it’s all about me, myself and I. I’m glad that the radio program was able to bring up the issue, but I feel it’s sad that it had to share 30 minutes dealing with a local event rather than giving the whole hour to much greater atrocities occurring far away from home.

    But I’m still hopeful that we can still make a difference if we just throw off the worldview that it’s all about me, and start looking at all the pain, and just plain evil going on in this world, it will move us to act. One person at a time.

    Thanks for the blog post, hopefully more people will spread the word.

    Here is the website to the story I heard on the radio:

    http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R901060900

  • Joshua said:

    This is so so sick and cruel. What some people will do for money is horrendous. I hope God punishes those women because unfortunately they tend to get away with these brutal acts. Somaly and Sina should continue to have courage to help others suffering their fate.

  • Steve said:

    The so-called facts on sex trafficking are not facts at all, just agenda-driven exaggerations and outright lies. Is it an accident that almost all the anti-trafficking organizations have an anti-prostitution agenda? And don’t say it is because prostitution always leads to trafficking (which is the position of some anti-prostitution activists), because prostitution is legal some places in the USA and no one has any evidence that there is any trafficking going on in those places. If prostitution is legal the police can easily check to make sure everyone is a consenting adult and focus their limited resources on real crime. As a matter of fact no one has any real evidence that trafficking is widespread anywhere. Anti-trafficking activists give widely varying figures of how many people are trafficked into the USA, but the estimates range between 15,000 and 50,000 per year. That adds up to a lot of victims! Where are they? Police are always coming into contact with prostitution operations, yet you almost never hear of someone involved against their will. There are prostitution arrests all the time but it is almost always the consenting adult prostitutes, johns, or madams such as the late Deborah Jeanne Palfrey. The FBI recently concluded a nationwide prostitution operation (Cross Country II). They rescued 47 underage prostitutes (47, not 47,000). They found no adult slaves. 50,000 trafficked into the USA each year, but the FBI did not find any? Yet these activists seem to know about the 50,000 somehow. Why don’t they give their information to the FBI? The anti-trafficking activists tried to get Germany to cancel the legal brothels scheduled for the 1996 World Cup Soccer championship. The activists claimed that 40,000 slaves would be trafficked into Germany for the World Cup. The special World Cup brothels remained and the German police went on high alert to watch out for slaves. If the allegations had been true the German police should have been able to free thousands of slaves. They found not one slave, and there was no crime connected with the brothels. After that the anti-trafficking activists should have no credibility. The reason these allegations always appear in editorials and not with the real news is because editorials are not fact-checked the way hard news stories are.

  • Cambodia News said:

    All problems in Cambodia, including poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses, are interrelated to the country tragic recent past, namely, the Khmer Rouge and the use of Cambodia as turf for Cold War adversaries.

  • Cambodia said:

    Looking at the problem in its entirety, it’s tied to the poverty, lack of education and the emergence of Cambodia from decades of violence. Although the country has found relative peace, the culture of violence and cheapening of human lives is still very much alive. This is a problem that requires a concerted effort from several fronts, not just law enforcement, but also poverty reduction, education, and public awareness. For the issue of sexual exploitation to be addressed, ordinary Cambodians themselves must recognize that it is a problem.

  • Khmer movie said:

    Sex trafficking is a severe problem in poor, developing countries like Cambodia. It’s so prevalent in society that people have grown callous and sometimes do not see it as a problem. Young women are transported in wooden cages and bought and sold to rich, powerful figures and sometimes even to foreign journalists.

  • Sonyta said:

    I sit and read and watch stories that relate to this. I shed tears. How could you not? Mothers selling there children for the amount of money that another will spend on materialistic items like a bike, playstation or whatever. Why? Yes sex trafficing is happening everywhere but Cambodia is not even close to where it needs to be government wise to enforce any type of punishment that is needed for these brothels. My heart goes out to those that help or try to help. Even those that just for a second give a moment of silence for the little baby that cries in these children every day, moment that they endure. Corruption needs to be stopped to take serious efforts in preventing all. When I was 12 I went for the first time to Cambodia to visit family that I never met. I did go see this long road where the girls just piled on both sides of the road waiting for guys to come. Girls that had black eyes and faces of terror. My heart just aches to know that this moment that you are reading this someone is crying the same tears for help. How can we overlook that? how can we stop it? Hun sen is nothing. he is corrupt as any other police officer that is supposedly patrolling. These are our children. Not just the children of the true mothers but our children, our family. I was raised to not let anyone mistreat one another. As a world this of all things needs to be addressed. Please help in that battle.

  • Sonyta said:

    Steve,

    Facts or not…. these things are happening and how dare you act like this is even slightly over rated. How would you like to wake up drugged and being raped? I already know your answer. These are true stories and not allegations. Go visit Cambodia or another country and see what it is. Then you can open your mouth and think what you want as your opinion but do not underestimate the the problem that exists. This is an issue and will always be an issue

  • GDove said:

    This is a great story. I want to publish it to my website. What author do I give credit to? I may be overlooking it but I don’t see a name.

    The Somaly Mam foundation is awesome! Thanks for mentioning her here. Keep up the great work.

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