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Posts Tagged ‘Crumbling House’

A large number of organizations…[use] children to raise funds…the truth is distorted or the stories invented to attract more compassion and money.  The impact on the lives of these children is terrible:  If they come from an abusive situation, such a process re-traumatizes them and in any case it stigmatizes them forever.  –  Sébastien Marot

It’s starting.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria has run its course, and we’re now beginning to see the signs of its inevitable implosion.  Two and a half years ago in “Crystal Ball” I wrote,

…If things run according to form, we can predict that over the next three years skepticism about “trafficking” (especially in regard to its conflation with sex work) will slowly increase, and by about 2015 it will be possible for a major media outlet to publish articles critical of both the statistics and the very concept.  By 2017 public funding for anti-sex worker hate groups will begin to dry up, and by 2019 or 2020 we should expect it to virtually disappear from public discourse except for a wave of books and documentaries by “experts” who couldn’t be bothered to speak out against it while it was going on but are happy to make a quick buck from it after it’s safely over…

In the summer after that was published several UN agencies came out in support of decriminalization, and a number of human rights organizations followed; I also began to chronicle the increasing absurdity of “trafficking” claims.  Then last year, articles which were openly skeptical of the myth began to appear here and there, and ever-larger numbers of academics and journalists began to attack the fake statistics and the Swedish model so beloved of “trafficking” fetishists.  This past January the “gypsy whores” myth began to fall apart, and soon articles challenging the official narrative (including some by sex workers) began to proliferate.

Newsweek 5-30-14But perhaps the biggest blow yet came last Wednesday:  Simon Marks, who has been investigating rescue industry icon Somaly Mam for several years, published a full-length expose in the current issue of Newsweek.  Most of the story is not new; I’ve reported on Marks’ findings (and those of others) since the autumn of 2011, but as I explained in “Crumbling House”, neither the mainstream American press nor any of Mam’s many celebrity enablers seemed interested.  The Newsweek story, however, seems to have changed that; many US journalists who ignored or overlooked Mam’s lies while they were only being reported in blogs and foreign newspapers have now awakened to her incredible career of deceit.  And while regular readers already know about the fake “trafficking victims” and the daughter who was supposedly kidnapped and gang-raped by traffickers in retaliation for Mam’s activism (but actually just ran away with her boyfriend), the new article does contain one bombshell.  In November I reported that Mam’s ex-husband had cast doubt on her own claims of being “trafficked”, saying, “She was a prostitute.  Was she abused?  Yes.  Was she trafficked?  I doubt it.  No one has proof.”  But Marks now has much more:

…In her autobiography, Mam tells how “Grandfather” turned her at a very young age into his domestic slave.  He would gamble and drink, and when he came home, he sometimes beat her until she bled.  He eventually sold her as a virgin to a Chinese merchant and then forced her to marry a violent soldier when she was just 14.  She was later sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh, where she [claims she was] tortured with electrodes hooked up to a car battery…

Interviews with Mam’s childhood acquaintances, teachers and local officials in the village where she grew up contradict important, lurid details in her autobiography.  Many of the villagers in Thloc Chhroy say they never met or even saw Mam’s cruel “Grandfather,” the rich Chinese merchant who allegedly raped her or the violent soldier she says she was forced to marry.  Orn Hok, a former commune chief, remembers well the day Mam arrived in the village, noting, “Somaly came here with her parents.  She is a daughter of Mam Khon and Pen Navy.”  Pen Chhun Heng, now in her 70s, says she is a cousin of Mam’s mother and rejects the notion that Mam was adopted or that she was raised (or kept) by “Grandfather.”  Sam Nareth, a childhood friend of Mam’s, says Mam first attended school in the village in 1981 and remained there until she got her high school diploma.  “She finished secondary school in 1987, and Somaly and I went to sit the teachers exam in Kompong Cham together.”  Thou Soy, who was the director of Khchao High School in Thloc Chhroy, distinctly remembers Mam attending classes between 1981 and 1987, as does the current commune chief, Thorng Ruon, and his two predecessors.  Mam was well-known and popular in their small village, a happy, pretty girl with pigtails.

Not even Mam can keep the story straight.  In February 2012, while speaking at the White House, she said she was sold into slavery at age 9 or 10 and spent a decade inside a brothel.  On The Tyra Banks Show, she said it was four or five years in the brothel.  Her book says she was trafficked when she was “about 16 years old”…

There’s also additional information about the horrible way she treats her employees, but even more important are passages like this:

…Experts in sex trafficking say that…the scale and dynamics of the situation are often misunderstood, in part because of lurid, sensationalistic stories such as those told by Mam and her “girls”…In an interview for Euronews in 2012, Mam said girls as young as 3 are being held in Cambodian brothels.  Experts in the field say that is almost unheard-of.  Patrick Stayton, who formerly ran the…International Justice Mission (IJM) in Cambodia, says, “They may have had a supply of younger girls between the age of 14 and 17…We’ve never seen prepubescent girls, or very, very rarely”…Thomas Steinfatt, a professor of statistics at the University of Miami, has done several reports on sex trafficking for the U.N…he estimated there were no more than 1,058 victims of trafficking in Cambodia and has said the situation has improved markedly since then.  The number of children, both those observed as sex workers and those mentioned by management or…sex workers…was 127…

Kristof says OKThe comments, including many from other rescue industry folks who’ve known about this for years but were afraid to speak up against Somaly the rock star, are also very interesting; some are from a woman who calls herself “Angel” but appears to be either Somaly herself or a fanatically-loyal follower, dismissing all the evidence as lies against her fallen hero.  Nicholas Kristof, who has borrowed much of his anti-whore propaganda from Mam, has not yet made a statement; I’ll be surprised if he does, because like all rats he will desert a sinking ship.  But while Kristof and others like him will move on to new crusades as this one goes under, the days of the victim pimps who directly profit from “sex trafficking” hysteria are numbered.  Somaly Mam is only the first of the big names to crash; look for many new scandals and exposes to follow in the next two years.  But even after they’re all gone, it will take the better part of a generation to clean up the havoc they’ve wrought and to try to salvage the lives they’ve destroyed for their own profit, political advantage and self-aggrandizement.

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Project ROSE is a diversion program like a person who pushes ten people onto the train tracks and pulls three off is a hero.  –  Ryan Beck Turner

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

It’s especially satisfying when a vice cop is the victim:

…Denver police detective…Michael Ryan…[is under] investigation [for] solicitation of a prostitute…Ryan works in DPD’s Vice and Narcotics unit and was instrumental in the investigation that led to federal judge Edward Nottingham resigning in the face of accusations he had patronized prostitutes.  Ryan…also served on a human trafficking task force…

A False Dichotomy 

Another good essay from Belle Knox:

…The concept of the desperate exchange permeates discussions about sex work…People assume that my support for sex workers and porn is somehow invalidated because I chose to do porn for the money rather than for love.  They act as though this is some shocking victory for them because being a sex worker wasn’t my dream job…it now somehow reverts to being morally wrong, and I become another pitiable whore to be dismissed at leisure…of course I do porn for money.  It’s a job, not a summer retreat…The majority of people don’t work every day for fun; they do it because they want…something in exchange.  Do you honestly think that the people working at McDonald’s flipping burgers and responding to rude customers on a daily basis would come to work every day if they weren’t getting paid?  Moreover, do you think as a child their dream job was to do this?…

Rooted in Racism

Police in southern France have been accused of racism after asking local hotel owners to report the arrival of Eastern European guests, in a bid to crackdown on certain crimes like pimping…a national police union official [pretended]…”(It) would not violate the values of the Republic by advocating snitching…in the fight against pimping speed is essential”…French authorities have taken a hard line against the presence of Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria, repeatedly bulldozing their unsanctioned settlements and expelling them from France…

For more examples of “sex trafficking” and “the fight against prostitution” as excuses for racism and xenophobia, see here, here, here and here.

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

It takes a special kind of stupidity for a reporter to call for censorship:

Young girls are being sold online for sex…but not much is being done to stop…the most popular websites…Backpage.com…makes millions of dollars each month from “escort” and “body rub” listings.  Portland police…said it’s frustrating to know Backpage.com makes money off illegal activity, but if it went away, another similar site that is less cooperative with law enforcement would likely pop up…

Divided We Fall

when…Queer Strike “named and shamed” LGBTI organizations who they said were refusing to help decriminalize sex work in the [UK], the picture they gave was misleading…in most cases it simply wasn’t part of those organizations’ remits.  This is a particular issue under British charity law, which means they have to stick to their stated “charitable aims”…

Feet of Clay

I’m really pleased to see Reason doing a lot more on sex worker rights these days, and doubly glad to see “sex trafficking” in scare quotes:

…If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their…forebears, it might be September 24, 2012.  That’s when Village Voice Media…split off…Backpage.com after a years-long, progressive-led campaign to shutter the site over claims that it facilitates “sex trafficking”.  “If street pimps go to jail for profiteering on under-age girls, should…Village Voice Media really get a pass?”  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003.  “Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power.  So it’s sad to see it accept business from pimps”…Kristof had the paradox almost exactly backward.  It is he and his fellow crusaders, not the buyers and sellers of controversial products and services, who are aggrandizing power at the expense of the little guy and mangling truth in the service of that unseemly goal…

True Colors

This title of this New Yorker article would seem to indicate a general piece about HIV in the American South, but it’s really much more about Deon Haywood, Women With a Vision and the arson which destroyed their offices on May 24th, 2012.  The responsible party was never caught, but here’s a clue:  the fire was started by piling up all the reproductive health models and posters in one room and setting them ablaze.

Think of the Children! (TW3 #23) Christy Mack

Sex rays can apparently enter one Lego construction and be randomly emitted from other Legos elsewhere, presumably via quantum tunneling:

[In January]…Christy Mack…tweeted [“Whoever builds me the best Lego creation to put in my house gets a blow job”]… The response on Twitter was enthusiastic, to say the least…Unfortunately for Mack’s fans, and toy store proprietors nationwide…the Lego challenge drew to an abrupt close…[when] lawyers for the company had contacted her, objecting to her usage of the Lego name…

Broken Record

They won’t stop until they extend the “gypsy whores” myth to every possible event:  “An undercover sting operation targeting prostitution and child sex trafficking netted five arrests in Augusta [Georgia]…because of the Masters Golf Tournament…

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism” (TW3 #36)

Who cares that a woman was stabbed?  The sadfeelz of naïve prudes are much more newsworthy!

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

According to the Post, having a snack at your desk is “turning prime office space into a temporary restaurant”.

Under Every Bed

The underworld of prostitution and human trafficking is a dark one, often hidden from the public eye, but it exists in [Alabama] a lot more than one may think…”We used to be just a pass through state,” said Pat McCay with the Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force.  “They would come from Atlanta to Memphis…Now they are staying”…

The event which sparked all this portentous talk of vast criminal cartels?  A cop arrested a massage girl.  Of course the reporter has to get the usual self-important bile from a “legitimate” masseuse.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) 

As the days pass with no sign of [missing 8-year-old] Relisha [Rudd], some…believe she may have been sold into a child sex trafficking operation.  They point to the wads of cash and expensive items Relisha’s mother and boyfriend flaunted on Facebook in the days following the little girl’s disappearance…Andrea Powell…of FAIR Girls…says, “There’s kids as young as 5, 6, 7.”  The average age of entry into this dark and devastating underworld is 13…Relisha RuddIn Washington, D.C. alone, the trafficking of children is a $100-million industry…

Given that the population of the Washington metro area is 5.8 million, that would make the “trafficking of children” worth over $5 billion in the US as a whole.  The level of mathematical illiteracy required to believe such a blatant absurdity constitutes a national crisis vastly greater than “sex trafficking” could ever be.

I Saw My Brain

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Fla…brought felony charges…in October 2013 against two girls, 12 and 14, after the suicide a month earlier of a third girl, Rebecca Sedwick…[Judd] charged the two girls, Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, with aggravated stalking and released their names and mugshots…He made it sound like they posed an urgent risk…A month later, prosecutors dropped the charges after…failing to find evidence of [Judd’s claims]…Judd’s tendency to overdo it isn’t news to the voters who elected him…a…suspect [was shot]…68 times…he boasted of arresting a man for running an Internet pornography site out of his home…[he] took the basketball hoops out of the local jail and stopped supplying inmates with underwear…[he uses] pepper spray on detained juveniles

Micromanagement

Is there anything more worthless than an “authority’s” promise?

French investigators began taking DNA samples…from 527 male students and staff at a high school…as they searched for the assailant who raped a teenage girl on the closed campus…All those who received summonses…were warned that any refusal could land them in police custody…Authorities have promised to discard the DNA collected once a donor is eliminated as a suspect…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #338)

A French fundamentalist priest repeatedly raped three teachers at the school he ran in…Paris during so-called exorcisms…[he] was indicted this week on charges of rape, cruelty and torture…he had first raped one teacher during an exorcism to purge her of the “evil” from a previous sexual assault…[then] used his “spiritual influence” to convince two [others]…to undergo similar exorcisms…[which included torture with] a broom, a toothbrush and scissors…Police became involved only last year when two of the women reported the rapes to authorities…[but] several years ago the…society of St. Pius X tried him in a religious hearing and sentenced him to two years in a monastery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

A strong criticism of the ethical bankruptcy of Project ROSE from academics studying “human trafficking”:

This program is ostensibly designed to “rescue” victims…of sexual exploitation, yet there is no form of victim identification at any point in the process.  Rather than attempting to assess whether someone is being coerced…they threaten the arrested person with prosecution…If sex trafficking victims/survivors do not meet the “perfect victim” criteria and are convicted, they will face mandatory minimum sentencing in Arizona’s particularly brutal prison system…It…bears little resemblance to anything that could be considered an anti-sex trafficking program…and…is a tragically absurd version of a “diversion” program.  Instead of keeping people out of the criminal justice system, it sweeps them up and funnels them in…Project ROSE is responsible for at least 100 percent more incarcerations than “diversions”…ASU social workers…are acting like colonial missionaries – they offer to “save” the sex workers they perceive as helpless and damaged, but should [they] not gratefully accept…“help,” then armed…men are at the ready – “for their own good.”

Crumbling House

We are aware of certain allegations that have surfaced…regarding Somaly’s history…We are treating these accusations with the utmost seriousness…the Foundation has recently launched an independent, third party investigation to further examine these claims …

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

According to STRASS, sex workers are increasingly marginalized and insecure since the parliamentary debate on the criminalization of clients…attacks against prostitutes have increased…On the night of March 31…a Chinese prostitute was stabbed to death…“Her assailant was known to be a bad customer so she would have refused him if she had the means.  But she had been unable to work for several days, due to constant police operations targeting Chinese women, and was therefore unable to take the time to choose her customers” said a STRASS statement…The police harassment has been repeatedly denounced by Doctors of the World…

Surplus Women (TW3 #413)

Remember, three weeks ago they were saying there was no serial killer.

Two registered sex offenders have been arrested in connection with killing four women in Orange County…[targeting them] because of their ties to prostitution or escort services, and investigators suspect there are more victims yet to be identified…Franc Cano…and Steven Dean Gordon…were arrested Friday evening…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #415)

the Upper House of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for an objective debate…amid plans by the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats to reform the German Prostitution Act of 2002…The Bundesrat found that debates in the public sphere and in the media were still based on prejudices, a lack of knowledge and sensationalism.  The Bundesrat particularly opposed the blanket equation of prostitution and human trafficking…[and] opposed the introduction of mandatory health checks, judging them as unreasonable and hardly expedient…

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The violence of a john does not diminish the role of the state in making a prostitute more vulnerable to that violence.  –  Beverley McLachlin and other justices of the Canadian Supreme Court

R.I.P. Al Goldstein Al Goldstein

Al Goldstein, the gleefully-controversial publisher of Screw magazine, died on December 19th after a long illness and an even longer decline in fortunes; he was 77.  Screw debuted in 1968 as a sort of déclassé foil to Playboy, and Goldstein was arrested many times on obscenity charges; my very first memorable exposure to anti-sex feminism was an episode of the Tomorrow show in which a neofeminist dumped a shredded copy of Screw on his head (I was 12 or 13 at the time).  The New York Times obit is excellent, and worth your time; though his name is less well-known than those of the more successful and mainstream porn magnates, Goldstein was a lot more influential than you may realize and is remembered quite fondly by many in both the sex and publishing industries.

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism”

[A] nude named Juno, painted by baroque artist G E Schröder, had hung in the guest dining room for some 30 years before deputy speaker Susanne Eberstein [ordered it removed]…”It is…a feminist issue.  It’s tiresome (looking at) a bare-breasted woman when I sit at public dinners with foreign guests.  I think it feels a little hard to sit there with men who look at us women”…Eberstein explained.

Secret Squirrel

The DriveSafe device can be inserted into the onboard diagnostics port of any non-hybrid/electric car made after 1996…[and] communicates via Bluetooth with the Esurance smart phone app.  Parents can then fine-tune what their kids’ phones can do.  “Customize block lists so they can’t tweet but can still access navigation apps and receive calls from you,” Esurance suggests.  Or simply disable texting…it also tracks every aspect of a teen’s drive:  how fast they went, how quickly they accelerated, how hard they braked, and where they went…

Against Their Will

Kamalabai Pani…of Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad (VAMP)…in India…[recalled a] raid on…May 20th, 2005…[which] came on the heels of VAMP’s sister organization Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha (SANGRAM) turning down funds from USAID [because of the “anti-prostitution pledge”]…“The police…dragged [sex workers] off by the hair…[they] were beaten and dragged to the vans”…The raid was timed during a school holiday.  “It was May and the schools were on vacation, so [girls visiting] their mothers [could be arrested and represented as “trafficking victims”]…a smear campaign [was then] launched against SANGRAM…claiming that USAID had terminated [their] funding…because they were traffickers and had tried to “thwart rescue efforts”…The raid…was initiated by…Restore International, a Christian NGO under the leadership of Greg Malstead…[who later] continued to harass the sex worker community…detail from Juno by G E Schröder

The Crumbling Dam

The City of Vancouver [BC] is looking to repeal an anachronistic 1923 bylaw that requires club managers to…not allow a ‘prostitute or person of evil repute’ to enter…

Follow Your Bliss

American missionary Daniel Johnson…was arrested…in relation to sex crimes committed in the U.S. and…is now accused of raping five boys…between the ages of 11 and 15 at an orphanage in [Phnom Penh]…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #137)

Beijing has heralded this year’s decision to abolish re-education through labour (RTL) camps…But human rights groups say…thousands of people are still…held in a parallel system known as “custody and education”, overseen by public security officials rather than judges.  Unlike prisoners…the detainees [most of them sex workers, are used as slave labor and] must pay living costs and take compulsory tests for sexually transmitted diseases…

Flush Criminalization

Scott Greenfield on the effects Kathleen Rice’s ugly “end demand” campaign:

…our Protestant ethic condemns the sale of sex and vilifies those engaged in it, regardless of whether it fits within the paradigm of loose, evil women or victims of evil sex trafficking…the latter…gave Kathleen Rice the perfect opportunity to…score points…But…as Newsday reports, it wasn’t the johns, but Rice’s prosecutions,  getting flushed…So far, there have been six guilty pleas and five dismissals.  Not a very good average, given that Rice gets to cherry pick her prosecutions.  In fact, it’s a total disaster.  But…these accused johns…[were] publicly humiliated by the arrest, the detention…Rice’s poster, the cost of hiring a lawyer and appearing in court over and over…[at least one’s] wife is divorcing him…Most people, including those who cling dearly to their Puritanism, don’t think breaking up families is an appropriate goal of the legal system…But…as long as there is that lie in small print at the bottom…Rice…gets all the benefits of public adoration with none of the responsibility for destroying the lives of the innocent…

Opting Out

I really wish I didn’t have to say “I told you so” quite so often.

Pornography filters used by major internet service providers are blocking websites offering sex education and advice on sexual health and porn addiction…[while] failing to block hardcore porn-hosting sites…Among the sites…blocked as “pornographic” was BishUK.com, an award-winning…sex education site…Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse CentreSexual Health Scotland,  Doncaster Domestic Abuse Helpline, and Reducing The Risk, [another]…domestic abuse…site…

Not to mention EFF, Blogspot, Boing Boing and the site you’re reading now.  However, you can get around this:

A Google Chrome…extension…[called] “Go Away Cameron”…will allow UK internet users to visit any site they want, bypassing government restrictions…The creator of the…extension,…@nubela, said that…the add-on simply picks up the government block and bypasses it…

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #337) Chris Grayling as Scrooge

For the first time this Christmas, people in [UK] prison will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones under petty and mean new rules introduced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.  The new rules…forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are exceptional circumstances…families are prevented from sending in basic items…such as cards, paper…pens…books…magazines…clothes and underwear…Instead people in prison are now forced to pay for these items out of their meagre prison wages to private companies who make a profit from selling goods to prisoners…

Imaginary Evils

A new article by Dr. Nick Mai on “sex trafficking” in the UK:

The moral panic on the supposed prevalence of trafficking in the global sex industry rests on a lie:  that the majority of sex workers are trafficked.  In fact, the opposite is true.  However, on the basis of this fiction, the dangerous abolitionist campaigns in favour of the criminalisation of clients…are gaining ground in several EU countries  …our research [found] that…only…about 6% of female interviewees …felt that they had been deceived and forced into selling sex…Most …thought their rights could be more asserted and their vulnerability reduced by decriminalising sex work…All…thought that restrictive migration policies and…criminalization…make people more likely to take risks and accept undignified and dangerous working conditions…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #342)

Following a series of articles in…The Guardian, ICRSE and many sex workers organisations, academics and allies have signed a letter demanding…fairer representation [of] the debate on criminalisation of clients.  To this date, the letter [has] not been published…”  The letter corrects both (unintentional?) errors on the part of the Guardian itself and (deliberate) misstatements of fact in Swedish model propaganda, and was signed by many whose names you may recognize.

Crumbling House

Pierre Fallavier, who…advised [Somaly Mam’s organization] Afesip between 1999 and 2007, wrote…that from the beginning of his relationship with the organization, [staff raised] concerns…that [victim narratives]…disseminated by Afesip [were] “exaggerated”…Fallavier said…“[I] find it unfair to point solely at Afesip for fabricating stories…This…is the approach that all major international NGOs use…They take bits and parts of the life stories of different beneficiaries and make up a ‘typical’ sob story…they are unapologetic, and…it is well known to anyone working in that sector…This is marketing…and it is only with extreme stories that they will get people to give the cash they need”…

Perverse Incentives banner

Unbound

The debate on Cato Unbound is drawing to a close; in all, I had four essays (plus an upcoming conclusion which will appear Monday or Tuesday), neofeminist prohibitionist Dianne Post had four, researcher Ronald Weitzer had three and “sex trafficking” NGO rep Steven Wagner had only the one.  If you haven’t read the entire issue yet, why not take advantage of the holiday lull to catch up before my conclusion next week?

Under Every Bed (TW3 #349)

The latest installment in Al Jazeera’s rapid descent into “trafficking” hysteria:

…Most victims of [sex] trafficking…in Spain come from Brazil, China, Nigeria, Paraguay and Romania, according to the police, who estimate the number of victims in the country at 12,000 and the earnings of the sex trafficking rings…at 5mn euros ($6mn) a day…”they don’t tend to recognise that they are victims,” said Paula Mandillo…with Mujer Emancipada…The first European Commission  report on human trafficking in Europe…put the number of victims between 2008 and 2010 at 23,632…Spain had the second-highest number of victims…in the European Union, after Italy…sex trafficking rings often use babies…to coerce [victims] into forced prostitution…[so] authorities…are…carrying out DNA tests on women and children at border posts, to verify that they are related…

If Spain has 12,000 “victims” and it’s second after Italy with 12,001, that gives the two countries together 24,001 of the total 23,632 victims.  Obviously math skills are not a requirement for either police work or reporting.

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #351)

Look for a full column on the Canadian Supreme Court’s landmark decision week after next; I’m waiting to see if any politicians will open their mouths to insert their feet.  But in the meantime, here are three standout pieces on the subject.  First, one of the lawyers on the case expressed her opinion on one politician’s call for the Swedish model:

Elin Sigurdson…[said] “asymetrical criminalization…isn’t consistent” with the…ruling…”The same issue of danger and jeopardy will persist when one of the parties rather than the other is criminalized…it couldn’t be upheld under this decision…because you’re going to find the exact same problems persisting”…

Then Dr. Brooke Magnanti weighed in:

…Already, the decision is being decried by the losing side with complaints of how dangerous it would be for Canada to become “the next Amsterdam.”  On the one hand this is true:  the Dutch system does not work.  I have a friend who is an escort in the Netherlands and her home is regularly raided by police who accuse her of running an unlicensed brothel, even though she’s an independent escort who works alone…sex workers would prefer to not work in a country like the Netherlands…and certainly not in the dangerous and misguided setup endorsed by Sweden…most sex workers advocate for full decriminalization—as seen in the laws of New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia—as the best way to ensure minimum abuses and maximum access to rights…This is a view also supported by the WHO, UNAIDS, and other international aid agencies…Will Canada’s government craft a model of decriminalization, or something else, in the year until the new ruling takes effect?…

And on that last point, from Australia:Nikki Thomas, Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott

…The Swedish model…works to silence any alternatives to the narrative trope of pitiful victim in need of rescue…[it makes] big claims about ending prostitution…but the research does not back this up…and…sex workers [are] further stigmatized…sex workers…can guide our social policies towards best practice…Can we hear their voices ringing loud and clear?

Catastrophic Consequences

Because “bottleneck effect” is not in the lawhead vocabulary:

Health chiefs in Edinburgh want a network of tightly-regulated brothels to replace…[the] saunas…NHS Lothian revealed the plan during discussions with police and other agencies…Police Scotland are determined to close down Edinburgh’s saunas despite warnings that it will drive the sex trade underground and increase crime and sexually-transmitted diseases…A terse email from an unnamed NHS official said:  “Sauna owners are speaking to us about condoms and they are suggesting Police Scotland are insisting that ‘no items of a sexual nature will be permitted on the premises’…This will cause us big problems in terms of public health.”  Police Scotland replied…[that their] “aim is to stop the saunas being used for criminality – i.e. brothel keeping and other illegal activities”…

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The truth which makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.  –  Herbert Agar

The Road of Lost InnocenceEven ignoring the immorality of using lies to support one’s agenda, there is another major problem with the tactic:  unlike the truth, lies are unable to stand on their own.  Facts are what they are; even if they are neglected, forgotten, buried and denied they continue to exist, waiting to be uncovered again.  Events produce effects, and the evidence of those effects may not always be obvious to those interested in hiding the truth; it simply rests wherever it falls, awaiting a future day of discovery.  A lie, on the other hand, is like a wooden house in a wet climate: without constant maintenance it will soon begin to rot and fall apart, and if there are forces actively working against it that day will come sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, it is the nature of human folly that most of our species prefer comfortable lies to uncomfortable truths, and even when those lies start to collapse many will ignore the process until the roof falls in on their heads…at which point they will invariably insist it was due to sabotage by their enemies rather than to the inherent unsoundness of the construction.

Somaly Mam has built an elaborate edifice of lies in which to house her extremely profitable business, and has never been terribly concerned about those she has hurt in the process.  In my column “Schadenfreude” I wrote,

…Cambodian police, aided and abetted by Somaly Mam (who is herself financed by money from neofeminists, religious fanatics, trafficking alarmists and the garment industry), have conducted a series of high-profile brothel raids and streetwalker sweeps, often accompanied by Western journalists like Nicholas Kristof who are interested in advancing their careers and reputations by pandering to “trafficking” hysteria.  None of these people care one iota about the lives, needs and desires of women; “rescuing” whores is to them nothing but a means to their own personal ends, and after the cameras stop rolling or Kristof stops “tweeting”  they are no more interested in these women’s welfare than they would be in the container which held a portion of recently-consumed food.  The “rescued victims” are thrown into filthy, crowded cells at Somaly Mam’s “rehabilitation centers” where they are beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved while their “savior” hobnobs with celebrities and receives accolades from anti-whore fanatics.  Young girls who submit to brainwashing become…“poster children” and older ones are sent as slaves to sweatshops, while those who refuse are simply left to rot unless they can escape.  Groups like Human Rights Watch have repeatedly protested this horrific abuse, and sex worker rights groups have released short documentaries like “Caught Between the Tiger and the Crocodile” or videos like “Somaly Uh Uh” in order to alert Westerners to the atrocities their ignorant and ill-considered jihad against harlotry has enabled…

Long ProsBut in the two years since that essay, Mam’s jerry-built structure has begun to crumble.  First, it was revealed that women she had claimed in her press releases as underage and coerced were neither, and those she claimed to have been murdered or abducted by “traffickers” were alive and well.  Her ex-husband also revealed that their daughter, whom Mam claimed “had…been kidnapped and gang-raped in revenge for her mother’s activism …had simply run off with her boyfriend”; the daughter, who lives with her mother, has confirmed that.  A year ago it was revealed that Long Pros, a young woman whose eye had supposedly been gouged out by a “pimp”, and whom Mam had exploited as an “anti-trafficking” poster child, had never been involved in sex work and had lost her eye to a tumor.  Just last month Meas Ratha, Mam’s very first iconic “trafficking victim” at the beginning of her crusade in 1998, said she could no longer live a lie; she admitted that (like Long Pros) she had never been a sex worker, and that “her testimony…was fabricated and scripted for her by Ms. Mam.”  Former “rescued sex slaves” who worked for Mam’s organization AFESIP have reported endemic sexual harassment and even rape by male bosses, especially two named Phana and Ou Sophan (the latter one of Mam’s relatives); those who reported them were fired and anyone who sided with the victims was disciplined.  And in a recent interview, Mam’s ex-husband disputed even her own claims of having been “trafficked”:  “She was a prostitute.  Was she abused?  Yes.  Was she trafficked?  I doubt it.  No one has proof.

As you might expect, Mam’s organization denies everything.  She “misspoke” when she made false accusations of murder and rape.  A spokeswoman who insisted that Long Pros’ parents, doctors and medical records were all wrong told reporters, “you are now bullying victims of sex slavery.”   The reaction to Meas Ratha’s revelation was, “We don’t know why, nor will we speculate on why Meas Ratha has allegedly made [these] claims,” accompanied by an accusation that the paper which reported the story “has never been historically fair with Somaly” and is involved in a “witch hunt”.  “Trafficking” fetishist Nicholas Kristof, one of the major proponents of Mam’s legend, doesn’t care; his assistant told a reporter, “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.”  And not one of the Hollywood stars, American politicians or fashion-industry moguls who have feted, promoted and bankrolled Mam and her exploitative “foundation” have seen fit to distance themselves from her or to publicly demand an explanation.  It won’t be long before they’re forced to do so by increasing media attention,Somaly Mam and Nick Kristof but I don’t expect much fanfare; they’ll just quietly exit the collapsing building, dust off their expensive designer clothes, and move on to the next celebrity fad without so much as a word of apology to those who have been brutalized, marginalized and infantilized by the wicked schemes of the greedy, unscrupulous woman they have enabled for over a decade.

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