Anti-sex trafficking organizations are worse then the traffickers

Originally published on Marijkes Praktijken. Author Marijke Vonk. Translated by Maartje Swart.

It’s a classic heroic tale: bad guys abduct an innocent little girl, hero barges into their lair and saves the damsel in distress. It’s the exact story that we get told about human trafficking in the sex industry. Human traffickers steal a woman away and force her to work until the heroes storm the brothel and save her. But what if the ‘damsel’ wasn’t actually in distress? What if there are no bad guys to be found? What if the heroes turn out to be the bad guys?

The rescue industry is big business. The USAID Counter Trafficking in Persons project pulled in a good 7.3 million US dollars. The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, one of the largest international organisations against prostitution, offers financing and jobs to countless projects and persons. The Dutch organisation Free a Girl raised more than a hundred thousand euro through their Lock me Up campaign, for example for the Alliance Anti Trafic, which orchestrates rescue missions in which prostitutes are taken from their workplaces and kept locked in government buildings. In itself a worthy goal, of course, trying to rescue women from sexual exploitation. But there are problems.

“It’s as if prostitutes don’t want to be saved,” said a surprised manager of a Rescue Foundationshelter in India. The rescuers had once again made a raid on a brothel, after which the women had been forced into a shelter they weren’t allowed to leave. Again and again women escaped, continually protested their imprisonment in the shelters, and returned to their old workplaces as soon as they were able to make a run for it. It was as if the women were working as prostitutes of their own accord, didn’t view themselves as victims, thought of the rescue missions as threats to their human rights and livelihoods and for the most part felt victimized by the rescue industry.

We have now reached a point in history where there are more women in the Thai sex industry who are being abused by anti-trafficking practices than there are women being exploited by traffickers.
– Thailand, Empower Report

In Thailand sex workers refusing to admit after capture that they were human trafficking victims can be detained for months so they can be used as witnesses in other human trafficking cases. They don’t have a right to legal counsel, aren’t allowed to contact their families or other organisations and aren’t allowed to leave. The medical care in such ‘shelters’ (prostitute prisons) is inadequate. There’s no independent institution where the prostitutes can complain, there’s no trial, the rescue industry gets a free pass.

In India, too, women try desperately to stay out of the rescue industry’s clutches. After women had fled the ‘shelters’ (prisons) in Mumbai once again, the High Councilordered an investigation. “The shelters are a living hell” was the conclusion. Women suspected of prostitution, regardless of whether they are guilty (or well, victimized) can be kept prisoner for years, even if they want to leave. They have no right to legal counsel because they are ‘victims’ and there’s no trial. They aren’t allowed to communicate with the world outside the shelter, although often their families are often informed they are sex workers, so that women don’t dare to go home and face this disgrace. They are fed concoctions with insects, worms and gravel in them. Sexual assault by staff members is an everyday occurence, just like forced vaginal exams and abuse. Sanitary amenities are inadequate, women urinate and defecate on the floors, there is almost no medical care. They want out. Women are depressed, fearful and even suicidal. More and more money is spent on guarding these shelters: not for the safety of the women, but to make sure they stay inside and contain the umpteenth try to break out.

Because what you need to understand is, organisations that are part of the rescue industry earn good money for rescuing and rehabilitating enough women in their shelters. The more court cases (if there are any perpetrators they are rarely convicted), the more ‘witnesses’ they ‘protect’ and the more sex workers they ‘offer a chance at a better future’ by having them make products that are sold in the Western world for big bucks (“made by disadvantaged women who were saved from the sex industry!”) the more money the projects rake in. More women means more cash.

In South Korea the bullying by the police has gotten so severe that prostitutes rather killed themselves than be ‘saved’. The United States pressured the government into making a stand against  prostitution (‘human trafficking’). Despite protests from the sex workers themselves the police kept arresting johns and pestering the prostitutes. Women used to earn about  nine thousand dollar each month, but this shrunk to a good three thousand ever since the police kept invading the brothels. The US and the South Korean government have reached their goal: women are being forced out of prostitution against their will. For 920 USD per month they are allowed to live in a shelter and work for the government, but as usual few prostitutes are happy to perform forced labor while impris… I mean, to be rescued.

RATSW: If a woman agrees to go to work in a brothel but ends up sent to a factory and forced to sew, is that trafficking? Would you rescue her?
Police: No that is not trafficking. We wouldn’t rescue her. That is called an opportunity.
Empower Report

Size of the human trafficking industry
The rescue industry claims there are millions of people all over the world, particularly women and children, who are being traded like chattel across borders to work as slaves in the sex industry. However, real proof for large-scale human trafficking operations is never found. The rescue industry claims this is because it’s a hidden and shadowy world which makes it hard to find hard data, but even big ‘rescue operations’ don’t succeed in proving the existence of trafficking. Take for instance the British project ‘Pantameter 2′, involving the police forces of the entire United Kingdom (as well as that of the Republic of Ireland and the UK Human Trafficking Centre), in which raids were performed in hundreds (hundreds!) of brothels and massage parlors. Results? No arrests. Not a single arrest was made for trafficking or forced prostitution. Zero. Nada. Dissatisfaction with this result led to the foundation of the Acumen project, explicitly designed to provide proof of human trafficking. The results were disappointing: none of the women had been kidnapped, held against her will or sold. To be considered ‘vulnerable’ in this investigation they had to fulfill one of the criteria, of which working in a brothel was one, which labeled the whole group as ‘vulnerable’. Other criteria were having an economically disadvantaged position (not speaking English, not having had an education), having a disadvantaged social position (being an illegal immigrant for example), being wrongly informed (it was sufficient if you were working in a different city than had been agreed on) or having been abused/having been forced (was found only rarely). Four of these criteria were enough to be considered a ‘victim of human trafficking’ in this report, regardless of whether you actually werea victim of human trafficking. 11% of the women included in the investigation complied to these criteria. Next, this percentage was raised considerably based on preconceptions (“this has to be too low, in reality there must be more women from vulnerable countries”) and the results were presented to the world: thousands of victims of human trafficking in the UK! They hadn’t found even one…

CoMensha is a Dutch foundation that fights human trafficking and puts out reports about the scale of human trafficking in the Netherlands. Their numbers are used by the Justice Ministry’sWODC and by the police. In their annual reports, CoMensha mentions the amount of reports they have received of possible victims of human trafficking, but for convenience’s sake, they abbreviate this structurally to victims of human trafficking. And to be clear: CoMensha does notcheck or investigate these reports, they are reports of suspicions.

The imprecise (and misleading) language use of CoMensha is copied without scruples by all sorts of official institutes, and this turns the reports of possible victims into actual victims. When the government ordered the Intraval agency to investigate prostitution, their report mentioned “400 victims of human trafficking” instead of the actual 400 reports of possible victims. The real problems in the sex industry are not talked about. Prostitutes in Utrecht are hindered in their work and are denied a place of business ‘for their own good’ and ‘because of suspicions of human trafficking’.  Again, the myth of human trafficking is used to put prostitutes in a more dangerous spot, to force the sex industry underground and to take away the rights of sex workers.

In the year 2000, The National Human Trafficking Reporter asked 155 help and special interest organisations how many reports they had had of possible victims of human trafficking, and simply added the numbers these organisations gave them (!) with no correction to account for doubles, then  systematically talked about ‘victims’ in the report instead of ‘possible victims’, causing news papers and other media to wrongly state that in the year 2000, there had been 608 victims of human trafficking.

In Cambodia alone there are hundreds of organisations ‘rescuing and rehabilitating’ sex workers’ and it’s suspected there are more activists than victims of trafficking. An audit by the USAID Counter Trafficking in Persons project reported that in 2009, only 12 people had been charged  for human trafficking.

The Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) reports how the rescue industry is almost pornographic in their way of using  lurid stories about sexual humiliation in order to rake in more funds, even while they have trouble finding any actual victims.is how the organisations explain this failure.

The police is often the perpetrator of violence against sex workers. In countries where prostitution is prohibited, it turns out the police is the number 1 agressor when it comes to violence against sex workers. They have the power to arrest and publicly humilate these women and this power is abused at a large scale. InCambodia, 70% of the prostitutes who work in a brothel reports having been abused by the police and almost 60% has been raped by the police. The awful thing is, they are hardly able to report this sort of crime for fear they themselves will be arrested or abused further.

Anti-trafficking organisations have put themselves in the idiotic position where they have to use violence and human rights violations against the women and girls they say they are rescuing, so they can prove there has been a crime, in spite of the denial and the uncooperative attitudes of the alleged victims.

Sex work as a profession.
Of course, sex work isn’t always a completely free choice, often women find themselves needing to work in the sex industry because they lack other options. Research by Mai (2009) for example showed that a lot of immigrants in the UK work in the sex industry because that way they can eke out a respectable living for themselves and their families. A lot of immigrants choose sex work to avoid the abuse in other sectors, where long hours and little pay are not uncommon. Many of the sex workers in Cambodia are former seamstresses and clothing factory workers, who prefer the circumstances in the sex industry above those in other sectors.

Almost 95% of women in CSOM research reported the money they earned as the primary motivation to work as a sex worker. About 3.9% of women reported having ever been forced to work. This percentage, in this research and comparable ones, is similar to the percentage of women not in the sex industry who feel forced or abused. Furthermore, 97% (!) of women working as escorts report an increase in self confidence since they started working as a prostitute whereas only 8% of streetwalkers reports this. Another research (Decker, 1979: 166, 174) showed that 75% of escorts feel their lives improved since they started working as a sex worker, 25% says it didn’t change anything, and 0% felt that their lives had gotten worse. Australian research showed that half the protitutes considered their work as one of the major positive aspects to their lives, and 70% said they would choose prostitution again if they had to do their lives over (Woodward et al., 2004: 39).

The human trafficking myth allows governments to enforce restrictive migration laws, claiming it is to stop human trafficking but in reality mainly to stop immigration. In 2008, Cambodia passed the  Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Law, a law financed and supported by UNICEF. This law makes it impossible for sex workers to work safely, makes almost any social or financial transaction surrounding sex work a criminal act, and has forced sex workers out on the streets. The consequences are horrendous: sex workers are being raped, abused and arrested by the police, the rescue industry keeps women locked up against their will and women have been known to die in custody.

When sex workers are considered either criminals who need to be punished, OR victims in need of rescue, the rescue industry takes away any humane option from sex workers. Take for exampleProject ROSE in the US, in which prostitutes have to admit that they are victims, are lectured on the evils of ‘selling one’s body’ and have to promise to give up on sex work forever or they will be thrown in prison. You’re either a filthy whore or a powerless victim, nothing else.

‘Rescue missions’ in the sex industry and laws against ‘human trafficking’ in practice make sex workers’ positions more vulnerable and dangerous. Restrictive migration laws  to fight human trafficking and laws aimed against the clients of sex workers make a protitute’s job more complicated or even impossible, forcing sex workers to take more risks to fly under the radar. For many migrant sex workers the rescue industry and their ‘rescue missions’ are a greather threat to their safety and livelihood than john or ‘pimps’.

Large organisations for the rights of sex workers, like Empower in Thailand (50 thousand sex workers) are calling out for help against anti-trafficking organisations who are slandering them, insulting them, setting the police on them, keep them imprisoned for years, forcing medical exams on them, having them follow mandatory programs and forbidding them from crossing the border.

Stop human trafficking
To stop human trafficking, first the rescue industry has to be stopped. Reducing prostitutes to powerless victims and then raiding their homes or workplaces, keeping them in shelters they cannot leave and where they are forced to work for minimal pay because otherwise they are faced with arrest or worse is HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

Sex work needs to be acknowledged as a legitimate profession, so that sex workers can be protected against abuse and violence from police and institutions. In New Zealand the laws were changed in 2003, making sex work legal. Sex workers reported feeling no apprehension about going to the police or to court to make complaints about bad circumstances. A good 60% of sex workers indicated that under the new laws, they were better able to refuse work. The research committee’s conclusion was clear: legalizing sex work improves the rights and safety of sex workers.

Only when sex workers have equal rights as people in other professions we can begin to truly combat human trafficking. When sex workers can rent a space, have an accountant, can cooperate and have rights, then we can fight injustice.  Right now, prostitutes in England sharing an apartment for work can both be arrested and convicted for ‘being a pimp’ and ‘keeping a brothel’, allegedly making the other their victim! In India, adult live-in children of sex workers are arrested for human trafficking (because they benefit financially from their parent’s income). In the US, prostitutes travelling or visiting a client together are arrested, again because they ‘victimize’ each other. If, as a sex worker, you can file a report on a bad situation without fear of being kidnapped and held by the rescue industry or arrested by the police, you can arrange so much help from within the sex industry itself. The world is in no way improved when we punish sex workers.

The real causes of human trafficking need to be addressed. Problems surrounding poverty, gender inequality, migration problems, discrimination, cultural problems and sex negativism. Human rights. But that’s not as exciting a story as 13-year old girls in a six foot square closet, so human trafficking is still being financed by us. The saviors. The good guys. It’s enough to make you cry.

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Adult woman made up story she was child who escaped from sex trafficking ring

Somaly Mam and Chong Kim are not the only ones that tells lies about being a Sex Trafficking Victim.  Everyone does it to gain victim benefits.

Sun News : Calgary police say woman made up story she was child who escaped from sex ring 

Samantha Lyndell Azzopardi, 26, originally of Sydney, Australia, is charged with public mischief to mislead peace officer about being a Sex Trafficking victim.

Credits: Calgary Police/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency

 trafficking lies by woman

Article by MICHAEL PLATT | QMI AGENCY

Samantha Lyndell Azzopardi, 26, originally of Sydney, Australia, is charged with public mischief to mislead peace officer about being a Sex Trafficking Victim.

CALGARY, Canada  – As an example of a person crying wolf, few lies can be more repugnant than someone telling doctors and police that she is the victim of long term abduction and sexual torture, and that there may be children still caught in the same sex trafficking ring.

And yet that’s exactly what police say Samantha Lyndell Azzopardi did in Calgary, just one year after the same 26-year-old Australian was accused of duping police in Dublin, Ireland with a similar tall tale of sexual abduction, leading cops there to spend 2,000 man hours trying to track a child sex ring that didn’t exist.

In Calgary, police say the slightly-built adult walked into a city health care centre on Sept. 16, claiming to be a 14-year-old girl named Aurora Hepburn and a victim of abduction, sexual assault and torture.

The story and physical evidence was enough to convince doctors and detectives in Calgary there was truth behind the horrific claims, and Staff Sgt. Kelly Campbell says weeks and “countless hours” were spent trying to piece together the slivers of information the self-proclaimed victim would offer.

But a call to Interpol, in a desperate attempt to match Aurora Hepburn’s European accent to missing teens there, cracked the case in ways police could not expect.

She was known in Europe, all right, but as a serial fraudster with a flare for acting and wasting police time.

In fall of 2013, Azzopardi was found wandering the streets of Dublin alone and in apparent anguish, but attempts to communicate were met with silence, the distraught female being apparently unable to speak.

Communicating with police through broken bits of writing and drawings, Azzopardi convinced officers she was a sex slave from eastern Europe, triggering a wild-goose chase that ended up costing nearly $300,000 in lost time and resources.

“This investigation has involved over 2,000 hours, engaging with all the relevant authorities and all the relevant specialists in this area,” Superintendent Dave Taylor told reporters.

Irish police were so convinced they had an underage sex slave on their hands, they sought special high court permission to release her photograph worldwide, hoping someone might identify her.

Someone did – but when an Irish man approached police, saying he’d once dated the victim’s mother, he also revealed the “girl” to be a grown woman from Australia, who’d had many an encounter with the law down under.

Australian police confirmed she was Azzopardi, an adult from New South Wales with a history of psychiatric illness, more than 40 known aliases, and a long list of convictions for fraud-related offences.

Newspapers like the Brisbane Courier-Mail quickly jumped on the story, reporting the same woman had been convicted in 2010 for charges relating to making false representations and forging documents, and in 2012 for welfare fraud in Perth, for which she received a suspended sentence.

But Irish police, rather than throwing her in jail, decided to deport her instead, washing their hands of the problem.

And now it’s Calgary’s problem.

Police here have charged Azzopardi with public mischief to mislead a peace officer, but it may prove easier to just deport her, the way Ireland did.

Hopefully, Alberta does the right thing instead.

Azzopardi deserves a fair trail, but if it’s proven she wasted valuable health resources and police time with lies, she also deserves the harshest punishment our court system can dish out.

Police say she’s a woman who likes to tell stories – and that something only a cold dose of reality can cure.

Article link:

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2014/10/20141007-154300.html

Woman 26, poses as 14 year old fake sex trafficking victim

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Posted in human trafficking, sex trafficking, sex slavery, prostitution, statistics, colorado, research, Taken, sex tourism, charities, non-profit, philippines, Denver, attorney general, Cambodia, Somaly Mam, Chong KIm, Eden movie, Canada, Calgary

How common is sex trafficking in Cambodia? Why did Somaly Mam lie?

How common is forced sex trafficking?
Are all prostitutes sex trafficking victims?
What is the difference between a prostitute and a sex trafficking victim?
Are prostitutes children? Or are they consenting adults?
Why did Somaly Mam have to lie and invent victims? Was it because she couldn’t find any REAL victims?
The downfall of anti-sex-slavery activist Somaly Mam has led some to question the extent of trafficking.
 Phnom Penh, Cambodia - In early 2011, Srey Mao, 28, and two friends were “rescued” and taken to a shelter run by Afesip, a Cambodian organisation that prides itself on helping sex-trafficking victims recover from trauma while learning new trades such as sewing and hairdressing.

There was just one problem: The women claim they hadn’t actually been trafficked.

Instead, the women said they were willing sex workers who had been rounded up off the street during a police raid and sent to Afesip, headed by the internationally renowned anti-sex-slavery crusader Somaly Mam with funding from the foundation that bears her name.

They said they were confined there for months as purported victims of sex trafficking. Srey Mao claimed that she, her friends and a number of other sex workers in the centre were instructed by a woman to tell foreign visitors they had been trafficked.

“I was confined against my will,” Srey Mao said on Saturday.

The person she said instructed ordered her and others to lie was Somaly Mam.

Falling star

For the better part of a decade, Mam has been the celebrated face of anti-human trafficking efforts in Cambodia.

With her undeniable charisma and tragic back-story as a former child sex slave, she has rubbed shoulders and traded hugs with Hollywood stars such as Susan Sarandon and Meg Ryan. CNN dubbed her a “hero” in 2007. Glamour Magazine made her a “woman of the year” honoree in 2006.

In 2010, then-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited an Afesip shelter here and later spoke about her moving encounter with Long Pros, a former sex slave who said her eye was gouged out by a brothel-keeper. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, one of Mam’s strongest supporters, wrote about Pros and his “hero” Mam.

Mam’s star-studded image abruptly lost its sheen on May 28, when she was forced to resign from the Somaly Mam Foundation following a Newsweek cover story reporting that she had lied about her past.

Not only had Mam not been an orphaned trafficking victim – reporter Simon Marks revealed in Newsweek that she grew up with both parents and graduated from high school – but she reportedly encouraged and coached girls to lie as well.

One of these girls was Pros, who, according to Newsweek, actually lost her eye to a tumor and was sent to Afesip for vocational training. The same was reportedly true of Meas Ratha, a teenager allegedly coached by Mam to say she had been trafficked when in fact she was sent to Afesip by an impoverished farming family, desperate to give their daughter a better start in life.

Afesip representatives did not respond to requests to comment for this story.

‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’

Although the stories of Mam, Pros and Ratha have now been widely scrutinised in the media, less examined have been Mam’s frequent embellished statements about the scale and nature of sex trafficking in Cambodia.

The term “trafficking” has become trendy among donors in the Western world for the pure horror it evokes – a horror that Pros embodied for many – but it leaves out a whole spectrum of complex choices and negotiations, and often erases women’s agency entirely.

Sebastien Marot, founder of the nongovernmental organisation Friends International, which works with street children and other vulnerable populations, has lived in Cambodia since 1994. In all his years in the country, he said he has encountered only a handful of what he considers clear-cut cases of sex slavery, despite the lavish funding and massive attention from celebrities that the cause attracts.

“There’s definitely fashions in the donor world,” he said. “The big thing now is trafficking – people say, ‘Oh my God, trafficking’ – but how do we define that?”

Mam and her foundation have interpreted the term liberally, claiming repeatedly, along with Afesip, that sex slaves in Cambodia number in the tens of thousands.

In 2011, Mam told an interviewer that there were 80,000 to 100,000 prostitutes in Cambodia, 58 percent of whom were trafficked. In a 2010 Somaly Mam Foundation video, Hollywood actress Lucy Liu solemnly intoned in a voiceover that “the low-end estimate for the number of sex slaves in Cambodia alone is over 40,000″. Mam has also claimed that it is commonplace for children as young as 3 to be sold into sex slavery in Cambodia.

The source for these numbers is unclear, and according to some, wrong.

study published in 2011 by the UN Inter-Agency Project on Trafficking based on data collected in 2008 stated that the number of sex trafficking victims in Cambodia is 1,058 at most, including 127 children, six of whom were under the age of 13. The majority of these cases involved women who had fallen into debt to their brothels, or prostitutes under the age of 18. These are both abhorrent and illegal, but they are a far cry from the extreme scenarios Mam often invoked – girls put in cages, tortured with electricity, having their eyes gouged out by pimps.

“We never encountered any such thing, and we certainly looked for it,” the study’s author, Thomas Steinfatt, said this week. “We couldn’t find any instances of that … In terms of people tortured, I think they’ve been watching too many movies.”

Steinfatt, a professor at the University of Miami, said the figure of 1,058 is still an accurate estimate of the number of sex trafficking victims in the country. Although he has been criticised by some anti-sex-slavery activists for producing such a low figure, he is the only researcher to have systematically canvassed Cambodia seeking out brothels and collecting data on the women and girls inside.

“Sex trafficking is actually one of the smaller portions of trafficking,” he said. “Much more [trafficking] goes on in labour or domestic work. It’s quite literally the ‘sexiest’ topic, and it’s something that really bothers people – which it should, but it’s not the largest.”

Helen Sworn, the founder of anti-trafficking coalition Chab Dai, noted that other researchers have disputed Steinfatt’s findings and methodology, though added that Steinfatt’s estimate “was the best available number” before laws introduced in 2008 and 2009 that caused “a significant shift underground of incidents, which was not addressed in the previous research”. However, Sworn said Mam’s resignation should be an impetus for soul-searching from NGOs on how to proceed in the future.

“Of course this will have repercussions on the sector, which is why we need to be intentional and professional in the way we implement programs,” she said. “Funding has always been a challenge for those who don’t exploit the dignity of others, so maybe this just makes for a more democratic platform where it will be equally challenging.”

Mam’s embellishments have also distracted attention from the very serious problems Cambodia still faces, including the structural reasons why 1,058 women and girls might be forced into prostitution and why sex work is often seen as the best job available.

‘Victim’ or ‘prostitute’?

“Abolitionist” NGOs such as Afesip take the position that sex work is by definition coercive, and that it is impossible to choose to be a prostitute. In a 2008 interview with the Phnom Penh Post, Mam noted that she preferred to use the term “victim” rather than “prostitute”, and that women who thought they were voluntary sex workers could actually be sex slaves.

In 2006, in response to complaints by sex workers that they did not like being sent to NGO-run shelters after police raids, Afesip advisor Aarti Kapoor told The Cambodia Daily, “We don’t believe prostitution is a legitimate form of work”. This led Afesip to support a draconian anti-human trafficking law, which was passed by Cambodia’s parliament in 2008 and, some advocates claim, ramped up police abuses against sex workers like Srey Mao.

Srey Mao said she became a prostitute because she believed it was the best option to support her aging parents and young daughter. Months in the Afesip shelter did not change her mind. She claims that after she arrived at the shelter, she was not given access to anti-retroviral drugs for five days or allowed to see her family. Instead, she was enrolled in a yearlong sewing course, entailing eight hours a day of study or garment work.

“I was not happy to be there … Very often, during our short break for lunch, Afesip staff and sometimes Mam Somaly came to us and told us to tell donors and foreigners who would come to visit shelters that we were victims of human trafficking.”

Seven months into her stay at the shelter, Srey Mao ran away and returned to life as a prostitute.

Somaly Mam lying to politicians and celebrities

Article link from Aljazeera

http://bebopper76.wordpress.com/

The Story of Somaly Mam – click below for larger image:

cartoon of somaly

 

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Posted in Asia, Cambodia, charities, Chong KIm, Eden movie, human trafficking, Long Pros, NGO, non-profit, philippines, prostitution, research, sex slavery, sex tourism, sex trafficking, Somaly Mam, statistics, Thailand, Uncategorized

USA Tips Report is forcing people to lie about being sex trafficking victims

The United States government is forcing  people to lie about being sex trafficking victims  because they can’t find enough real victims!

(John Kerry, Obama, Hillary Clinton and the USA government are forcing people to lie about being victims – if they don’t lie they are put in jail or deported using the TIPS report) 

Today we will hear about Thailand’s Tier in America’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report. Never forget the TIP report is also a programme. America makes demands under TIP and countries, including Thailand, ignore their own sovereignty, and comply. TIP demands that countries change laws, speed up justice (a conflicting thought), and set aside special treatment for one class of victims that the US can never find enough of. Every TIP report whines about the need to find more victims and prosecute more traffickers and then throw away the key. But the Somaly Mam expose in the Bangkok Post on June 1 and around the world has shown us that this issue has suffered extreme exaggeration by those who need funding and by media who benefit from sensational stories. Read a few blogs about trafficking and you too will quickly learn that “facts” about trafficking often defy common sense. 

Every resident of Thailand, Thai and foreigner , should read TIP reports and see what they are really about. On page 4 of the 2013 TIP report the United States offers Taiwan as an example for other countries to follow. TIP tells us Taiwan has detention centres at its borders to hold new arrivals until they can be investigated as possible trafficking victims. Detainees are offered long-term immigration status (a kind of bribe) and release from detention in exchange for agreeing to claim to be victims and turn on people who helped them get a job in Taiwan. I am shocked, even scared, that my country (USA) encourages this.  

-John Kane

Bangkok Post

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/416523/b-postbag-b-tip-reports-not-gospel

http://understandingtrafficking.com/2014-tip-report-letter-editor/

 

The United States government is forcing  people to lie about being sex trafficking victims  because they can’t find enough real victims!

This week the USA’s Trafficking in persons (TIP) report came out with Secretary of State John Kerry releasing it.

There is only one problem with it. – It is based on lies, exaggeration, myths and emotional made up stories.

Is anyone talking about the huge influence Somaly Mam, Nicholas Kristof and Chong Kim may have had on US foreign policy with Sex Trafficking? Every year the TIP report demands countries find victims and traffickers but what if the constant demand to find more and more is based on this media distortion and they really aren’t there to find. American citizens and Congress are all deceived over what may be a faux-issue. Articles I read say this woman is not the only one who has exaggerated, but is the one seen with President Obama and Hillary Clinton when she was Sec State. With John Kerry, Michelle Obama, and with The Queen of Spain. For me this is the real issue. The TIP program is no more than Modern Day Imperialism. What has happened to that old concept of national sovereignty?

Somaly Mam and Chong Kim were caught lying about Sex Trafficking

Somaly Mam, the celebrated Cambodian anti-sex-trafficking activist who, according to a recentNewsweek expose, fabricated her entire life story and those of the alleged victims she advocated for. The revelations have disillusioned many of Mam’s loyal supporters and left the press looking gullible. Just as importantly, they’ve highlighted the public’s seemingly insatiable desire for heroic narratives—and the willingness of many in the media to trick the public and provide them even if they are fake.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s TIP report:
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/06/227850.htm

 http://understandingtrafficking.com/2014-tip-report-letter-editor/

Cartoon drawing explaining the Somaly Mam issue

Simon Marks interview about Somaly Mam

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Posted in Atlanta, attorney general, California, Cambodia, charities, Chong KIm, colorado, Denver, human trafficking, India, Long Pros, NFL, NGO, non-profit, philippines, prostitution, research, sex slavery, sex tourism, sex trafficking, Somaly Mam, statistics, Thailand, Uncategorized

Chong Kim of the film Eden is a Fraud lying about Sex Trafficking

Chong Kim and Megan Griffith are committing Fraud – Lying about sex trafficking to make money with the Eden Movie.

Reason

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Below is brief section of the article:

And now we are seeing so many of these horror stories fall apart. First it was Somaly Mam, the activist whose own sex trafficking story, as well as those of some of her star “rescues,” turned out to be false. After years of international support and acclaim, Mam—a favorite of The New York Times’ Nicolas Kristof—was exposed by Newsweek as a fraud.

Now Chong Kim’s story, too, may be coming apart. Last week Breaking Out, a nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking of all forms, posted the following message on Facebook:

We regretfully want to inform everyone the results of a year long investigation by our highly experienced investigative unit, that Chong Kim whom has claimed to be a survivor of human trafficking is not what she claims to be.

After thorough investigation into her story, people, records and places, as well as, many interviews with producers, publishers and people from organizations, we found no truth to her story. In fact, we found a lot of fraud, lies, and most horrifically capitalizing and making money on an issue where so many people are suffering from.

According to Breaking Out’s founder, James Barnes, it and several other organizations were defrauded by Chong, who was collecting money in their names without actually passing any of it on. “We are ready with others supporting us to take full legal action against Chong Kim,” Barnes’ statement said.

The absense of any attempt at verification—from the authors who repeated Kim’s story, the journalists who interviewed her, the organizations that brought her on as a speaker, or any of the myriad people behind the “based on a true story” Eden—makes it pretty clear that nobody wanted to find holes in Kim’s story. We want victim narratives so badly that we refuse to listen to sex workers when they say they’re not victims and leap at the chance to tell the stories, no matter how apocryphal, of those whose tales conform with our expectations.

“Moral panic deployed to appeal to outraged empathy, or sexploitation deployed to appeal to giggling prurience; they both function in much the same way,” wrote Berlatsky. And with sex trafficking tales, we get a two for one. It’s almost too good to resist. But let’s try.

Article Link and more about the Chong Kim and Eden fraud:

http://reason.com/blog/2014/06/12/eden-sex-trafficking-fable-falls-apart

http://truth-out.org/news/item/24827-from-somaly-mam-to-eden-how-sex-trafficking-sensationalism-hurts-sex-workers

http://bebopper76.wordpress.com/tag/chong-kim/

http://annaraccoon.com/2014/06/05/yet-more-fake-survivors-of-sex-abuse/

Chong Kim sex trafficking fraud – lying is common with sex trafficking

Here are some good articles that have a good summary of the Somaly Mam, and Nicholas Kristof controversy about them lying about Sex Trafficking:

http://bebopper76.wordpress.com/

Change.org  petition to fire Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times

Swallowing the camel summary of Somaly Mam

Newsweek story of Somaly Mam

Laura Agustin on Somaly Mam

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Posted in attorney general, charities, Chong KIm, colorado, Denver, Eden movie, human trafficking, Long Pros, movie, NGO, non-profit, philippines, prostitution, research, sex slavery, sex tourism, sex trafficking, Somaly Mam, statistics, super bowl, Taken, Uncategorized

Nicholas Kristof telling lies about Sex Trafficking

Somaly Mam goes down while Nicholas Kristof ‘pokes around’
Thanhnien news
 
Saturday, June 07, 2014
 
Former sex-trafficking super-starlet Somaly Mam resigned early this month afterNewsweek published a big story on her trouble with the truth.
Now the media sharks are circling for her chief propagandist and international cheerleader—NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.
If Kristof gets what he deserves from this scandal, he’ll lose his byline.
Mam, a former prostitute, built a virtual empire based on the premise that she is “eradicating” something called “sexual slavery.” Her star began to rise in 1998, when French camera crews captured the beautiful former sex worker cradling young women who had horrible stories to tell.
The money really started rolling in for Mam (and her namesake foundation) after Kristof began gushing to the American public about Mam—whom he repeatedly called his “hero.”
 
The trouble is, very little of what Mam said, about herself and her alleged success stories, was true.
But that’s old news.
For those who have kept up with this matter, this month’s Newsweek piece is nothing but the greatest hits album of a young reporter named Simon Marks who actually did what Kristof has only pantomimed doing: covering Somaly Mam.

Somaly Mam, co-founder and president of the Somaly Mam Foundation. Photo credit: somaly.org.

Over the past few years, Marks has painstakingly revealed the following:
– One of Mam’s “survivors of sexual slavery,” Meas Ratha, told Marks she’d been coached to recite false, lurid narratives for visiting Western journalists and donors starting 1998.
– A one-eyed “survivor of sexual slavery” named Long Pross didn’t have her eye gouged out by a pimp—as Kristof reported with gorey relish–instead doctors said they removed her eye while extracting an ocular tumor.
– Mam didn’t grow up as a “savage” in the hills of Northern Cambodia and she wasn’t purchased by an abusive man she called “grandfather” (as alleged in her absurd international best-selling biography). Instead, Marks reported, she ran away from her humdrum life in a poor rural village after graduating from high school.
It seems hardly surprising that anyone would attempt to profit from Western donors and journalists eager for sob stories.
The larger and more depressing point about Mam’s resignation is that Marks’ reporting has been plastered on the front pages of the respectable Cambodia Daily for years. It has been echoed in this newspaper and blogged about throughout the region, but was virtually ignored until a zombie magazine republished it in the United States.
Six months ago, when pretty much anyone in Phnom Penh could have told you what the whole world now knows, I wrote a long email to the New York Times’s Public Editor filled with links to Marks’ stories.
I got no response.
When I emailed Kristof directly, his assistant passed on his hubris—“Nick isn’t going to give a comment because it seems the reports are unrelated to the reporting and writing he has done on Somaly Mam,” she wrote.
This is unforgivable.
Kristof didn’t just publish Long Pross’s unlikely bodice-ripper of a biography and refuse to retract the story after it was debunked, he blindly championed Mam while participating in a series of dumb stunts (e.g. live-tweeting a brothel raid in which he bought two little girls).
Off camera, Kristof brought Mam under the velvet rope and into the world of celebrity galas, US State Department dinners and assorted talk shows.
Relying mostly on pathos and PR, the two have enlisted a phalanx of poorly-informed celebrity spokespeople to convince Western donors to pour money onto a problem they hardly understand—throwing Phnom Penh’s ratio of child prostitutes to overpaid “rescue” workers into comically absurd proportions.
At home, Kristof joined the ranks of international mimbo Ashton Kutcher in a thoroughly hollow jihad against alternative weeklies for their willingness to publish advertisements for (gasp) prostitutes and massage parlors.
There, again, he was caught promulgating a false narrative that essentially accused my former employer of pimping a kidnapped 16 year old girl.
But the problem is much bigger than any one person’s story. It goes to the heart of how Kristof talks about the world and its problems.
Dina Haynes, a Professor of Law at New England Law, last year summed up the extent to which the entire issue has been muddled and dumbed down by Kristof, Kutcher, Mam and her ilk. “Multiple and conflicting viewpoints exist on many aspects of human trafficking,” she wrote in a paper titled The Celebritization of Human Trafficking.
“There are disagreements as to the extent of the problem, the precise definition of the problem, who is victimized, how best to support victims, and how to combat it. In addition, much statistical data on human trafficking is wildly inconsistent and lacks rigorous empirical support. When celebrities lend their confident voices and elevator pitches to this morass of disagreement and inconsistent data, they cannot help but sway an interested public.”
Instead of blaming the exploitative, low-wage sneaker sweatshops that make sex work a desirable alternative for many poor Cambodians, Mam and company assured the world that pedophilic bogeymen and cruel Fagins were to blame.
Moreover, they claimed that human trafficking was something that could be “eradicated” with “empowerment necklaces” and corporate sponsorships and Facebook and mere enthusiasm.
Hardcore feminists and advocates for the rights of the region’s many sex workers have been yelling and screaming about the deleterious effects of Mam and Kristof’s narrative for years—particularly their desire to “rescue” sex workers by teaching them to sew or do nails.
You could read virtually all of Marks’s Newsweek (and several cogent criticisms of Mam) online six months ago by merely googling S-O-M-A-L-Y M-A-M. Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham penned her mea culpa (Cambodian Sex Slave Story Revealed as a Lie) in October of last year.
None of that stopped rich actors in New York and Miami from donating over a million dollars to Mam’s foundation at gala events held that same month.
The tap didn’t really turn off until two weeks ago, right around the time that the New York Times’s Public Editor Margaret Sullivan finally acted on a tidal wave of Newsweek-inspired tweets and emailed Kristof a list of questions.
It took a full week before she got his amazing response—which cited the unknowable and fluid nature of facts in the developing world as one of the reasons for his long silence.
“Can’t imagine this excuse going over well with my editor,” tweeted James Welsh, an Al Jazeera stringer based in Phnom Penh.
In Kristof’s blogged response, entitled A Woman I Regarded as a Hero and New Doubts, you can almost see him squirm.
And squirm he should.
American journalists (who apparently only get their information from Newsweek) are hitting him hard.
No less than the Washington Post has called for him to stop frantically covering the world so he can “audit” his Cambodia reporting.
Kristof, for his part, is pretending to be “confused” by information that he’s surely been aware of for months if not years. Instead of admitting his role in Mam’s mass-deception, he tells us he’s “very sad” and assures readers he is “continuing to poke around.”
Where is Kristof poking? And more importantly, whom?
Before he predictably throws Mam under the bus, perhaps he should come poke Georges Blanchard, the head of Vietnam’s Alliance Anti-Traffic.
AAT found that even though the trafficking of women from Vietnam to Cambodia for the purpose of sex has slowed to a near trickle, Mam’s organization continues to present a distorted picture of trafficking to governments, donors and the general public for the purposes of raising funds.
When I first sat down with Blanchard, last year, he was living in the same small house down in District 3 that he’s occupied for years—just a few feet down from his nicotine-stained office.
The Gallic bear of a man has worked in the anti-trafficking field for over two decades, is fluent in Vietnamese and has sought little attention from international press or international celebrities.
He usually dresses in jeans and a t-shirt with some sort of motorcycle on it and manages to live well on less than $900 a month. Unlike Mam, Blanchard fully acknowledged that lots of women make a rational choice to be sex workers because it benefits them more than other available work. Instead of kicking in doors, AAT offers legal protections and plane tickets to Vietnamese women who say they’re stuck in sex work abroad and want to come home.
Though AAT continues to be listed on the Somaly Mam Foundation’s website as its Vietnamese partner, Blanchard says he’s received a pittance from its swollen coffers in recent years.
And he seemed ambivalent about accepting even that.
Blanchard said he believes Mam has engaged in the business of “selling the pity of the misery of the world.”
“And people are buying the pity,” he said with a laugh.
AAT found that even though the trafficking of women from Vietnam to Cambodia for the purpose of sex has slowed to a near trickle, Mam’s organization continues to present a distorted picture of trafficking to governments, donors and the general public for the purposes of raising funds.
Blanchard also told me that Mam stays in 5-star hotels and usually travels with a retinue that includes a contingent of armed bodyguards and “rescued” girls tasked with removing her shoes before she enters a room.
“It’s not the reality,” he said pointing at his head.
And that’s precisely the point. Given all the time Kristof has spent with Mam and her organization, he must know some or all of these things. If he doesn’t, then I think it’s time he start poking himself.
 

Here are some good articles that have a good summary of the Somaly Mam, and Nicholas Kristof controversy about them lying about Sex Trafficking:

Change.org  petition to fire Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times

Swallowing the camel summary of Somaly Mam

Newsweek story of Somaly Mam

Laura Agustin on Somaly Mam

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cambodia, charities, human trafficking, Long Pros, NGO, non-profit, prostitution, research, sex slavery, sex tourism, sex trafficking, Somaly Mam, statistics, Uncategorized

Somaly Mam Foundation lying about sex trafficking – fake victims used

Somaly Mam, campaigner against sex trafficking, tells multiple lies and exploits fake ‘child prostitutes’ to raise money for the Somaly Mam Foundation.

By James Ricketson:

13 year old Long Pross, raped repeatedly in a Cambodian brothel, stabbed in the eye by the brothel owner, tortured with electric shock, pregnant twice by the age of 14, was rescued from a life of sex slavery by Somaly Mam.  A compelling story but not a true one.  Long Pros was never a sex slave, or prostitute and a doctor removed  a tumor from her eye that was not caused by a beating – she was never beaten.  She was never a prostitute.  It was all a lie to steal money from donors so that Somaly could live a rich celebrity lifestyle. 

 

mam1

Long Pros  – She had a tumor NOT a pimp beating

Long Pross did NOT lose her eye when stabbed by a brothel owner. It was removed by doctors as a result of a childhood tumor. This has been confirmed by Ms Pross, her parents and the doctors who performed the surgery.

 

If you saw Long Pross recounting her horrific experiences in a documentary made about the humanitarian work being done by Somaly Mam, might you feel inclined to make a donation to her Somaly Mam Foundation – committed as it is to stamping out sex slavery in Cambodia? Right?  -WRONG!!!!!

mam2Somaly Mam

If you saw a photo of Long Pross being hugged by Hilary Clinton, of Somaly snuggling up to Susan Sarandon and learned she was friends with Angelina Jolie, Meg Ryan and other Hollywood celebrities, would the thought even cross your mind  that Long Pross’ story might be a fabrication?

 

 

Long Pross & Hilary Clintonmam3

In 1998 a popular weekly French TV show – Envoye Special – screened a documentary about Somaly Mam, relatively unknown at the time, and the work she was doing rescuing girls and women from the sex trade.

 

mam4Somaly Mam & Susan Sarandan

In the opening scene  Meas Ratha, a 14 year old Cambodian girl, recounts her experiences in a brothel. Somaly sits at her side as Meas Ratha tells of how she had been promised a job as a waitress in Phnom Penh, but wound up a captive in a brothel.

 

“I have seven brothers and sisters. My family is very poor. My father has disappeared. One year ago my mother fell seriously ill. I was completely distraught. I was very young and I didn’t know what to do.”

 

At this point Meas Ratha bursts into tears. She receives a comforting squeeze from Somaly Mam before she continues with her horrific tale of sexual abuse.

 

But what if neither Long Pross’ or Meas Ratha’s is true? Would you still feel inclined to donate money to the Somaly Mam Foundation?

 

 

mam5

 

Somaly with one of her hundreds of  celebrity friends

 

The French documentary in which these two girls appeared launched Somaly Mam’s career as an internationally famous campaigner against sex slavery. The book she wrote about here life, “The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine” became a best seller, she featured in a book written by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicolas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl Wudunn’s  “Half the Sky” and played a starring role in a 2012 PBS series by the same name – inspired by Krisof and Wudnunn’s book.

mam6

Somaly Mam & celebrity

 

In 2009 Somaly was nominated by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential women in the world, she is feted by Hollywood celebrities, has become a celebrity herself and is an A-list fund raiser in the United States for her cause.

 

The credibility of Ms Mam’s account of her life and her work first came into serious doubt when she lied about the murder of 8 girls to a U.N. panel of international aid organizations and the media.

According to Somaly her organization, then known as AFESIP, coordinated a high profile police raid on a brothel in Phnom Penh in 2004. 83 women and girls were rescued and placed in the care of AFESIP. Ms Mam later told the UN panel that Cambodian police had entered AFESIP premises, taken 8 of the girls and murdered them. She was forced eventually to acknowledge that this story was a fabrication – that Cambodian police had neither kidnapped nor killed any girls at all.

 

Just as Somaly Mam played fast and loose with the truth regarding the murder of the eight girls (a whopper of a lie!), so too does the French documentary upon which her fame (and considerable fortune!) rests.

 

Long Pross did NOT lose her eye when stabbed by a brothel owner. It was removed by doctors as a result of a childhood tumor. This has been confirmed by Ms Pross, her parents and the doctors who performed the surgery.

mam7

Meas Ratha in 213

And 16 years after the Somaly Mam documentary was televised, Meas Ratha—now 32 years old and married—revealed in 2013 that the story she told about her life was fabricated and scripted for her by Somaly to help raise money for the work she was doing.

 

Somaly Mam’s lies do not end there. Somaly’s claim that her teenager daughter was kidnapped and suffered serious abuse at the hands of human traffickers was debunked by her former husband, Pierre Legros, who claimed that their daughter was not kidnapped but had run off with her boyfriend. According to Legross, Somaly’s  kidnapping story of was a means to “marketing for the Somaly Mam Foundation.”

 

Can any part of Somaly Mam’s story about her life – recounted in her 2007 autobiography, “The Road of Lost Innocence” – be relied upon to be true? Does it matter? Is it OK to telling whopping lies, as Ms Mam does, in order to raise money for (market) a good cause? And if it is OK for Somaly Mam to lie in the name of her good cause, it must surely be OK for other NGOs to lie in order to raise money for their good causes? Right?

Is it OK for everyone to lie to live a celebrity lifestyle?  

mam8

from Oprah Winfrey’s website Jan 2014

 

Whatever your position on this might be, a good lie, once told, tends to spread and become established fact – especially online, where those who pass on Chinese whispers do not want to let the facts, the truth, to stand in the way of a good and compelling story.

 

The following is to be found on Oprah Winfrey’s website in Jan 2014:

Children like Long Pross, kidnapped from her Cambodian village at age 13, are forced into a terrifying world of prostitution. She had not yet had sex or her first period. “The fear was overwhelming,” she says. “In a room they tied your hands, and outside there was a guard. If you resisted, they electrocuted you. Sometimes they electrocuted me twice a day if I argued too much…

 

Pross says she became pregnant twice. “The second time they waited until I was four months pregnant before they gave me the abortion,” she says.

Pross says when she asked for a few days of rest, her eye was gouged out with a piece of metal. When her eye became infected, the brothel considered her too mutilated to be worth anything and left her on the streets. An organization called Somaly Mam Foundation, founded by a former sex slave, stepped in to help Pross reclaim her life.

A compelling story but not a true one.

Does the conflation of fact and fiction here concern you? If, when you saw the photo of Long Pross and believed that she had been stabbed in the eye you felt inclined to make a contribution to the Somaly Mam Foundation, do you still feel so inclined?

Do  Somaly’s lies diminish the value of her organization’s work? Can we ever know, given her lies, whether her Foundation is effective or not in achieving its stated goals? Does the Somaly Mam Foundation deliver on its promises? Or is it primarily a money making and ego boosting exercise for Somaly – one that enables her to hang out with celebrities and live live a jet-setting life style?

Take a look at the graph below. Note that the Somaly Mam Foundation spends around $3.5 million on itself each year, whilst spending about $0.75 million (less that one quarter of the Foundation’s budget) on actually “eradicating sex trafficking and child prostitution in SE Asia.”

 

mam9
At the very least potential donors and sponsors (and all-too-gullible celebrities) should apply healthy skepticism before they fall for Somaly’s sales marketing pitch; before they fall for the marketing pitch of any NGO in the business of saving, rescuing, women and children in third world countries.

The sadder and the more compelling the story told (Long Pross and Meas Ratha’s, for instance), the cuter the kids smiling into the camera and asking for your help, the more inclined you will be to contribute to the flow of money into the NGO’s coffers.

Donor beware!

Before you sponsor a child or donate to any NGO ask as many questions as you can to help you separate fact from fiction; to distinguish between what an NGO says it does from what it actually does.  When it comes to Sex Trafficking victims,  lies are everywhere. 

 

Here are some good articles that have a good summary of the Somaly Mam, and Nicholas Kristof controversy about them lying about Sex Trafficking:

Change.org  petition to fire Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times

Swallowing the camel summary of Somaly Mam

Newsweek story of Somaly Mam

Laura Agustin on Somaly Mam

Cambodia Daily newspaper

 

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cambodia, charities, colorado, Denver, human trafficking, Long Pros, NGO, non-profit, philippines, prostitution, research, sex slavery, sex tourism, sex trafficking, Somaly Mam, statistics, Uncategorized
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