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February 11, 2006

USAID funding pro-prostitution group in India?

Congressman Accuses USAID of Establishing Pro-Prostitution Group in India and Lying About It.
February 10, 2006
Volume 9, Number 8

The Chairman of a US House subcommittee on criminal justice has charged the US Agency for International Development (USAID) with setting up a pro-prostitution group in India and lying about it to Congressional staff.

In his February 6th letter to Randall Tobias, US Global Aids Coordinator, Representative Mark Souder, goes on to charge USAID personnel with deliberately setting up a non-governmental organization (NGO) precisely to hide deliberate violations of a federal law which forbids US financial support of pro-prostitution activity.

It came to light some months ago that a group in Indian called Sampada Grameen Mahila Sansthat (SAMGRAM) was working to stop other groups from helping underage girls out of prostitution. It was further charged that SAMGRAM was receiving US financial assistance, a violation of the US Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003, which forbids US funds from being used "to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution of sex trafficking." USAID has denied the charge and a USAID staff member told Congressional staff that such inquiries by the subcommittee were "destructive."

In his letter, Souder says he has come into possession of documents that "prove that USAID money financed the pro-prostitution SANRAM though a second organization called Avert, which was established with the assistance of four USAID employees as a pass through entity." He further charged in his letter that "USAID held the ex-officio Vice-Chairmanship of Avert since its inception."

The Bush Administration has been in the leadership of global efforts to eliminate human sex trafficking. The charges demonstrate how there can be a disconnect between the wishes of an executive administration and the entrenched bureaucracy.

USAID has refused to publicly comment on the charges leveled by Representative Souder. USAID did not respond to the Friday Fax's request for comment.