Posts tagged sex slavery

Student’s Paper on “Half the Sky” and more (Part II)

A continuation from yesterday’s blog about sex slavery and how education can help to eradicate the problem. I am saved by my students’ papers that took on this tough topic of human trafficking.  Marcus read the book “Half the Sky.”  I am doing other writing about my hometown, thus, I am not using my own words to write in this blog.  I have other students’ papers that need a little editting but continue on the same theme of human trafficking.

“There is a cynical belief on whether support groups are actually benefitting the victims in need of assistance. These beliefs are aided by the continuous rise and fall of organizations trying to make changes in struggling societies. To the general society (people provided only with information given from commercials) are brought to confusion of what is actually happening on the other side of the earth. In these organizations defense, the reason for some of them having troubles and falling out of operation is because their initial plans of helping these societies in scope did not pan out to their expectations. In WuDunn’s (2010) chapter Investing in Education, it explains how aid from outside sources to help an inner society problem can have many issues. Since it is highly likely that outside sources would not have the same knowledge of the situation as the locals, oversights on solutions would not be uncommon. In parts of Nigeria, women would raise cassava (a widely eaten root, similar to the use of a potato) and use it as a household food, selling the surplus to local markets controlling the money earned from the sales. The organization at the time in Nigeria, were looking for ways that women could attain a stronger in society. Having this opportunity their idea was as followed: “If we give them better varieties of cassava, they’ll harvest more and sell more. Then they’ll make more money, and spend it on their families.” What was overlooked was that with the increase in cassava grown, there were not enough women to manage the entire harvest, leaving much of the leftovers unattended. This led to problems between the men and women in these communities. The increased profit from the cassava attracted men into the equation having the idea that since it was generating so much money, it should be a “man’s job.” This brought social-domestic issues by pushing women out of a situation that gave them some stability in society. Overall there can be issues that can have negative effects if both sides of the outcome are not first comprehended, but not all situations have the same outcome. Most successful aid from outside organizations has the local government somewhat involved. With this involvement, the government has the opportunity to maintain the positive planning that is being implemented so that it can manage in society without constant aid from support groups.

An example of a successful plan came from the consensus decision of the Mexican government. They launched a study called Oportunidades which is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that offers cash and in-kind services to poor households as incentives for households to invest more in their children’s health and education (Todd & Winters, 2011). Most families in impoverish situations do not have thoughts of enrolling their children in early education or even regular education because of either financial or lifestyle issues (children having to work to provide for family). Along with education, families rarely have the opportunity to be medically treated or go for treatment if it is available. With these lifestyle choices from the influence of poverty, any income that was in the family’s possession first went to survival needs such as food and supplies. Oportunidades was established to break the reoccurring trend of impoverished families and provide them with chances for an optimistic future. The program incentive was to encourage parents of families to create healthy habits of going on regular medical check-ups in addition to implementing their children to “on-time” schooling (the child starting school at approximately 6 years of age). Since the government was the main source backing the program (starting with small communities as a control group) as well as their tactics (CCT) the overall plan flourished. Having the CCT implemented it influence households to abide by the guidelines of the program on their own time. In result it provided the households to create habits on their own just as a baby is weaned off the mother’s breast to a bottle and then onto a cup. This gave families and specifically children a chance to improve their lives for the future. Parents would learn positive habits to pass down to their children who are now living healthier lives. The children being able to partake in academics at an internationally acceptable age have a higher chance of attaining respectable jobs globally which in turn can influence their communities in an economically positive way.

Having communities uplifted from poverty can create a more positive balance of how each person in the world is valued. Another quote from WuDunn’s (2010) book provides the emphasis of separation between societies:

The officer shrugged, unperturbed. “It’s unfortunate,” he agreed. “These girls are sacrificed so that we can have harmony in society. So that good girls can be safe.”

“But many of the Nepali girls are good girls, too.”

“Oh yes, but those are peasant girls. They can’t even read. They’re from the countryside. The good Indian middle-class girls are safe.”

These distinctive separations of value between people that have an education and are brought up in a middle-class society have disposed of the people of opposite benefits. The main issue is that the people in poverty have no chance of breaking out of that struggle without aid. They will continue to be left in the shadows hidden away from the rest of society if society is content with the idea. Now this is not true in all parts of the country, but it is equally wrong to avoid taking action on the countries that are allowing for these illegal events to occur. Being in a country that has higher standards of living does give off powerful influences to developing countries or countries that want to rise into a well-known society. There needs to be this mindset when dealing with social issues such as sex trafficking to influence powerful groups and governments to make changes within their communities so that no one is left behind. In order for many of these pushes to happen, the communities of these more powerful countries need to be aware of what is happening around the world and are accumulatively ready to back up their country to provide help to others. The most popular source of information has been from media distribution such as YouTube (personal uploaded videos with infinite subjects) and that of regular occurrence (television, newspaper, radio). With these sources, there would be a better chance of bringing communities together to create change and movements. There have always been movements such as “Free the Children”, “Stop Global Warming”, or “Sea-Thos” that have had the public come together to help a cause. All that is needed is for the next cause to be focused on human trafficking. Finding a solution to invest in impoverished communities so that children can have healthy lives and be educated can eliminate the possibility of being victimized by human trafficking.

So although in a few cases of prostitution it may be financially beneficial for families in impoverished countries, sex trafficking of young girls should be abolished. Investment into their education would protect their future and would not bring them to harm psychologically or physically. First of all, most girls deal with unimaginable terror every day from deceived promises of well-paying jobs to be beaten physically and psychologically by their captors or customers. But most importantly, it negates their chance of attaining an education to have a positive future for them and for the community they live in. For these possibilities to even happen, drastic moves need to be made by higher powers to change the ongoing circle of poverty that traps these communities of a lower lifestyle. That being said, the media is a perfect tool to provide help so that support groups can collaborate with governments of developing countries or struggling countries to provide aid to their societies. With this aid just as the Mexican government’s Oportunidades program, it can give these communities the tools to become equal in society and not left in the shadows to be forgotten about. So the real question is if the value of one’s education is so valuable to a middle-class person, it should be just as valuable to a person hoping to have the same chance at their own education.”

Reference

Basil, N. M. (2009). Factors sustaining human trafficking in the contemporary society:

Psychological implications. Ife Psychologia, 17(1), 161-175. Retrieved from Proquest.

doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-232

Jones, L., Engstrom, D., Hilliard, P., & Sungakawan, D. (2011). Human trafficking between

Thailand and Japan: Lessons in recruitment, transit and control. International Journal Of

            Social Welfare, 20(2), 203-211. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2397.2009.00669.x

Ostrovschi, N. V., Prince, M. J., Zimmerman, C., Hotineanu, M. A., Gorceag, L. T., Gorceag, V.

I., Flach, C., & Abas, M. A. (2011). Women in post-trafficking services in Moldova:

Diagnostic interviews over two time periods to assess returning women’s mental

health. BMC Public Health, 11(1), 232-240. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-232

Todd, J. E., & Winters, P. (2011). The effect of early interventions in health and nutrition

on on-time school enrollment: Evidence from the oportunidades program in rural

Mexico. Economic Development & Cultural Change, 59(3), 549-581.

WuDunn, S., (2010, August). Sheryl WuDunn: Our century’s greatest injustice. [Video file].

Retrieved from

WuDunn, S., & Kristof, N. D. (2010). Half the sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for

women worldwide. New York: Vintage Books.

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Student’s Paper on “Half the Sky” book and more

The following paper was written by a first year student of mine in a Composition I class this past semester.  I was proud of how Marcus pursued this topic and read the book “Half the Sky” to help with his research.  Read on…

Escape Sex Slavery by Investing in Education

There has not been a time where prostitution in society was not present. Over generations passed, the concept of providing sexual favors for money has always stayed the same except for its variables. This is when reality becomes terrifying. Women today are experiencing being taken from their homes to be exploited for sex. Locations around the world have different experiences with sex trafficking and how it affects their society. In more of the eastern parts of Europe, the girls victimized in sex trafficking tend to be in their mid-twenties, whereas stated by Jones, et al. (2011), in most parts of Asia, they can be starting at the age of twelve. Though the ages can range from each location, the fact is that all of the girls lack an education to prevent themselves from being deceived into the prostitution rings. Although in many cases explained by Jones, et al. (2011), women had been able to earn scholarships to pursue their education, but given their societal surroundings of poverty, they are not able to do so. As an alternative to high labor jobs, women are given the hard choice of prostitution to provide for their family. Even though a few cases of prostitution may be financially beneficial for the families in impoverished countries, sex trafficking of young girls should be banned so proper investment into their education would protect their future and they would not be damaged psychologically or physically.

Many cases of human trafficking are directly caused by poverty. Especially for women victimized by poverty, are left with few options to provide them with a financial income and even smaller amount for the ones without a decent education. This is a major problem because children are not able to get a chance at education. Aside from girls having their education taken from them, they are damaged mentally and physically from prostitution. Ostrovschi, et al. (2011) provides that, “several countries in Eastern Europe, including Moldova specifically, are well-known for high numbers of women being trafficked for sex work while being frequently subjected to high levels of violence and abuse.” Not just Eastern European women are exposed to such abuse; all around the world there are different ways that their captors abuse their workers. In Europe, girls who tried to escape had dogs released on them. Many girls stated they were treated like trash and had higher chances of being killed. Combining the high threat on women’s lives already tormented by being trafficked initially, it is almost guaranteed that they will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders as well as depression and anxiety. From Ostrovschi’s, et al (2011) analysis, there are four different syndrome clusters that have affected women after their exposure to sex trafficking. “PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder); anxiety disorders excluding PTSD (panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and somatization disorder); mood disorders (depression ad dysthymia); and substance disorders (substance abuse, substance dependence, alcohol use and alcohol dependence)” (pg. 235). Many of these disorders are created over the time spent in prostitution rings and are especially enhanced when the women are exposed to a different environment. “African women are trafficked to Europe, Chinese and Vietnamese women are shipped to some Pacific islands and Mexican women are sent to the United States (Basil, 2009)”. The change in location would create language and cultural barriers, degrading the women’s identity. The loss of their identity makes it easier for the women to be taken advantage of, having no mental strength to defend themselves. Having this isolation keeps the women invisible and much harder to identify. Staying in a place where no one understands you brings little hope for when cases of escape arise.

Having a lot of psychological problems arising from sex trafficking, there are also many physical factors that come into play that effect girls. In many situations, especially in parts of Asia, young girls are damaged physically because of the age difference of the client to the employee. An example being a twelve to fifteen year old girl having to sexually please a forty year old man has explicit consequences. The picture of that situation is unbearable to most, but is a frequent occurrence that goes unnoticed. These girls can end up being damaged internals because of pre-pubic intercourse since their bodies have not fully matured. In other cases where girls have already passed this stage, run the risk of becoming pregnant. Though there is a lot of precaution with this in brothels, because they could lose a worker if one were to get pregnant minimizing profit. Having this low level of concern for their workers can bring up far more problems, such as sexually transmitted diseases. Many are familiar with HIV/AIDS and most would believe that this is the most severe case, but it is not. To surprise it is more of the less severe diseases (syphilis and hepatitis B) that we do not find as bad that usually the girls in these countries perish from. This is an oversight for us because we have the medical care that solves these problems. Unfortunately for these girls, they are not able to get the constant medical attention for these illnesses. Many women are not given the freedom to do anything except for their work, having to live like a high security prisoner sentenced to life. In some cases the girls would probably never see the light of day, constantly having to work “red light district” hours since that is their main objective. Sending aid for these women is the most logical and best choice, but there has to be more thought put into the solutions for them to actually take benefit to the victims.

(to be continued)

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Working Upstream from the “Sexual Gulag”

I just had my heart broken all over again as I listened to a young Cambodian girl named Nhu give her horrific story about what she went through as a 12 year old sex slave.  Thankfully she has broken free from her “sexual gulag” that so many young girls who are born in grinding poverty are caught in.  When talking to Dick Wexler, co-founder of “Not for Sale – MN” last December, he talked about organizations that are going “upstream” from where the traffickers perpetuate the sexual gulag hellholes. First, I need to explain two things: 1) what it means to be upstream and 2) why is it called “sexual gulag?”

Let me explain Gulag first. As many of my readers know, gulag is a Russian acronym for “Glavnoe Upravlnie Lagerei” which essentially means “Main Camp Administration.”  In Kazakhstan, they had a similar term “Karlag” which has the same meaning but in the Karaganda region where the headquarters were in Kazakhstan.  What was notable about the gulag and karlag was that it was far, far away from any civilization.  The people who were sent to these places were either political or criminal prisoners during the Soviet Union with little chance of escaping. The term “sexual gulag” has many of the same connotations for those women caught in the sex trade but the major difference is that it is done in the major cities, sometimes in open view to everyone.

I remember one time when my husband and I were walking around in Amsterdam about ten years ago, we were trying to avoid the red light districts.  But somehow we got off track and walked right into an area close to the main train station where women were showing their “wares” in store front windows. They were like moving mannequins but scantily clad, we quickly moved away.  The “sexual gulag” is right at our doorsteps and not somewhere far removed, except in our minds if we continue to let it.

Many of my faithful readers of this blog know I have long been at this problem of trying to make people more aware of the USSR’s gulags and especially about Kazakhstan’s karlags. So it would seem a natural thing for me to move into the outrage that should be created with the 21st century sexual gulags we have in our midst. I guess I’m upset about what happened in the Soviet past and now incensed about what is going on in the present. In a book written by Anne Applebaum, she wrote the following about gulags:

“In the course of the Soviet Union’s existence, at least 476 distinct camp complexes came into being consisting of thousands of individual camps…The total number of prisoners in the camps generally hovered around 2,000,000, but the total number of Soviet citizens who had some experience of the camps, as political or criminal prisoners, is far higher.  From 1929, when the Gulag began its major expansion, until 1953, when Stalin died, the best estimates indicate that some 18,000,000 people passed through its massive system.”

I’m getting this information from a report done by Lisa L. Thompson when she gave a talk representing Salvation Army to a special committee about sexual exploitation of children to the U.S. Congress in 2005.  What Thompson reported were some staggering statistics while comparing the numbers of the Soviet gulag to our present day “sexual gulag.”

“UNICEF reports that one million children enter sex trafficking per year. Approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.”

Lisa Thompson has many other interesting analogies to make between the Soviet Gulag and the current sexual gulag we are experiencing.

Now I want to explain what it means to be “working upstream” from all these problems of children getting sucked into sex slavery.  The way it was best explained to me was by Dick Wexler. Caring people can go to countries like Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Viet Nam and find out where the girls are who are being preyed upon. Usually it happens if there is only one parent left or there is a new stepparent who comes in due to divorce or a number of other problems that drives desperate people to extreme measures to get them out of poverty.

The “Remember Nhu” organization is working upstream when they try to find girls who are vulnerable and help feed and educate them.  Check out the following website www.remembernhu.org and you will see many of the same things I looked into.  I believe this is a very worthy cause to find girls who the traffickers might prey upon. This helps them to become employable by making money for themselves before they are snatched away to be sex slaves.  Too often the trafficking shelters that are trying to help rehabilitate those girls who have escaped sex slavery see a high recidivism rate because these girls are so broken, damaged, hooked on drugs or alcohol to help cure the pain in their hearts.  Sadly, the girls who are no longer in the sexual gulag after years of damage are found downstream with lots of emotional baggage.

Yes, working upstream to help eliminate poverty for those families who have girls that might be sold into slavery is the best way.  Check out “Remember Nhu.”

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