Posts tagged sex trafficking

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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American student’s response to “Two Kyrgyz Women”

My composition I class is currently looking into different aspects of human trafficking in order to write their third paper for me.  I’m starting to get their impressions and reactions in their extra credit assignments, some are getting emotionally connected to this difficult topic.  The following is what my American student wrote after she read “Two Kyrgyz Women.”  Fortunately “TKW” is on free ebooks, so she was able to read this on-line. My student knows that sex trafficking hits close to home for her.  This is because she had a childhood “friend” who was part of a trafficking ring as the “pimp” and now sits in prison because she was caught.  Another girl she knew was one of the trafficked girls, it could have been my student.  This tragedy seems entirely too close to home when it affects my Minnesota students.  So, for my one student reading about this woman’s pain in Kyrgyzstan was very real to her.

When I first started to read the book I saw that she depended a lot on her family and tradition. That no matter how bad life gets, you can always depend on family. She also went on to say that her father and mother constantly told her that one day she will get married and have a husband of her own. She always stated that she wanted to stay at home and never leave but her parents continually stated that one day every girl gets married. She had many fond memories growing up, from the lake Issyk Kul and all the swimming she would do there. She traveled a lot from her dad’s business and remembers the many places they lived. She then went into taking about all things that led up to her circumstances. From the marriage of her brother and the joy of his first child, to the start of a new journey for herself in Bishkek at a Technological University, and how proud her father was of her to accomplish such an undertaking.  As well as the effect of her father’s death, and how not only she but her whole family was starting to struggle financially.  Shortly after her father’s death she was soon to be married; her mother was shocked to hear that she was to be married so shortly after her father’s death. She refers her to wedding not as her wedding but as her kidnaping. She says it was so well thought out and much less expensive than a regular wedding. Her soon-to-be husband’s uncle and other men went and spoke to her about how wonderful the man she was to marry was, the perfect one for her. Her mother gave in and they were off to be married. She goes into saying how the night of their wedding what had gone on and how all his family was eager to know what had happened. As well as what her husband expected her to give to him the night of their wedding and how she lost her virginity that night. I have seen this more times than not, that men find women they want to marry because they just want the intimacy, so they marry the women so they can do whatever they want to the women as husbands and wives so they don’t have to face consequences. When in reality they don’t really love the women they only want their own satisfaction to be filled.  I know one woman in particular that her husband constantly depend stuff from her and was still never happy even though she gave him everything he wanted. They are now divorced and they have a wrecked home. He is off living with his girlfriend he had been seeing while still married and their two children are messed up with alcohol and drugs at the age of 15 and 19.  

            The author went on to talk about many stages in her life, from the birth of her second child a little girl, sending her boys off to school, and constant coming and going of her husband who later returned with a Mazad car and spent more time away than with her and the children. She went through a lot during this time and did a lot on her own to make everything the best she could. She later had an encounter with her husband’s long-time girlfriend which caused even more heartache. Shortly after that her husband had to pay twelve thousand dollars because of an accident that was caused when he drove his car too fast.    She goes into a long story that leads up to her abduction; she thought that she was sent to Dubai to meet her sister-in-law Nurgal. Only to find out that she was there to pay back Adele seven thousand dollars.

            She talks deeply of the many horrible things she had to endure the whole time she was imprisoned. It is so sad to me to see all these women taken advantage of something that is so valued. It is something that should be saved for the one man you love and marry.  But people don’t care as long as they are making money and can buy whatever they want and are getting the satisfaction they want, they are happy at the expense of others. It most always starts with a lie that most everyone believes, they are made to make it seem so real and that it’s going to help them earn money or help their family. So when they have no idea what is to come, it hurts me to read all the many things she had to endure the time she was imprisoned, especially knowing she had children waiting at home for her. How can someone take a mother away from her children so they can be satisfied for their own profit?  I can’t imagine all the hurt she had to go through day after day, the regret of living and all the “what ifs.” This book by Marinka Franulovic has definitely made me more aware of things that are happening in our world today, I even know thirty miles from here. People need to be aware of these things so we can help other women escape or help women before they too become victims.

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Kazakhstan’s Oil and Human Trafficking “Issues”

The following is what a fellow British teacher, who is teaching English in Astana, wrote on recent events in Kazakhstan.  He has been working non-stop to help those victims who come out of sex slavery or who have been trafficked for their labor.  Here is what he wrote:

“As you have all contributed to the funds that are held by IOM to be used on behalf of trafficking victims I am writing to inform you that I have today approved the use of the total held (102,000 kzt) for legal representation of a victim of sex trafficking. Please see below for details of this horrible case and I am sure you would approve this use of the money raised (absolutely the profile of need we identified that is NOT covered by IOM budgets) to support a young Kazakh women who has been grossly exploited (note by her FEMALE friend!)

Many thanks for all your efforts that have contributed to us being in a position to assist. I have asked to be kept informed of progress and will of course keep you informed. Thank you again for your support.

 
A year ago an eighteen-year-old Kazakh girl was trafficked from village in South Kazakhstan region to Shymkent city for sexual exploitation by her female friend. She spent several months in a brothel until she was rescued by police officer

A criminal case was initiated against her exploiters, however, all defendants were not arrested due to lack of evidence. Moreover, during preliminary court proceedings a prosecutor, instead of represent the victim’s position, accused the victim and tried to convince a judge that there was no reason to initiate this criminal case.

The NGO (in Shymkent) applied to IOM for additional funding to hire a lawyer to represent the victim’s rights during the court proceedings. The next court session is scheduled on Feb 14. The NGO has already identified a lawyer who has good experience in trafficking cases (he represented a victim a year ago and won the case)”

 

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Human Trafficking Leads to North Dakota Oil Fields

The following news flash is something a friend sent me recently. She knows I’m involved with this sort of awareness building about human trafficking. Seems that the Super Bowl has the dark side and maybe that can be expected but in red state North Dakota?! Where there’s oil and money (as there is in western Kazakhstan) then you will have all other vices show up.  Read on:

Collaboration to Fight Explosion of Human Trafficking Along MN Roads to ND Oil Fields

 

North Dakota oil fields may be a new market for sale of humans for sex and labor. Victims are driven along I-94 and then north on roads which are normally deserted. Trafficked victims, both international and domestic, are being transported for labor and sex trafficking in the North Dakota oil fields.

In response to these crimes against victims of human trafficking, a collaboration of organizations, including law enforcement, sexual and domestic assault advocates, educators, shelters, and attorneys plan to travel to a conference in San Francisco to receive training in collaborative efforts. Attendees will then train other collaborators.

Collaboration members will work together to provide safety and victim centered services for sex and labor trafficked victims. Those victims will be empowered to testify against traffickers to interdict the flow of sex and labor trafficked victims along Minnesota corridors and the stem the tide of victims being transported north to North Dakota oil fields.

Background:

Recently, police stopped a speeding vehicle along I-94 in Minnesota. The police saw a little girl in the back seat of the car huddled as far away from the driver as possible. Police questioned the driver who did not speak the language of the girl. The police determined that the driver did not know enough about the little girl to be transporting her.

Aliandra (pseudonym) from Central America, had only a bottle of water and the ragged clothes on her back. She was shivering both from fear of the driver and the cold. She looked to be about 12 years old.

The driver of the car told the police that two men were to meet him at the next truck stop to pick up the girl and that they should know more about the kid. The police said, “Let’s go.”

When the police met the two men at the truck stop, they determined that neither one of the men spoke the girl’s language. The two men could not tell the police enough about the child to be in control of her.

The child was brought to a temporary foster home placement. The foster mother’s heart broke when the child whimpered and clung to her.

The enlightened county attorney and judges appointed a guardian ad litem and social worker who contacted Civil Society, a not for profit organization providing legal and case management services for human trafficking victims. They contacted Civil Society by calling the Minnesota Human Trafficking Crisis and Tip Line at 1-888-772-3324.

Civil Society was able to begin to work with the guardian ad litem and social worker who had never encountered a child in these circumstances before.  They were anxious that the child would be deported.

Authorities found that the child had been transported and marched to the U.S. from Central America across horribly rough terrain at night, with little or no food and water. They also suspect that the child had been abused along the road trip to Minnesota. All those dealing with the child realized that she would probably be trafficked again and be forced to make the same dangerous trek again if she were deported.

Law enforcement has noted increased transportation of this same ethnic group along I-90 and then north toward North Dakota in the last year.

There is help under the Trafficking Victim Protection Act for this child. The federal government also provides psychological counseling for victims by culturally appropriate experts, knowledgeable in the human trafficking of children.

The girl is from an ethnic group which has been designated one of the most vulnerable to trafficking by the Trafficking in Persons Report,www.state.gov/g/tip.  This is because of the group’s abject poverty, isolation (they don’t even speak Spanish) and because they have a cultural practice of going into trance-like states. Thus, when they are abused, they may dissociate rather than recognize the abuse.

Poor villagers in Central America are threatened that they be killed or will lose their small plots of land if they don’t send their daughters to work.  Many of them don’t realize or are fooled into believing that their daughters will be working in the fields in the United States like they work in the fields at home. However, children who are labored trafficked are usually also sex trafficked. When villagers receive money from the sex or labor trafficking of their daughters, they often use it to send their younger children to the U.S. to gain more money for the family.

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Create Greeting Cards for Profit in Kazakhstan

Someone from my hometown lives and works in Rwanda and his blog showed people doing something of what I envision happening in Kazakhstan. The profits made by creating beautiful Card-Again cards would help the families of those victims who are rescued. The victims are also helped because they need something to do with their hands as they sit idly in the human trafficking shelters.  The reason many of these men and women got ensnared in the first place is because they were reaching out in hope for a job prospect in another area of the country.  They were often lied to by those they trusted.  Consequently, they were not given any monetary compensation for the work they did whether in construction or in the sex industry.  Now their situation is still bad after being “freed” from slavery, many of them still have no skills and have terrible memories of their enslavement.  Tragically, these are the “lucky” ones who are living in the shelters and getting rehabilitated.

I’m glad to say that the box that I shipped with old greeting cards, envelopes and cardstock has arrived in Astana. It means the meeting of my two contacts has to happen first. Meanwhile, those who are administering at the different shelters in northern Kazakhstan will have to figure out how to put the “Card-Again” cards together. Without my being there, I’m sure some creative persons will come up with much better ideas than what I have learned over the course of a year.  We have made our share of mistakes but we have also learned what works. The profit we have made from the sales of our “Card-Again” cards have gone directly to Not For Sale, Minnesota.

I would LOVE to find out more about “Fresh Words Market” and how they have arrived at selling eight cards with coordinating envelopes.  I know the frustration of buying a greeting card in Kazakhstan and not having an envelope to go with it.  You are forced to create your own.  I guess as westerners we always assume that you get an envelope with the purchase of a card so you can promptly mail it.  In Kazakhstan, they don’t have much of a postal system and being more of an oral tradition, they just pass along their well wishes orally and not in writing.

Hopefully that will change where the cards that the victims make in the human trafficking shelters will be sold at the Radisson hotel in Astana during the Christmas Bazaar sponsored by the International Women’s Club.  In five short months, that all has to be coordinated to that end.  The International women write letters and will want to feel like they are helping the victims who are trying to make a profit from the work they did on making cards.  A win-win situation.

I took great encouragement in finding out what others are doing to build up a cottage industry in Haiti, Rwanda and elsewhere. Check these photos out about how they make their cards.

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Escaped Trafficked Men are Thankful for Donated Clothes

 

This photo shows men who were slaves in Kazakhstan and who had escaped their “forced servitude” about two years ago. When I lived in Almaty and Astana, I would see men going to their work sites looking somberly out their bus windows. They wore heavily padded jackets to keep the cold of Astana out, but the coldness of Kazakhstan’s hearts towards these men who had believed in empty and false promises rubbed them raw.

I remember one Russian looking man on the sidewalk near Baiterek had started to approach me when I had first moved to Astana in Feb of 2010. He looked all bloodied up on his face but since I don’t have a good grasp of Russian, I moved across the street to avoid talking to him. Obviously he needed help and that scenario still haunts me, he may have been an escaped trafficked manual laborer.

Difficult to tell what nationality these men in the photo are because as they were covering their faces with the donated clothes they were trying on. After what they have been through, they do NOT want to be slaves again.  Keeping their identity secret so they can go back to their home country to be with friends and family again was probably uppermost in their mind.  Of course, they had their documents taken from them once they had entered Kazakhstan and they were afraid of the authorities probably not knowing any Russian or Kazakh.  This is the nature of the beast, to find vulnerable victims who are desperate in their poverty and wanting to earn money to send back home to their impoverished families.

I remember talking to one Norwegian woman who was married to an American. He was an electrician or technical assistant to one of the Turkish firms building a complex in Almaty.  He noted that many of the men who worked alongside him were not being paid for months on end.  He brought it up with his superiors and they told him to mind his own business. A conspiracy of silence continues because there are language barriers and multiple nationalities putting up the buildings in Kazakhstan and others are financing them.

Manual labor is definitely needed in Astana, Kazakhstan particularly. That is why I focus on “human trafficking” and NOT sex trafficking.  I witnessed men being used and working in miserable conditions. However, this New York Times article  by Nicholas Kristof was alarming revealing what is going on with sex trafficking on the Internet.  I would suspect that manual labor and finding men out in the boondocks would not be put on an Internet page. I think these traffickers have to actually go out to the Kyrgyz villages and drum up their business, face to face.

I’d be interested to find an article about what men go through once they come out of their prison of despair and hard work.

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Victims of Sex Trafficking Need to Bravely Tell their Stories

I’m glad that someone from Almaty, Kazakhstan wrote to me about a correction in an earlier blog I did about shelters for victims of human trafficking.  I wrote about monies made available to their human trafficking shelter by the Kazakh government, it was simply a minimal amount.  I hope to hear more from this Kazakh person involved in an NGO helping those people coming out of sex trafficking and re-entering their own society.  I need her permission to print what she commented on and hopefully how and why she got involved in this business of freeing up victims from sex trafficking.  Everyone has a story…

Here’s the problem with Central Asia and getting the TRUE story from the victims, it is a shame based society.  The Kazakh or Kyrgyz women who were tricked or kidnapped and forced into prostitution will not tell on their tormentors for later prosecution if they are captured.  If they did, these women fear for their lives as well as the lives of their family. The traffickers know how to manipulate the situation to their advantage.  It doesn’t help that the judges can be bribed or bought off with the money traffickers make off of their victims.  The vicious circle continues.

See the following link about how one American woman gained the trust of a woman who had been sex trafficked and eventually freed.  Also, go to the end of this story and view the map of the world and see which countries are in the most trouble reporting this problem.  There are four tiers, the U.S. and Canada are Tier 1 along with Europe and Australia.  Troubling to see the countries that are in Tier 4 and I think Kazakhstan is becoming dangerously close to this.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43611445/ns/us_news-enslaved_in_america/t/potent-weapon-stem-sex-slavery-often-left-unused/ 

Easy for me to say in the comfort of my own home but “victims of sex trafficking need to bravely tell their stories.” Thus they would put an end to the traffickers million dollar business that ruins lives.  Oh, the blogger that puts out pictures of teen girls from Kyrgyzstan for men up to their 50s to date, yeah, the authorities are on to you. Sicko!

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