Friday, November 16, 2007

Help Vancouver's mayor understand the danger of legal brothels

The Temple Committee Against Human Trafficking at Montreal's Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom (which includes the senior rabbi) is calling on all concerned individuals to send (literally) this message to the mayor of Vancouver:

We are concerned about a proposal that seeks approval to open legal brothels in Vancouver in time for the Olympic Games of 2010.

We are concerned that Mayor Sam Sullivan believes that this would reduce violence against women enslaved in these brothels.

Prostitution is an inherently violent activity against women. Legal brothels will open the door to more human trafficking, as witnessed in places such as Germany, The Netherlands, Australia and Las Vegas.

More human trafficking means more exploitation, enslavement and abuse of women.

Prostitution is not sex between two consenting adults. Research shows that most of these women are duped or coerced into this most heinous human rights abuse.

If you agree with the above, please copy it, sign and email to Mayor Sam Sullivan of Vancouver on December 5, 2007.

Please follow your email with a hard copy to the Mayor’s office:
Mayor Sam Sullivan,
Vancouver City Hall
53 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 1V4

They will be sending the Mayor a package of information on human trafficking on December 5th. It would be good if he also received a flood of messages and letters "helping" him to see the error of his ways, since he seems to have some problem doing so on his own.

A standard letter mailed within Canada is $0.52. A first-class letter mailed from the United States (less than 1 ounce) is $0.69.

A few minutes and less than $1 in postage seems hardly much to ask of those fortunate enough not be sharing the fate of the enslaved.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Speaking of being silenced...

I just heard from a reliable inside source that citizens of the United Arab Emirates have been blocked access to a website that exposes the rampant institutionalized sex abuse in that country.

If you go the site, which is called Sexual Terrorism, you will notice, I guess, why the authorities wouldn't be crazy about that kind of buzz being created in their affluent little corner of the world.

So, please go there and comment. Help make it the most talked about site in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Anonymous commenting

I just got a comment on an old post from back in December of last year. The anonymous commenter apparently considered my opinion uninformed .. but rather than providing more information he/she chose to try and intimidate me into silence.

I find that kind of anonymous commenting troubling ... for all I know it could be someone I know. I have no idea who it is, although the commenter certainly knows who I am. That is playing dirty, I think.

I've always allowed anonymous comments on this blog. The idea is to allow people who are shy or even afraid of retribution to still be part of the public discourse and have their opinions and voices heard.

However, this rather unfriendly and vaguely threatening anonymous comment did set me back a bit and made me wonder if perhaps I should change my policy.

But I won't. That may well have been the intention. And I will not allow myself or anyone else to be silenced by someone who doesn't have the courage or decency to identify him/herself when challenging an assumption in public.

A point I made in my response to Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Ordinary" professionals identifed as kiddie porn purchasers

No doubt this is just a drop in the cesspool that consumers of porn swim in. But, it's good that at least some action is being taken.

It would be ideal if the names of these otherwise "respectable" consumers were made public. Surely the self-absorbed, irresponsible consumers of kiddie porn should be made to endure the unpleasant consequences of their reprehensible behaviour. Seems only fair, given what the (sex) objects of their "affection" have had to endure.

Read this and weep:

Scot arrested in child porn probe

... More than 90 people in eight countries have so far been arrested in connection with a website selling tailor-made videos of abuse. ... a 59-year-old man has been charged. ... the Italian-based website had 2,500 customers in 19 countries. ...

The images were mainly made in the [sic] Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands and most of the victims were Ukrainian. ... The investigation began in July 2006, when police in Australia found a video on the internet showing an adult abusing two young girls.

The girls were identified by police in Belgium and the offender, their father, was arrested.

He in turn led investigators to the producer of the video, an Italian man who operated in Belgium and the Netherlands but also owned a studio in Ukraine.

... the customers came from many different countries and all walks of life.

"They are from all layers of society. We have identified schoolteachers, swimming instructors, lawyers, IT specialists"...

... the videos had been "tailor made", with customers ordering specific acts to be performed by specific children. In some cases the children had been made to hold a piece of paper with the customer's name on, like a "personal trophy"....

A total of 23 children aged between nine and 16 who were shown being abused have been identified. Of those, 21 are from Ukraine and two from Belgium. ...

Full article here. If you have the stomach for it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vancouver trafficking forum update

Last weekend's Human Trafficking Forum in Vancouver was very well-attended even though the local media basically ignored it. I was in fact the only media person there, and I went as a paying participant rather than working media.... altho of course I will still be writing it up.

Victor Malarek gave another mesmerizing keynote address on Friday night about the realities of human trafficking and the grim lives of the victims. I've heard speak him before and interviewed him twice on my program and he never fails to impress an audience with his passion and knowledge. He got (not surprisingly) a standing ovation.

Saturday consisted of a series of lectures and discussions with locals. It was a very intense day, coming on the heels of a very busy work week for me. And unfortunately I slept in and missed the first session, which was about a new global initiative on trafficking. My profound apologies to my non-Canadian readers for that. I will try and find out from someone who was there what it was about, and post it here.

There was a fair bit of focus on the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics, amid concern that Whistler and Vancouver are in danger of becoming the world's hottest whorehouse for 17 days.

While this is of course a valid concern, quite frankly, to me it seems to smack of NIMBYism a bit. It's all very well and good to let the traffickers and pimps know that we are not open for business here, but really, what message does that send... really? Pretty much just "Go elsewhere." (And what message does that send to their victims?)

Of course I am in favour of letting scumbag traffickers and pimps know that their business is not welcome here in 2010. But it shouldn't end there. Hopefully, it won't.

To be fair, I did come out of the forum assured that some positive strides are being made ... on the home front at least. Liberal Senators Mobina Jaffer and Gerard Phelan spoke about their work to push through Bill S-222, a private member's bill toughening up the wishy-washy current bill to amend the criminal code in regard to human trafficking. BC's provincial government has, I found out there, opened something called the Office for Combatting the Trafficking of Persons about 3 months ago ... but good luck finding their website or even a mention of it on the government's website.

Apart from government lip service, it does seem that public awareness is growing, and there is a bit more media attention given to the matter. The forum was organized by a local Catholic group and there were a number of Roman Catholic nuns there. They are actually working very hard (and, it seems, effectively) to raise awareness. They are also working to provide services and support to victims of trafficking... and as such walking the walk as so many just talk the talk.

I'll be posting more this week as I sift through the reams of notes I took as well as the backlog of articles I haven't had a chance to comment on yet.

More reasons why legalizing prostitution would be a disaster

I would ask all those who are under the illusion that the ludicrous notion of legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution has anything to do with protecting women to watch this video.

Then, after hearing survivors who managed to exit the wonderful "sex trade" tell their harrowing and heart-breaking stories, come back and tell me again why it is such a good idea.

Oh, yes and tell me what you thought about the part where the unemployed air hostess in the Netherlands was told to go to work in a brothel in order to re-enter the work force, and whether you would be happy if EI presented such an option to you ... or your daughter.

Think about it. Is this what we want in our country, too? For our daughters and grandaughters, nieces, cousins, sisters, aunts and mothers to be forced BY THE STATE into a degrading and potentially life-threatening situation?

And don't tell me it wouldn't happen here. Why wouldn't it ... when the precedent has already been set in the model country for legalized prostitution?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Victor Malarek to speak in Vancouver tonight

Tonight the forum on human trafficking here in Vancouver starts, and I'll be heading over to the Polish community centre to hear keynote speaker Victor Malarek and connect with like-minded locals.

Tomorrow will be a full day with speakers on a new global initiative on human trafficking for NGOs, a national (Canadian) perspective on human trafficking, combatting human trafficking in BC, and implications for 2010.

Will keep you posted...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ottawa sex trade [sic] customers, you've got mail

Big whoopee deal.

Ottawa police are literally sending home the message that customers of the city's street-level sex trade [sic] aren't welcome in its neighbourhoods.

[As of this week] a special "community safety letter" will be mailed to the residence of any driver who is stopped by police while talking to prostitutes in certain Ottawa neighbourhoods ...

"The letter is geared to inform the driver of the vehicle, the potential john, that their activity is not wanted in the concerned neighbourhood," said police Supt. Gilles Larochelle. "It's a letter that educates the individual."

The letter warns the driver that there is a "clear correlation" between street prostitution and drug use and that there are health concerns such as HIV and hepatitis. It also says community members are concerned about children finding used needles and condoms in playgrounds and about increased traffic.

Well, golly gee, I guess someone figures that if folks knew better they would do better. So, what ... the Ottawa police figues that these johns just don't know about this "correlation" and that if they did, they would stop using prostitutes? Sure, they're just respectable, hard-working guys looking for a bit of release, eh? No big deal. The fact that the women who provide that release have to numb themselves with drugs to keep on doing it is not their concern, of course. There are more important things to worry about, like covering legal asses (so to speak):

Patrol officers have been told that if they witness a car that appears to be in a neighbourhood to solicit prostitutes, they should talk to and identify the driver. They should also make sure he was speaking with a prostitute, said Larochelle, who confirmed that speaking with a prostitute is not illegal. The letter would then be sent to the driver's home.

That concerns Jack Mackinnon, president of the Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region. He said the program is well-intentioned, but infringes on people's rights.

Yeah ... but whose rights, exactly? It looks like the only ones who would "suffer" would be those banging drug-addicted women willing to sell their bodies to feed their habit. Clearly, such infringement doesn't concern the residents:

... the program has wide support from residents of inner city neighbourhoods plagued by drugs and prostitution. In fact, police said it was residents who suggested the program in the first place. ...

The program has also won praise from Gordon Keith, president of the Cartier-Vanier Business Improvement Association, who said he wants a clean and safe neighbourhood free of prostitutes that will attract new businesses.

"If there's no johns there, the prostitutes won't be there either," he said. "So let's attack the root of the problem."

Something tells me no one is truly, genuinely interested in attacking "the root of the problem." If they were, they would be doing a whole lot more than sending namby-pamby, euphemistic letters to prowling johns.

This is just more of the "out of sight, out of mind" general mindset of Canada's wealthiest city and seat of the country's power.

Full article here.

Sex "trade" relies on slave labour

The comments in this BBC article indicate what an uphill battle this is ... the cold indifference of some people is mind-boggling. Speaking of cold, it is cash that motivates the exploiters and entraps the victims.

In the industrialised parts of the US and Europe, a forced sex worker earns an average $67,200 per year on behalf of her (or his) master, according to an ILO estimate.

Yet by Bulgarian standards - one of the poorest countries in Europe where the average annual wage is about $2,600. A forced prostitute in the transition countries brings in profits of $23,500, making sex slavery 10 times more lucrative than other forced labour in these countries...

As for the suppliers of the cash that drives this "market"... they are beyond disgusting.

A 2003 survey of 185 clients [sic] ... found that more than three quarters of the respondents "expressed a preference for prostitutes aged 25 or under, 22% preferred those aged 18 or below".

Many of the prostitute clients openly admitted to a preference for young and unfree persons because they are more docile, the report added. ...

Full article here.

Human Trafficking Forum 2007 in Vancouver

The 2007 Forum On Human Trafficking takes place on November 2-3, 2007 in Vancouver in order to help bring forth community, and interfaith partnerships to help provide more awareness of this issue, and to further discover how we can work together in unity to suppress the trafficking of human beings politically and socially.

“The only way for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing”-Edmund Burke

Each year, the UN estimates that up to 4 million people are trafficked, making it the third largest illegal market after drugs and arms. Trafficking persons has been described as a modern form of slavery. In Canada, the RMCP believes that over 800 of these victims end up on Canadian streets annually, with Asian victims trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, while Eastern European and Latin American victims are more often trafficked to Toronto and Eastern Canada.

Keynote speaker is Victor Malarek, and award-winning journalist who currently works at CTV. In addition to his news reporting, Malarek has written five non-fiction books. His most recent work, The Natashas - The New Global Sex Trade (2003) is about the worldwide sex industry.

Registration details and form here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Video of Roundtable on trafficking now available

A video recording of "Roundtable: HumanTrafficking from Eastern Europe: North American and EU Responses" is now available ...

The roundtable consisted of two separate panels, the first of which focused on human trafficking in the European context. ...[T]he problem of human trafficking from and within Eastern Europe has transcended the transition-from-communism paradigm and has become institutionalized in the region. ...

The second panel focused on Canadian responses to human trafficking. ... [T]he Canadian government offers temporary visas to people who have been trafficked into the country, but it is very difficult for victims to prove that they have been trafficked. Furthermore, the Palermo Protocol against trafficking in persons, to which Canada is a signatory, is an inadequate mechanism for dealing with the issue. According to the Protocol, the main victim of trafficking is the state to which people are trafficked; the people being trafficked are viewed as the "contraband" brought into the country. Thus, the current international approach is one that focuses on international crime as opposed to the violation of the human rights of the victims.

Clearly, human trafficking is a pressing global human rights and crime problem: it is the third most lucrative international crime business after drugs and arms smuggling. Yet, it does not get the attention from governments that would lead to a solution, or at least mitigation, of the crisis. ...

The roundtable took place on Thursday, January 25, 2007. Video is available here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Canadian anti-trafficking author/activist/jourmalist receives award

Victor Malarek, Senior Reporter at CTV's W-FIVE, was named recipient of the John Syrnick Award for Journalism, sponsored by the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko. The award is named in honour of John Syrnick, who served as editor of Ukrainian Voice from 1947 to 1970.

Malarek is also the renowned author of five books of non-fiction. His most recent book, The Natashas - The New Global Sex Trade (Viking), was published to critical acclaim in 2003. In 2006, he was instrumental in CTV's production of a documentary W-FIVE: Forgotten Children which highlighted the plight of orphans in Ukraine.

With a keen eye for hard-hitting investigative journalism, Malarek has worked for The Globe and Mail, CBC television's Fifth Estate and currently for CTV. He has received a Michener Award for investigative reporting a record four times, most recently in 2001 for his exhaustive study of the Toronto police union. He received a Gemini Award in 1997 as Canada's Top Broadcast Journalist.

In 2003 UCPBA(O) invited Victor Malarek to do the Ottawa launch of his seminal book on the topic, The Natashas .... Working with community groups and government agencies, they helped organize the Forum on Human Trafficking in 2004. This year, working with the Embassy of Ukraine and community groups, they brought speakers from the Anti-trafficking Initiative of the Children of Chornobyl Fund to speak in Ottawa. It is gratifying to see the person who inspired such action recognized by the wider Ukrainian Canadian community.

Malarek was chosen from a short list of Canadian journalists who provide illuminating coverage of issues important to a readership of over one million Ukrainian Canadians. The Award was presented by Andrew Hladyshevsky, President of the Shevchenko Foundation in Toronto on May 14, 2007, at the Faculty Club, University of Toronto. Invited guests included Ontario dignitaries, leaders of the Ukrainian-Canadian community and the media.

More on Malarek's book The Natashas here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Let's dance on this industry's grave ...

So music videos are a dying art form...

With the music industry in crisis from falling sales and file sharing, labels have less cash to subsidize elaborate videos that will mostly be seen in miniature on computers. The result has been a major shift in the art form, as artists increasingly embrace the YouTube esthetic with cheap, stripped-down, low-production videos.

Too bad, so sad. It's an industry that deserves to die. It has created such an incredibly jaded attitude of indifference towards women's dignity that pimps have become fashionable and what they do apparently not only acceptable but worth emulating.

Even Kanye West - one of the most video-conscious artists in music - experimented with a small, quirky clip ... [starring] white comedian Zach Galifianakis.

Pimping an orange tractor on a country farm, he lip-syncs: "Homey, this is my day."

What the hell does that mean? Pimping a tractor??? Is that cool-speak for selling a tractor? Or earning money by working on one? Or just a laughable attempt by pompous urbanites who consider themselves cool to glamourize farm work?

Of course, the imagery is so ridiculous that you might wonder if the unnamed writer(s) of this article and/or the editors at AP are so desperate to be considered cool they are trying to to re-create the English language in the entertainment industry's image. In which case, how pathetic is that?

By using such deplorable, lazy writing, they are being irresponsible and are just perpetuating that blasé attitude of disrespect towards women. Not to mention our society's growing idolization of those who trash even the idea (let alone display) of respecting the dignity of women. (And less importantly, but still deplorably, respect for the English language and good writing.)

However, no doubt that arrogant attitude is considered ultra cool in the media/entertainment industry, and I'm just not. Anyway, who wants to be responsible? That's no fun. And, I'm told, it doesn't sell papers.

Whatever. At least every now and again there is justice in life, thanks to the force of the marketplace (and no thanks to those who try to manipulate it).

... a longtime producer of videos for acts ranging from Britney Spears to Will Smith, doesn't expect to ever see another $2 million video: "The record industry as a whole has shrunk. There's not as much money to throw around."

[He] sees the effect particularly in hip-hop, where sales declines have been the steepest ...

You can read the full article here. I, for one, am not weeping over this news. With any luck, publications and newswire services that sacrifice quality to be "cool" will soon follow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

War on sex trafficking declared in cyberspace

It's encouraging to read that more and more people are starting to use the internet to fight back against the scumbags that use it for sexual exploitation.

The Sexual Terrorism blog reports that in Bahrain, a human rights group has launched a cyber-campaign with a dual purpose: to inform victims victims and expose victimizers.

The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights is already investigating the perpetrators behind websites that are offering sex to customers here and in other Gulf countries, and now with the same technology it hopes to help solve the problem.

It believes raising awareness about sex trafficking and offering victims a way out are the keys to making a difference.

The society plans to approach companies, bloggers, recruiters, organisations and others to post on their website a banner in various languages that will contain information about sex trafficking and useful contacts for victims.

Similar information will be sent through an e-mail campaign.

Full story here.

Exposing these creeps and their tactics can work if it's done on a large scale. You can't count on bureaucrats in established institutions doing it, however, because there is so much corruption and collusion within them in every country.

Thank God for the internet.

Priorities just a little screwed up?

No one loves animals more than I do (I feed feral cats and pet them if they'll let me) and I think that anyone who mistreats them should be drawn and quartered.

But aren't people every bit as important? Where is the public outrage over the countless "natashas" who suffer far more than even these poor animals?

Embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick could face prison time for pleading guilty to a dogfighting charge. ...

Vick, 27, was accused of helping to run an interstate dogfighting outfit ... Court documents said that when the kennel's dogs won, the gambling proceeds were generally shared by Vick's three co-defendants ... documents also revealed that Vick and two of his co-defendants killed a number of dogs that did not perform well in practice sessions. The dogs were executed by drowning or hanging.

... the conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Full story here.

Meanwhile, here in Vancouver, the Province reports that the first person charged in Canada with human trafficking was convicted in Vancouver on June 21.

But not on the 22 counts of human smuggling he was brought to trial to face.

Michael (Wai Chi) Ng, who lured women to Canada as waitresses only to put them to work as prostitutes in his East Vancouver massage parlour, was found guilty in provincial court of one count of keeping a common bawdy house, two counts of helping create false documents for women to travel under and two counts of procuring a person to have illicit sexual intercourse with another. Had Ng been convicted on the human trafficking charges, he faced a possible life sentence and a $1-million fine.

He'll be sentenced on the lesser charges Oct. 5. Right, and no doubt he'll be home for Christmas.

Yes, because the law is an ass. It is disgusting that animal abusers are punished far more severely than human traffickers, pimps, producers of kiddie porn and other scum that abuse people.

But might that be due to complicity on the part of some of those who are supposed to be protecting the public? And perhaps to members of the public who create the demand for prostitutes and porn that human traffickers and other scum are only too happy to meet?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When good men do nothing ...

I was aghast to see this post by a blogging guru, one I had deep respect for.

Old Media Versus New Media Spills Into Adult Biz

From the recent industry conference:

Power is shifting away from the old guard — video producers — and toward the online sector ... but the old guard will not cede the field. ...

"The problem in this industry is that anyone can make porn ... " [says an "old guard" video producer]

Hmmm. Anyone can make content - doesn’t that sound familiar?

This "biz" is one that justifies calling lucre "filthy" and this post justifies those who vilify capitalism and commerce.

Yes, the guru is making a point about how the internet is changing business models across the board.

However, being so nonchalent about the commercial exploitation of women, and even worse, giving the exploiters free publicity (and thereby legitimacy), is actually being complicit in it.

It's a variation on the theme of "evil happens when good men do nothing." Men can do so much more than women can to stop the exploitation, and prevent the mistreatment that results from it. Unfortunately, few men do. And so, many women, and increasingly children, suffer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why prostitution is evil

Here is an interesting article that explains, far better than I ever could, why prostitution should be banished from this planet.

... Most of the responses to prostitution of world, city and state governments, of media, of ‘right thinking’ citizens, of UN agencies, of the Financial Pages of newspapers for whom it is a nice little earner, are based upon the idea that prostitution is inevitable. ... The burgeoning sex industry has greatly affected the world that we all inhabit and makes it very hard to imagine a world beyond prostitution. Despite the recognised harms of prostitution, the massive multibillion dollar industry of trafficking women and girls into prostitution and pornography, the psychological and physical harms to the women in the industry, the degradation of neighbourhoods by men’s prostitution behaviour and the ill effects of training new generations of men that it is OK to pornographise and prostitute women, there is still an overwhelming sense that prostitution is ‘natural’ and nothing can be done about it. ...

In a world beyond prostitution there would not be the great gulf between women that has traditionally been created by men’s prostitution behaviour. Men have separated women into madonnas and whores, good and bad women, for their own purposes. ... ‘Respectable’ working women have been separated from their prostituted sisters. The gap between the young female executive and her prostituted sister is apparently huge, but it can collapse if she acquires gambling debts. ... Women outside prostitution are encouraged to think that prostituted women are somehow different, women who actually like to take the smelly penises of many different men into their bodies every day. But they are not different, only made so for men’s purposes. ...

This article is written by a very thoughtful woman in Australia for CATWA ... the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Australia. Read it here. Highly recommended.

There's also one about the dismal failure of legalization of prostitution in Australia. It bears out my claims that legalization just makes things worse for women. Read it here. Also highly recommended.

Alarming growth of human trafficking in Middle East

Here is another eye-opener for those who tend to romanticize prostitution:

... sex trafficking is a huge issue in the Middle East, especially the Gulf. My concern is not women who choose to do this for their own personal reasons. My concern is women and young girls who are forced to do this on a daily basis with no form of support or help whatsoever.

This kind of corruption is almost always dismissed as “something that exists in every society,” so fighting it is apparently “useless.” This is not an excuse. This is a poor reaction to a major crisis that shouldn’t exist today. The fact remains that it does exist, and it’s happening right here in front of our eyes while we dismiss it, justify it, and ignore it in silence or ignorance.

The link for this blog came to me in a heart-breaking email plea from a reader of this blog who took the time to track me down and email me personally.

She is desperate for help, as the misery is increasing for the trafficking victims she is trying to help. And I feel so sick that all I can do is put up a link to this blog and hope that maybe it will melt the cold heart of someone who dismisses the whole affair as just part of "the oldest profession."

As Victor Malarek said at his book launch here in Vancouver, the fact that "men are pigs" is just as old.

Obviously, not all men are pigs. But someone else said that true evil happens when good men do nothing. And unfortunately, too many good men (and women) do just that.

I wish I could do more. Maybe I can, and just don't see the forest for the trees. I'm always open to suggestions (and help). I hope at least that putting up this link helps, somehow. Maybe just being aware and making other people aware helps. One can only hope.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Catholic nuns warns of trafficking danger at 2010 Olympics

This story in The B.C. Catholic illustrates how difficult it is to speak frankly about human trafficking, much less to actually do something about it.

As athletes around the world train with all their hearts for the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, a darker element will likely tag along to the Winter Games, warns Sister Joan Dawber.

[Criminals] are preparing to operate the euphemistically-termed "comfort houses" which involve trafficking in humans, most often women and children, while the games play on.

At a day of reflection, entitled “With Open Eyes, With Open Ears, With Open Hearts,” Sister Dawber and Sister Marie Elena Dio examined the root causes of world poverty and trafficking in humans ... The reason a subculture which traffics in humans can exist in our midst, reflected Sister Dawber, is simple: profits from such activities are as large as the plight of its victims ...

Certainly that's true, as trafficking in humans is the third most lucrative illicit trade globally, after drugs and arms. But with all due respect, Sister Dawber glosses over the ugly reality that human trafficking is a black market dealing primarily in sexual exploitation.

Some trafficking victims are industrial slaves, but most are enslaved in the horrifying, soul-destroying "sex trade" that caters to the voracious appetites of men in affluent countries for no-strings sex.

Buying fair trade products and lobbying govt and corporations, as she suggests, might make us feel like we're doing something about human trafficking. However, I doubt it will do much to stop the ruthless mafioso that trafficks in human beings.

With all due respect, I think it's time for everyone, the Sisters included, to face the harsh reality of what exactly drives the market that this mafioso caters to.

I hate to sound like a stuck record, but Victor Malarek's book, The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade, lays it all out pretty clearly.

The Sisters (and the writer) might also want to talk to anti-pedophilia crusader Doug Stead of Port Coquitlam. They might be surprised to learn that many of the patrons (and profiteers) of this lucrative market are otherwise fine, upstanding citizens working in law enforcement, the judiciary, education, business and just about every public institution in existence.

It's all very well and good to create good optics by drinking fair trade coffee and the like. But I think it would be far more effective to take personal responsibility for our own part in the problem. If nothing else, we could educate ourselves and face the ugly reality. Maybe a good next step would be to start demanding accountability on the part of the patrons and profiteers of this disgusting and dehumanizing "trade" instead of calling on the government to do it for us.

I do appreciate, however, that drinking coffee is much easier ... and safer.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Canadian government decides against decriminalizing prostitution

According to a recent National Post article, the Canadian government will not decriminalize prostitution but will continue "to address prostitution by focusing on reducing its prevalence."

...the government considers prostitution to be "degrading and dehumanizing" and that it is "often committed and controlled by coercive individuals against those who are frequently powerless to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation." ...

It's too bad those in favour of decriminalizing prostitution don't seem to get that this is the reality for the overwhelming majority of women who end up as prostitutes. Only a small minority of women and girls consider prostitution a viable career choice, so you have to wonder who and what is behind this decriminalizing movement.

Unfortunately, the government "stopped short of accepting a committee recommendation to develop educational programs about the costs and risks of getting into prostitution."

Educational programs really are the only hope in neutralizing the damaging effects on impressionable minds of such irresponsible yet influential films as the celluloid Cinderella fantasy popularized by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere... not to mention the wholescale glamourization of the so-called "sex trade" by media and business.

H/T to Ruth at Rootleweb.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hope for trafficking victims?

In case anyone has noticed, I haven't been posting much lately here.

There's been less stuff coming through on the private Natashas email list. But mostly, it's because this topic can be so depressing ... the overwhelming enormity of it makes it seem futile.

And, I've discovered The Secret, and have been focussing on the positive or, rather, getting positive results in my own life. Adjusting one's life outlook requires a paradigm shift, and that takes a big chuck of concentration.

As with the Holodomor, I've been reluctant to personally get too deep into the trafficking issue, lest despair overtake me.

But, as I apply The Secret in my own life, I wonder if maybe that reluctance is actually working at cross purposes to my desire to do something to help trafficking victims. I put up this blog thinking it was one thing I could do, and while it's moving up in the Technorati rankings, it's not exactly getting a gazillion hits a day, a week, or even a month... much less improving the situation.

What I've done in my own life is use The Secret to visualize my stepdaughters' recovery. They have been addicts all their adult lives. Both are now in their 30s. We've watched them go in and out of recovery programs, feeling helpless to do anything as they certainly did not want any help we could offer them.

One of them has 4 beautiful children and a wonderful husband, and had abandoned them for life on the street and crack cocaine. But just a little over a week ago, it occurred to me to use The Secret to help her (and her sister). So I told hubby that we need to just visualize and believe that she is healed, healthy and happy. In truth, we had in the past never really got beyond the hoping stage, you know, the old "hope for the best but expect the worst" mindset.

Well, wouldn't you know it, but the very next day we got a call from her husband, saying she'd left a "farewell" (I'm going to commit suicide now) message on his cell phone, which he rarely takes to work, but for some reason did this day. We'd shared The Secret with him, and so he asked "The Universe" for instructions and then immediately called 9-1-1.

Within 10 minutes the police found her, brought her into the hospital and locked her into a psyche ward where, for the first time in over a decade, there was finally a shrink actually interested in helping her and getting her completely off drugs instead of just giving her another prescription.

The next day, her husband was not able to go and visit her, and it just so happened that I was going to a meeting that morning that had been postponed from an earlier day. Wouldn't you know it, I was going to be very near the hospital. Although I had no idea if she'd be receptive to a visit from me, and in fact I had sworn I would never again have anything to do with her (that's how bad the situation was), I felt compelled to go and see her. There, we made polite small talk, but I was able to briefly mention The Secret. I asked her to promise me that she would start to think of what she wants instead of what she doesn't want, i.e. addiction and the misery it has brought her and the rest of us.

I left her, rather depressed after our encounter which seemed at the time a waste of time.

It wasn't. What I said apparently has resonated so strongly with her that, according to her husband, she actually is changing her behaviour, facing her past (for the first time) and facing the future with optimism. She is a believer of The Secret and hasn't even read the book or seen the movie!

And, that same day that she was brought back, my husband heard from her sister, for the first time in about two years.

The rapidity of these turnabouts is nothing less than astounding and cannot possibly be attributed to anything other than our faith in The Secret and applying the law of attraction. While we asked on their behalf, it was actually for ourselves, because we so want them to be healthy, happy and whole, and part of our lives. Their complete and total recovery is very real to us, and the speed at which our vision is manifesting itself is almost dizzying.

So it makes me wonder.... if enough people believed and applied The Secret to trafficking victims, couldn't it result in similar success for them?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Legalizing prostitution a stupid idea

I vehemently disagree with those (probably) well-meaning but misguided souls advocating to legalize prostitution.

In theory, it's fine, but in reality it would be a travesty. All you'd be doing is allowing pimps and traffickers to visit even more misery on women (and children) in order to cash in on the growing sex-on-demand "industry."

If it were a bona-fide "trade" that women choose voluntarily, that would be a different story. How many little girls do you know who aspire to being a prostitute? Is that a "profession" you would encourage your daughter to take up?

Maybe some do enter the "trade" of their own volition, but they're in the minority and usually are soon disabused of any romantic notions of a "Pretty Woman" lifestyle. Most, however, enter it out of desperation and despair, or because they are trafficked.

Personally, I think it is possible to treat the victims (i.e. the women and children forced into prostitution) with dignity without legalizing the so-called and very mis-named sex "trade." It is the johns, rather than prostitutes, who should be carted off to jail.

It's not a matter of changing the law, but of changing attitudes. Unfortunately, it is much easier to change laws.

If you still think prostitution should be legalized, watch this.

The film is in English. So watch it.

And weep, like I did.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Becoming Natasha" - Toronto performances

If you're in the Toronto area, consider taking this in ... and invite others along, especially advocates of legalized prostitution and casual consumers of pornography.

Becoming Natasha will be performed at the Robert Gill Theatre 214 College St. (Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St. 3rd floor (use St. George St. entrance) Not wheelchair accessible.

Performances are Friday, March 23 and Saturday, March 24th at 8pm and will be followed by a panel discussion. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at the Robert Gill Box office: 416-978-7986. Email for group reservations.

This production contains explicit language and is not recommended for those under the age of 18.

Full details in press release here.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Event: Stop the sexual exploitation of children

If you're in the Vancouver area, here's a worthwhile event to take in.

STOP the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week Kick-off

Saturday March 10, 2007
10am - 4pm
Safeway at 1033 Austin Avenue, Coquitlam
KICK OFF at 1pm


Hosted byTri-Cities Community Action Team. This event is also in conjunction with a fundraising event for Children of the Street Society, in partnership with Safeway. Purchase $30 in groceries and receive a Safeway coupon book FREE.

For more information contact Stephanie Owen at or 605-777-7510.

H/T to Put Kids First.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Telus - questionable judgement?

You gotta hand it to Telus, that forward-thinking good corporate citizen that holds its customers' concerns so dear to its (black ink stained) heart.

Why, this company is so in tune with its customers that it caters to them using 20/20 hindsight ... after they've taken their business to more, um, reputable competitors who have a different take on "responsibility" vis-a-vis pumping (should that "u" be an "i"?) pay-for-porn cell phone service.

Read all about the flexible minds and morality at Telus here.

Cross-posted at Nash Holos.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The glamour of exploitation

Why does this article make me see such a parallel between the fashion industry and the human trafficking and pornography "industries"?

Could it be because so many Ukrainian and other East European girls and women are being exploited by all of them?

So, where are all the women's rights advocates? One could be forgiven for wondering if contemporary feminists care as little about these women and girls as those who profit from their bodies. If not less.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Update on Ukrainian infants killed to harvest stem cells

A French publication recently published an update on the scandal involving healthy Ukrainian babies being murdered to harvest their stem cells.

... In the [sic] Ukraine, investigators are exploring the possibility that healthy infants and preborns were killed for stem-cell experimentation. It is speculated that the babies’ organs were extracted after allegedly being stolen from mothers by staff at Maternity Hospital Number Six in the eastern city of Kharkov [sic].

... Pictures from the autopsies reveal tiny dismembered bodies with missing organs and brains. Since dismemberment of bodies is not a standard post-mortem practice, it is likely the babies were harvested for the high amounts of stem cells in their brains and bone marrow.
... Due to the increasing worldwide demand for stem cells, it is possible healthy newborns are now being used to feed this demand. These healthy babies mysteriously "die" following a successful birth.

... Bioethicist Wesley Smith believes the demand for hundreds of millions of eggs and stem cells will lead to fetal farming. [T]he allegations of the stolen Ukrainian babies come only months after Family News in Focus reported [Ukrainian] women ... were being paid $200 to abort their babies for the acquisition of stem cells. More specifically, according to Smith, the women were paid to get pregnant for the sole purpose of aborting the babies at eight weeks gestation so the stem cells could be used for an anti-aging beauty treatment.

The Institute for Regenerative Medicine (IRM) in Barbados uses such a treatment that supposedly improves one’s fitness, sex life, mental capacity, and sleeping patterns. ... The treatment involves injecting clients with stem cells from seven- to ten-week-old aborted babies.

Full article here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

One down, millions more to go

While this child porn bust is good news, it's disheartening to realize how endemic a sickness is man's inhumanity to children.

Authorities in Austria have uncovered a major international child pornography ring that stretches across 77 countries and involves more than 2,360 Internet addresses -- including at least 19 from Canada. ... The Canadians are suspected of paying to access videos on a website of young children, aged 14 and under, being sexually abused.

... the FBI was investigating about 600 Internet addresses in the United States, German authorities were looking at 400 addresses, France at 100 while his country was looking at 23. ...
Austrian police are calling the case "a strike against child pornography unprecedented in Austrian criminal history."

"Girls could be seen being raped, and you could also hear screams,'' said [the] Austrian police expert on Internet crime who headed the investigation. ...

... In Austria, the youngest person implicated in the case is 17 and the oldest is 69. ... the videos were all posted on a Russian website that is now defunct. To access the material, users had to pay US$89. Investigators believe most of the videos were made in Eastern Europe and uploaded somewhere in Britain.

Read the full article here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just discovered ... Human Trafficking: The Movie

A Hollywood movie called Human Trafficking, starring Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland, was made back in 2005. Apparently it premiered in October, although it's not clear from the website if that was Oct 2005 or 2006.

Interesting that it's taken this long to learn of this movie. Given Hollywood's sleazy standards, however, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that a movie like this wouldn't be widely promoted.

Also interesting is how, once the shock wears off revelations like this, any intial activism seems to comes to an abrupt halt.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Roman Catholic nuns in Ontario raising awareness of human trafficking

An excellent article was published recently about a few Roman Catholic nuns in Ontario who have taken on the gargantuan task of educating the public about human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Shock talk probably isn't what you would expect from a nun. But Sister Dorothy Goetz's message about the global sex-slave trade leaves listeners stunned. They're numbed by estimates that 700,000 to two million people a year are traded like livestock....

The shock waves go both ways. Goetz herself is disconcerted that people are so surprised ...

Goetz and fellow members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame are leading workshops to raise awareness of the huge trade in humans.

So far the sisters have visited three Roman Catholic churches in Waterloo Region ... about eight of the sisters and several volunteers formed a committee to raise awareness by speaking at churches.
The sisters open each talk with the Prayer for The End to Human Trafficking. They show a video and then use a PowerPoint presentation ...

Only one male has attended a committee workshop to date. That disappoints Goetz. ... Men have many skills and contacts that could help women fight human trafficking....

Full article here.

Some human rights abuses harder to expose than others

It's very commendable of rock stars to help expose human rights abuses around the world.

British rock legend Peter Gabriel has formd an organization called Witness that provides video equipment to human rights activists to record such abuses.

I suspect he may not be aware of the horrific abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of young women and even children, at the hands of human traffickers pandering to men seeking instant, no-strings-attached sexual gratification.

In which case, someone should send him a copy of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade.

Then again, no doubt it would be extremely difficult to film what goes on behind the closed doors and barred windows of brothels and "breaking grounds", much less expose it to public view.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

There but for the grace of God...

An American student at Duke University, who only recently realized she escaped the horrible fate of so many young Ukrainian women, writes ....

I grew up with mummy and daddy who sent me to private school instead of a brothel ... The truth is, a few years ago trafficking in humans barely registered on my radar.

Therefore, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those members of Duke’s international community who, in the past, have branded me a “Russian whore” and told me, with much glee, about what women like me do back in their countries. Without your little jibes, whether uttered in jest or in a calculated attempt at humiliation, I might have never woken up. I would have never seen firsthand the kind of complacency that allows for human beings to be sold like cattle into this special service industry.

... I’ve been shocked out of my shell, reminded of the fact that while I was growing up in a cozy little enclave in Charlotte, North Carolina my compatriots were being beaten into submission by meaty thugs and pawed by drooling clientele.

Read the entire article here. A very worthwhile, if gruesome, read.