Saturday, October 28, 2006

U.N. official urges Ukraine to strengthen efforts to combat children trafficking

This article quotes a UN official taking Ukraine's government to task.

I remain concerned at the low rate of prosecution and sentencing of traffickers, authors of child pornography and other crimes against children," said Juan Miguel Petit, a U.N. official in charge of the world body's efforts to stop child prostitution, child pornography and other crimes against children.

Petit said that the government should strengthen its efforts to combat the problems.

And isn't that just a classic case of blaming the victim?

Ukraine remains a primary source for men, women and children trafficked to Europe, the Middle East and Russia for sexual exploitation and forced labor, according to international experts. Low salaries and high unemployment force thousands of Ukrainians to seek employment abroad, increasing their vulnerability to exploitation, they say.

Why doesn't the UN insist the EU let Ukraine join so the Ukrainian economy would be able to support its population? Then maybe its women and children wouldn't be so "vulnerable." But no. Instead he calls for an impoverished country to create:

... a separate juvenile justice system, naming a special ombudsman on children's rights and setting up a national commission to protect children rights ...

And the money to pay for that will come from where, exactly?

Why doesn't the UN suggest that "destination' countries foot the bill for developing countries to "strengthen their efforts" in combatting human trafficking? Countries like, say, Britain, Germany, Thailand, Turkey, Israel, Canada, the US, and every other country in the "developed" world where trafficked people end up being exploited. Some of those destination countries are, um, UN members.

Oh, wait. That probably wouldn't go over well. In those countries, pornography is highly profitable ... and the media is doing its best to transform sleaze into a glamour industry and lend it respectability. Can't be annoying the avid consumers creating the demand driving the odious "sex trade" now can we.

Much easier to just create good optics by asking the impossible of those who haven't sufficient resources to even object.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Forum to examine New York's response to human trafficking

The Center for Global Affairs at NYU, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and Vital Voices Global Partnership, in commemoration of the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery announce:

Human Trafficking: A Global Challenge in Our Own Backyard

What is human trafficking?

The State Department estimates that there are between 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across country borders throughout the world each year.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that there are cases of human trafficking originating in 127 countries for exploitation in 137 countries.

This special event will examine the response to human trafficking in the New York region within the global context and feature leaders who call on all of us to act on this worldwide challenge - as diplomats, government officials, educators, businesspeople, and members of our respective communities.

Thursday, November 30, 2006
6pm - 8pm
New York University

Pre-registration will be required as seating is limited. Registration information and event details will be announced in November.

Featured Panelists Include:

NICHOLAS KRISTOF- Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist, The New York Times (featured speaker and moderator)

RUCHIRA GUPTA- Vital Voices Global Leadership Council Member and Executive Director, Apne Aap Women Worldwide (India)

THE HONORABLE CAROLYN MALONEY- United States Representative, 14th District, New York City

AMBASSADOR JOHN MILLER- Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, United States Department of State

MARILYN CARLSON NELSON- CEO and Chairperson, Carlson Companies

JULIA ORMOND- Actress and UN Office on Drugs and Crime Goodwill Ambassador for the Abolition of Slavery and Human Trafficking

For more information, please e-mail Wenchi Yu Perkins.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upcoming Forum on Human Trafficking

Every year up to 900,000 people are trafficked across international borders
Most are forced into the sex "trade"
80% are women

Stop the Slavery!
A Forum on Human Trafficking

Saturday, November 4, 2006
9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

In the Library at ‘YHO’
145 Evans Avenue (at Islington)
Etobicoke, ON

This forum will further expose this terrible crime, and build national support for the Private Members Motion on this issue, to be introduced by Joy Smith, MP for Kildonan-St. Paul

Keynote speaker:
Joy Smith, MP - Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul (Manitoba)

Julie Meeks - Human Trafficking Coordinator, RCMP
Irena Soltys - HUHTC Anti-Trafficking Initiative
Orysia Sushko - National President - Ukrainian Canadian Congress

This FREE forum sponsored by:
Ukrainian Canadian Women’s Council, Toronto Branch
Ukrainian Canadian Congress (National)

For more information:
Irena Patten - 416-767-8134
Orysia Sushko - 905-572-9626

Industry fights anti-porn law

This Wired News article makes me despair that business will ever redeem itself. Being self-employed, I am of course pro-free enterprise. But I find it disgusting that so many "enterprises" want to be free of social responsibility, as does the detestable and self-serving ACLU., and other plaintiffs backed by the American Civil Liberties Union are suing over the 1998 Child Online Protection Act. They believe the law could restrict legitimate material they publish online -- exposing them to fines or even jail time.

Of course. Their commercial interests are more important than the well-being of children, especially if they can be exploited. These "good corporate citizens" wouldn't exactly come out and admit that, but if penalties were removed then they would be free to do just that, wouldn't they? And if they position themselves, rather than the children, as victims they just may have a shot at winning their case.

The Justice Department argues that it is easier to stop online pornography at the source than to keep children from viewing it.

Nice to see that someone has some sense, and isn't afraid to say so. But it would be nicer yet if their actions showed that they really meant it.

The law, signed by then-President Clinton, requires adults to use some sort of access code, or perhaps a credit-card number, to view material that may be considered 'harmful to children.' It would impose a $50,000 fine and six-month prison term on commercial Web site operators that publish such content, which is to be defined by 'contemporary community standards.'

It has yet to be enforced, however...

BC Premier's reply to message re "Bully" video

Yesterday I got this very nice reply from Premier Campbell (well, ok, the Premier's Office) in response to an email I sent about that stupid "how to be a bully" video game:

Thank you for your letter regarding the video game entitled “Bully.”

I am sharing a copy of your letter with the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the
Honourable John Les. I have asked that Minister Les, and his staff, include your views in any future discussions on the matter of the effects this type of product may have on young British Columbians.

Again, thank you for writing. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts on this very important issue for our society

So, fine. That's all very nice and everything, but I sort of feel like I've just been patted on the head.

It irks me that the matter ends with "young" British Columbians. Youngsters who become expert schoolyard bullies today will one day enter the adult sphere, and assume positions of authority. Who's to say whether or not they will have "grown out" of the mindsets and attitudes acquired during the course of gaining their expertise?

I would not be one bit surprised if the company that produced this abomination got tax breaks and other "leg-up" programs available to business.

In which case, it would seem that "business is business" is the MO locally and globally when it comes to the commercialization of vice, be it video games, human trafficking, or pornography (euphemistically referred to as "adult content" by its promoters and profiteers).

We can only hope that this issue will go under the Minister's Solicitor-General hat and not just the Public Safety hat. If the government does nothing else, it should at least ensure that our tax dollars are not being spent promoting and supporting "industries" and companies that create and market sleazy and inhumane products and services.

Monday, October 23, 2006

AIDS epidemic in Ukraine

This article illustrates the heartbreaking consequences of trafficking in drugs and humans, and the courage of a group of women determined to fight back.

Rampant drug abuse and sex trafficking have made Ukraine the site of Europe's worst AIDS epidemic ...

In 1991, just five years after the catastrophic Chornobyl nuclear explosion, Ukrainians gained independence from oppressive Soviet rule ... It didn't take long for criminal networks to flood the country with illegal drugs, readily available through the porous borders of Central Asian countries that connect the heroin fields of Afghanistan with Ukraine. ... The crime rings also [lured millions of desperate and unemployed women] into the sex trade via bogus job offers and sold [them] into slavery in Turkey, Russia, Germany and other countries.

... today Ukraine is not only battling drug and human trafficking epidemics but also an escalating HIV epidemic. ... A recent United Nations AIDS report predicted that by 2010, six per cent of Ukrainians will have HIV. (In Canada the rate is 0.3 per cent.) ... Ukrainian women account for 40 per cent of those infected, and without access to antiretroviral drugs, these women are at risk of having babies born with HIV, too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Trafficking Alert newsletter

Vital Voices has introduced a slight change to its newsletter Trafficking Alert.

The October 2006 issue includes a section entitled, “Other Women’s Rights Issues” which contain articles on issues such as violence against women, domestic violence, and HIV/Aids.

Vital Voices has just recently completed a training program on Domestic Violence Prevention and Anti-Trafficking for Russian leaders. This week-long training not only gave the delegates ... an opportunity to learn about US anti-trafficking and domestic violence prevention efforts, it also gave their American colleagues a chance to gain knowledge of the current status of women in Russia and their leaders’ innovative work. This training was also in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Vital Voices recently returned from China and the Russian Far East to identify emerging women leaders who strive to make a difference for women and girls in their countries. ... They strive to elevate the visibility of these women’s issues, and most importantly, to change society’s behavior and attitudes towards women and girls in China.

In the Russian Far East, two Vital Voices’ alumnae, inspired after receiving their training in 2005, worked with their state government to organize an Asia Pacific regional forum on human trafficking to bring awareness and build political will in addressing this global scourge.

Around the world, anti-trafficking initiatives are on the rise.

A Printable Version of the Trafficking Alert is available here.

To subscribe to the Trafficking Alert, please go here.

Depths of depravity

According to this CBC report, a Vancouver company has produced a "How to be a bully" video game ... which the US parent company is marketing as 'brutally funny."

Ah yes, vice and violence. Those are the great Canadian values such corporate citizens promote. And of course, it's all in good fun, so why not make a buck at it.

After all, they and their customers truly, sincerely and vehemently believe that, as this article puts it, what is dumped into a kid's head hour after hour, day after day, year after year, could not possibly have behavioral consequences. No siree, the defenders of such depravity will tell you that game players are all very sophisticated and every single one of them knows it's "just a game."

So, there you have it. Harmless fun and a nice wholesome activity for the whole family.

OK then, what's next? A "How to be an international rapist and human trafficker" video game, maybe?

Oh right. We don't need a game for that. It's already a big money-maker.

(Cross posted at the Nash Holos blog.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

yahoo removes ads, but does it do right with other sites?

Well, it looks like yahoo has taken all "sponsors" off my broadcaster's site. The E-Poshta list, which has 9000 subscribers, has had a similar experience.

So it's a good thing those disgusting ads are gone from our respective sites. But I can't help but wonder if the nice fellow who cleaned them up and promised to clean yahoo up was over-ruled by higher management who may not want to lose the revenue for those ads.... which in all probability is quite significant.

I suspect that yahoo is just blocking all ads to our sites altogether, figuring the old "out of sight, out of mind" adage applies.

Unfortunately, to a large extent it does. Because to make a bigger issue of it, I'd have to visit some rather unsavoury sites to check up on them, which I absolutely don't want to do. (I don't want a trail of such sites on my computer.)

So all I can do is content myself that there's a chance I've made a point to some of the folks at yahoo. If they are continuing to place those ads, they now know that at the very least, there is a possibility those women in the ads aren't there because they want to be.

And I can only hope that between us, we may have caused a few (otherwise decent) men to give second thought to engaging in "anonymous" sex and thus slowed down, however imperceptibly, the growing demand for porn and prostitutes.

In the end, though, I realize that what I've done and could possibly do to thwart human flesh peddlers and their patrons is so heartbreakingly little.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dumb and dumber

Reading this FOXNews story didn't exactly make me feel proud to be Canadian.

[An] Ottawa couple is selling individual self-help book jackets sporting comical titles — and they're hoping readers with an active funny bone will help themselves...

Among their eccentric offerings are ... 'How to Make Your Mother a Porn Star' ... [and] "How to Murder a Complete Stranger … and Get Away With It".

Isn't that ever hilarious.

Maybe someone should send this tasteless, tactless and clueless couple and their retailer a copy of The Natashas . I'd be interested to see what kind of book jacket they would suggest for it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

yahoo promises to do right

Well, my encounter with yahoo groups is proof of what "squeaky wheels" can accomplish.

The offending ads are gone from my site and other groups I belong to. In fact, yahoo promised the moderator of another Ukrainian list similarly saddled with those ads that not only are they removing the ads from our respective sites, but from all of yahoo groups entirely.

The moral of this story is that everyone can do something to stop this scourge, however little. As they say, every little bit helps.

Someone said that evil happens when good men (and women) do nothing. So while we can't stop the traffickers, or even block a lot of internet traffic, we can stop them from trying to legitimize their so-called "trade" by insinuating themselves amongst decent folk and masquerading as innocuous "dating and escort services."

We can do it simply by deciding not to turn a blind eye to such attempts, and doing whatever we can to re-stigmatize sleaze. By and large, horny young (and old) guys prowling for porn and prostitutes don't think much about the the women they're screwing, or viewing ... much less whether or not they are trafficked. But regardless of whether or not they care, they need to be made aware that someone does.

This little victory is, of course, just a drop in the bucket. But if, as the Ukrainian saying goes, a drop of kerosene can spoil a barrel of honey, I imagine the reverse can be true as well.

So maybe a congratulatory note of thanks to yahoo would be in order.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

blog of interest

Check out this blog: StopSexPredators

It has an interesting point to make about hypocrisy in the media frenzy surrounding the Senator Foley scandal in the US ... namely that if the media had cared a whit and been doing its job, this would all have been exposed ages ago.

yahoo apologized

Well, it seems I was a tad impatient with yahoo... they seem to be making good on my complaints:


Apologies for the inappropriate ads on your group.

Our ad systems are entirely automated and sometimes these systems make mistakes: both in terms of what sponsors are allowed to buy ads and what groups these ads are paired with. We rely on users like you to let us know when these types of mistakes are made.

In any case we are now taking action to remove these ads from your group (we are just getting to this email now, so if one of the ads stopped appearing earlier it was just a coincidence). It usually takes 12-24 hours for these changes to fully propagate through our systems, so you may continue to see these ads for that long. If they continue after that, please let me know.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

- [name deleted]
Yahoo Groups Team

I have to give the guy credit for this very polite reply to my rather [er] strident complaint. I'm not sure if he got the entire message, tho, so I sent him this:

Thanks, [name deleted]. I appreciate your attention to this matter.

If you're at all interested in why I was so incensed about these innocuous-looking ads, check out this book: The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade by Victor Malarek. It's available at Amazon and you could also get it at the local library (perhaps on interlibrary loan).

These "companies" are not as innocent as they look. They live off the avails of prostitution, and they trade in human misery.

Thanks again for cleaning these disgusting ads off my site.

Best regards.

So, that's done then. I fully expect those ads never to appear on my list-serv again.

I do sincerely hope yahoo also considers it a mistake to allow such "sponsors" to buy ads on their service. I'm not, however, as confident about that.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Yahoo is very well named

Well, yahoo took the offending sponsor off my list-serv, but I had to complain again. Here's what I said:

I sent you a message this morning asking you to remove this sponsor [URL deleted] ... which you did and for which I thank you.

However, you have since replaced it with two more just like it.

Are you people daft?

I STILL do not want my site to be associated in any way with a "company" that even remotely appears to solicit customers for the purposes of prostitution! Especially with women who are likely victims of human trafficking.

Can you understand that? No "mail order brides" or "inter-dating" or "sexy singles" or any such service, PLEASE!

These are the offending sites:
[URLs deleted]

Please remove them immediately. You have put one there which is radio related. That is perfectly fine. I actually welcome respectable sponsors.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take better note of the type of companies you promote.

No more sleaze, please!

I use yahoo groups because it is convenient and easy. However, my webhosting company offers the same service, and if this sleazy sponsorship continues I will switch, and take as many yahoo groups subscribers as I can with me.

We'll see what transpires tomorrow.

second query to Yahoo

I tried another angle, and found a place that deals specifically with sponsors, links, etc. So I just sent yahoo this message:

I do not want my site to be associated in any way with a "company" that even remotely appears to solicit customers for the purposes of prostitution.

These women may well be victims of human trafficking, as a large percentage of prostitutes are, especially in that part of the world.

At any rate, this kind of sleaze is not what I expect from yahoo. Please remove this advertisement immediately.

Police break up Ukraine-Cyprus sex trafficking ring

Once, the Zaporizhian Sich was a headquarters for brave men who defended Orthodox Christianity, tried to free Ukrainian men, women and children from serfdom, and protected them against intruders (mostly from the Ottoman Empire) raiding Ukraine for slaves .

Today, this is what it's come to:

Authorities arrested the director of a local firm that enticed women to travel to and work as dancers in the Middle East. ...

One of the victims [said] that her passport and return ticket were confiscated ... while she was in Cyprus. The woman phoned back to Zaporizhya and filed a complaint against the female director of the firm. If convicted, the director faces up to twelve years behind bars. The firm has reportedly been in operation for the past two years.

At least, the culprit is facing the consequences. (Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, the Cossacks didn't allow women in the Sich.) Maybe, given that so many traffickers get off scott free, there is a tiny remnant of the old Cossack moral strength left in Zaporizhya.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

low wages primary cause of human trafficking in Ukraine: NGO

Ukraine's Channel 5 reports that according to an NGO study ...

Low wages are one of the primary causes of trafficking of Ukrainians abroad.

... in the early 1990s, lack of jobs was the primary reason Ukrainians were so willing to leave the country. Today, the jobs are in place but wages are too low...

Thus far this year, authorities claim to have thwarted nearly 300 attempts at trafficking of Ukrainians abroad, primarily women.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Yahoo a commercial pimp?

I moderate a list-serv on yahoo and just today noticed that one of the "sponsors" they put on this group's "free" web site looks for all the world like a human trafficking outfit.

Here's the ad:

Ukrainian Women - InterDating - InterDating - VIP Club. Luxury introduction tours to Kiev, Ukraine. Quality services for upscale men to meet Ukrainian women of exceptional beauty and intelligence.

Here's what I sent to Yahoo:

I strenuously object to this "sponsor" on my group's website.

I do not wish my list to be associated in any way with a company that solicits johns to sexually (ab)use women who are more than likely trafficked.

How you could possibly condone this??? Please remove them from my list-serv, and please assure me that yahoo is not a commercial pimp.

We'll see what kind of response I get.

UPDATE: Two days later, still no response from yahoo. Usually there's something. I'll send it again.

Economist article on human trafficking in Odessa

The Economist recently published another chilling look at the realities of the human slave trade from the perspective of the trafficked:

A hub of the modern slave trade

THE ex-slaves are easy to spot among the passengers disembarking from the Istanbul ferry at Odessa. As other women wobble merrily away up the Potemkin steps, the victims of human trafficking look hungry, carry little luggage and, in winter, shiver in their summer clothes.

Odessa grew rich in the 19th century by exporting Russian grain. These days one of its main trades is in flesh. The city is a collecting hub for women from across the former Soviet Union who, unbeknown to them, have been snared by traffickers. From Odessa and elsewhere in Ukraine they are conveyed west to Europe and east to Russia, or south to Turkey and the Middle East. Twice a week ferries from Istanbul bring back those, often ill and pregnant, who have been deported by the Turks.

Entire article here.