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May 9, 2007

Chadian Government to demobilize child soldiers, denies targeted conscription

BBC: Chad demobilises child soldiers
Chad's government has signed a deal with the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) to begin demobilising child soldiers from its national army.

The agreement is a U-turn for the government, which as always denied that it has had under-age fighters.

In a recent Unicef investigation more than 300 child soldiers were discovered in one town alone.

Chad's minister for external relations, Djidda Moussa Outman, says the army has never purposely recruited children.

"A few days ago, in the town of Mongo, we began to demobilise 200 to 300 children from the Chadian army," Mr Outman said.

A good proportion of the children were reportedly between eight and 11 years old.

"This is already a strong sign of our goodwill. The government has never knowingly signed up children into the Chadian army. It's young people who forge their birth certificates," the minister said.

"If they come to sign up we cannot know they are lying. What happens in Europe is not the same in Africa. But we are now taking concrete actions to remove them quickly from the national army."

He gave an assurance that the government is trying to educate people that youths should not be recruited.

Unicef's Steve Adkisson says the recruitment of child fighters is widespread in Chad - the true number is not known.


Clearly, the issue of Chad's child soldiers is not something that will be solved overnight.

But now the government's admitted that it does have a problem, there is hope that many hundreds of children can finally return home to safety.

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April 6, 2007

Yemeni human traffickers drown African migrants

32 migrants drown when forced into sea
SAN'A, Yemen - Human traffickers wielding knives forced about 300 African migrants to jump into the sea off Yemen early Friday, causing at least 32 to drown, a Yemeni security official said.

The migrants, mostly Ethiopians and Somalis, were packed into two rickety boats that had crossed the Gulf of Aden from Somalia when their crews forced them overboard as they approached Yemen's coast, the official said.

Survivors said those who stood up to the crew were stabbed, beaten and thrown overboard, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The incident is the latest case of abuse of people trying to get to Yemen from the Horn of Africa, where violence has escalated, especially since Ethiopia intervened in the armed struggle between Somalia's U.N.-supported interim government and Islamic groups.

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March 23, 2007

Yemini military enlisting child soldiers to combat Shiite rebels

Jane Novak at Yemen: From Nepotism to Internal Jihad
In the current round of fighting, the Yemeni military has augmented its ranks with child soldiers, tribesmen, and jihadis. Several induction centers have been opened and local media report that children as young as 15 have been given weapons and sent to the front with no training. Tribesmen from President Saleh's tribe, the Hashid Confederation, have also volunteered and been inducted for service in the thousands. As the Believing Youth are from the Bakil Tribal Confederation, military deployment of tribal irregulars has increased the threat of all-out tribal warfare.

Yemeni jihadis, unlike Yemen's child soldiers, are extremely well trained. Many are veterans of prior conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and other jihadist campaigns. Some currently receive terrorist training in Yemen, reportedly with aid from some top military commanders. Saleh's use of Salafist proxies dates back at least to Yemen's 1994 civil war, when jihadis targeted Southern Socialist forces that had been labeled as apostates.

Thanks to Eric at Vince Aut Morire for the tip.

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March 22, 2007

Federal judge blocks '98 Child Online Protection Act

U.S. Judge Blocks 1998 Online Porn Law
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 22, 2007; 9:59 AM

PHILADELPHIA -- A federal judge on Thursday dealt another blow to government efforts to control Internet pornography, striking down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for commercial Web site operators to let children access "harmful" material.

In the ruling, the judge said parents can protect their children through software filters and other less restrictive means that do not limit the rights of others to free speech.

"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection," wrote Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr., who presided over a four-week trial last fall.

The law would have criminalized Web sites that allow children to access material deemed "harmful to minors" by "contemporary community standards." The sites would have been expected to require a credit card number or other proof of age. Penalties included a $50,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

Sexual health sites, the online magazine and other Web sites backed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law. They argued that the Child Online Protection Act was unconstitutionally vague and would have had a chilling effect on speech.
Chilling effect?

What is "chilling" is the indifference of such "free speech advocates" as and the ACLU to the reality of the now further increased ease of access for children to such a dehumanizing, desensitizing and corruptive poison.

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March 6, 2007

Global warming and prostitution link?

Global Warming: now it hits brothels
Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages.

They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.

Petra Nestorova, who runs an escort agency in Sofia, said: "We have hired students, but they are temps and nothing like our elite girls."

What else can you say?

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February 25, 2007

Goa developing plan to combat sex tourism

The Navhind Times: Action plan devised to curb sex tourism: CM

NT Staff Reporter

Panaji, Feb25 Goa by no means is a sex capital, where tourist can come and pay for sex -- we do not want to become Bangkok, Bali or Pataya, said the Chief Minister, Mr Prataphsing Rane this evening.

Addressing the inaugural session of a two-day workshop on ‘Prevention and combating human trafficking with special focus on children and women’ at a South Goa resort, Mr Rane revealed that a Goa state action plan has been devised with a code of conduct for foreign tourists who visit the state to curb the growing menace of trafficking of women and children, which lead to prostitution and paedophilia.

Trafficking in human beings, more so in women and children, is one of the fastest growing forms of criminal activity, next to drugs and weapons, generating unaccountable profits annually. The reasons for this increase are multiple and complex, affecting rich and poor countries alike -- India being no exception.

Of late, there is an expanding market for commercial sexual exploitation through non- brothel-based modalities wherein the trafficked persons are made to pose as attendants, masseurs and bartenders. Child pornography is another area that requires concerted attention. Sex tourism is also growing and India is emerging as a major tourist destination.

Speaking further, Mr Rane said women and children are the greatest sufferers during any calamity and poverty is a great evil, which forces women and children into sex racket, which is a shame to modern society. There are 800 red light areas in the country where 75 per cent of the women are HIV positive. This is both alarming and a setback for a country which is trying to jump economically ahead.

By eradication of poverty and illiteracy, the problem may be combated and the coming assembly budget session will be directed to women and children, especially of the rural sector of society, so as to make them independent, he said.

Further referring to statistics, Mr Rane highlighted how Goa being a tourism hotspot has attracted trafficking of both women and children. Paedophilia is a matter of concern, and is on the rise, he added.

The Goa Governor, Mr S C Jamir said that consciousness needs to be aroused amongst the people to solve what he described as one of the most formidable challenges faced by the society today; mere laws, legislations and NGOs would not be enough. Trafficking of children is not only a crime but also a shame to society and seeing the statistics which show that the same is on the rise, we must concentrate more on prevention than on rehabilitation, the Governor said.
Read the rest here.

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September 4, 2006

Jackson, MS: Alleged child pornographer held after police altercation

Accused Child Pornographer Arrested After Attacking Police
Child Pornographer Caught After Attacking Police
By Julie Straw

A West Jackson man has been arrested after attacking two Jackson Police Officers. After taking him into custody the officers make a frightening discovery, pornographic pictures of a minor. Neighbors say this is not the first time.

Around 7:45 Monday morning, police received an anonymous tip about a young girl being mistreated. Officers responded, arriving at a home located in the 4300 block of Thomas Catchings Drive, formerly known as South Drive. JPD Commander Lee Vance says police approached Ted Mauldin, a white male in his late 40's, for questioning.

"Mr. Mauldin at that time became very aggressive and violent towards our police officers. One of our officers had to call for assistance. She and the second officer were able to take Mr. Mauldin into custody after quite a struggle," Commander Vance says.

Police then entered the home and found a 17 year old girl, but that's not all.

Vance says, "We also discovered nude photographs of that 17 year old."

Police say the teenager was not abducted. Officers returned her to her mother. Meanwhile, nearby residents say this isn't the first time police have visited Mauldin's home. They say police confiscated sexually explicit photos a couple of months ago, but weren't able to locate Mauldin until now.

Antonio Cooper says, "They found pictures and they found all kinds of different people. Different little kids, girls, they even found some little boys."

Neighbor's say this is especially frightening because Ted Mauldin's house is located right across the street from Viola E. Lake Elementary School.

"I have a little daughter come over from time to time," Cooper says. "She comes out and rides her bicycle over there. And I wouldn't want that to happen to nobody's child especially not mine."

Commander Vance says a thorough investigation is underway. He credits concerned citizens for keeping a watchful eye and protecting their community.

"This individual who made this call should be highly commended. We need more people like that to give us information. And as a result of that tip, we were able to get this individual into custody and hopefully keep any more children out of danger," Vance says.

Ted Mauldin has been charged with exploitaion of a minor, disorderly conduct, and assault on a police officer. The officers involved suffered minor injuries.
I'll second Commander Vance -- great job by the anonymous citizen who supplied the tip. Community involvement is one of the best ways to protect our children.

Hopefully, those children in the photographs can be indentified so that they may be offered counseling and assistance as needed.

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August 30, 2006

Uganda: Will cease-fire end use of child conscripts, sex slaves in war torn nation?

AP: Cease-Fire Brings Hope to Uganda

A cease-fire between Uganda's government and a shadowy rebel movement that has terrorized this east African nation for nearly two decades went into effect Tuesday.

The truce signed Saturday is aimed at ending the brutal war between the government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, notorious for cutting off the tongues and lips of innocent civilians, enslaving thousands of children, and driving nearly 2 million people from their homes.


U.N. officials estimate Kony's guerrillas kidnapped 20,000 children in the past 19 years, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves for rebel commanders. Rebel attacks and atrocities drove 1.7 million people to flee.

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August 29, 2006

DOJ to host National Trafficking Conference in New Orleans in October 2006

From the August 2006 issue of the Anti-Trafficking Bulletin published by the Department of Justice (also available in PDF format).
The Justice Department has selected New Orleans for the first of three annual conferences designed to advance the federal government's knowledge base about human trafficking within the United States and to improve access by practitioners to usable research about human trafficking. As Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Wan J. Kim explained: "We hope to take the first steps toward acquiring a broader research base that will inform law enforcement managers about where to allocate investigative resources. For example, we want to learn more about informal labor markets where some labor brokers engage in criminal exploitation of laborers." The conference will also build on the Department's initial national conference held in 2004 in Tampa, Florida. [Photo of Assistant Attorney General Wan Kim] That conference led to the creation of 20 multi disciplinary task forces designed to undertake proactive investigations. "By the time of the conference we will have 42 task forces, so once again we will invite key team members from each task force to participate," said Kim. "We are expecting each participant to help us understand what they need in the area of research to do a better job of targeting our law enforcement resources." The conference, to be held October 3-5, 2006, is the first of three congressionally funded annual conferences that the Justice Department will implement.

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August 7, 2006


Posting has been near non-existent the past few weeks (and will continue to be so, for the next couple of weeks) because I am gearing up for a major relocation.

I have several articles to post about regarding some interesting developments that I hope to share with you in the near future.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience and please, do check back often in case I am able to sneak a post in here or there.


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July 18, 2006

The exaggeration of America's domestic battle against human trafficking

In my opinion, a very important editorial from Tampa Bay Online: Bush's Anti-Slavery Initiative Falters In Quest For Freedom
Two years ago today, President Bush came to Tampa to announce a $30 million initiative against human trafficking, casting our city as a hot spot in the selling of human lives.

Yet two years later, not a single local trafficking case has been made.

Could it be that our human trafficking problem, which caught so many of us by surprise, was overstated? The short answer is yes, though the problem is real.

Still, our analysis shows the administration exaggerated the breadth of the trafficking problem, overstated the crackdown against traffickers and spent millions to help a couple hundred victims.

Since the president's trip, the administration has quietly backed off its startling assessment that more than 17,000 people are brought to the United States every year as modern-day slaves. In a report to Congress last month, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzalez said the number "may be overstated" and a better assessment is underway.
Curiously, his admission has not kept government agencies from repeating the exaggeration.

Similarly, the Justice Department this year boasts that by prosecuting 91 cases in five years, human trafficking prosecutions have increased by "more than 300 percent." It fails to note, however, that prior to 2000, no good federal law existed to prosecute traffickers.

Against this backdrop, the administration has doled out millions of dollars to faith-based and social service providers to serve trafficking victims, never realizing the difficulties they would have in getting victims to come forward. Last year, the government spent $10 million to help 230 people, or roughly $1 million for every 22 victims served, a federal report said.

Perhaps the administration's biggest misstep in the human trafficking initiative has been its failure to get buy-in from front-line police officers. Indeed, some agencies suggest the initiative is a solution in search of a problem. "I would be reluctant to call Hillsborough County a hotbed for human trafficking," Hillsborough Sheriff's Col. Gary Terry said in a recent interview.

The mishandling of this important initiative could lead some to conclude that human trafficking is nothing more than the crime du jour, the government's latest in a litany of heralded directives like drugs, guns, hate crimes and terrorism. In fact, human trafficking is more than a buzzword. It's a real and abhorrent crime taking place all over the nation.

Major cases have been made against traffickers in places like Milwaukee, where a couple faces 65 years in prison for enslaving a Filipino woman; in Los Angeles, where last year a woman was convicted of forcing her Russian niece to work as a prostitute; and in American Samoa, where the owner of a garment factory was given a 40-year prison sentence for treating 200 workers as slaves.

Closer to home, in Lee and Collier counties south of Tampa, dozens of cases have been prosecuted or are under investigation. Young girls have been rescued from sexual slavery and immigrant workers saved from exploitation. In one case, smugglers were charging illegal migrants $2,000 each for a van ride from Ruskin to Homestead.

U.S. Attorney Paul Perez, whose Middle District of Florida spans a swath of the state where economic and social conditions are ripe for trafficking, is refreshingly blunt when he says he is frustrated by the reluctance of some law enforcement agencies to acknowledge the crime.

"The cynical side of me says, where's these people's constituency?" Perez said. "When you attack guns or drugs, you're playing up to a constituency. … Where's the constituency here when the victims and perpetrators can't even vote?"
Good point!
On behalf of those with no public voice, the president should revive his flagging initiative and make this the modern abolitionist movement he envisioned. The government should coordinate a better response, while spending no more than it really needs.

And to restore public confidence, the people who trumpeted inaccurate numbers should be held accountable. It's horrible enough to hear that people are enslaved here. The problem does not need to be exaggerated.

For those who think human trafficking is not real, consider this account from Anna Rodriguez of Bonita Springs, founder of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

A young girl kept as a sex slave in southwest Florida recently was rescued from her trafficker, by whom she'd had a baby. When the infant was examined, the trafficker's initials were found branded on the baby's back.

"No one knows what these people go through," Rodriguez said.

We do now. The question now is what are we going to do about it?

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Israel, Arab nations convene to discuss ways to combat modern slavery

A few days old (July 11), but this is very promising.

Israel, Arabs join to fight white slavery
Experts from the Middle East and North Africa met last week at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna to prepare an action plan to stamp out the growing problems of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The three-day symposium - the first of its kind - brought together representatives from Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen and Malta.

"This is the first meeting ever held to discuss a regional action plan for the Middle East/North Africa region," Muhammad Adul-Aziz of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said. "We consider this meeting to be an important step forward. The proposed plan of action will provide member states with a framework for their future efforts to fight smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings."

A UN report in April said Israel was a top destination country for trafficking in human beings, and the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report, published in June, placed Israel in the Tier 2 (Watch List) category of countries whose governments do not fully comply with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act but are making significant efforts to do so.

"In the Middle East/North Africa region, exchange of information is complicated by heightened security concerns and tense diplomatic relations," said Israel's representative at the meeting, Yedida Wolfe. She is co-director of the Task Force on Human Trafficking - a project of the nonprofit organization ATZUM (Justice Works) and law firm Kabir-Nevo-Keidar.

"If there is a consensus on one thing, that is the need for bilateral cooperation to combat trafficking. Last week's meeting was a breakthrough in establishing personal cross-border contacts to help fight modern slavery," Wolfe said.
Read the rest.

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July 14, 2006

Fla. detective held for allegedly uploading child porn on the net

Miami-Dade detective nabbed on child porn charges in SW Ranches
A Miami-Dade County detective who lives in Southwest Ranches has been arrested for allegedly posting videos of child pornography on the Internet.

Franklin Smith, 38, was charged with one count of promoting the sexual performance of a child and five counts of possession of child pornography, news partner NBC 6 reported.

Police confiscated a computer, videos and paper files when they raided Smith's home and arrested him on Thursday.

NBC 6 reported that Smith was arrested through the efforts of a state task force on child pornography that located an illegal video on the web, then traced it back to Smith.

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July 13, 2006

Nicholas Cage donates $2m (US) to AI to help child soldiers

A few weeks old, but noteworthy, nonetheless. I may not be a big fan of Mr. Cage, personally, for some of his other actions and positions, but his efforts for Amnesty International are commendable.

Cage donation for child soldiers
Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage is donating $2m (£1.1m) to Amnesty International to help former child soldiers, the charity has announced.

The donation will help fund rehabilitation shelters, medical services and psychological and reintegration services.

Amnesty says an estimated 300,000 children, some as young as seven, are involved in armed conflicts worldwide.

Cage has been working with Amnesty International USA for two years.

The organisation revealed the pledge in New York, during the United Nations Review Conference on the Program of Action on Small Arms.

Family nightmare

In a video statement filmed by the actor, he said: "Think about the nine months it took for your child to be born; think about all the care you put into teaching him how to cross the street and look both ways, or to read a book, or to simply have good manners.

"Then imagine a warlord dropping a gun into his hand and forcing him to kill someone. He's eight years old. He hasn't kissed a girl yet or fallen in love, but he's killed a man. What does that do to a child's mind?

"Sounds like a nightmare? It's reality for some families."

Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, praised Cage's "extremely generous contribution".

"Nicolas has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the horrors faced by child soldiers and other human rights tragedies," he added.

Amnesty International collaborated on the 2005 film Lord of War, in which Cage played an international arms dealer.

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West, Central African nations sign multilateral accord against trafficking

West And Central African Nations Join Forces To End Child Trafficking
A multilateral accord against the trafficking of women and children was signed here yesterday, as UNICEF and its partners spearheaded a joint ministerial conference of 26 West and Central African countries, representatives of European governments and the International Labour Organization.

"No country in West and Central Africa can claim not to face the problem of human trafficking," said UNICEF's director for the region, Esther Guluma, at the opening of the two-day conference.

"Only a holistic approach can successfully stop this exploitation of children that is a violation of their human rights, dignity and freedom of movement," she added. "One of the most efficient ways is the connection of a regional partnership. This conference is a milestone in building this collaboration."


Children exploited and abused

Each year, hundreds of thousands of children are trafficked across porous borders throughout West and Central Africa. In Nigeria, for example, where the borders with Benin and Cameroon are 773 km and 1,690 km long, respectively, it is difficult to control trafficking.

Now widely considered a form of modern-day slavery, this practice has its roots in an old tradition based on the quest for a better life. Children would be placed with relatives in cities to receive an education, in return for helping out in the home.

Often, parents don't know - or don't want to know - what happens to their children who end up being exploited, physically and mentally abused as domestic workers or forced into prostitution.

An end to trafficking

"You are not a human being if you do that to your own children. People have to take responsibility for these crimes. It has to be punished," said UNICEF Child Protection Officer Alassane Biga.

[...] Financial assistance for the poorest families and other initiatives - like mobile cinemas that screen educational films for people living in remote villages - help to inform vulnerable families about the reality of child trafficking. There's hope that the joint ministerial conference now wrapping up in Abuja can go one step further toward putting an end to this illicit and dehumanizing practice.

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July 5, 2006

Latvia "toning down" erotic advertising

Just turn it down a notch... Latvian capital to tone down erotic ads
RIGA (AFP) - The city council in the Latvian capital, Riga approved regulations aimed at toning down erotic advertisements.

"These restrictions were needed: its almost impossible to cross the Old Town in the evening without seeing screaming erotic ads in sparkling neon lights or being handed erotic leaflets," Riga Mayor Aivars Aksenoks told a press conference.
Under the new rules, it is prohibited to use special lighting effects on signs and the facades of locations offering erotic services.

Such establishments may only have signboards outside that state the name of the club and its registered trademark.

They must also cover their windows so that passersby cannot see what is going on inside, the rules stipulate.

Companies handing out erotic leaflets are subject to a fine of up to 200 lats (285 euros, 340 dollars), but the punishment for individuals is far lower: a fine of 14 euros.

Latvian officials saw the need to clamp down on erotic advertisers soon after the Baltic state joined the EU in May 2004.

The number of tourists rose sharply after Latvia joined the EU, with many from older European Union members seeing Riga -- which is well served by low-cost flights -- as city of cheap alcohol and erotic services, the mayor said.

"I hope these new restrictions will help to change Rigas image," he said.
An "image" can be such a superficial thing -- especially when you are just trying to sweep the dirt into the gutters... as long as we can't see it and it's tucked away underground, it's O.K.

Tell me, painting windows to conceal "what's going on inside" serves what purpose now?

Let's just pretend it's a massage parlor.

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The Iranian trafficking hub

Iran Focus: U.S. cites Iran as human trafficking hub
London, Jun. 06 – The United States put Iran among the main countries engaged in human trafficking.

A report released by the U.S. State Department described Iran as a "source, transit, and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude".

The report cited cased of women and girls being trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, the Gulf, and Europe for sexual exploitation.

"Boys from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are trafficked through Iran en route to the Gulf states where they are ultimately forced to work as camel jockeys, beggars, or labourers", the report said.

"Women and children are trafficked internally for the purposes of forced marriage, sexual exploitation, and involuntary servitude", it said, adding, "The Government of Iran does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so".

The annual report downgraded Iran to a Tier 3 trafficking country after "persistent, credible reports of Iranian authorities punishing victims of trafficking with beatings, imprisonment, and execution".

Iran now joins 11 other nations regarded as the worst offenders on the blacklist.

"The Government of Iran did not improve its protection of trafficking victims this year", it said, adding, "Child victims of commercial sexual exploitation reportedly have been executed for their purported crime of prostitution or adultery. For instance, one 16-year-old sex trafficking victim was hanged publicly by religious authorities who accused her of engaging in "acts incompatible with chastity." The governor of the town later congratulated the religious leader for his 'firm approach'".

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June 27, 2006

Major ISPs join forces to combat child pornography with image database

Top Internet Providers Hope to Combat Child Porn With Image Database
NEW YORK ­ Five leading online service providers will jointly build a database of child-pornography images and develop other tools to help network operators and law enforcement better prevent distribution of the images.

The companies pledged $1 million among them Tuesday to set up a technology coalition as part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They aim to create the database by year's end, though many details remain unsettled.

The participating companies are Time Warner Inc.'s AOL (TWX), Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), EarthLink Inc. (ELINK) and United Online Inc. (UNTD), the company behind NetZero and Juno.

Ernie Allen, the chief executive of the missing children's center, noted that the Internet companies already possess many technologies to help protect users from threats such as viruses and e-mail "phishing" scams. "There's nothing more insidious and inappropriate" than child pornography, he said.

The announcement comes as the U.S. government is pressuring service providers to do more to help combat child pornography. Top law enforcement officials have told Internet companies they must retain customer records longer to help in such cases and have suggested seeking legislation to require it.

AOL chief counsel John Ryan said the coalition was partly a response to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' April speech identifying increases in child-porn cases and chiding the Internet industry for not doing more about them.

The creation of the technology coalition does not directly address the preservation of records but could demonstrate the industry's willingness to cooperate.

Plans call for the missing children's center to collect known child-porn images and create a unique mathematical signature for each one based on a common formula. Each participating company would scan its users' images for matches.

AOL, for instance, plans to check e-mail attachments that are already being scanned for viruses. If child porn is detected, AOL would refer the case to the missing-children's center for further investigation, as service providers are required to do under federal law.

Each company will set its own procedures on how it uses the database, but executives say the partnership will let companies exchange their best ideas ­ ultimately developing tools for preventing child-porn distribution instead of simply catching violations.

"When we pool together all our collective know-how and technical tools, we hope to come up with something more comprehensive along the lines of preventative" measures, said Tim Cranton, Microsoft's director of Internet safety enforcement programs.

Ryan said that although AOL will initially focus on scanning e-mail attachments, the goal is to ultimately develop techniques for checking other distribution techniques as well, such as instant messaging or Web uploads.

Representatives will begin meeting next month to evaluate their technologies, determining, for instance, whether cropping an image would change its signature and hinder comparisons. Also to be discussed are ways to ensure that customers' privacy is protected. Authorities still would need subpoenas to get identifying information on violators.

The companies involved said they are talking with other service providers about joining. But companies that do not participate still are required by law to report any suspected child-porn images, and many already have their own techniques for monitoring and identifying them.

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June 13, 2006

WC06: Father John - "'Safe' Prostitution"

A great read from Father John's blog on 'Safe' Prostitution
The German government has made a solemn promise to condone only “safe prostitution” during this year's World Cup soccer tournament.

[...] The hypocrisy is appalling. Because it legalized prostitution in 2002, German officials now find themselves in a quandary. Until now they have been able to hide behind the talking points of sex industry advocates. Dressed in sharp ties and pretty pantsuits, they have learned to say with a straight face that its legalization is good for women as it defends their rights to: 1) the career of their choice, 2) legal recourse in the case of abuse, 3) social services including health benefits, unemployment, and retirement plans, and 4) safety from sexually transmitted diseases.

But as the market adjusts to new demands (the price of sex is less than a ticket to a soccer match), more people see the obvious ­ prostitutes, legal or illegal, are first and foremost a financial commodity in the hands of greedy men, “providers” and “consumers” alike.

Where are the real feminists when we need them?

Germany will continue to hide behind its efforts to stop “trafficking and forced prostitution.” They hope the rhetoric will take attention away from the 400,000 women currently registered by the government as sex industry workers. They fear the world might wonder in unison how many of these “workers” have freely selected prostitution as a career choice, how many of them feel protected by the law, safe from disease, and look forward to a happy retirement after a long and fruitful tenure. Weren't these the talking points?

Or are governments greedy too, even ones led by liberated women like Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel?

Today, I invite you to remember that not everyone will enjoy the World Cup. A new brand of "soccer moms" will be watching from the prisons of the "performance boxes" Germany officials continue to hail as safe and legal.

If that's "safety and legality," you can bet these women would happily trade them in for a bit of real "freedom" any day of the week.

False gods always take victims. Today in Germany, and many parts of the world, the gods of prostitution ­ money and pleasure ­ are claiming their corresponding victims: women enslaved by men, and men enslaved by their passions.

God bless, Father Jonathan

P.S. I'm a big soccer fan and you can bet I'll be watching. We can't let the presence of evil stamp out the very good things of life, sports being among them.
Amen, Father Jonathan, on all counts.

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June 12, 2006

WC06: "Hoping" for business

I'm not even going to bother with the rest of the article.

The wording of this one line gets me, for some reason: In Germany, a Building Debate:
COLOGNE, Germany -- At the Pascha, a 12-story building that advertises itself as Europe's biggest brothel, the working girls are preparing for what they hope will be a surge in business as more than a million soccer fans flock to Germany for the World Cup, which begins Friday.
Hope is incompatible with "the world's oldest profession".

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WC06: 40,000 trafficked prostitutes "overblown", source

Apparently, it's just a big misunderstanding, false alarm, etc.

AFP: German police say no rise in forced prostitution for World Cup.
[...] "Our unit which specialises in fighting procuring has noticed nothing special," a police spokesman in the southern city of Munich, where the tournament kicked off on Friday, told AFP.

The police chief in the northern port city of Hamburg, another one of 12 cities hosting the event, was quoted by news magazine Der Spiegel's website on Thursday as saying they had not noticed an increase in sex workers in general as a result of the World Cup either.

He said since Hamburg already has some 2,400 prostitutes, there was not much space on the market for newcomers hoping to profit from the world's biggest sporting event.

[...] [t]he head of the Berlin-based organisation "Ban Ying" for abused women said the figure of 40,000 was overblown.

"It is a rumour, a totally exaggerated figure," said Nivedita Prasad.

"Pimps have no reason to bring girls to Germany especially for the World Cup. It is not worth it financially for five weeks," she told AFP.

Prasad said the large number of police deployed for the event would discourage illegal immigrants from working as prostitutes.

"There is an enormous police presence, and women without the right documents would take a big risk to walk the streets. So I do not think that the World Cup will lead to an increase in forced prostitution.

"Anyway, with three matches a day, men will have less time for sex," she added. [...]
An unintentional gross misrepresentation of the facts, etc.

/sarcasm off

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WC06: Polaris Project - "Soccer With a Side of Slavery"

From the Washington Post: Soccer With a Side of Slavery.
By Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman
Saturday, June 10, 2006; Page A19

"It is truly scandalous. People are talking about women, importing them to satisfy the base instincts of people associated with football. It is humiliating enough for me that football is linked with alcohol and violence. But this is worse. It is slaves that will come and be put into houses. Human beings are being talked about like cattle, and football is linked with that."

-- Raymond Domenech, coach of the French World Cup soccer team

As the 2006 World Cup games get underway in Germany, tourists and soccer fans are being joined at the various competition venues by denizens of an international world of crime where human beings are bought and sold for profit.

Human trafficking is the third-largest criminal industry in the world, after arms and drugs. While soccer fans anticipate the excitement of the games, many of us in the anti-trafficking movement are deeply troubled by the expected surge of sex trafficking in Germany to meet the demand for commercial sex associated with the World Cup. It is estimated that more than 40,000 women and children will be imported to Germany during the month-long competition to provide commercial sex in the "mega-brothels," "quickie shacks," other legalized venues and vast underground networks that exist in Germany.

The traffickers and those who benefit from sex trafficking promote an image of women freely choosing to be involved in prostitution, making huge amounts of money at it and in general having a great time. It is the "Pretty Woman" myth, which many apparently like to believe in order to justify their inaction or ignorance on the issue.
Read on...

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June 9, 2006

Report: U.S. taxpayers funding human trafficking the Middle East?

I highly recommend this article from the Chicago Tribune (via San Jose's Mercury News). I believe I have an older related article saved somewhere that I will try to look for and post if time permits.

U.S. taxpayers financed human trafficking, report says
[...] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unveiled this year's report by telling reporters that the United States and its allies "will stop at nothing to end the debasement of our fellow men and women."

Yet this year's report includes a special section on reforms the Defense Department instituted after an investigation prompted by "Pipeline to Peril," a series published by the Chicago Tribune in October that detailed human trafficking into Iraq for privatized U.S. military support operations.

Human brokers and subcontractors from Asia to the Middle East have worked in concert to import thousands of laborers into Iraq from impoverished countries, often employing fraud or coercion along the way, seizing workers' passports and charging recruitment "fees" that make it difficult for workers to escape employment in the war zone.

U.S. military leaders in Iraq have acknowledged confirming widespread abuses against such workers, who are brought to Iraq to do menial labor on U.S. bases for contractors and subcontractors. Those businesses ultimately receive their checks from the U.S. government. The abuses corroborated by military investigators included violations of U.S. human-trafficking laws.

In a section of the 2006 report titled "Department of Defense Responds to Labor Trafficking in Iraq," the State Department notes that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, ordered sweeping changes in April for privatized military support operations.

The report also says the Defense Department "has responded swiftly with a number of measures to closely monitor the hiring and employment of foreign laborers."

John Miller, who heads the State Department's trafficking office and is responsible for the annual report, said it was the first time in the report's six-year history that it contained allegations that U.S. taxpayers had financed such abuses.

In an interview, Miller also suggested the Defense Department moved too slowly, saying, "All of this should have happened faster, ideally." But he praised the measures and pledged to press the State Department itself to adopt reforms similar to those instituted by the military.
It is important to note the DOD, spearheaded (I believe, as the article stated) by General Casey, DID in fact proceed to address these issues promptly.

You can read a little more about the report by clicking here, and scrolling down a little more than halfway until you find the heading, "DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) RESPONDS TO LABOR TRAFFICKING IN IRAQ".

There is more, read on...

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Sex-trafficking on the rise in Northern Ireland

Human trafficking 'a growing problem' in N.Ireland
Human trafficking is a growing problem in Northern Ireland according to a British Government minister.

Paul Goggins has told a House of Commons committee that there is some suggestion that foreign women are being used for the sex trade.

The seedier side of Belfast life can be seen at night as prostitutes ply their trade in the city centre.

But there is growing evidence that the sex trade in Northern Ireland is being fuelled by human trafficking.

Northern Ireland Office minister Paul Goggins has told the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs committee that the issue of immigration crime - so-called people trafficking - has become a more pressing problem.

He said there is an increase in female foreign nationals working as prostitutes and that there are a greater number of brothels operating in Belfast.

But the minister says the problem is that often the women involved often say that they are doing it voluntarily and are not being forced into it.

The police has said that it has made inquiries into the problem of people trafficking.
Read the rest of the article here.

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FL-USA: Ukrainian woman allegedly enslaves, prostitutes Russian woman

Ukrainian Accused of Forcing Russian Woman Into Prostitution
ORLANDO, FL (AP) -- A woman has been arrested in Orlando for allegedly harboring an illegal alien who she is accused of enslaving, beating and forcing into prostitution. US Magistrate Karla Spaulding has ordered Yelena Aleksandrovna Telichenko held without bail until a hearing next week.

Telichenko was ordered deported by an immigration judge last year. She was arrested only on charges she harbored an illegal alien. A 24-year-old woman who says Telichenko forced her to sleep with men to pay for rent and food refused to file a report.

According to an affidavit, Telichenko at one point offered the Russian woman to a man who introduced them to a pimp. The victim could be deported as well, but authorities say she may be eligible for a special visa for victims of human trafficking.
I certainly hope and pray the Russian woman is granted a visa.

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June 6, 2006

Israel responds to critics, breaks up transnational trafficking ring

From the Jerusalem Post: 3 arrested in int'l prostitution ring

On a day when Israel faced stiff criticism by the United States for not taking a tough enough stance against the trafficking of women, Tel Aviv District Police revealed Tuesday that three suspects had been arrested earlier in the morning after allegedly helping to operate a prostitution ring in which Israeli women were send to work as prostitutes in Canada.

Over the course of two months of investigation, police gathered evidence against three residents of Ariel; 40-year-olds Arkady Kazner and Igor Vieman and 29-year-old Anna Kortayev.

The investigation began after police noticed an advertisement in Russian-language newspapers published in Israel that solicited young women to work as escorts in Canada. The advertisement promised would-be employees a monthly salary of $10,000, as well as subsidized plane tickets and even passports to young women who didn't have one.

Curious to see what was behind the enticing offer, police enlisted the use of a female undercover officer who contacted the number listed on the advertisement and posed as a prospective call girl.

The officer met with the suspects a number of times in anticipation of the trip to Canada, and the suspects provided her, as promised, with both a passport and a plane ticket.

The investigation indicated that the suspects sent dozens of young women overseas who worked as call girls in brothels and clubs in Canada. Police suspect that many young women were asked to pose naked for photographs, which were then allegedly sent to sources in Canada, who would review the pictures and select young women for the job. Police sources said that some of the women may not have been aware that they were being sent to work in prostitution.

After a large amount of evidence was gathered against the three, police decided to begin the overt stage of investigation. In a morning raid on suspects' houses in Ariel, the three were arrested and materials that police said implicated the suspects in the charges against them was found in their possession. On Tuesday afternoon, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended the remands of Kazner and Vieman by five days. Kortayev's remand was extended by two days.

Police said that more arrests were likely to follow - and emphasized that the investigation was not restricted to Israel. Throughout the investigation, Israeli detectives worked together with authorities in both the United States and in Canada. Arrests overseas were also likely to occur as the investigation progresses.

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May 24, 2006

South Africa's booming, violent child sex trade

An excellent expose written by Karyn Maughan in South Africa's periodical, The Star: Child sex trade scandal
Children as young as 9 are selling their bodies on the streets of Joburg for R30 ($4.50 US) --and child rights groups say the situation is "exploding".

In a series of interviews with child sex workers, streetchildren, clinic staff and community workers, The Star has uncovered that the commercial sexual exploitation of boys and girls is booming.

[...] [In] another incident about six months before, the friends of a teenage sex worker watched with growing horror as a luxury car pulled up outside a Hillbrow hotel and pushed her limp body out onto the street.

She was dead, with a knife protruding from her vagina. The teenager was never identified.

[...] Trawling the malls where many schoolchildren spent their afternoons and weekends, [criminal syndicates --.ed] would seek out teenagers who "had the look of want" in their eyes, Stevens said.

Community worker Elaine Johannes said: "They will start to talk to the child who is staring at a pair of Levi's, saying 'those jeans are cool, hey?' Then maybe they arrange to meet the child later on, buy them clothes and cellphones, take them out clubbing a few times without doing anything.

"They will try to get the child hooked on drugs, and after he or she is addicted, they'll demand the money for the clothes and drugs. It is then that the child gets forced into sex for money."
Thanks to Sarah G. of Captive Daughters for the story.

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May 19, 2006

UK: Op Pentameter greeting foreign passengers at the gates

Via the Strathclyde Police Dpt.'s website:
On Tuesday 21 February 2006, passengers arriving at Prestwick Airport on a flight from Poland were the first in Scotland to encounter Operation Pentameter.

Officers handed out information cards in Polish, asking if passengers have travelled willingly.
Clever idea, though I can only imagine how a situation might unfold. Let's just say a person who had been brought against their will actually acknowledged the police officer... would the officer have to assume her companion was also her smuggler?

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UK: Op. Pentameter nets 6 involved in trafficking in Cheltenham

From the BBC: Sixth arrest in brothel inquiry
A sixth person has been arrested after a series of homes were raided as part of a people-smuggling investigation.

A woman aged 35 joins two men, aged 35 and 43, and three women aged 19, 28 and 46, who were held on suspicion of being concerned in the running of a brothel.

Police searched four Cheltenham houses as part of Operation Pentameter, a UK-wide crackdown on human trafficking.

Two Chinese women, thought to be involved in the sex trade, were found at one of the properties on Tuesday.

The latest arrest was made in Birmingham with the help of West Midlands Police.

Of the five people arrested in Cheltenham on Tuesday, a 28 year-old woman from Evesham and a woman aged 19 from the West Midlands were released on police bail until 28 July pending further enquiries.

A 35 year-old woman of no fixed address, a 43 year-old man from Cheltenham and a 46 year-old woman from Bristol remained in custody.

Operation Pentameter is a multi-agency initiative involving the police, the travel industry, government and partner groups across the UK and Europe.

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UK: Largest-scale raids on trafficking, sex trade take place in Leeds, Bradford

Sex trade crackdown
Kate O'Hara
Crime Correspondent

SUSPECTED brothels across Leeds and Bradford have been raided as part of the UK's biggest ever crack-down on trafficking and the illegal sex trade.

In a joint operation between West Yorkshire Police and the Immigration Service, officers forced their way into buildings in Elland Road and Burmantofts in Leeds, as well as a property in the Tyersal area of Bradford. A house in Armley was also searched in connection with the investigation.

During the raids a 50-year-old man and a woman, 45, were arrested on suspicion of managing brothels. They were later released on bail pending further inquiries.

The arrests came as a result of a national crackdown on sex trafficking, codenamed Operation Pentameter, which has led to 156 arrests across the UK so far. The campaign was launched in February in a bid to help women who can be forced to have sex with up to 40 men a day by violent pimps. The women mainly come from Eastern Europe, as well as Thailand, China and Brazil.

Yesterday Detective Inspector Martin Snowden, who is leading the investigation in West Yorkshire, said: "Women involved in the sex trade are rarely there through choice. They suffer violence, addiction and intimidation and lose all ability, physically and emotionally ,to leave."
16 May 2006
I believe Operation Pentameter began this past February --- so far, this effort seems quite promising.

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May 16, 2006

WC06: German police put on a front to weed out illegal, unwilling prostitutes

Let the games begin, right? Major crackdown: 2,000 German police block illegal prostitution:
Mainz, Germany - Responding to international concerns that women will be forced into prostitution during the World Cup, 2,000 police raided brothels in the southern half of Germany Thursday.

With just 29 days to go till the start of the football tournament, they entered hundreds of brothels as well as hostels and bars used for prostitution, checking whether the women were legally and willingly employed. Brothels are legal in Germany.

'We want the world to know before the World Cup that the German police are doing their job,' said a police officer in Hesse state who asked not to be quoted by name.

Concern has been voiced in the United States, Sweden and other nations that the sex trade may be drafting in up to 40,000 women to cater to football fans, with some migrating to Germany illegally.

The trade recruits mainly from eastern Europe and many women complain that they are forced to remain at brothels because they will be expelled from Germany as illegal immigrants if they seek other work. Some say they expected regular work and were forced into sex.

In the city of Mainz, Rhineland Palatinate Interior Minister Karl Peter Bruch called the raids a success, saying one purpose was to help any women who wanted to leave the sex trade but did not know how.

Police said they detained 100 persons in two states alone, Rheinland Palatinate and Hesse. There were also raids in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg state. Police were mainly hunting traffickers, not prostitutes.
Right, I'm sure a woman who is being forced into prostitution will be able to freely say, "I didn't sign up for this," and the nice police officer will send her safely home.

But... on the other hand, if the working conditions are so wonderful in this legalized industry, why would anyone want to leave?

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WC06: Brothel "public relations" score; BBC with the assist.

Germany standing up for the right for women to exploited: German brothel welcomes World Cup
Prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002

But as you walk into Artemis, a few scantily-clad women who are standing near the main entrance provide an obvious sign that there is more on offer here.

Artemis is one of Germany's largest brothels, which has recently opened, just in time for the World Cup.

It is a short bus ride from Berlin's Olympic stadium, where many of the games, and the final, will be played.

Booming business

The managers of Artemis are hoping to attract thousands of football fans, who will be in Germany this summer.

"We think that we'll probably get double the number of clients during the World Cup," said Eike Wilmans, one of the managers of Artemis.

"We're going to put up screens and show all the games. We also have two cinemas, so the clients and the women can watch football. And if a match doesn't go according to expectations, well, men can work out in the gym, take a girl, and relax," he says, smiling.

Once you get past the reception, you may feel as though you are in some kind of a luxury hotel.

The Artemis brothel boasts neo-classical murals

The champagne bar is spacious and opulent, the walls are decorated with neo-classical paintings of women, and there are discreet sofas in several corners, which are surrounded by dark velvet curtains.

The brothel is arranged on several different levels. There's a restaurant, two cinemas, a large swimming pool, gym, Turkish bath and rooms, or plush suites, which can be rented out.

Prostitution is legal in Germany, and the managers of Artemis say that all the women who work here have registered with the authorities and they pay tax.

[...] Prostitution is talked about openly. Coco, 23, lives at Artemis. Like some of the other sex-workers, she rents a room.

"I would never want to work on the streets, or in any other country where prostitution is illegal," Coco said.

If their team is disappointing, customers can relax in the pool...

"There's always the risk that someone can kidnap you and it's dangerous and dirty. I've registered with the authorities as a sex hostess.

I come from Bonn originally, and I work in Berlin because I know I can get good work at Artemis. I'm my own boss, and I can keep all the money that I earn," she said.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002. Campaigners say the new laws safeguard women's rights.

"Women can work in a safe environment," said Henny Engels, from the German Women's Council. "Sex-workers have basic human rights. These women are now protected against pimps, or any violence, and they should not face discrimination in society."

[...] The prostitutes who work at Artemis say they are lucky that the laws were changed in Germany.

"I am a German professional like any other woman," said Luna, "I work in a safe environment and I enjoy my job."
Read the rest of the polished story, furnished by the BBC, here.

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May 15, 2006

WC06: German authorities try to allay concerns of sex trafficking

Let the justification begin...: Germany Responds to Fears of Sex Trafficking during World Cup
Germany Responds to Fears of Sex Trafficking during World Cup

Amidst fears of an increase in sex trafficking surrounding the World Cup, German authorities led a crackdown on illegal prostitution last week. According to the Associated Press (AP), four German states arrested a total of 100 people during raids. The arrests are part of the German police's response to widespread concerns by women's rights and human rights groups about an increase in sex trafficking during next month's World Cup. The soccer tournament, which will attract millions of tourists, may lead to 40,000 women trafficked to work in Germany as prostitutes against their will, according to AP.

Prostitution has been legal in Germany since 2002, with 400,000 registered sex workers, according to the AP. Ulrike Helwerth, speaking for the National Council of German Women's Organizations (NCGWO), told the AP, "If the number of prostitutes goes up, the assumption is that on the fringes the criminal forced prostitution will also go up." Most of the women trafficked will come from Eastern European countries, reports the AP.

In 2004, Germany acknowledged 1,000 cases of forced sex work but, as Michele Clark of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, noted, "Most of [women forced into prostitution] go unrecognized, unassisted, and unknown," reports the Christian Science Monitor.
It's only a thousand cases, right?

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May 11, 2006

Ohio Ph.D student gets 54 days in prison for child porn


Man Gets 54 Days In Prison For Child Pornography

McGuirl Claims Medical Condition Caused Crime
POSTED: 6:29 pm EDT May 9, 2006
UPDATED: 8:24 pm EDT May 9, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio State University student received a creative punishment for possessing child pornography after telling the judge his crime was the result of a medical condition.

John McGuirl appeared in court Tuesday, claiming that he has a psychological disorder that causes him to turn to pornography, NBC 4's Nancy Burton reported.

Four months ago, McGuirl, an Ohio State Ph.D student, was convicted of 44 counts of possessing child pornography on two computers. The judge said he wants McGuirl to take responsibility for each image found on his computers.

"(You will spend) one day in jail for each of the felony four counts, 10 days in jail for the felony three count. That adds up to 54 days in jail," said Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Eric Brown. "I do not want to get in the way of the defense of your dissertation. You would report to jail on June 2."

McGuirl's computer was also mentioned at the sentencing. He is permitted to have one, but the judge set strict limitations when it comes to the Internet.

Brown insisted that software be installed on McGuirl's computer to prevent him from visiting certain Web sites.
For the next five years, the probation department will also receive written reports about McGuirl's computer use.

McGuirl still has a case pending in Springfield, where he is charged with trying to solicit a teenage girl for sex.
The judge told McGuirl on Tuesday that if he violates any conditions of the sentence, he will spend four years in prison.
While McGuirl defends his dissertation, Judge Brown should defend his judgeship.

"Psychological disorder", indeed.

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Prostitution ring in Vienna busted

16 arrested in raid on Vienna prostitution ring
11/05/2006 - 11:37:07
Ireland Online

Two Polish police officers were among 16 people arrested on suspicion of involvement in human trafficking in a bust of a major prostitution ring in Vienna.

Authorities said the arrests stemmed from the enslavement of 440 women who were taken to Austria to work in the sex industry.

Police said the ring involved five Vienna-based escort agencies and that those arrested were from Austria, Romania and Poland.

The network earned an estimated €11m in commissions for luring the women to Austria, said officials with the Federal Criminal Investigations Office.

Police did not release the names of the two Polish officers or specify what roles they allegedly played in the women’s recruitment.

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May 9, 2006

NYC: Mexican sex traffickers get 50 years

Heavy sentences handed down, indeed.Sex traffickers sentenced to 50 years
Two brothers were in a gang that forced Mexican women to work in brothels in Queens, Brooklyn

Newsday Staff Writer
April 28, 2006

The reputed ringleader of a Mexican sex trafficking ring and his brother each were slammed with a 50-year prison sentence yesterday in Brooklyn federal court, one of the toughest sentences ever given for the crime.

Gerardo Flores Carreto, 34, and his brother Josue, 38, originally from Tenancingo, Mexico, pleaded guilty last year to numerous sex trafficking and immigrant smuggling offenses.

Reading from a pre-sentence probation report, Judge Frederic Block said the Carreto men, now from Corona, were part of a gang that from 1991 to 2004 forced Mexican immigrant women to work in brothels in Queens and Brooklyn. The women, some of whom gave statements in court, faced death threats, rape and other brutality in the prostitution operation, Block said.

Daniel Perez Alonzo, 26, another member of the ring from Tenancingo, was sentenced to 25 years in prison yesterday.

Four of the six Mexican women who were victims in the case gave short statements to the court in Spanish before Block announced the sentences. The women, all of whom are in the process of getting special visas to stay in the United States, sat in the front row.

"I hope justice is done; that is all I ask," said a woman identified only as Veronica.
Excellent. May justice be served to the fullest extent.

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Voluntary teenage prostitution in Ohio?

Former Teen Prostitutes Talk About Central Ohio Trend
Women Say Stable Home Environment Is Key
POSTED: 5:41 pm EDT April 28, 2006; UPDATED: 6:26 pm EDT April 28, 2006

DELAWARE, Ohio -- Teenagers from rural, urban and suburban Ohio communities said most people would be shocked to learn how many young girls are taking part in prostitution.

[...] "I'm from a small place around Columbus, actually. And I'm from a really nice area, and there's girls doing it there, too," said Nicole, a former prostitute.

Another girl said the number of teens and young women participating in prostitution is shocking.

"Well, at my high school I know that almost every senior does it," said Joleen, a former prostitute.

Many people would assume that young men are taking advantage of the young women, but the former prostitutes said that's not true.

"Usually, the guys were between 40 and 70 (years old)," Joleen said.

One of the women said she would have sex for money at parties. Another girl said she brought the men into her family's home, but all the girls said they were very young when they started.

"I was probably about 12 or 13 (years old),"
Nicole said.

One of the women said she refused for a while, but a college student at a party kept offering her more money.

"It got to about $150 and I was just like, 'Sure, why not.' You know, $150 -- I'm not losing that opportunity," said Nia, a former prostitute. "I ended up giving him oral sex."

The Ohio Department of Youth Services said substance abuse almost always goes hand-in-hand with the prostitution. But the women insisted that staying away from paid sex could have been simple.

"A more structured home, like a parent there would actually talk to me and ask me and want to know what's going on and not someone that would just let me do what I want," Nicole said.

"I didn't have any friends that were like, 'Don't do that.' I had people who were always telling me, 'Go do it,'" Nia said.

The women said there aren't enough jobs and other positive activities to keep teenagers from becoming involved in alcohol, drugs and prostitution.

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Canada not immune to human trafficking; faces domestic reality

Canadian prostitutes bought, sold and forcibly moved, study shows
May 1, 2006
The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- She stands on a street corner in skimpy clothing, shaking from a chill, or more likely from her drug addiction. She was brought here from another part of the province, or possibly from another province.

Her situation, and that of others like her, has drawn no attention. Despite growing awareness of international trafficking of women and children, the trafficking of Canadian-born prostitutes remains invisible.

However, a new study released yesterday says Canadians should not be so smug. Canada is not exempt from the buying and selling of people, the investigators found.

Sex workers say they are moved quietly, put in cars and taken on "road trips." Pimps and traffickers buy bus and plane tickets for them and escort them to their new locations. At times, they are drugged, bound and abducted by rival pimp families or crime organizations, and wake up in new locations across the country.

Canada needs to provide better protection and support for sex workers and deal with "the root causes of trafficking," the investigators say.

"This is a huge issue on the street," said Raven Bowen, spokeswoman for the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Women, a new advocacy group for sex-trade workers.

"In Canada, everyone thinks international trafficking of women means women from Asia or Eastern Europe. They do not realize it is Canadian women from Toronto, who are taken to Calgary for the Stampede, or others who are moved around the country," Ms. Bowen said. "These women are treated the same as immigrant women in the human-trafficking trade. There is lots of movement of sex workers across Canada."
Read the rest here.

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Italian authorities dismantle "almost national" prostitution ring

Italian Police Dismantles Prostitution Net

Rome, May 8 (Prensa Latina) The Italian militarized police (Carabineers) gave information Monday about the dismantling of an almost national prostitution net, with young Uruguayan girls who were introduced with false documents in Italy

In the course of the operation, simultaneously carried out in several cities of the north of Italy, twelve members of the net were arrested.

A note said arrest orders were given on another 11 members of the net, including their boss, who lives in Spain.

The arrested people were accused of criminal association for recruiting, induction and exploitation of women.

The operation was called "Montevideo" and took a year and a half long, as told by members of the Carabineers corp.

They also told the press the Uruguayan girls were contacted and leased in Montevideo, Uruguay, to work as waitresses, a reason for which they received beauty treatments and a basic course on prostitution.

Once they got in Italy, they were forced to work as prostitutes.

The number of Uruguayan girls is 50, and all of them arrived in Milan, north of Italy from Spain in the last three years.

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