HUMAN TRAFFICKING STATISTICS RESEARCH PAPER ON PROSTITUTION SEX TRAFFICKING SEX TOURISM SLAVERY IN COLORADO AND THE UNITED STATES
Millions of USA government dollars are being spent to fight a crime that is extremely rare. The US government assumes that all prostitutes on Earth are sex trafficked slaves – Who are kidnapped and forced into having sex against their will. This is NOT true of MOST Prostitution.
The Denver, Colorado Police and attorney general are forcing prostitutes to lie about being forced.
The Denver Colorado Police (and other Police departments around the country) receive grants from the Federal government for fighting Sex Trafficking. When they don’t find any forced against their will prostitute victims – They make them up, so that they won’t lose funding.
Denver Colorado vice Lieutenant Aaron Sanchez: “Prostitutes are not friendly. It’s not like you’re talking to a child-abuse victim or a fifteen-year-old sex assault victim who wants to cry out and wants to explain what happened or is just scared. These girls just flat out say, ‘Nope, that’s not what’s happening.’
“We have to help them realize they are victims,” Denver vice Lieutenant Aaron Sanchez says.
So… the police are trying to invent victims? Where no victim exist?
The prostitutes say that no one is forcing them and the police don’t believe them?
So the police want the prostitutes to lie? and the police are forcing the prostitutes to lie about being forced?
This Denver Post article link below says: “Defense attorney Maureen O’Brien said that in cases where a prostitute is willingly engaging in the business, she has an incentive to allege force or coercion against a pimp to avoid charges herself. O’Brien thinks calling pimping “human trafficking” could change judges’ perception and has the potential to boost prison sentences.” http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_19225280
This doesn’t make sense, Police and lawyers trying to get prostitutes to lie about being forced. Lying is bad, telling the truth is good. – I also thought lying was against the law.
Denver police are potentially wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and distorting facts while trying to find the elusive “victims” of a crime that is being blown immensely out of proportion. Police officials are so determined to justify their actions they openly state they refuse to believe people who claim they’re not victims, but are instead just trying to make a living in today’s post-recession world.
The so-called crime (and much of the time it’s not illegal at all) is being an adult involved in sex work of her own free will.
(Although there are male as well as female sex workers, the feminine pronoun will be used here to refer to sex workers in general in order to maintain clarity.)
Recent articles in The Denver Post regarding the topic (such as “Denver police increase efforts against human trafficking” on Oct. 30th) revealed how Denver police are attempting to convince sex workers to play the role of “victim” after being arrested. In exchange for saying she was forced into the business by a pimp, the sex worker is given special treatment and even potentially allowed to go free.
Faced with the alternative of jail time, obviously such a practice openly encourages the creation of fictional stories about imaginary pimps. Or, to quote the noted Denver Post article, “Prostitutes often avoid charges if they cooperate.”
But even in situations where a sex worker tells the truth and informs officers that she’s an independent business woman working of her own free will, Denver police have chosen not to believe them.
“We have to help them realize they are victims,” Denver vice Lieutenant Aaron Sanchez told reporters of a local newspaper, despite the fact he also said, “These girls just flat out say, ‘Nope, that’s not what’s happening.’”
Why would police act in such a way? Because if they don’t have victims, they don’t have any reason to accept the huge grant – $290,000 from the federal government to fight human trafficking – which means to keep the money they need to find victims … even where victims don’t exist.
“I do not feel any shame for what I do. In fact, quite the opposite,” said Danielle Rae, an escort in her mid-30s who has been in the business for three years.
She’s anything but a victim. Before entering her current line of work, Danielle spent 14 years as a Cherry Creek paralegal and attended nursing school. “When I worked at the law firm, I busted my ass for eight to 12 hours a day, many weekends and holidays. I prepared 90 percent of the cases and yet the attorney made the big bucks,” she said. “Today, my hourly rate is more than the those attorneys I slaved for for almost two decades and I feel empowered and worthy and in control of my life. I dread returning to the 8 to 5.”
People involved in the sex industry tend to have a very individualistic view regarding personal rights. They tend to think outside of the mainstream, and, as part of coming to terms with their desire to step outside of societal limits, they tend to form personal belief systems, and re-evaluate their morality to the point where they often view taboo behaviors as acceptable. They are risk takers, both legally and philosophically, an attitude that should be encouraged, not attacked. Such a philosophy is what led our forefathers to defy the British government and write their own constitution. It’s what led civil rights activists to stand up against racial discrimination.
“By being an escort, I declare myself a feminist, in that I am demonstrating my right as a woman to own my body and do with it as I wish, giving of myself and sharing the joys of life as they come naturally,” said Jessica Palmer. A woman in her 40s, she said she decided to try escorting after a decade as a corporate software developer. “Now I run my own business, working as an independent contractor, dealing with all the expenses, taking all the risks – both financial and physical,” she said. “It takes brains to do what I do at my age. If I was in any other type of industry, people would applaud me.”
An issue to consider, however, is that what Jessica and Danielle do is not against the law in Colorado. According to state statutes, prostitution (which is illegal) is when a money exchanges hands specifically for the performance of sexual acts. When a client contracts with an escort, however, he is purchasing time with her without any specific agreement regarding anything sexual, and what the client and the escort do with that time is up to the two of them as consenting adults. This may sound like a legal maneuver, but in reality it’s extremely important, because it allows the escort total leeway in deciding what activities she feels comfortable with during each of her sessions. An escort’s session might involve nothing more than stripping, performing full-body massage or acting as a platonic dominatrix, or even just accompanying a client to dinner, all of which are perfectly legal yet maintain her role as a sex worker because it is her sexuality that makes her attractive.
“I once spent two hours with a client discussing politics, world history and philosophy,” said Jessica, who has two college degrees, including one in computer science, and is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society. “Clients repeatedly tell me they’re seeking companionship as much as the sex. My goal is to create for them wonderful memories they can look back on and smile about.”
The idea of forced prostitution has been a hot-button issue lately. Films like “Taken” bring in millions of dollars while people cheer an action-hero dad fighting to rescue his daughter after her kidnapping by modern-day slavers. Celebrities Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher produce humorous but well-meaning ads stating, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”
So-called “experts” repeatedly claim in media outlets that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are forced to become prostitutes every year in the United States alone. This would be a horrible problem if it were true – but it’s not. According to published reports, that number is actually based on an estimate made by two researchers, Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, regarding not the number of children in the United States who become prostitutes, but simply the ones that are at risk of such – and in interviews the researchers admit their figures are based on very vague values, such as the number of transgender children in American and the approximate number of children living near the Mexican and Canadian borders.
Other claims of dramatic rises in the number of child prostitutes in this country have been shown to be based on pure guesswork by activist teams who made sweeping estimates after looking at various escort advertisements on the Internet and trying to approximate how old the women were.
In fact, according to law-enforcement officials themselves, the number of children arrested for prostitution in the United States each year averages to less than 900 a year – which is a far cry from the huge numbers being reported by anti-prostitution groups, even when you include the numbers who escape arrest.
Of those children who are, indeed, involved in the sex industry, other reports have shown that the majority tell researchers that they are, in fact, doing it of their own free will, much like their older counterparts, and they see their job as simply a way of trying to take control of their situation while bringing home more cash than they could ever make flipping burgers.
Do victims exist? Are children being exploited and forced into prostitution? Yes, without a doubt. The Denver Post has reported during the last year on several cases around the country that resulted in lengthy prison sentences for the adults involved. But those cases are so rare that they make the news in Denver even when they happen in distant cities.
The idea of anybody being forced to engage in sexual acts is horrible, whether or not somebody is making money off the situation, and it’s even worse when the victim is a child.
But if we’re going to fight the issue, we need to keep the facts in perspective. We need to see who are the victims, and who are the people simply trying to do what they can to survive in this tough economy.
Throwing money at any problem never helps unless the money is spent wisely and effectively to help those being hurt. And that’s all we ask to be done by the Denver police and anybody else who is concerned about this issue.
-By SWOP Colorado
The number of gullible people who believe the exaggerated statistics perpetuated by the prostitution prohibitionists is staggering. Despite there being NO evidence that the ‘estimated’ number of persons trafficked world wide OR in the US is accurate or valid, these fabricated statistics serve the purpose of rallying the troops against consenting adult prostitution. Even when the US Government admits it cannot find even a small percentage of the estimated number of victims- in its own reports- it continues to uphold the lies told by the rabidly anti- prostitution feminists, lies which are bought lock stock and barrel by religious conservatives because they have a moral agenda to abolish prostitution.
In the most recent report- available from the US Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics, “Characteristics of Suspected Human Trafficking Incidents 2008- 2010” the authors note “Federally funded human trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation between January 2008 and June 2010….Among trafficking incidents opened for at least one year, 30% were confirmed to be human trafficking, 38% were confirmed not to be human trafficking, and the remaining incidents were still open at the end of the study period.” This data includes persons trafficked into many other areas of labor, including domestic servitude, agriculture, garment manufacturing, etc. Of course, the government spent far more of its time and funding to search for victims of ‘sex trafficking’ than any other type of human trafficking, because most people don’t care about victims who are trafficked to clean the big box stores like Walmart or who labor unpaid in the corn fields. Such victims don’t warrant much press or concern by religious institutions because they aren’t part of the agenda to ‘abolish all prostitution.’
No one wants there to be victims of any sort of coercive activity, be it a husband who abuses his wife and children, or those who use force to control employees in any type of occupation, or who use fraud to obtain the unwilling services of those seeking a better life. Focusing on one alleged group of victims helps no one. Decriminalize consenting adult commercial sex and free up the scare and valuable resources that could be used to help those who are truly victims. Unfortunately for the victims of any other type of human trafficking, the funding is just not there to help them, and those who receive funding to fight ‘sex trafficking’ are going to continue to exaggerate the statistics to keep the money flowing. But again, if your agenda is the abolition of all consenting adult commercial sexual activity, who cares about the truth when lies work so much better to convince the public of the need for more enforcement of bad laws to protect the ‘staggering number of victims’ who cannot be found. When it comes to the voices of sex workers, it is the ABP rule- listen to Anybody But Prostitutes themselves. Whatever you think human relationships ought to be, you are not entitled to impose your moral values on the rest of us using the might of government. When adult prostitutes want the help of religious or government institutions, we promise to call you.
Research report on sorting out the myths and facts about sex trafficking at sporting events:
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) :
Teen Girl Lies About Abduction By Sex Traffickers. 17-year-old girl believed abducted last week admits she made up story
A 17-year-old girl who was believed to have been abducted from her Suisun City home last week admitted to fabricating the kidnapping to get sympathy from her family, according to Suisun City police.
The Solano County Sheriff’s Office and Suisun City Police Department formed a task force on Friday with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and California Highway Patrol to search for Christina Almanza, who was reported missing Thursday afternoon, according to police.
An Amber Alert was issued for Almanza on Friday.
The missing-persons report was based on a voicemail and text messages Almanza left on a family member’s cellphone. Almanza said she was being held hostage, possibly with other females, in a basement and that one female might have been killed.
She was found safe at a home in the 100 block of Bolton Way in Vallejo on Friday, police said. Two people at the home were detained and released after questioning.
Almanza was taken to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, where she admitted that her abduction and imprisonment were false. She said she had made up the story to get sympathy from her family, police said.
She admitted to writing and sending the text messages but said she had not expected law enforcement to get involved, police said. The teen was arrested for filing a false police report.
She was released to her parents’ custody and issued a notice to appear in court.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/bay-area/2011/12/17-year-old-girl-believed-abducted-last-week-admits-she-made-story#ixzz1jAQGrYln
A teen from Suisun City admitted to authorities that she lied about being abducted to get attention from her family. Christina Almanza, who was reported missing Thursday afternoon, claimed “she was being held hostage, possibly with other females, in a basement and that one female might have been killed.” But is it really that bad? Weren’t we all raised with sitcoms that employed the use of fake kidnappings in order to get mom and dad back together? Or something like that? She’s just a teenager. Like all teenagers. (We’re on your side, Christina. We are. However, the part about telling your parents that you’re being held by sex traffickers was downright horrific? You don’t do that to you parents, no matter what your hormones and teenage brain tell you.)
According to The Daily Mail, “A family friend said she had hoped the abduction story would win her sympathy from her parents and make them less angry about [her] pregnancy.” Anyway, the fuzz arrested her for filing a false police report. She was later released to her parents’ custody.
Even sex-trafficked brothel workers reject raids and rescues
Teen prostitutes don’t want to be saved so they must be brainwashed, right?
Posted By laura agustin On 20 October 2011 @ 22:25 In sex work
Alison Bowen, Metro, 19 October 2011
New York City police say they are trying to rescue teens forced into prostitution, only to find that the girls often don’t want their help. A state law enacted last year considers prostitutes under the age of 18 victims, not criminals, and police are encouraged not to charge them with a crime.
But according to Inspector James Capaldo, head of the NYPD’s new anti-sex trafficking division, their efforts to help girls forced into prostitution are often spurned, he told the City Council at a hearing on sex trafficking yesterday.
So far so good, we know this happens all the time. But where do they go with this? To the cheap psychology department.
The teens are often terrified of being punished by their pimp, or they’re brainwashed into thinking he is a boyfriend, said Capaldo. They also often lie and say they are 19. “Sometimes they refuse to talk,” he said. “If it takes a man six weeks to put this woman in a situation, how do we undo that in 46 hours?”
Lots of people refuse to talk to the police all the time, but here we see how Rescuers use that fact to explain their failures. Brainwashing was the explanation heard at the BBC debate in Luxor , and terror-by-pimp is the idea proposed by social workers on an NPR show on child sex trafficking in Nevada . Not to say it never happens but you need to be suspicious when Rescuers need to justify their own jobs. See, this is a new unit on sex trafficking. They even imply that slowness is not their faults because they are undoing brainwashing. And in an age of cuts and Occupy Wall Street – shameful.
The teen prostitutes often advertise their illegal services on Backpage.com, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Earlier this year, in Brooklyn, a tip led police to “Jennifer,” 18, who refused to testifyagainst her pimp. Instead, prosecutors found him through a prostitution website. He was charged with sex trafficking.
Is the assumption that a female under 18 is not capable of placing an online ad? Pure infantilisation of women, inexcusable. Check out recent comments from a lot of men assuming that women would be incapable of flying budget airlinesto Amsterdam to sell sex and go home again. Excuse me?
Anyway ‘Jennifer’ was 18, so what is this detail doing here? Did Backpage.com force her to place the ad? Gah!
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist
Article printed from The Naked Anthropologist: http://www.lauraagustin.com
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By laura agustin On 21 August 2011 @ 10:15 In migration,sex work,trafficking, Sex Trafficking, Human Trafficking, Prostituton, Sex Slavery.
For campaigners like Ashton Kutcher , sex slavery is an easy-to-recognise phenomenon with a single obvious cure, rescue: first by police and then by social workers. And despite rescuers’ avowed respect for personal stories, they never listen to voices that criticise this cure. The poster below was made by migrant sex workers (they call themselves that) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the EMPOWER  centre. I have posted it before but so many people are still unaware of the problems associated with Rescue that I like to re-run it. See for yourself the reasons workers at Barn Su Funn Brothel gave for denouncing raids and rescue operations intended to liberate them, whether rescuers are police officers, ngo employees or even celebrities and then think twice about how you will Fix Their Lives so easily.
These sex workers complain that when the Police and anti-prostitution groups “rescue” them, they do more harm then good. Rescued sex workers complain that being “rescued” creates the problems below:
• We lose our savings and our belongings.
• We are locked up.
• We are interrogated by many people.
• They force us to be witnesses.
• We are held until the court case.
• We are held till deportation.
• We are forced re-training.
• We are not given compensation by anybody.
• Our family must borrow money to survive while we wait.
• Our family is in a panic.
• We are anxious for our family.
• Strangers visit our village telling people about us.
• The village and the soldiers cause our family problems.
• Our family has to pay ‘fines’ or bribes to the soldiers.
• We are sent home.
• Military abuses and no work continues at home.
• My family has a debt.
• We must find a way back to Thailand to start again.
The poster brings us close to a situation many people doubt: that poorer migrants selling sex often prefer to continue what they’re doing to being forcibly rescued by people on anti-trafficking crusades. This is not to cast doubt on many helpers’ good intentions or the genuine rescue of some individuals. But it shows how rescue agents haven’t consulted the prostitutes they want to save first, to find out whether they want to be helped and, if they do, what kind of help would actually be helpful. The poster makes it clear that cutting migrant women off from their source of income has drastic consequences for themselves and their families.
This does not mean that they or I deny the existence of abusive practices inflicted during smuggling and trafficking operations. It means that an ideological stance that claims all migrants doing sex work have been victims of such practices is wrong. Check the rescue tag to read more , including stories of sex workers resisting arrest and fleeing from rescuers.
During my years of researching this subject, I have met migrants of myriad nationalities, in many countries, in bars, brothels, shelters, ngo offices, streets, clubs and houses. Some had had bad experiences, some had not recovered from them yet, some were getting on with the next stage of their lives, some enjoyed doing sex work, many had adapted to it as the best option of the moment. For those who want to read more about it, my book Sex at the Margins has lots of details.
Article printed from The Naked Anthropologist: http://www.lauraagustin.com
Women resist rescue by anti-trafficking police, who admit it:
By laura agustin On 12 July 2011
Headlines read Hookers rescued against their will and Rescued cybersex girls bolt DSWD office. The stories are from the Philippines, but they are not the first of their kind to reach mainstream news outlets. And they are not amazing exceptions to the rule, as everyone who works in helping projects knows.
The argument against raiding sex venues is not that all the workers are happy because sex work and free markets are just grand. The argument is that US policy, which threatens countries with losing aid if they don’t do enough to stop trafficking, promotes ham-fisted policing – cowboy raids that rush to pick up women selling sex and arrest their exploiters. Threatened countries use well-publicised raids to say to the US, See? We are doing what you want. We are stopping human trafficking and rescuing victims, so don’t cut off our aid. Which works, if you look at how the Philippines’ ranking improved in this year’s lame TIP Report .
So why aren’t more campaigners against prostitution and slavery concerned when women resist rescue? Is it so hard to understand that resistance doesn’t mean they love their jobs or are not being exploited by anyone or were not treated badly by their parents? All we really know it means is that they don’t want to be rescued like this. Over and over, researchers have documented how such women simply prefer their present situations in these brothels to other options – forceable internment in rescue homes being at the top of the list. Similar stories have come from other countries: Chinese women in the Congo , Bangladeshis in India .
Details of the cybersex-girls’ escape include:
Fifteen girls, rescued by police and National Bureau of Agency men from a cybersex den operated by two Swedish nationals have escaped from the Department of Social Welfare Development office in Cagayan de Oro City. . . after mauling the duty security guard. The girls then flagged down a passenger jeepney and forced its driver to bring them away from the DSWD office. . . –ABS.CBNnews.com , the Philippines, 5 July 2011
Details from hookers rescued against their will include:
A hundred female sex workers . . . and five foreigners were arrested in raids on three night clubs in Angeles City Tuesday night. . . “The women don’t really consider it a rescue,” said CIDG Women and Children’s Protection Desk head . . . “They kept cursing us, and tried their best to escape.” . . . Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr., said the successive raids in Angeles City’s red light district bolstered the US government’s recognition of the Philippines’ commitment to combating human trafficking. The Philippines has been taken off a watch list of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and elevated to Tier 2, a category of countries that do not fully comply with anti-trafficking standards but are making efforts to do so. Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 June 2011 
That should be a clear enough cause-and-effect relationship for anyone to understand!
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist
Article printed from The Naked Anthropologist: http://www.lauraagustin.com
Sex Workers do not want to be rescued: http://www.lauraagustin.com/tag/rescue
What do sex offenders and clients of sex workers have in common? To understand why my answer is a great deal, you need to look at how outsider sexuality are constructed so that some sex is deemed to be Good, everything else to be Bad and transgressors become monsters.
I read Roger Lancaster’s 1994 book Life is Hard: Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua ten years ago when I was looking for ethnographic accounts of non-mainstream sexualities and gender identities. Lancaster has a new book, Sex Panic and the Punitive State, which I have not read, but I was struck by his ideas in the following essay about sex offenders. Men who buy sex occupy an increasingly similar social position nowadays: considered either monsters or perverts. This year’s TIP report and the End Demand campaign insist that these men’s desires and bodies are simply wrong. Clients are not yet placed on Sex Offender Registers, but schemes to name and shame them in the media approach that idea and I will not be surprised if calling them sex offenders is proposed.
Note in an example from the other day’s Vancouver Sun: Make human traffickers’ names public: law professor. Perrin opposes Judge Susan Himel’s decision last year to remove from Ontario Law significant barriers to safe sex work (he was on Melissa Farley’s side). Perrin is a law academic who loves the police.
And don’t imagine that men called sex offenders are really bad in a way that men who buy sex are not: it’s the process of demonisation you want to keep your eye on, and how society handles those demonised.
The essay is long, so I have cut it. About halfway through I highlight with boldtechniques being used and suggestions being made for further stigmatisation of a wide range of people.
Sex Offenders: The Last Pariahs
Roger N. Lancaster, New York Times, 21 August 2011
. . . most criminal justice advocates have been reluctant to talk about sex offender laws, much less reform them. The reluctance has deep roots. Sex crimes are seen as uniquely horrific. During the Colonial, antebellum and Jim Crow eras, white Americans were preoccupied with tales of sexual dangers to white women and children McCarthy-era paranoia, stories of Satanic ritual abuse and other sex panics stirred pervasive anxieties about lurking strangers. Sexual predators play a lead role in the production of a modern culture of fear.
. . . The most intense dread, fueled by shows like “America’s Most Wanted” and “To Catch a Predator,” is directed at the lurking stranger, the anonymous repeat offender. But most perpetrators of sexual abuse are family members, close relatives, or friends or acquaintances of the victim’s family. . .
. . .Advocates for laws to register, publicize and monitor sex offenders after their release from custody typically assert that those convicted of sex crimes pose a high risk of sex crime recidivism. But studies by the Justice Department and other organizations show that recidivism rates are significantly lower for convicted sex offenders than for burglars, robbers, thieves, drug offenders and other convicts. Only a tiny proportion of sex crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which suggests that current laws are misdirected and ineffective. . .
Contrary to the common belief that burgeoning registries provide lists of child molesters, the victim need not have been a child and the perpetrator need not have been an adult. Child abusers may be minors themselves. Statutory rapists – a loose category that includessome offenses involving neither coercion nor violence – are covered in some states. Some states require exhibitionists and “peeping Toms” to register; Louisiana compelled some prostitutesto do so. Two-thirds of the North Carolina registrants sampled in a 2007 study by Human Rights Watch had been convicted of the nonviolent crime of “indecent liberties with a minor,” which does not necessarily involve physical contact.
. . . Newer laws go even further. At last count, 44 states have passed or are considering laws that would require some sex offenders to be monitored for life with electronic bracelets and global positioning devices. A 2006 federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy who was abducted and killed, allows prosecutors toapply tougher registration rules retroactively. New civil commitment procedures allow for the indefinite detention of sex offenders after the completion of their sentences. Such procedures suggest a catch-22: the accused is deemed mentally fit for trial and sentencing, but mentally unfit for release. Laws in more than 20 states and hundreds of municipalities restrict where a sex offender can live, work or walk. California’s Proposition 83 prohibits all registered sex offenders (felony and misdemeanor alike) from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, effectively evicting them from the state’s cities and scattering them to isolated rural areas.
Digital scarlet letters, electronic tethering and practices of banishment have relegated a growing number of people to the logic of “social death,” a term introduced by the sociologist Orlando Patterson, in the context of slavery, to describe permanent dishonor and exclusion from the wider moral community. The creation of apariah class of unemployable, uprooted criminal outcasts has drawn attention from human rights activists . . . Several states currently publish online listings of methamphetamine offenders, and other states are considering public registries for assorted crimes. Mimicking Megan’s Law, Florida maintains a website that gives the personal details (including photo, name, age, address, offenses and periods of incarceration) of all prisoners released from custody. Some other states post similar public listings of paroled or recently released ex-convicts. It goes without saying that such procedures cut against rehabilitation and reintegration.
Our sex offender laws are expansive, costly and ineffective – guided by panic, not reason. It is time to change the conversation: to promote child welfare based on sound data rather than statistically anomalous horror stories, and in some cases to revisit outdated laws that do little to protect children. Little will have been gained if we trade a bloated prison system for sprawling forms of electronic surveillance that offload the costs of imprisonment onto offenders, their families and their communities.
This is the context in which End Demand campaigns are occurring. Writing on the wall.
On the panic point, I will be talking on a panel about sex scandals at the AAA in Montreal next month. Offenders, clients, scandals, panics: all related in ways I am trying to figure out.
–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist http://networkedblogs.com/oWQCA
Great Link on Prostitutes forced by Police to lie and say they are victims, when it is the police who are victimizing them:
Guest columnist, veteran prostitution rights activist Norma Jean Almodovar, author of Cop To Call Girl, founder and president of the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education and executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of COYOTE . Now without further ado, I turn this space over to Norma Jean.
Just as they did a year ago with Craigslist, a bunch of politically grandstanding States Attorneys General- cheered on by an overbearing, vociferous gaggle of anti- prostitution zealots and their sycophants from the far left and the far right- got together andwrote a letter to the ownersof Backpage.com, demanding that the adult ads on their classified website be shut down “to stop sex trafficking.” Despite the fact that they don’t have a constitutional leg to stand on, these blowhards decided they must force the closure of the adult ads section in this and any other online adult ad classified advertising site.
Although there are numerous other sites which cater solely to the adult crowd seeking other adults for adult activity, such as RentBoy- where virulently anti- gay Christian Psychologist Reverend George Rekers found his young stud travel companion on a trip to Italy- and countless other similar sites, it does not appear that these Attorneys General have much interest in pursuing those sites because many are for gay commercial sex and it is not politically correct to prosecute gays for the same ‘crimes’ they prosecute heterosexual adults. Governments and religious institutions throughout history have attempted to eradicate what many call a scourge (but many others like me feel it is the best job we ever had), but none have been successful even when the punishment faced by those who violate the law is death. So what motivates these particular politicians to attempt to “eliminate” all prostitution at whatever cost?
There are a number of studies which support the premise that the more vocal one is in denouncing another’s ‘immoral’ activities and demanding that they cease, the more likely it is that such a loudmouth is engaged in the very activity that he/she condemns. It is a cliché that sanctimonious politicians pontificate on the importance of family values while having extra-marital affairs, buying the services of a prostitute (underage and adult) or sending text messages to persons who are not their spouses; the vehemently anti-gay politicians and preachers who secretly engage in homosexual relationships. When it is a female politician, look for her husband to be a client of prostitutes, like U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D. Michigan).
Considering the enormous pressure being exerted on Backpage -and Craigslist a year ago- if one were cynical, one might think that those who are the most vocal in their demands to shut down adult ads because of the possibility that those ads are for prostitution- are being blackmailed or extorted by those abolitionists. Consider that Eliot Spitzer, who, as New York’s State Attorney General, passionately denounced the evils of prostitution as he vigorously enforced laws against prostitution by day and paid for his ‘sex slaves’ by night… in some cases going out of state and violating the Mann Act, a federal crime called ‘sex trafficking’. Spitzer rose to governorship on the back of political reform and cleaning up corruption. According to many sources, his was a ‘scorched earth’ policy when it came to prosecuting white collar crimes. One target of his wrath were ‘prostitution rings’ against which he had publicly vented with “revulsion and anger announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a select prostitution ring” in 2004. He dispatched his brand of justice in short order and sent them to prison. In hindsight one could speculate that his show of revulsion and anger came not from a sense of moral repugnance at the thought of paid sex professionals but that the ‘select prostitution ring’ he targeted had perhaps been too selective and refused his business in the past? Or did he feel a sense of pride at being able to prosecute the competition of those who did provide him with their sexual services?
Or perhaps the abolitionists knew of Spitzer’s indiscretions and used that information to extort him to be aggressive in prosecuting others who engaged in buying or selling sex? There is no doubt in my mind that if he had not been caught with his pants down, he would be joining the other politicians in their strident crusade to shut down adult ads. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that perhaps some or many of the signers of this letter are in a similar position. History – both distant and recent- suggests that this may be the case…
In July 2011, a high ranking Albuquerque Criminal Judge, Pat Murdoch, was arrested for raping a prostitute. It was not the first time he had hired a sex worker, because the prostitute he hired admitted to previous engagements with the judge. And surely the police were aware of his activities with prostitutes, which may explain why, in 2009, he was so lenient toward an Albuquerque Police Officer -David Maes– who was also charged with raping a prostitute. Thoughtfully, after Maes plead ‘no contest’ to the charges, District Court Judge Pat Murdoch said “sending him to prison would be a harsh sentence for an ex-cop” and gave him 5 years probation. After Judge Murdoch was charged with raping a prostitute, he resigned, and most likely none of his colleague judges will impose a prison sentence on him, knowing that when and if they ever get caught doing the same thing, they will want leniency from the judges who oversee their cases.
Judges like Federal Judge Jack Camp… or Judge Michael Hecht... or Edward Nottingham, the chief federal judge in Denver, Colorado. Despite the fact that an ordinary citizen charged with violating the same laws that Reagan appointee Judge Jack Camp did would have been sentenced to multiple years- perhaps decades- in prison, Judge Camp was allowed to retire at full pension, sentenced to 30 days in prison and 400 hours of community service. He served 15 days.
Back to the States Attorneys General- are they pursuing this because they are being extorted by the prohibitionists or because they really believe that shutting down adult ads is going to somehow stop human trafficking? Surely they are not that naïve, are they? Having been lawyers before they became prosecutors, they know exactly how things work and that prostitution was around long before the internet and will be around long after the internet shuts the sex workers out (or moves them to other websites).
They feign concern for the sexual exploitation of underage persons through the use of adult ads, commenting that “More than 50 cases of trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors on Backpage.com have been filed in 22 states in the past three years…” But none of them mention that in 2011 alone, more than 100 cases of pedophile and child porn possessing police/ district attorneys/ judges were brought to court... NONE of those cases involved Backpage or Craigslist or any other classified website offering adult ads – just a bunch of perverted cops, judges, FBI agents etc. who had access to these young people because they are persons in authority whom no one suspects of diddling their children. These numbers do not include the teachers, preachers, priests, boy scout leaders, Hollywood producers and other persons who are trusted by the community and who do not find their victims on Backpage. The US Government reports that 90% of the cases of child sexual exploitation are at the hands of someone the child knows, like the above cops, teachers, etc. and 68% of the cases of child sexual abuse are at the hands of a family member. So if, as the prohibitionists and their misinformed spokespeople suggest, there are between ‘100,000 to 300,000’ children trafficked into the sex trade every year, and if that represents only ten percent of the victims of child sexual exploitation from strangers, then the number of those sexually exploited by an acquaintance or family member must be in the millions per year. As I mentioned earlier, however, the US Government’s own report says that these hundreds of thousands of human trafficking (which includes adults and those trafficked into many other areas of labor) can’t be found, with all the millions of dollars that they spend and all the government funded agencies looking for them.
Tragically, as many cases as there are of the victims mentioned above, there is an even greater number of underage persons who are subjected to rape and sexual exploitation by persons in authority, and the government is quite aware of it and yet does little to prevent it. In fact, those juveniles are deliberately put in harms’ way at the insistence of the rabid prohibitions who claim they are ‘saving their lives.’ No doubt when the media reports that the FBI or other government agencies have ‘rescued’ dozens of ‘victims of child sexual trafficking’ during a sting operation (and arrest hundreds of adult prostitutes in the process), the general public envisions a militaristic style raid much like our armed forces conduct when they storm into an occupied country and free the enslaved citizens, who then jubilantly rally around our heroic soldiers with cries of gratitude. Unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth for the underage victims of sex trafficking. What the media and the government do not tell you is that ‘rescued’ means ‘arrested.’
When the cops and the feds – and for that matter, government agents anywhere in the world- conduct a ‘rescue’ raid, all persons of any age who are suspected of being prostitutes or of being ‘victims of sex trafficking’ are rounded up and herded into custody. Handcuffed. Chained to each other. Put into jail cells. Strip-searched. Treated like vicious criminals. And that is as it should be, according to some wonderfulChristian ladies of the Georgia Eagle Forum, or as I like to call their national group- the “Spread Eagle Forum.” Women like Sue Ella Deadwyler, publisher of Georgia Insight, who stated – in opposition to the Republican Georgia state senator Renee Unterman who introduced a bill that would steer girls under the age of 16 into diversionary programs instead of arresting them as prostitutes – “Arrest is a valuable life-saving tool that must be used. We need to hire more cops to arrest the prostitutes.” She said that she believes that arrestis a better deterrent than a proposal for rehabilitation — no matter the age. “Sure there are those who are forced into prostitution, but I think most of them volunteer,” Deadwyler said of under 16-year-old prostitutes. “Many, many children have been scared straight because of arrest.” Of course.
One of her colleagues argues, “We cannot repeal the prostitution law for children, because that law acts as a very real barrier that protects children from sexual predators that would, otherwise, feel free to lure them into prostitution….Have we forgotten that correction oftentimes turns a life around?”
They aren’t the only ones who believe that arresting victims is actually good for them. Newser Staff writer Evann Gastaldo, wrote in her March 4th, 2011 article: “Why We Must Arrest Child Prostitutes: IT MAY SOUND CRUEL, BUT IT COULD BE THE ONLY THING THAT SAVES THEM. Says she “Decriminalizing child prostitution (and not arresting them) means effectively ‘removing the only safe and secure protection these vulnerable children have from the pimps—being arrested and placed under the protective custody of law enforcement.’” And after one major ‘rescue’ of such victims, the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, stated“We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence.”
Umm, I wonder if either he or those nice Christian ladies or the States Attorneys General who are demanding the shutdown of adult ads on Backpage.com have read the US Government Justice Department’s own report on what happens to those children (and adult prostitutes) who are ‘placed under the protective custody of law enforcement…’- the report entitled “Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09”?
As the May 5th, 2011 issue of the Economist states, “Sexual abuse in prison is distressingly common: the Justice Department estimated that more than 217,000 prisoners, including at least 17,000 juveniles, were raped or sexually abused in America in 2008. A total of 12% of juvenile detainees… surveyed between 2008 and 2009 reported being forced into sex. And that is the number of people, not incidents; most victims are abused more than once. More inmates reported being abused by staff than by other inmates.” So we arrest the victims and put them in jail where they are raped by those who are supposedly protecting them from sexual predators... like themselves. And this of course will ‘turn their lives around’… actually it probably will; if this doesn’t mess up their heads and screw up their lives forever. After the well-meaning Christian ladies and legislators tell them that it is for their own good to experience the trauma of being arrested and going to jail where they are raped by government agents in whose custody they are supposed to be safe, well, they would have to have an extremely strong character to survive the ‘rescue’ envisioned by these moral zealots.
Here is a good website about the Police, prostitution, sex trafficking and politics:
Tuesday 2 November 2010
How NGOs are adopting a missionary position in Asia
A sex-worker rights activist in Thailand tells Nathalie Rothschild about the reality of the prudish, neo-colonial anti-trafficking industry.
We all know that there is a big sex industry in south-east Asia. In fact, it often seems that sex is the only thing we hear about in reports from this part of the world as the media peddles salacious stories about ‘sex tourism’, ‘ladyboys’, virgins for sale and girls tricked into prostitution. But in recent years another kind of trade has boomed there: the anti-trafficking industry. And local sex worker rights activists tell me that this industry is a far bigger problem for them than punters looking for sex or company.
Today, there are hundreds of non-governmental organisations in Cambodia alone working to ‘rescue and rehabilitate’ sex workers. Local sex-worker representatives even claim that there are more anti-trafficking activists than there are genuine trafficking victims.
Indeed, last year an audit of the USAID Counter Trafficking in Persons project reported that in 2009 the Cambodian government convicted just 12 people of trafficking offences. As for trafficking victims, the audit concluded that it was beyond the scope of the five-year project – initiated in 2006 with a budget of $7.3million – to establish ‘baseline data’ on the numbers of victims.
Andrew Hunter from the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) tells me that there are NGO-run women’s shelters across Cambodia that rely on funding from donors like USAID and that they use ‘lurid stories of sexual abuse to raise money. It’s kind of pornographic in a way – but it seems making up stories of the enslavement and sexual degradation of women raises more funds.’
The USAID report explained that other organisations and researchers had also failed to establish just how many trafficking victims there are in Cambodia. One of the obstacles identified was that ‘Human trafficking victims may be unaware, unwilling, or unable to acknowledge that they are trafficking victims, so it is difficult to reach them…’
For Andrew, saying that women are unwitting victims – even if they vehemently deny it – is tantamount to denying ‘the idea that women have agency’. (Ironically, the anti-trafficking industry is to a large extent made up of self-described feminists. But feminists have traditionally fought for women to be regarded as autonomous, free-thinking individuals, not as clueless victims.)
As for enforced prostitution, Andrew says that ‘women (and men) generally take up jobs because they need to earn money’ and the same is true for sex work. ‘The fewer skills you have, the less choice you have, but many women do choose sex work.’
‘Large numbers of sex workers in Cambodia are former garment workers’, Andrew continues. ‘They find conditions in the sex industry better than in the garment factories. In fact, a few weeks ago, Cambodian garment workers organised massive strikes demanding higher wages– and sex workers were on the picket lines supporting them.’
Yet a recent BBC documentary claimed that thousands of young girls are being sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia and that prostitution is not something women take up voluntarily.
The documentary was presented by Stacey Dooley, who made her television debut in the 2008 BBC series Blood, Sweat and T-shirts, in which six young British ‘fashion addicts’ toured factories and slums in India. Up until then, Dooley had been interested in little more than clothes and makeup, but now she goes around the world investigating topics such as the use of child soldiers and child labourers in the developing world.
In her report from Cambodia, Dooley hardly has a dry-eyed moment. As Alang, an 18-year-old prostitute, tells Dooley her story (she was sold to pimps by her aunt at the age of 12) the young Brit weeps uncontrollably. After waiting nine hours to accompany police on a raid to ‘bust some brothels’, Dooley starts crying because the cops fail to catch any pimps. And so on. She also visits an impoverished widow whose youngest daughter attends activities organised by the Sao Sary Foundation. This is an NGO which runs lessons for rural children whom they’ve identified as being at risk of falling prey to traffickers.
Andrew has heard it all before. ‘The idea that large numbers of women are sold into the sex industry by their families is based on a premise that poor people are stupid, ignorant and naive – not to mention cruel.’
‘Yes, this kind of thing used to happen’, Andrew tells me, ‘in the period after the civil war when Cambodia started “opening up”’. During the time of the UN peacekeeping operation in 1992-93, women from rural areas started going to cities to find work, but were often forced into degrading situations. But as women went back to their villages and told their relatives of their experiences, people started to learn, explains Andrew. ‘The same is true all over south-east Asia. Ten years ago, when sex workers in Cambodia were crying out for assistance on this issue no one was interested. So they formed their own unions to fight for their rights as workers. Since anti-trafficking money became available, however, suddenly every NGO is worried about “rescuing sex workers”.’
The anti-trafficking industry boomed in the early Noughties, when then US president George W Bush launched the ‘war on trafficking’ as a ‘soft power strategy’ to accompany the global war on terror. However, the thinly veiled agenda was to abolish any form of sex work. Funding to organisations that ‘promote, support, or advocate the legalisation or practice of prostitution’ was suspended.
In addition, two years ago, the Cambodian government passed the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation, drafted with the support of UNICEF. As researcher Cheryl Overs has shown, it criminalises ‘almost all social and financial transactions connected to sex work, whether they are abusive or consensual, fair or unfair’. According to Andrew, this has had devastating effects, driving sex workers onto the streets where they are more vulnerable and into karaoke bars where they are not allowed to carry condoms.
In her documentary, Dooley also meets a young girl who was tricked into prostitution at the age of 13 and has suffered horrific abuse, including being forced to drink alcohol mixed with crushed glass. Andrew says this kind of abuse becomes more likely when the sex industry is driven underground and sex workers cannot organise to protect their rights.
Moreover, ‘many of the agencies working with “trafficking victims” in fact illegally detain sex workers after they have been rounded up in police raids. I have met sex workers who have been held against their will for up to three months in so-called shelters.’ Andrew tells me that many shelters are set up specifically for ‘protection cases’ – ‘young girls taken by NGOs from villages in order to hide them from traffickers’. So, in order to prevent young girls from being taken away from their families, NGOs take them away from their families… ‘Usually, they teach them things like sewing and in that way offer ready-trained workers for the garment industry, where women are indeed exploited and paid paltry wages.’ Also, ‘there are plenty of US-backed DIY-NGOs in Cambodia who want to save young girls, offering them bible study dressed up as literacy classes.’ This is a missionary position indeed.
Over at Dooley’s blog, there is now a lively discussion going on, with Cambodian activists and researchers refuting some of the claims made in her documentary. Others are appalled at Dooley’s patronising tone. Indeed, she speaks to the Cambodians she meets as if they are children, looking at them with puppy eyes as they tell her of their hardships and explaining, in simple, clearly enunciated English (even though there were translators in the film crew) how she would do her best to help them and how she feels their pain.
For Dooley, who confesses she is a bit of a prude and has never met a prostitute before, the red light districts of Cambodia are understandably overwhelming. It’s hard for her to imagine that anything other than ‘brothel busting’ could be the answer to the exploitation some girls experience. But good intentions and sympathy can do a lot of harm. Dooley may want to show that she understands poor people’s desperation, but, in the end, she comes across as a wide-eyed, ignorant, well-heeled westerner wanting desperately to Do Something. She lectures and hectors everyone from western men to Cambodian police for failing to help girls in need.
Yes, Dooley is a ditzy young woman who got a gig with the BBC by fluke, but she perfectly epitomises the neo-colonialist streak to anti-trafficking. Documentaries such as hers only help portray developing world countries like Cambodia as places of vice and beastliness on the one hand, and ignorance and innocence on the other; as places filled with people who need to be rescued and civilised.
My guess is that Cambodians could do without such ‘help’ and that British television viewers could do with some programmes exposing the dubious interests and machinations of the anti-trafficking industry in south-east Asia and beyond.
Nathalie Rothschild is commissioning editor of spiked.
reprinted from: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/9843/
When the Obama administration took office on Jan. 1, 2009, many scientists and scholars were hopeful that empirical evidence would play a greater role in defining a range of domestic and international policies, ranging from justifications for war, to global warming, to sex education, to policies about human trafficking. The hope was that the administration would turn away from making decisions that were rooted in ideological agendas and make decisions that were informed more directly by reliable empirical data. To some extent, this has been the case. [E.G.: see the State Department’s (remarkable) response to evidence of human rights violations against people in the sex trade].
However, when it comes to directly criticizing the State Department about its international policies — even using solid empirical data — it is probably inevitable that the State Department machine will kick into defense mode. And this is what is happening now in response to Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, for her book Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo which is based on her ethnographic research with bar hostesses in Tokyo. The State Department argues that women who are similar to those Parreñas included in her study need to be “rescued.” Parreñas’ research suggests otherwise, and adds to the mounting evidence which indicates that calls for “rescuing” adult women are simplistic, not based in reliable evidence, and are ultimately harmful to the women who allegedly “need” to be “rescued.”
Parreñas’ more complicated and empirically-grounded analysis puts a wet blanket on widespread popular discourse about “sex trafficking” — a “victim/rescue” narrative that many critical feminist, human rights, and labor scholars critique as a colonialist, patronizing, (ironically) sexualizing fantasy of White Knights swooping in to rescue helpless women. Parreñas’ work also provides yet another push to the State Department — and other all parties interested in alleviating human trafficking — to ground their approaches in rigorous data collection, as well as analysis that addresses labor and migrant rights in the context of global economic inequalities.
See below for Nina Ayoub’s story which briefly summarizes Parreñas’ findings and the State Department’s response:
Scholar’s Views Rile State Department
November 10, 2011, 9:00 pm
By Nina Ayoub
The author of a new scholarly book from Stanford University Press has become the target of criticism from an unusual source: the U.S. Department of State.
In recent weeks, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, has received media attention for Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo, a book about Filipina women working as bar hostesses in the Japanese capital. Bloomberg News ran excerpts of her work. She was called the “literary lovechild of Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Wolf” by Zócalo Public Square, which said the book will “inspire indignation for reasons you didn’t expect.” Parreñas also was interviewed onThe World, a program of Public Radio International. Following that broadcast, the State Department asked—essentially—for equal time.
The issue? Parreñas was highly critical of the ways in which State Department policies on international sex trafficking characterize the women who are the focus of her book, minimizing, she says, their individual agency as migrant laborers, and seeking to “rescue” them and regulate their lives in ways that Parreñas argues may leave them worse off.
On November 4, Alison Kiehl Friedman, deputy director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was interviewed on The World to “clarify U.S. policy on sex trafficking.” She told the host that “we agree with Dr. Parreñas that there is exploitation inherent in what is going on, and we agree that not all the people there are trafficking victims. And we agree that there needs to be more done to get unscrupulous labor recruiters out of the system and better protect migration flows. Where we disagree is that somebody can go in, have a personal experience for a couple of months, and categorically say these people weren’t sex-trafficking victims, and somehow calling some of them sex-trafficking victims is worse than ignoring their exploitation and trying to address it.”
In an e-mail interview, The Chronicle asked Parreñas for her response. Is she surprised at the public attention her research is getting from the State Department?
“As a scholar who is committed to ‘public sociology,’ that is, sociology that aims to transcend the academy and reach a wider audience, I couldn’t be anything but pleased that policy implementers have given attention to my work,” she writes. “Unfortunately, they seemed to have also misinterpreted the work.”
Parreñas adds: “I do wish that the U.S. State Department gave greater attention to the evidence-based research on human trafficking by scholars such as myself, and others including the anthropologist Denise Brennan, the legal scholar Dina Haynes, and the anthropologist Tiantian Zheng.” The department does not, she charges. Instead, they “insist on making unsubstantiated claims on human trafficking.”
What the sociologist is chiefly calling “unsubstantiated” is the Trafficking in Persons Report, which the State Department describes as its “principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments” on the subject. She is critical of the State Department, she says, for not fully accounting for its methods, as well as for its informants and sources. “The TIP Report would get an F if it were a social-science-research project.”
Parreñas says she is fairly sure that her critics at the agency have not yet read her book. “Otherwise, they would not be able to dismiss my methodology as ‘having a personal experience for a couple of months.’” she writes. As a qualitative sociologist, she used a varied set of methods, including “in-depth interviews with hostesses, brokers, club owners; participant-observation both as a customer (in nine clubs) and as a hostess (in one club primarily); archival research; and interviews with government representatives in both Japan and the Philippines. I spent not just ‘a couple of months’ but a total of 11 non-continuous months in Tokyo to conduct my project.”
Unlike Friedman and the TIP Report, she says, “all the claims that I have made about the situation of hostesses—a group they say are ‘forced into prostitution’—are based on evidence, i.e., concrete interviews with migrant Filipina hostesses who I made sure represented a diverse group.” The women included “those who are college educated and those who are high-school dropouts; some work in high-end bars and others in low-end bars; some undress in the club where they work and others never sit next to a customer at a club when at work.”
Speaking on the radio of the Filipina hostesses, Friedman, the State Department official, used an analogy she said her boss was fond of. “I think that focusing on how they got there and whether there was any initial consent to travel is really beside the point,” she told The World. “It’s almost like criminalizing driving to the bank robbery, but not the bank robbery itself.”
In her e-mail to The Chronicle, Parreñas counters: “As I explicitly described in the interview, the work of hostesses is not prostitution. Instead, the work is to flirt professionally with customers.”
Friedman, notes Parreñas, “said we should not focus on how one gets to commit a robbery, but to focus on the robbery. This statement just goes to show that she chooses not to consider the circumstances of people’s lives and the particular needs that arise out of those circumstances.
In the case of hostesses, she says, “these women are often from the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. We cannot understand why they do hostess work unless we consider the structural contexts that have shaped their lives.” Those who prefer they not become hostesses, she says, should work on easing the structural inequalities that limited their choices and made hostess work the best of bad options.
“But let us say I agree with Friedman’s boss,” she adds. “Let us look at the act of bank robbery. Let us disregard how they got there. In this case, we would look at the act of hostess work. We would actually see that the work is not prostitution but professional flirtation. Professional flirting could be performed in a variety of ways—via showing acts of care such as spoon feeding sensually, dancing on stage (clothed or unclothed), singing, verbal teasing. I would ask Friedman—what is wrong with professional flirting? What is so different between professional flirting and working as a waitress in Hooters?”
“Yes, I would say let us look at the act of ‘bank robbery’ or the act of ‘hostess work.’ If we were going to do it accurately, we would actually rely on evidence to know the specifics of that ‘bank robbery.’ We would perhaps realize that the robber walked away with three pieces of mint candy from the bank and not wads of cash. If one looks at the TIP Report,one sees that the U.S. Department of State provides no evidence related to working conditions. So it is questionable if they know anything about the ‘bank robber.’”
Commenting on Friedman’s statement that “compelled service is frequently misidentified as consent,” Parreñas says that the official is “cloaking the problem of human trafficking. She is looking at the surface and not the structure.” Most migrant workers, she says, are not free laborers. They are often guest workers whose legal residency binds them to a sponsoring employer. This leaves them in a highly unequal relationship of dependency. This, she writes, would apply to farm workers in North Carolina, non-immigrant-visa domestic workers in Washington, D.C.; likewise, domestic workers in Singapore, or the kafala system in the United Arab Emirates, or au pairs in Denmark, or migrant teachers in Baltimore.
“Eminent scholars such as Carole Vance and Ann Jordan have expressed their puzzlement over the obsession of the U.S. State Department on sex workers as well as their conflation of sex trafficking and prostitution,” says Parreñas. She says that the department’s “over-obsession with finding ‘prostitutes’ who are ‘sex trafficked’” has led them to misidentify migrant Filipina hostesses. “Hostess work is not a euphemism for prostitution,” says Parreñas. Yet, she claims, the U.S. Department of State, “without evidence,” misidentifies the hostesses as not just prostitutes but women “forced into prostitution.”
This misidentification is a “setback,” she argues, “because it has eliminated the jobs of tens of thousands of women, many of whom are now living in poverty in the Philippines.” This shift, the book indicates, occurred when Japan changed its visa policies on “Filipina entertainers” in a way that conformed with U.S. preferences. The scholar also cites the research of her Ph.D. student Maria Hwang at Brown University, where Parreñas taught before going to the University of Southern California. Hwang has found a sizeable number of Filipina hostesses displaced from Tokyo working as migrant sex workers in Hong Kong. Hwang’s research, says Parreñas, shows us that “falsely rescuing them from prostitution has actually forced them into prostitution.”
Her student’s finding “tells us that it is very important that the U.S. Department of State only provide evidence-based research in their reports. Not having evidence-based research could backfire on them in more ways than one.”
Parreñas will continue her research on migrant labor. She says she is preparing a second edition of her 2001 book, Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration and Domestic Work (Stanford), which compared Filipina migrant domestic workers in Rome and Los Angeles. She is conducting new research in both cities to update their situations. She also has a new project that will compare the experiences of domestic workers whose legal residency in a country binds them to a citizen sponsor employer, meaning “that they cannot quit their job unless they are willing to be deported.” She will compare domestic workers in that situation in Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
See also human rights law professor Ann Jordan’s prolific scholarship on this issue, including her article here: http://www.fpif.org/articles/sex_trafficking_the_abolitionist_fallacy
Other related Sexuality & Society stories:
Millions of USA government dollars are being spent to fight a crime that is extremely rare. The US government assumes that all prostitutes on Earth are sex trafficked slaves – Who are kidnapped and forced into having sex against their will. This is NOT true of MOST Prostitution.
The numbers of sex trafficking sex slaves:
There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of adult woman who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows. There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government, The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high. They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it. Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves. Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.
It is not easy for criminals to engage in this acitvity:
Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe. It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police. They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met. They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well. They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one. Kidnapping itself is a serious crime. There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc. If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years.
The numbers and scale of this crime is exaggerated. The very nature of someone pulling off a kidnapping and forced sex for profit appears to be very difficult. Since it would be difficult this makes this crime rare.
A key point is that on the sidelines the prostitutes themselves are not being listened to. They oppose laws against prostitution. But no one wants to listen to the prostitutes themselves. Only to the self appointed experts that make up numbers and stories many of which have never met a real forced sex slave or if they did it was only a few. The media and government never ask the prostitutes themselves what would help them in terms of laws.
Many women in the sex business are independent workers. They don’t have a pimp.
They work for themselves, advertise themselves, and keep all the money for themselves. No one forces them, because there isn’t anyone to force them. They go out and find their own customers, set their own prices, and arrange everything by themselves. Sometimes they may employ others to help them, but these are not pimps. If for example, she hires an internet web design company to make a website for her, does that make the web design company a pimp? If she pays a phone company for a phone to do business, does this make the phone company a pimp? If she puts an ad in the paper, does this make the editor a pimp? If she puts the money she makes into a bank account does this make the bank a pimp?
A lot of anti prostitution groups would say yes. Everyone and everybody is a pimp.
These groups make up lies, and false statistics that no one bothers to check. A big reason they do this is because it provides high paying jobs for them. They get big donations, and grants from the government, charity, churches, etc. to have these groups, and pay these high salaries of the anti prostitution workers.
Sex Traffficking in Sports Events:
Super Bowl 2011:
According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????
It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, A Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women’s Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations. As proved in the links below:
Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:
“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.
“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”
This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.
Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.
I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.
While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.
Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.
These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies. This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
I would like to see a news organization do a full report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.
== World Cup 2006 ==
Politicians, religious and aid groups, still repeat the media story that 40,000 prostitutes were trafficked into Germany for the 2006 world cup – long after leaked police documents revealed there was no truth at all in the tale. A baseless claim of 25,000 trafficking victims is still being quoted, recently, for example, by the Salvation Army in written evidence to the home affairs select committee, in which they added: “Other studies done by media have suggested much higher numbers.” Which has been proven by the German police to be completely false. Yet people still talk about these false numbers as if it were fact.
==World Cup 2010 ==
Again using the made up number of 40,000 prostitutes trafficked:
The behavior of fans in South Africa has run contrary to what was predicted prior to the start of the tournament after David Bayever told World Cup organizers in March it was feared that up to 40,000 extra prostitutes could converge in the host nation to meet the expected demand. Bayever, deputy chairperson of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority (CDA) that advises on drug abuse but also works with prostitutes, warned: “Forty-thousand new prostitutes. As if we do not have enough people of our own, we have to import them to ensure our visitors are entertained.”
But the tournament in 2010, if anything, has seen the modern-day soccer fan attracted to art galleries and museums over brothels.
A trend that has seen a drop in revenue across the board for the prostitution industry, which is illegal in South Africa. “Zobwa,” the chairperson of Sisonke — an action group representing around 70 street prostitutes in Johannesburg — said business had been down over the last month. “The World Cup has been devastating. We thought it was going to be a cash cow but it’s chased a lot of the business away. It’s been the worst month in my company’s history,” the owner and founder of one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive escort companies told CNN.
In recent years, every time there has been a major international sporting event, a group of government officials, campaigning feminists, pliant journalists and NGOs have claimed that the movement of thousands of men to strange foreign countries where there will be lots of alcohol and horniness will result in the enslavement of women for the purposes of sexual pleasure. Obviously. And every time they have simply doubled the made-up scare figures from the last international sporting event, to make it look like this problem of sport/sex/slavery gets worse year on year. Yet each year it is proved false.
This myth tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in. These anti-prostitution groups need to in invent a victim that does not exist in order to get press attention.
Below are the few brave souls in the media who told the truth about super bowl sex trafficking:
Sex Trafficking in Sports Events links:
Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:
Official Lies About Sex-Trafficking Exposed: It’s now clear Anti Prostitution groups used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding
== In the USA ==
On August 5, 2008
U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine uncovered discrepancies in a program dedicated to cracking down on human trafficking, McClatchy Newspapers report. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spent millions of dollars on combating the international trafficking of indentured servants and sex slaves, including by creating task forces across the U.S. that identified and helped victims. Over four years, the department paid $50 million to the task forces and other groups. Conservative groups, who pressured the administration to go after sex trafficking more aggressively, applauded his efforts.
Critics have questioned whether the problem was being hyped. Fine found in an audit issued that the task forces and other groups set up to help were ‘significantly’ overstating the number of victims they served. By examining a sampling of cases, Fine found the task forces had exaggerated by as much as 165 percent. Making matters worse, the inflated numbers were included in annual reports to Congress.
The Sex Trafficking/Slavery idea is used to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing.
This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims. Everything I heard about this problem was Americans complaining about it, but I never heard from the so-called victims themselves complaining about it. Why is that? Many of the self appointed experts complaining about this have never even met or seen a real forced against their will victim.
The problems I see with the sex traffic idea is that suppose some of the women were not forced into this type of prostitution, but were willing and wanted to do this type of work, and went out of their way to do this type of work. (It is a lot of fast easy money, they don’t need a degree, or a green card.)
All they have to do is lie and say that someone forced them into it. When perhaps, no one did.
If a illegal allien for example is the victim all they have to do is lie and here are their benefits based on the USA anti-traffic prostitution laws:
1. They don’t have to go to jail or be arrested.
2. They get to stay and live in America, and become U.S. citizens
3. The U.S. Government will provide them with housing, food, education and will cater to them since they will be considered victims. . They will be considered victimed refugees, and can become American citizens.
The way I see it is that this USA government system will encourage people to lie in order to receive all the benefits listed above.
While there are some women who may be true victims. This is a small rare group of people.
What hard evidence does the police have that these women were forced slaves? Were all the women that the police saw in fact slaves? Did the police prove without a doubt due to hard concrete evidence that the women were victims of being slaves and forced against their will? Did they account for all the benefits they would receive if they lied?
I find it very hard to believe that most women in this business are forced against their will to do it. It would just be too difficult. There may be some exceptions but, I believe this is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
== In the United Kingdom ==
In October, 2009 – The biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country. The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
Nick Davis of the Guardian newspaper writes:
Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.
===In India and Nepal===
If media reports are to be believed, there would be no young girls left in Nepal. Oft-quoted figures such as 5,000-7,000 Nepali girls being trafficked across the border to India every year and 150,000-200,000 Nepali women and girls being trapped in brothels in various Indian cities, were first disseminated in 1986, and have remained unaltered over the next two decades. The report that first quoted these statistics was from the Indian Health Association, Mumbai, written by AIDS Society of India secretary general, Dr. I S Gilada, and presented in a workshop in 1986. Subsequently, a version of this report was published as an article in The Times of India on January 2, 1989. To date, the source of this figure remains a mystery. Unfortunately, such a lack of clarity is more the norm than the exception when it comes to reporting on trafficking in women and girls.
There needs to be a distinct separation of
1. Child sex trafficking
2. Adult sex Trafficking
3. Adult consensual
4. Sex Slavery
They are not the same. Adult Women are NOT children.
Media coverage of trafficking and adult women’s migration and sex work is confused and inaccurate. The media wrongly uses the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking’ and adult sex work and child sex trafficking synonymously, perpetuating stereotypes and stigmatization, and contributing to the violation of women’s right to free movement and livelihood options. They assume that if any woman moves from place to place for sex work that they are being trafficking. The media, politicians, aid groups, feminist, and religious organizations does not take into account that she may do this of her own free will. Too often women are treated like children. Adult women are not children. Prostitution is a business between adults and in our society adults are responsible for themselves. Sex slavery/trafficking on the other hand is non-consensual. To equate that the two are the same is to say grown adult women are not capable of being responsible or thinking for themselves.
Most migrant women, including those in the sex industry, have made a clear decision, says a new study, to leave home and take their chances abroad. They are not “passive victims” in need of “saving” or sending back by western campaigners.
Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.
This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims. They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing. These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.
These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.
This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.
Non government Organizations (NGO’s) are chiefly responsible for manufacturing “a growing problem” of trafficking in order to generate revenue for their Federally funded cottage industry. They also fabricated numbers by expanding the definition of trafficking to include practically anyone.
For example various women’s groups testified under oath at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (July 13, 2007) that US based matchmaking organizations were correlated to human trafficking ring.
This hysterical claim was an emotional ploy to get legislators to enact the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. The truth reveals THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A US BASED MATCHMAKING AGENCY ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING. These NGO’s spread their propaganda partnering with Lifetime television(Television for women) conducting a poll among viewers (mostly women) to asociate “mail order brides services” with trafficking of women to generate support for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. wqad.com/global/story.asp?s=3970595&ClientType=Print
This romance law requires American men submit criminal hard copy records to be reviewed before they can communicate with a foreign lady using a matchmaking organization.
Why should the US government dole out millions of dollars to NGO’s such as Polaris Project whose executives are paid handsome salaries when the money could be spent on REAL PROBLEMS?
Most of the information above relates to Adult prostitution.
The following information is from a report from the Crimes against children research center which talks about the Unknown Exaggerated Statistics of Juvenile Prostitution.
Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824 (603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrc
How Many Juveniles are Involved in Prostitution in the U.S.?
There have been many attempts to estimate the number of juvenile prostitutes within the United States. These estimates range from 1,400 to 2.4 million, although most fall between 300,000 and 600,000. BUT PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS. READ ON. A close look at these diverse estimates reveals that none are based on a strong scientific foundation. They are mostly educated guesses or extrapolations based on questionable assumptions. They do not have the substance of typically reported crime statistics, like the number of robberies or the number of child sexual abuse victims. The reality is that we do not currently know how many juveniles are involved in prostitution. Scientifically credible estimates do not exist.
The most often cited estimates on juvenile prostitution will be described here and their source, along with the major problems with their validity. Estes and WeinerPerhaps the most commonly used estimate of juvenile prostitution comes from Estes and Weiner (2001). These authors concluded in a large, publicized report that about 326,000 children were “at risk for commercial sexual exploitation.” However, there are several problems with treating this number as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. First, although this is often cited as an estimate of juvenile prostitutes, even the authors call it something muchmore nebulous: youth “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation. “At risk” means it is compilation of youth in various categories (14 in total) – like runaway kids, female gangmembers – who could become or be involved in commercial sexual exploitation. But the authors had no evidence of how many or what proportion of these youth actually were involved. Secondly, the numbers that form the basis of their various “at risk” categories are themselves highly speculative. One large portion of the estimate is simply a crude guess that 35% of a national estimate of runaway youth out of their home a week or longer were “at risk”. Another large portion was a guess that one quarter of 1% of the general population of youth 10‐17 were “at risk”. Together these two groups constitute nearly 200,000 of the at risk youth. But it is essentially a guesstimate and not a scientific estimate.
A third problem is that no one has any idea how much duplication there is among the 14 at risk groups. Some of the runaways are also gang members and living in public housing, etc. so one cannot simply add together estimates from these various sources. A scientific estimate would have to “unduplicate” the numbers from the various categories. In sum, no one should cite the 326,000 number from Estes and Weiner as a scientifically based estimate of the number of juvenile prostitutes. AddHealth Survey Another estimate with some research credibility is from a recent study by Edwards, Iritani, and Hallfors (2005), which found that 3.5% of an AddHealth sample endorsed an item asking if they had “ever exchanged sex for drugs or money.” The nationally representative sample was comprised of 13,294 youth in grades 8‐12 during the year 1996 who completed an in‐school questionnaire. The majority (67.9%) of those saying they had participated in a sex exchange were males.
A first caveat about this estimate is that it is not clear that what the respondents were endorsing really constituted prostitution. For example, could a juvenile who had paid a prostitute for sex consider that to have been an “exchange of sex for money” and thus said yes to the question? Could a sexual encounter that involved sharing drugs with a partner as part of consensual sex have prompted someone to say yes to the question, even though the drugs were not necessarily a sine qua non of the sexual encounter? The similarity between prostitution and exchanging sex for goods needs to be clarified if this estimate is to be accepted as an estimate of juvenile prostitution. In addition, the fact that the majority of those endorsing the question were boys raises an important validity question about this estimate. Virtually no analyst of the problem thinks that there are truly so many more boys than girls engaged in juvenile prostitution; because the survey found more boys engaging in prostitution, there may be some misunderstanding of the
question at work. It may be possible to obtain an incidence estimate for juvenile prostitution through a general population survey, but the questions and details will have to be more specific to confirm that what is being counted is truly prostitution or sexual exploitation. General Accounting Office Report In 1982, the General Accounting Office attempted to determine the basis of existing juvenile prostitution estimates. The General Accounting Office (1982) found that the “general perception” estimates ranged from “tens of thousands to 2.4 million.” One set of estimates from 1982 seemed to trace back to the “gut hunches” of Robin Lloyd, the author of the 1976 book, “For Love or Money: Boy Prostitution in America,” who used a working figure of 300,000 male juvenile prostitutes. The President of the Odyssey Institute adopted this figure, then doubled it to cover female juvenile prostitutes, increasing the estimate to 600,000. Because the Odyssey Institute president believed that only half of juvenile prostitutes were known, the 600,000 figure was doubled; the estimate was doubled once more to 2.4 million because the president believed that the estimate did not include 16 and 17 year old prostitutes. These were
all just hunches without scientific basis. The General Accounting Office (1982) report also located an estimate by the Criminal Justice Institute Inc., which stated that 20 to 25 percent of all prostitutes were juveniles. The Criminal Justice Institute, Inc. estimated that there were 450,000 prostitutes of all ages, leading to an estimate of 90,000 to 112,500 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S. However, these Criminal Justice Institute Inc. estimates are not linked to any citation for methodological verification or explanation. Finally, a New York City shelter president estimated that there were “tens of thousands” of juvenile prostitutes across the nation. These “gut hunch” statistics assembled by the General Accounting Office may have been the basis for some rough consensus about the magnitude of juvenile prostitution among advocates. But there were no hard statistics. Moreover, whatever the rates were in the 1970s and 1980s, they almost certainly no longer apply. That was an era when the juvenile runaway problem was considerably larger than at present. There is indication that since the 1970s and ‘80s, running away has declined (Finkelhor & Jones, 2006) and, in the era of AIDS, casual sexual behavior among the young has also become less frequent (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2005). So it is likely that estimates from 20 or 30 years ago have little applicability to the U.S. at
the present time. Despite the fact that the General Accounting Office estimates are obsolete, current groups concerned with child welfare still use this estimate. For example, Children of the Night (http://www.childrenofthenight.org/faq.html) cites the 1982 General Accounting Office estimate of 600,000 juvenile prostitutes under the age of 16. This organization also cites UNICEF estimates of 300,000 juvenile prostitutes (In a 2004 textbook entitled “Child Labour: A Textbook for University Students”, the International Labour Organization cites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as estimating 300,000 juvenile prostitutes. When asked to verify this, U.S. DHHS could not locate this estimate.). When asked about the estimates on the Children of the Night website, founder and President Lois Lee responded: “I am always pressured for statistics and I have said, there is no way to know for sure because there is no counting mechanism, no quantitative analysis on the subject. Several years ago, I suggested to a lot of [government] agencies and NGO’s that about 1/3rd of all runaways have some kind of “brush” with a pimp or prostitution. All the professionals agreed that was a good estimate. UNICEF published it as their own.” L. Lee (personal communication, September 29, 2007).
A considerable number of the estimates of juvenile prostitution do start with more scientifically based survey statistics on running away (for example, Hammer, Finkelhor & Sedlak, 2002), which suggest that hundreds of thousands of youth runaway every year. It might seem plausible that a significant percentage of runaway street youths engage in survival sex or get recruited into prostitution. But it is important to remember that most of the youth identified as runaways in survey samples are not truly on the streets (Hammer et al., 2002). Most runaways run to the homes of friends and family. Thus, it is not accurate to simply think about the experience of street runaways and generalize from that experience to the experience of all runaways.
Other Estimates Other organizations do not cite sources that have reliable methodologies. The Coalition against Trafficking in Women (http://www.catwinternational.org/factbook/usa2_prost.php) estimates that there are between 300,000 and 600,000 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S., citing a Beacon
Journal news article from 1997. The article, entitled “Danger for Prostitutes Increasing, Most Starting Younger,” cited Gary Costello of the Exploited Child Unit of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but did not include a discussion of the way that the estimate was calculated. The 1995 Progress of Nations report by UNICEF (http://www.unicef.org/pon95/progtoc.html) offers a “guesstimate” of 300,000 juvenile prostitutes in the U.S. under the age of 18. The UNICEF report cited a U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate used inUNICEF’s “Breaking the Walls of Silence: A UNICEF Background Paper on the Sexual Exploitation of Children” report from 1994. Again, there was no discussion as to how this number was derived in the Progress of Nations report. Similarly, the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the U.S. Department of Justice (http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/prostitution.html) reports that 293,000 juveniles are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. This estimate was made based on the Estes and Weiner (2001) article discussed previously.
Some figures about the related problem of “sex trafficking of children” are also available, but once again with a speculative methodology, a “computer simulation.” Clawson, Layne, and Small (2006) estimated in a very statistically complicated report that over 800,000 females, including over 100,000 under age 19, were “at risk” of being trafficked to the US from eight nations: Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico. These include trafficking for all purposes including for employment. Of those at risk, the authors estimate that roughly 15,000 females under nineteen were being trafficked for sex from those nations. However, the authors concede that these estimates are not informed by any real statistics or research about the true rates of adult or child sex trafficking, but rather that the estimates are “probabilit[ies] based on a mathematical equation, not a reality” (M. Layne 2/4/2008). Police Data
There are also national estimates from law enforcement sources about the number of juveniles taken into custody because of prostitution and related crimes. For example, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data analyzed by Snyder and Sickmund (2006) shows that 1,400 juveniles were arrested nationally in 2003 for prostitution and commercialized vice. These data come from aggregating data from most of the local law enforcement agencies in the U.S., and are the same data used to estimate year‐to‐year estimates in violent and property crime. This is a plausible estimate of the number of youth arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice because, in truth, not many law enforcement agencies are actively arresting youth in regard to this problem, as a soon to be released CCRC study will show. But there is undoubtedly more prostitution involving youth; law enforcement officials believe many youths involved in prostitution are arrested for other crimes (e.g., drug possession, curfew violation, etc.) but not prostitution per se. Most observers believe also that there are also many youth engaged in prostitution who are never arrested by police. So, while this UCR estimate is plausible, no one believes this estimate fully characterizes the problem. It is rarely cited, even as part of a spectrum of estimates, perhaps because it would so lower the range as to make the higher estimates seem more extreme.
Conclusion As the critique of estimates suggest, there is currently no reliable estimate of juvenile prostitution. Some current estimates are based upon “gut hunches” and “guesstimates” from almost thirty years ago. Others offer definitions of sexual exchange that may not actually constitute prostitution. Also, the methods used to create these estimates are often difficult to find, making them methodologically suspect. These organizations often recognize these problems but continue to cite such poorly calculated estimates. People concerned about the problem very much want there to be a number that they can cite. Because other people have cited numbers, there has come to be a “collective intuition” about the rough magnitude based on these earlier claims. But in reality there is little scientific substance behind any of them. This is not an uncommon phenomenon in social problem analysis and has been called the “Woozle Effect” (Gelles 1980). The “Woozle Effect” occurs when one writer reports an estimate based on a typically weak methodology or guesstimate that is subsequently cited by other writers, but without the first writer’s caveats (Gelles 1980). Estimates of juvenile prostitution seem to have taken this path: the “gut hunches” of one author and the compiling of such hunches by the General Accounting Office have seemed to provide a basis for contemporary estimates of juvenile prostitution, despite the fact that the General Accounting Office states that the estimates in the literature are “general perceptions” (General Accounting Office, 1982).
What are journalists and scholars to do?
It is our suggestion that in the absence of any estimates with any good scientific basis, that scholars, writers and advocates stop using the unsubstantiated estimates and simply indicate that the true incidence is currently unknown. It is very frustrating to write about a topic and not have an estimate of its magnitude, but we believe that continued citation of unsupported estimates gives them credibility. Even writing that “No one knows how many juveniles are engaged in prostitution, but estimates have been made from 1,400 to 2.4 million,” contributes to the problem. It gives people the impression that these are knowledgeable estimates about the current situation and that the real number lies somewhere in the middle of that range, which it may not. For brief treatments of the problem, one can say simply: “Unfortunately, there are no credible or supported estimates about the size of the problem.” For more extended treatments of the problem, one can cite some of the statistics, but then indicate that these numbers are based mostly on guesses or extremely imprecise and speculative methodologies. It would be a good idea when citing any numbers to be sure to include the low end estimate from law enforcement of 1,400, since this is among the most recent and clearly defined of the estimates, and counters the assumption that all the estimates are large. Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824(603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrcFact sheet written by Michelle Stransky and David Finkelhor. (2008)
From the Department of Justice Stats pages:
Human Trafficking/Trafficking in Persons
The Department of Justice (DOJ) funded the creation of the Human Trafficking Reporting System (HTRS). This system provides data on human trafficking incidents investigated between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008.
An incident is defined as any investigation into a claim of human trafficking or any investigation of other crimes in which elements of potential human trafficking were identified.
Between January 1, 2007, and September 30, 2008 task forces reported investigating 1,229 alleged incidents of human trafficking.
- About 78% of these incidents were still under investigation at the end of the reporting period. Investigations were completed and closed during the 21-month reporting period for the remaining 22%.
- Less than 10% of alleged human trafficking incidents reported by task forces were confirmed as human trafficking, 10% were pending confirmation, and 23% had been determined not to involve any human trafficking elements.
- Sex trafficking accounted for 83% of the alleged incidents,12% involved allegations of either labor trafficking, and 5% were other/unknown forms of human trafficking.
Of the 1,018 alleged sex trafficking incidents reported by task forces —
- 391 (38%) involved allegations of child sex trafficking and 627 (62%) incidents involved allegations of adult sex trafficking, such as forced prostitution or other sex trafficking crimes.
- Forced prostitution (46%) and child sex trafficking (30%) represented the largest categories of confirmed human trafficking incidents.
- Allegations of forced or coerced adult prostitution accounted for 63% of human trafficking investigations that were ultimately found not to involve human trafficking elements.
Below is a article from the Washington Post:
Human Trafficking Evokes Outrage, Little Evidence.
U.S. Estimates Thousands of Victims, But Efforts to Find Them Fall Short
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Outrage was mounting at the 1999 hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building, where congressmen were learning about human trafficking.
A woman from Nepal testified that September that she had been drugged, abducted and forced to work at a brothel in Bombay. A Christian activist recounted tales of women overseas being beaten with electrical cords and raped. A State Department official said Congress must act — 50,000 slaves were pouring into the United States every year, she said. Furious about the “tidal wave” of victims, Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) vowed to crack down on so-called modern-day slavery.
The next year, Congress passed a law, triggering a little-noticed worldwide war on human trafficking that began at the end of the Clinton administration and is now a top Bush administration priority. As part of the fight, President Bush has blanketed the nation with 42 Justice Department task forces and spent more than $150 million — all to find and help the estimated hundreds of thousands of victims of forced prostitution or labor in the United States.
But the government couldn’t find them. Not in this country.
The evidence and testimony presented to Congress pointed to a problem overseas. But in the seven years since the law was passed, human trafficking has not become a major domestic issue, according to the government’s figures.
The administration has identified 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States since 2000, nowhere near the 50,000 a year the government had estimated. In addition, 148 federal cases have been brought nationwide, some by the Justice task forces, which are composed of prosecutors, agents from the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and local law enforcement officials in areas thought to be hubs of trafficking.
In the Washington region, there have been about 15 federal cases this decade.
Ronald Weitzer, a criminologist at George Washington University and an expert on sex trafficking, said that trafficking is a hidden crime whose victims often fear coming forward. He said that might account for some of the disparity in the numbers, but only a small amount.
“The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases they’ve been able to make is so huge that it’s got to raise major questions,” Weitzer said. “It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.”
Government officials define trafficking as holding someone in a workplace through force, fraud or coercion. Trafficking generally takes two forms: sex or labor. The victims in most prosecutions in the Washington area have been people forced into prostitution. The Department of Health and Human Services “certifies” trafficking victims in the United States after verifying that they were subjected to forced sex or labor. Only non-U.S. citizens brought into this country by traffickers are eligible to be certified, entitling them to receive U.S. government benefits.
Administration officials acknowledge that they have found fewer victims than anticipated. Brent Orrell, an HHS deputy assistant secretary, said that certifications are increasing and that the agency is working hard to “help identify many more victims.” He also said: “We still have a long way to go.”
But Tony Fratto, deputy White House press secretary, said that the issue is “not about the numbers. It’s really about the crime and how horrific it is.” Fratto also said the domestic response to trafficking “cannot be ripped out of the context” of the U.S. government’s effort to fight it abroad. “We have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the world, so if we have this global initiative to stop human trafficking and slavery, how can we tolerate even a minimal number within our own borders?”
He said that the president’s passion about fighting trafficking is motivated in part by his Christian faith and his outrage at the crime. “It’s a practice that he obviously finds disgusting, as most rational people would, and he wants America to be the leader in ending it,” Fratto said. “He sees it as a moral obligation.”
Although there have been several estimates over the years, the number that helped fuel the congressional response — 50,000 victims a year — was an unscientific estimate by a CIA analyst who relied mainly on clippings from foreign newspapers, according to government sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the agency’s methods. Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales told Congress last year that a much lower estimate in 2004 — 14,500 to 17,500 a year — might also have been overstated.
Yet the government spent $28.5 million in 2006 to fight human trafficking in the United States, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. The effort has attracted strong bipartisan support.
Steven Wagner, who helped HHS distribute millions of dollars in grants to community groups to find and assist victims, said “Those funds were wasted.”
“Many of the organizations that received grants didn’t really have to do anything,” said Wagner, former head of HHS’s anti-trafficking program. “They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Still, the raw emotion of the issue internationally and domestically has spawned dozens of activist organizations that fight trafficking. They include the Polaris Project, which was founded in 2002 by two college students, and the Washington-based Break the Chain Campaign, which started in the mid-1990s focusing on exploited migrant workers before concentrating on trafficking after 2000.
Activist groups and administration officials strongly defend their efforts, saying that trafficking is a terrible crime and that even one case is too many. They said that cultural obstacles and other impediments prevent victims from coming forward.
Mark P. Lagon, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, said that such problems make the numbers “naturally murky. . . . There are vigorous U.S. government efforts to find and help victims in the United States, not because there is some magic number that we have a gut instinct is out there. Any estimate we’re citing, we’ve always said, is an estimate.”
But Lagon said he is convinced that “thousands upon thousands of people are subject to gross exploitation” in the United States.
Few question that trafficking is a serious problem in many countries, and the U.S. government has spent more than half a billion dollars fighting it around the world since 2000.
Last year, anti-trafficking projects overseas included $3.4 million to help El Salvador fight child labor and $175,000 for community development training for women in remote Mekong Delta villages in Vietnam, according to the State Department. Human trafficking, in the United States and abroad, is under attack by 10 federal agencies that report to a Cabinet-level task force chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In the United States, activists say that trafficking has received far more attention than crimes such as domestic violence, of which there are hundreds of thousands of documented victims every year.
The quest to find and help victims of trafficking has become so urgent that the Bush administration hired a public relations firm, a highly unusual approach to fighting crime. Ketchum, a New York-based public relations firm, has received $9.5 million and has been awarded $2.5 million more.
“We’re giving money to Ketchum so they can train people who can train people who can train people to serve victims,” said one Washington area provider of services for trafficking victims, who receives government funding and spoke on condition of anonymity. “Trafficking victims are hidden. They’re not really going to be affected by a big, splashy PR campaign. They’re not watching Lifetime television.”
Yet the anti-trafficking crusade goes on, partly because of the issue’s uniquely nonpartisan appeal. In the past four years, more than half of all states have passed anti-trafficking laws, although local prosecutions have been rare.
“There’s huge political momentum, because this is a no-brainer issue,” said Derek Ellerman, co-founder of the Polaris Project. “No one is going to stand up and oppose fighting modern-day slavery.”
A Matter of Faith
Throughout the 1990s, evangelicals and other Christians grew increasingly concerned about international human rights, fueled by religious persecution in Sudan and other countries. They were also rediscovering a tradition of social reform dating to when Christians fought the slave trade of an earlier era.
Human trafficking has always been a problem in some cultures but increased in the early 1990s, experts say.
For conservative Christians, trafficking was “a clear-cut, uncontroversial, terrible thing going on in the world,” said Gary Haugen, president of International Justice Mission in Arlington, a Christian human rights group.
Feminist groups and other organizations also seized on trafficking, and a 1999 meeting at the Capitol, organized by former Nixon White House aide Charles W. Colson, helped seal a coalition. The session in the office of then-House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) brought together the Southern Baptist Convention, conservative William Bennett and Rabbi David Saperstein, a prominent Reform Jewish activist.
The session focused only on trafficking victims overseas, said Mariam Bell, national public policy director for Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries.
“It was just ghastly stuff,” Armey recalled last week, saying that he immediately agreed to support an anti-trafficking law. “I felt a sense of urgency that this must be done, and as soon as possible.”
A New Law
A law was more likely to be enacted if its advocates could quantify the issue. During a PowerPoint presentation in April 1999, the CIA provided an estimate: 45,000 to 50,000 women and children were trafficked into the United States every year.
The CIA briefing emerged from the Clinton administration’s growing interest in the problem. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had been pushing the issue, former administration officials said.
But information was scarce, so a CIA analyst was told to assess the problem in the United States and abroad. She combed through intelligence reports and law enforcement data. Her main source, however, was news clippings about trafficking cases overseas — from which she tried to extrapolate the number of U.S. victims.
The CIA estimate soon appeared in a report by a State Department analyst that was the U.S. government’s first comprehensive assessment of trafficking. State Department officials raised the alarm about victims trafficked into the United States when they appeared before Congress in 1999 and 2000, citing the CIA estimate. A Justice Department official testified that the number might have been 100,000 each year.
The congressional hearings focused mostly on trafficking overseas. At the House hearing in September 1999, Rep. Earl F. Hilliard (D-Ala.) changed the subject and zeroed in on Laura J. Lederer, a Harvard University expert on trafficking.
“How prevalent is the sex trade here in this country?” Hilliard asked.
“We have so very little information on this subject in this country. . . . so very few facts,” Lederer said.
“Excuse me, but is the sex trade prevalent here?” Hilliard asked.
Nobody knows, Lederer said.
Bipartisan passion melted any uncertainty, and in October 2000, Congress enacted the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, significantly broadening the federal definition of trafficking. Prosecutors would no longer have to rely on statutes that required them to prove a victim had been subjected to physical violence or restraints, such as chains. Now, a federal case could be made if a trafficker had psychologically abused a victim.
The measure toughened penalties against traffickers, provided extensive services for victims and committed the United States to a leading role internationally, requiring the State Department to rank countries and impose sanctions if their anti-trafficking efforts fell short.
The law’s fifth sentence says: “Congress finds that . . . approximately 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year.”
Just as the law took effect, along came a new president to enforce it.
Bell, with Prison Fellowship Ministries, noted that when Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly in 2003, he focused on the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism and the war on trafficking.
Soon after Bush took office, a network of anti-trafficking nonprofit agencies arose, spurred in part by an infusion of federal dollars.
HHS officials were determined to raise public awareness and encourage victims to come forward. For help, they turned to Ketchum in 2003.
Legal experts said they hadn’t heard of hiring a public relations firm to fight a crime problem. Wagner, who took over HHS’s anti-trafficking program in 2003, said that the strategy was “extremely unusual” but that creative measures were needed.
“The victims of this crime won’t come forward. Law enforcement doesn’t handle that very well, when they have to go out and find a crime,” he said.
Ketchum, whose Washington lobbying arm is chaired by former U.S. Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), formed coalitions of community groups in two states and 19 cities, to search for and aid victims. The coalition effort was overseen by a subcontractor, Washington-based Capital City Partners, whose executives during the period of oversight have included the former heads of the Fund for a Conservative Majority and the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, in addition to the former editorial page editor of the conservative Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader newspaper.
Trying to Get the Number Right
Three years ago, the government downsized its estimate of trafficking victims, but even those numbers have not been borne out.
The effort to acquire a more precise number had begun at the Library of Congress and Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, where graduate students on a CIA contract stayed up nights, using the Internet to find clippings from foreign newspapers.
Once again, the agency was using mainly news clips from foreign media to estimate the numbers of trafficking victims, along with reports from government agencies and anti-trafficking groups. The students at Mercyhurst, a school known for its intelligence studies program, were enlisted to help.
But their work was thought to be inconsistent, said officials at the Government Accountability Office, which criticized the government’s trafficking numbers in a report last year.
A part-time researcher at the Library of Congress took over the project. “The numbers were totally unreliable,” said David Osborne, head of research for the library’s federal research division. “If it was reported that 15 women were trafficked from Romania into France, French media might pick it up and say 32 women and someone else would say 45.”
A CIA analyst ran the research through a computer simulation program, said government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing the CIA’s methods. It spat out estimates of destination countries for trafficking victims worldwide. The new number of victims trafficked into the United States: 14,500 to 17,500 each year.
The simulation is considered a valid way to measure probability if the underlying data are reliable. “It seems incredibly unlikely that this was a robust, sound analysis,” said David Banks, a statistics professor at Duke University.
The CIA’s new estimate, which first appeared in a 2004 State Department report, has been widely quoted, including by a senior Justice Department official at a media briefing this year. It’s also posted on the HHS Web site.
The Justice Department’s human trafficking task force in Washington has mounted an aggressive effort to find victims.
But at a meeting of the task force this year, then-coordinator Sharon Marcus-Kurn said that detectives had spent “umpteen hours of overtime” repeatedly interviewing women found in Korean- and Hispanic-owned brothels. “It’s very difficult to find any underlying trafficking that is there,” Marcus-Kurn told the group.
People trafficked into the United States have traditionally been the focus of the crackdown. In recent years, there has been increasing debate about whether the victim estimates should include U.S. citizens. For example, adult U.S. citizens forced into prostitution are also trafficking victims under federal law, but some say that such cases should be left to local police.
D.C.: A Trafficking Hub?
In a classroom at the D.C. police academy in January, President Bush appears on a screen at a mandatory training session in how to investigate and identify trafficking. The 55 officers who attended watch a slide show featuring testimonials from government officials and a clip from Bush’s 2003 speech to the United Nations.
Sally Stoecker, lead researcher for Shared Hope International in Arlington, which aims to increase awareness of sex trafficking, takes the microphone. “It’s a huge crime, and it’s continuing to grow,” Stoecker says, citing the government’s most recent estimate of victims.
The D.C. officers are among thousands of law enforcement officials nationwide who have been trained in how to spot trafficking. In Montgomery County, police have investigated numerous brothels since the force was trained in 2005 and last year. Officers have found a few trafficking victims, but there have been no prosecutions.
The Justice Department runs law enforcement task forces across the country. It’s a top priority for the department’s Civil Rights Division.
Justice officials have said there has been a 600 percent increase in U.S. cases. But the department said in a report last September: “In absolute numbers, it is true that the prosecution figures pale in comparison to the estimated scope of the problem.”
The 148 cases filed this decade by the Civil Rights Division and U.S. attorney’s offices might not include what Justice officials call a limited number of child trafficking prosecutions by the Criminal Division, Justice officials said Friday. They could not provide a number.
Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard E. Trodden, who studied trafficking for the Virginia Crime Commission, said he doesn’t know of any local prosecutions in Northern Virginia.
Nearly seven years after it began, the anti-trafficking campaign rolls on.
“This is important for me personally,” Gonzales said in January as he announced the creation of a Justice Department unit to focus on trafficking cases. Encouraged by Gonzales, who sent letters to all 50 governors, states continued to pass anti-trafficking laws.
Maryland enacted a law in May that toughens penalties.
Virginia has not taken legislative action; some legislators have said that a law isn’t needed.
HHS is still paying people to find victims. Last fall, the agency announced $3.4 million in new “street outreach” awards to 22 groups nationwide.
Nearly $125,000 went to Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit agency in Dallas. For the past year, its employees have put out the word to hospitals, police stations, domestic violence shelters — any organization that might come into contact with a victim.
“They’re doing about a thousand different things,” said Bill Bernstein, Mosaic’s deputy director.
Three victims were found.
The Super Bowl Prostitute Myth: 100,000 Hookers Won’t Be Showing Up in Dallas
By Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: January 27, 2011
The alarm bells reached peak decibel in November, when Dallas Police Sergeant Louis Felini told the The Dallas Morning News that between 50,000 and 100,000 prostitutes could descend on the metroplex for the Super Bowl. The call to outrage had sounded.
His estimate was astonishing. At the higher figure, it meant that every man, woman and child holding a ticket would have their own personal hooker, from the vice presidential wing of FedEx to Little Timmy from Green Bay.
And if you believed a study commissioned by the Dallas Women’s Foundation, the hordes would include 38,000 underage prostitutes. Doe-eyed beauties from the Heartland would be peddled like Jell-O shots at the Delta Phi soiree.
Official Dallas would not be caught flat-footed. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI pledged extra manpower to fight “human trafficking.” The Arlington Police Department put up billboards near Cowboys Stadium. They featured flashing photos of busted johns, warning visitors: We don’t take kindly to perverts like you, son.
Even the Shapiro Law Firm leaped in. Noting that an estimated 40,000 hookers showed up in Dallas for the NBA All-Star game last year, it wanted to make sure that, should a hedge fund manager find himself ensnared in naked compromise, “our attorneys provide experienced defense for sex crimes, including the solicitation of a prostitute.”
The city was gearing up for a massive invasion of skanks and sex fiends. It would be like Normandy, only with way more plastic surgery—the largest single gathering of freaks and pedophiles the world has ever seen. At least outside of a Vatican staff meeting.
But if Dallas is like any other Super Bowl—or Olympics or World Cup, for that matter—today’s four-alarm panic will tinkle as softly as a servant’s bell by next week. All evidence says that America’s call girls will be at home, watching the game of TV, just like you and me.
Judging by Super Bowls past, the mass migration of teenage sex slaves is nothing more than myth.
Read between his very terse lines, and you can tell that Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear from mopes like yours truly, wondering why his customers are adulterers and child molesters.
The routine is the same in every Super Bowl city. The media beats the drum of impending invasion, warning that anywhere from 15,000 to 100,000 hookers will soon arrive. Politicians lather on their special sauce of manufactured outrage. Cops and prosecutors vow stings and beefed up manpower.
By implication, the NFL’s wealthiest and most connected fans—captains of industry and senators from Utah—will be plotting a week of sexual rampage not seen since the Vikings sailed on Scotland. And they must be stopped.
“This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction,” the NFL’s McCarthy says. “I would refer you to your local law enforcement officials.”
So that’s what we did. Meet police Sergeant Tommy Thompson of Phoenix, which hosted the 2008 Super Bowl. “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” Thompson says of his vice cops. “They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
Conspicuously noted: He doesn’t recall a single arrest of an underage girl.
Perhaps Phoenix was an anomaly. So let’s go to Tampa, host of Super Bowl 2009. Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis says her department ran special operations on the sex trade. They came up empty. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa,” she says. “The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”
Now it could be that both departments are incompetent, mistaking tens of thousands of women in fishnet stockings for a very large synchronized swimming team. So let’s travel to Europe, where the hooker influx for the World Cup is routinely pegged at 40,000. If anyone’s going to break the record for the world’s largest orgy, it’s the Godless Eurotrash, right?
Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup. U.S congressmen warned the promiscuous Krauts that fleshly opportunism would not be tolerated. So the government spent millions of euros to crush human trafficking. No one could say the Germans were perv enablers.
But apparently 39,995 of the blasphemers had carburetor trouble in Prague and never showed. The final Cup tally for forced prostitution arrests: 5. German brothels couldn’t even report a surge in business. And a further study by the Swedish government ruled “the 40,000 estimate was unfounded and unrealistic.”
There don’t appear to be solid figures for last summer’s South African Cup, but anecdotal evidence says the sex business was slow.
The only concrete numbers we have: Museums showed record attendance.
This isn’t to say that the sex trade isn’t alive and well. It is. Nor is it to imply there are no such thing as teen prostitutes. There are. The problem is that most of what we believe remains fixed in a blaxploitation film from 1973, where menacing pimps named Lester beat their weeping charges with diamond-encrusted canes.
Ask Maggie McNeill.
That’s not her real name. It’s the pen name she uses on her website, The Honest Courtesan, where she dispenses wisdom on all things hooker. She ran an escort service in New Orleans for six years, supplying ladies for the 2002 Super Bowl. As she sees it, almost all we believe about the industry is fallacy.
“Pimps do exist,” she says, “but they’re a relatively rare phenomenon.” The vast majority of hookers are willing, independent contractors.
Underage hookers are also “extremely rare,” McNeill says. Over the years, she fielded a few hundred applications from ladies of the eve. Only one didn’t pass a drivers license check.
Sure, there are exceptions. But McNeill doesn’t think huge numbers of hookers are going anywhere. And they won’t be heading to Dallas for a very simple reason: Sporting events suck for the sex trade.
The younger fans have already spent thousands on jacked-up hotel rates, airfare and scalped tickets, she says. They only have enough left to nurse Bud Lights and Jäger bombs.
The executive caste may have money to burn, but most bring their families along. “What do they say to their wives?” McNeill asks. “‘Hey honey, I’m going to see a hooker now?'”
As for McNeill’s experience during Super Bowl week in New Orleans: “I really saw no change whatsoever.”
So how do these myths get started? Through good intentions, of course.
There’s no way to quantify the number of hookers, since most women won’t admit to their profession. Public confession only brings an audit from the IRS or a visit from child welfare workers.
That leaves the outside world to speculate—usually with stats only appreciated after eight beers near closing time. Professors pitch junk studies whereby every runaway girl is a potential prostitute.
Advocacy groups take those numbers and fan them by the thousands, buffing them with lurid anecdotes of “sex slaves” and “victims of human trafficking.” The fervent simply can’t believe that isolated cases are just that: isolated.
But it’s hard to kindle interest in the world’s oldest profession. So they latch onto the occasional news story or CNN special. After all, children in distress sell.
“Underage girls make better victims, better poster children,” says McNeill, a former librarian with a master’s from LSU. “I’m 44. What kind of believable victim would I make?”
The study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation shows how the numbers are baked. It hired a company to gauge the percentage of juvenile hookers in Dallas. Its scientific method: Look at online escort ads and guess the ages of the women pictured!
Never mind that escort services often yank said photos from the Internet to put their most sultry visual forward. And never mind that such methodology wouldn’t pass muster at Mert’s Discount Community College & Small Engine Repair.
The company still decreed that 38 percent of Dallas hookers were underage!
(Disclosure: The Dallas Observer and Backpage are owned by the same parent company, Village Voice Media Holdings.)
Not ones to miss 30 seconds of free air time, that’s when the politicians climb aboard. After all, what would you rather do? Be fitted for the role of child-rescuing hero at a congressional hearing or a press conference? Or sit down to the complex, painful task of addressing America’s age-old runaway problem?
Of course, we in the media are equally culpable. We dutifully relay the fraud via our Patented Brand of Unquestioning Stenography, rarely bothering to check if it’s remotely plausible. And by this time, there’s no going back. The fraud must be upheld. Charities have raised money to help the innocents. Politicians have brayed and task forces have been appointed. Editors and news directors have ordered five-part series. No one wants to look like a moron.
But the week after every Super Bowl, they all go quiet.
Either the 100,000 hookers never showed, or they were in dastardly possession of super invisible powers.
Maybe it will be different in Dallas, with its all-hands-on-deck vigilance. Perhaps next week’s dockets will be sagging with thousands of runaway middle-school volleyball stars. Perhaps the Shapiro Law Firm will be giving a bulk rate to the entire roster of the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
Super Bowl prostitution: 100,000 hookers didn’t show, but America’s latest political scam did.
Pete Kotz: From the Dallas Observer newspaper
published: March 03, 2011
Had elected officials done even the slightest research, they would have known it was myth. But this had little to do with protecting women and children. Think of it as a combination religious revival and political scam.
Politicians, women’s groups, cops and child advocates were predicting that up to 100,000 hookers would be shipped into Dallas for the Super Bowl. It would be akin to the invasion of Normandy—with silicone and come-hither poses at no extra charge.
Yet someone forgot to tell America’s prostitutes they had an appointment with destiny. The arrest numbers are now in. The hookers failed to show.
It was folly from the outset, of course. To buy the hype, you had to believe that the NFL’s wealthiest fans stuffed their carry-on luggage with searing libidinal hunger. Though by day they pretended to be mercantile saints from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, they were actually marauding sex fiends. Their plot: Turn Hilton hot tubs into naked versions of the New York Stock Exchange.
And if that wasn’t enough to scare the good citizens of Dallas, women’s groups slathered the plot with surplus outrage. Up to 38,000 of these hookers would be child sex slaves, according to a study by the Dallas Women’s Foundation. They’d presumably been kidnapped en masse while waiting in line at the mall Cinnabon, then shipped to Dallas for deflowering by venture capitalists and frozen-food barons.
America’s human trafficking epidemic was coming to North Texas. The Super Bowl would be ground zero.
Conveniently, the same people making the claims reserved the roles of hero for themselves. Worry not, good people of Dallas: They would repel the infidels at the city gates.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott puffed his chest and promised dozens of extra bodies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security linked arms with 13 state and local police agencies in a task force. Even the airline industry leaped in, training flight attendants to spot the indentured.
Linda Smith, a former Washington congresswoman and founder of Shared Hope International, announced her date with gallantry in The Dallas Morning News. “Now that I know it, I have no choice but to stand and fight,” she said. “This is just brutal, brutal slavery of girls.”
Deena Graves, executive director of the Christian group Traffick911, took it even further, framing the clash as nothing short of Jesus vs. Depravity. God Himself had naturally anointed her as His general.
“We believe, without a doubt, that God gave us the Super Bowl this year to raise awareness of what’s happening with these kids,” she told the Morning News.
But since they hadn’t bothered to do the research, they would be forced to clash swords with an imaginary foe. Such is the burden of the selfless crusader.
From Germany to Miami, the same hysteria precedes every big sporting event, be it the Super Bowl, the World Cup, or the Olympics. The only difference is that Dallas, befitting its perch as buckle of the Bible Belt, jacked up the decibels.
Before every big game, church bells ring of a massive hooker invasion. Incurious newspapers parrot the claims;a five-minute Google search being too much trouble. Then politicians and activists climb aboard.
The recipe for civic panic is placed in the oven, set for baking to a charred husk.
Yet when each event ends with just a handful of arrests, police admit the invasion was nothing more than myth. The panic whimpers away to seclusion, only to resurrect itself just in time for the next big show.
Detectives from Dallas to Plano, Forth Worth to Irving saw no spikes in sex traffic or signs of the occupiers.
“Everybody else is talking about special operations, the AG comes in talking about special operations, but this is what we do,” says Sergeant Byron Fassett, head of the Dallas PD’s human trafficking unit. “We didn’t have to do a special operation. We do special operations all the time, and this was one of them.”
In other words, it was just another week of playing cat and mouse with the world’s oldest profession.
Arlington, host to the game, unleashed extra manpower and bagged an impressive 59 arrests. But it found scant evidence of erotic hordes. Of the 100,000 supposedly Lone Star-bound hookers, Deputy Chief Jaime Ayala says, only 13 were found by his guys. Their busts largely involved rousting the local talent.
ICE Spokesman Carl Rusnok says there were 105 prostitution arrests metro-wide. But what was billed as a bare-naked onslaught fell rather short. Just to reach three figures, ICE had to include 12 Class C misdemeanors—the legal equivalent of a speeding ticket.
Rusnok hints at more nefarious busts for human trafficking, but he refuses to provide names, charges or anything else that would allow for verification.
The 38,000 teen slaves also proved elusive. Police managed to find just two—and they were Texas-grown.
Anthony Winn, a 35-year-old degenerate from Austin, had been pimping out a 20-year-old woman when he decided to peddle her 14-year-old sister as well.
The trio showed up in Dallas for the big game. But the older sister objected to the selling of the younger one. So when Dallas police encountered them on the street, the women quickly ratted out Winn.
In Grapevine, another local was busted for chauffeuring a 17-year-old hooker on her rounds.
Meanwhile, church groups and activists were out en masse. But if they were truly aligned with God, He preferred they stick to generating headlines and hurling logs on the flames of panic. He apparently neglected to grant them the power of rescue. As far as anyone can tell, not one of their tips led to an arrest. Had anyone bothered to ask police in previous Super Bowl cities, they would have told you this would happen. There’s zero evidence that American hookers have ever traveled like Spanish armadas.
As for widespread sex slavery, this too is a myth. The U.S. government has known it for years.
Like most industrialized countries, the feds began worrying about human trafficking in the late ’90s, a fear born from the slavery problems of the Third World. At the time, evidence from police suggested it was an insidious, though relatively rare, crime. But that didn’t stop politicians and activists from declaring it a pandemic.
Out of thin air, they began to trumpet that 50,000 people were being forcibly trafficked in America each year. The
Clinton administration declared jihad. President George W. Bush dilated the war, creating 42 Justice Department task forces countrywide.
But when you weld a fabricated enemy, meager scalp counts leave boasting a challenge. Just like the soldiers of pre-Super Bowl Dallas, they had braced themselves for imaginary strife.
Six years into his presidency, Bush had burned through $150 million on the fray. But of the 300,000 supposed victims during that time, the Justice Department managed to find just 1,362. Less than half were actual sex slaves. An even smaller number were underage prostitutes.
That’s because human trafficking, as defined by the government, isn’t solely about sex. It’s usually about forced labor. Think of the Chinese man made to work in a kitchen to reimburse a snakehead’s smuggling fee. Or the Mexican kid forced to toil on a Kansas farm.
By the time anyone realized all that money was flowing for naught, no one was brave enough to tighten the spigot. In Washington, it’s far better to waste millions than give the appearance you don’t care about kids.
Steve Wagner knows this. He worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving as director of the Human Trafficking Program under Bush. He threw millions of dollars at community groups to aid victims. Yet as he told the Washington Post in 2007, “Those funds were wasted….They were available to help victims. There weren’t any victims.”
Ten years into the war, one might assume intellectual honesty would sand down the rhetoric. But the opposite is happening. The fight’s simply moved away from protecting women and children. It’s now a holy war for the sanctity of revenue streams.
The church and women’s groups who profited from battle are loath to acknowledge they spent the past decade doing little more than polishing their guns. So forgive them for worrying.
Recession has made donations harder to field. D.C.’s coming austerity means grants will be macheted. That’s left the nonprofit world in a panic.
It isn’t easy to get donors and congressmen to slap down checks for the time-honored fight against prostitution, runaways and kids seeking the fascinating life of a crack head.
So women’s and children’s groups simply decided to change their PR. Suddenly, prostitution was no longer about prostitution. It was all about sexual slavery and human trafficking. And they began blowing up their numbers with helium.
But maybe Traffick911’s Deena Graves is right. Perhaps God has called her and others to fight demons unseen by the re st of us. It’s just that he hasn’t given them the power to find all those victims. He does work in mysterious ways, after all.
–With Reporting by Patrick Michels
Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution
By Nick Davies – The Guardian News, Tuesday October 20, 2009
The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.
The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.
Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.
While some prosecutions have been made, the Guardian investigation suggests the number of people who have been brought into the UK and forced against their will into prostitution is much smaller than claimed; and that the problem of trafficking is one of a cluster of factors which expose sex workers to coercion and exploitation.
Acting on the distorted information, the government has produced a bill, now moving through its final parliamentary phase, which itself has provoked an outcry from sex workers who complain that, instead of protecting them, it will expose them to extra danger.
When police in July last year announced the results of Operation Pentameter Two, Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, hailed it as “a great success”. Its operational head, Tim Brain, said it had seriously disrupted organised crime networks responsible for human trafficking. “The figures show how successful we have been in achieving our goals,” he said.
Those figures credited Pentameter with “arresting 528 criminals associated with one of the worst crimes threatening our society”. But an internal police analysis of Pentameter, obtained by the Guardian after a lengthy legal struggle, paints a very different picture.
The analysis, produced by the police Human Trafficking Centre in Sheffield and marked “restricted”, suggests there was a striking shortage of sex traffickers to be found in spite of six months of effort by all 55 police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland together with the UK Border Agency, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the Foreign Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Scottish government, the Crown Prosecution Service and various NGOs in what was trumpeted as “the largest ever police crackdown on human trafficking”.
The analysis reveals that 10 of the 55 police forces never found anyone to arrest. And 122 of the 528 arrests announced by police never happened: they were wrongly recorded either through honest bureaucratic error or apparent deceit by forces trying to chalk up arrests which they had not made. Among the 406 real arrests, more than half of those arrested (230) were women, and most were never implicated in trafficking at all.
Of the 406 real arrests, 153 had been released weeks before the police announced the success of the operation: 106 of them without any charge at all and 47 after being cautioned for minor offences. Most of the remaining 253 were not accused of trafficking: 73 were charged with immigration breaches; 76 were eventually convicted of non-trafficking offences involving drugs, driving or management of a brothel; others died, absconded or disappeared off police records.
Although police described the operation as “the culmination of months of planning and intelligence-gathering from all those stakeholders involved”, the reality was that, during six months of national effort, they found only 96 people to arrest for trafficking, of whom 67 were charged.
Forty-seven of those never made it to court.
Only 22 people were finally prosecuted for trafficking, including two women who had originally been “rescued” as supposed victims. Seven of them were acquitted. The end result was that, after raiding 822 brothels, flats and massage parlours all over the UK, Pentameter finally convicted of trafficking a grand total of only 15 men and women.
Police claimed that Pentameter used the international definition of sex trafficking contained in the UN’s Palermo protocol, which involves the use of coercion or deceit to transport an unwilling man or woman into prostitution. But, in reality, Pentameter used a very different definition, from the UK’s 2003 Sexual Offences Act, which makes it an offence to transport a man or woman into prostitution even if this involves assisting a willing sex worker.
Internal police documents reveal that 10 of Pentameter’s 15 convictions were of men and women who were jailed on the basis that there was no evidence of their coercing the prostitutes they had worked with. There were just five men who were convicted of importing women and forcing them to work as prostitutes. These genuinely were traffickers, but none of them was detected by Pentameter, although its investigations are still continuing.
Two of them — Zhen Xu and Fei Zhang — had been in custody since March 2007, a clear seven months before Pentameter started work in October 2007.
The other three, Ali Arslan, Edward Facuna and Roman Pacan, were arrested and charged as a result of an operation which began when a female victim went to police in April 2006, well over a year before Pentameter Two began, although the arrests were made while Pentameter was running.
The head of the UK Human Trafficking Centre, Grahame Maxwell, who is chief constable of North Yorkshire, acknowledged the importance of the figures: “The facts speak for themselves. I’m not trying to argue with them in any shape or form,” he said.
He said he had commissioned fresh research from regional intelligence units to try to get a clearer picture of the scale of sex trafficking. “What we’re trying to do is to get it gently back to some reality here,” he said.
“It’s not where you go down on every street corner in every street in Britain, and there’s a trafficked individual.
“There are more people trafficked for labour exploitation than there are for sexual exploitation. We need to redress the balance here. People just seem to grab figures from the air.”
Groups who work with trafficked women declined to comment on the figures from the Pentameter Two police operation but said that the problem of trafficking was real.
Ruth Breslin, research and development manager for Eaves which runs the Poppy project for victims of trafficking, said: “I don’t know the ins and outs of the police operation. It is incredibly difficult to establish prevalence because of the undercover and potentially criminal nature of trafficking and also, we feel, because of the fear that many women have in coming forward.”
The internal analysis of Pentameter notes that some records could not be found and Brain, who is chief constable of Gloucestershire, argued that some genuine traffickers may have been charged with non-trafficking offences because of the availability of evidence but he conceded that he could point to no case where this had happened.
He said the Sexual Offences Act was “not user friendly” although he said he could not recall whether he had pointed this out to government since the end of Pentameter Two.
Parliament is in the final stages of passing the policing and crime bill which contains a proposal to clamp down on trafficking by penalising any man who has sex with a woman who is “controlled for gain” even if the man is genuinely ignorant of the control. Although the definition of “controlled” has been tightened, sex workers’ groups complain that the clause will encourage women to prove that they are not being controlled by working alone on the streets or in a flat without a maid, thus making them more vulnerable to attack.
There are also fears that if the new legislation deters a significant proportion of customers, prostitutes will be pressurised to have sex without condoms in order to bring them back.
The following correction was printed in the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications column, Saturday 14 November 2009
In the report above about sex trafficking we referred to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre as “the police Human Trafficking Centre”. The UKHTC describes itself as “a multi-agency centre” and says that it is “police led”. Its partners include two non-governmental organisations, HM Revenue & Customs, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the UK Border Agency. We referred to Grahame Maxwell as the head of the UKHTC; his title is programme director.
Nick Davies The Guardian News, Tuesday October 20, 2009
In the story of UK sex trafficking, the conclusions of academics who study the sex trade have been subjected to the same treatment as the restrained reports of intelligence analysts who studied Iraqi weapons – stripped of caution, stretched to their most alarming possible meaning and tossed into the public domain. There, they have been picked up by the media who have stretched them even further in stories which have then been treated as reliable sources by politicians, who in turn provided quotes for more misleading stories.
In both cases, the cycle has been driven by political opportunists and interest groups in pursuit of an agenda. In the case of sex trafficking, the role of the neo-conservatives and Iraqi exiles has been played by an unlikely union of evangelical Christians with feminist campaigners, who pursued the trafficking tale to secure their greater goal, not of regime change, but of legal change to abolish all prostitution. The sex trafficking story is a model of misinformation. It began to take shape in the mid 1990s, when the collapse of economies in the old Warsaw Pact countries saw the working flats of London flooded with young women from eastern Europe. Soon, there were rumours and media reports that attached a new word to these women. They had been “trafficked”.
And, from the outset, that word was a problem. On a strict definition, eventually expressed in international law by the 2000 Palermo protocol, sex trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to transport an unwilling victim into sexual exploitation. This image of sex slavery soon provoked real public anxiety.
But a much looser definition, subsequently adopted by the UK’s 2003 Sexual Offences Act, uses the word to describe the movement of all sex workers, including willing professionals who are simply travelling in search of a better income. This wider meaning has injected public debate with confusion and disproportionate anxiety.
Two academics from the University of North London, Liz Kelly and Linda Regan, tried to estimate the number of women who had been trafficked in the UK during the calendar year 1998, an exercise which they honestly described as “problematic”.
First, there was the problem of the word, which Kelly and Regan solved by accepting all variations of its meaning. Then, there was the shortage of facts. They spoke to specialists, studied news reports and surveyed police, who reported that 71 women had been “trafficked”, whether willingly or not, during 1998. In Stopping Traffic, which they published in May 2000, Kelly and Regan argued that the real scale of the problem was probably bigger than this and, in the absence of any accurate data, they made various assumptions which they themselves described as “speculative”.
At the very least, they guessed, there could be another 71 trafficked women who had been missed by police, which would double the total, to 142. At the most, they suggested, the true total might be 20 times higher, at 1,420.
But reaching this figure involved a further quadrupling of the number of victims missed by police, plus quadrupling existing estimates by sex health workers, plus assuming the accuracy of a newspaper report that “hundreds” of women had been trafficked into the UK from Albania and Kosovo, plus assuming that mail-order brides were also victims of trafficking, plus adding women who were transported within the UK as well as those brought into the UK.
Kelly and Regan were transparent and honest about the speculative character of their assumptions. They were clear about their adoption of the widest possible meaning of the term. They presented their conclusion with caution: “It can be estimated that the true scale of trafficking may be between two and 20 times that which has been confirmed.”
And they presented their conclusion as a range of possibilities: “It is recognised that this is a wide range, but it indicates the likely scale of the problem while reflecting the poverty of information in this area.”
During the following years, the subject attracted the attention of religious groups, particularly the Salvation Army and an umbrella group of evangelicals called Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe (Chaste). Chaste explicitly campaigned for an end to all prostitution and, quoting their commitment to the principles of the Kingdom of God, they were enlisted as specialist advisers to the police.
Chaste took the work of Kelly and Regan, brought the estimate forward by two years, stripped out all the caution, headed for the maximum end of the range and declared : “An estimated 1,420 women were trafficked into the UK in 2000 for the purposes of constrained prostitution.”
The misleading figure was repeated in news stories and adopted by politicians. Even the government’s Crimestoppers campaign recycled it. And over and over again, the absence of a definition in the original work was replaced with the certainty that this was about women who were forced to work against their will. Chaste spoke repeatedly about “sexual enslavement” and “sex slavery”.
Three years after the Kelly/Regan work was published, in 2003, a second team of researchers was commissioned by the Home Office to tackle the same area. They, too, were forced to make a set of highly speculative assumptions: that every single foreign woman in the “walk-up” flats in Soho had been smuggled into the country and forced to work as a prostitute; that the same was true of 75% of foreign women in other flats around the UK and of 10% of foreign women working for escort agencies. Crunching these percentages into estimates of the number of foreign women in the various forms of sex work, they came up with an estimate of 3,812 women working against their will in the UK sex trade.
Margin of error
The researchers ringed this figure with warnings. The data, they said, was “very poor” and quantifying the subject was “extremely difficult”. Their final estimate was “very approximate”, “subject to a very large margin of error” and “should be treated with great caution” and the figure of 3,812 “should be regarded as an upper bound”.
No chance. In June 2006, before the research had even been published, the then Home Office minister Vernon Coaker ignored the speculative nature of the assumptions behind the figure, stripped out all the caution, headed for the maximum end of the range and then rounded it up, declaring to an inquiry into sex trafficking by the Commons joint committee on human rights: “There are an estimated 4,000 women victims.”
The Christian charity Care announced: “In 2003, the Home Office estimated there were 4,000 women and girls in the UK at any one time that had been trafficked into forced prostitution.” The Salvation Army went further: “The Home Office estimated that in 2003 … there were at least 4,000 trafficked women residing in the UK. This figure is believed to be a massive underestimation of the problem.” Anti-Slavery International joined them, converting what the Home Office researchers had described as a “very approximate” estimate into “a very conservative estimate”.
The Home Office, at least, having commissioned the research, was in a position to remind everybody of its authors’ warnings. Except it didn’t.
In March 2007, it produced the UK Action Plan on Human Trafficking and casually reproduced the figure of 4,000 without any of the researchers’ cautions.
The evidence was left even further behind as politicians took up the issue as a rallying call for feminists. They were led by the Labour MP for Rotherham and former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane, who took to describing London as “Europe’s capital for under-aged trafficked sex slaves”. In a debate in the Commons in November 2007, MacShane announced that “according to Home Office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves currently work in the massage parlours and brothels of Britain.”
There is simply no Home Office source for that figure, although it has been reproduced repeatedly in media stories.
Two months later, in another Commons debate, MacShane used the same figure, but this time he attributed it to the Daily Mirror, which had indeed run a story in October 2005 with the headline “25,000 Sex Slaves on the Streets of Britain.” However, the newspaper had offered no evidence at all to support the figure. On the contrary, the body of its story used a much lower figure, of between 2,000 and 6,000 brought in each year, and attributed this to unnamed Home Office officials, even though the Home Office has never produced any research which could justify it.
MacShane was not deterred.
“I used to work for the Daily Mirror, so I trust the report,” he said.
The then solicitor general, Vera Baird, replied by warning MacShane that “we think that his numbers from the Daily Mirror are off” and then recycled the figure of 4,000 without any of the researchers’ cautions. MacShane then switched line and started to claim, for example in a letter to the Guardian in September 2008, that there were “18,000 women, often young girls, trafficked into Britain as sex slaves.” He used this same figure in another debate in the House of Commons, adding “We have to get the facts and figures right.”
On this occasion, the source he was quoting was Pentameter Two, the six-month national police operation which failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution. But MacShane had a point: presenting the results of the operation to the press in July 2008, its operational head, Tim Brain, the chief constable of Gloucester, was widely reported to have said that there were now 18,000 victims of trafficking in the UK and that this included under-age girls.
Other senior figures who were involved with this press conference say they were taken completely by surprise by Brain’s claim. “None of us knew where that came from,” according to one senior figure. “It wasn’t in his pre-brief. It wasn’t in anything: ministers weren’t briefed. Tim may have meant to say 1,800 and just got his figures mixed up.”
Brain now agrees that the figure is not correct and suggested to the Guardian that he had been trying to estimate the total number of prostitutes in the UK, not the total number of trafficked women.
But the damage had been done. Patrick Hall, Labour MP for Bedford, solemnly told the House of Commons that there was sex trafficking “in towns and villages throughout the land.”
Fiona Mactaggart, a former Home Office minister, in January 2008 outstripped MacShane’s estimates, telling the House of Commons that she regarded all women prostitutes as the victims of trafficking, since their route into sex work “almost always involves coercion, enforced addiction to drugs and violence from their pimps or traffickers.” There is no known research into UK prostitution which supports this claim.
In November 2008, Mactaggart repeated a version of the same claim when she told BBC Radio 4’s Today in Parliament that “something like 80% of women in prostitution are controlled by their drug dealer, their pimp, or their trafficker.” Again, there is no known source for this.
Challenged to justify this figure by a different Radio 4 programme, More or Less, in January 2009, Mactaggart claimed that it comes from the Home Office’s 2004 report on prostitution, Paying the Price. But there is no sign of the figure in the report.
In the summer of 2004, The Poppy Project, which is committed to ending all prostitution on the grounds that it “helps to construct and maintain gender inequality”, surveyed London prostitutes working in flats and found that 80% of them were foreign, a finding which is well supported. They then added, without any clear evidence, that “a large proportion of them are likely to have been trafficked into the country”, a conclusion which is challenged by specialist police, but which was then recycled through numerous media reports and political claims.
Last year (2008), Poppy published a report called The Big Brothel, which claimed to be the most comprehensive study ever conducted into brothels in the UK and which claimed to have found “indicators of trafficking in every borough of London”.
That report was subsequently condemned in a joint statement from 27 specialist academics who complained that it was “framed by a pre-existing political view of prostitution”. The academics said there were “serious flaws” in the way that data had been collected and analysed; that the reliability of the data was “extremely doubtful”; and that the claims about trafficking “cannot be substantiated.”
But by that time, the report had generated a mass of news stories, most of which took the unreliable results and overstated them. Like Chaste, the Poppy Project, which has been paid nearly £6m to shelter trafficked women, has been drafted in to advise police and until recently used office space in the Sheffield headquarters of the UK Human Trafficking Centre.
The cacophony of voices has created the illusion of confirmation.
Politicians and religious groups still repeat the media story that 40,000 prostitutes were trafficked into Germany for the 2006 world cup – long after leaked police documents revealed there was no truth at all in the tale. The Daily Mirror’s baseless claim of 25,000 trafficking victims is still being quoted, recently, for example, by the Salvation Army in written evidence to the home affairs select committee, in which they added : “Other studies done by media have suggested much higher numbers.”
Somewhere beneath all this, there is a reality. There have been real traffickers.
Since the Sexual Offences Act came into force in January 2004, internal police documents show that 46 men and women have been convicted and jailed for transporting willing sex workers and 59 people have been convicted for transporting women who were forced to work as prostitutes.
Ruth Breslin, research and development manager for Eaves, which runs the Poppy project, said: “I realise that the 25,000 figure, which is one that has been bandied about in the media, is one that doesn’t really have much of an evidence base and may be slightly subject to media hype. There is an awful lot of confusion in the media and other places between trafficking (unwilling victims) and smuggling (willing passengers). People do get confused and they are two very different things.”
She said that in the six and a half years since Poppy was founded, a total of 1,387 men and women had been referred to them, of whom they had taken in just over 500 women who they believed had been trafficked into sexual exploitation or domestic servitude by the use of coercion, deception or force. “I do think that there a lot more trafficked women out there than the women we see in our project. I do think there are significant numbers. I would say the figure is in the thousands. I don’t know about the tens of thousands. That’s probably going too far.”
Certainly there have been real victims, some of whom have been compensated as victims of crime. The internal analysis of Pentameter Two, obtained by the Guardian, reveals that after six months of raids across the UK, 11 women were finally “made safe”. This clashes with early police claims that Pentameter had rescued 351 victims. By the time that Brain held his press conference in July last year, that figure had been reduced to 167 victims who were said to have been “saved from lives of abuse, exploitation and misery”.
However, the internal analysis shows that supposed victims variously absconded from police, went home voluntarily, declined support, were removed by the UK Borders Agency or were prosecuted for various offences.
Dealing with this, the document explains: “The number of ‘potential victims’ has been refined as more informed decisions have been made about whether or not the individual is believed to be a victim of human trafficking for sexual exploitation … Initial considerations were made on limited information … When interviewed, the potential victim may make it clear that they are not in fact a victim of trafficking and/or inquiries may make it clear that they are not and/or inquiries may show that initial consideration was based on false or incomplete information.”
Research published recently by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University, concludes that, contrary to public perception, the majority of migrant sex workers have chosen prostitution as a source of “dignified living conditions and to increase their opportunities for a better future while dramatically improving the living conditions of their families in the country of origin”. After detailed interviews with 100 migrant sex workers in the UK, Mai found: “For the majority, working in the sex industry was a way to avoid the exploitative working conditions they had met in their previous non-sexual jobs.”
The UK Network of Sex Work Projects, whose outreach workers deal with thousands of prostitutes, told the home affairs select committee last year: “It is undoubtedly the case that women are trafficked into the sex industry. However, the proportion of sex workers of whom this is true is relatively small, both compared to the sex industry as a whole and to other industries.” The chairman of that committee, Keith Vaz, observed: “We are told that this is the second largest problem facing the globe after drugs and we do not seem to be able to find the people responsible.”
For the police, the misinformation has succeeded in diverting resources away from other victims. Specialist officers who deal with trafficking have told the Guardian that although they will continue to monitor all forms of trafficking, they are now shifting their priority away from the supposed thousands of sex slaves towards the movement within the UK of children who are being sexually abused. They say they are also dealing with more cases where illegal migrant workers of all kinds, including willing sex workers, find themselves being ripped off and overcharged for their transport.
However, the key point is that on the sidelines of a debate which has been dominated by ideology, a chorus of alarm from the prostitutes themselves is singing out virtually unheard. In the cause of protecting “thousands” of victims of trafficking, Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader and minister for women and equality, has led the parliamentary campaign for a law to penalise men who pay for sex with women who are “controlled for gain” even if the men do so in genuine ignorance.
Repeatedly, prostitutes groups have argued that the proposal is as wrong as the trafficking estimates on which it is based, and that it will aggravate every form of jeopardy which they face in their work, whether by encouraging them to work alone in an attempt to show that they are free of control or by pressurising them to have sex without condoms to hold on to worried customers. Thus far, their voices remain largely ignored by news media and politicians who, once more, have been swept away on a tide of misinformation.
• This article was amended on Thursday 19 November 2009. We said that the Poppy Project had an office in the Sheffield headquarters of the UK Human Trafficking Centre. That is no longer the case. This has been corrected.
News night BBC TV show video:
The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.
While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.
Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the “millions” of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.
These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies.
This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.
If you agree that you would like to see news organizations do a full truthful report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves without taking the Anti-Prostitution groups word for it;
Here are some links to help you out:
To email News media publications here is some email addresses to get you all started. (Media companies link below)
To contact USA senators and congressmen to alert them on the lies being told to them about Sex Trafficking and Slavery:
USA government officals link:
(Don’t forget to tell your local government officals as well)
Feel free to use any information in this website to tell people about the “Myth of Sex Trafficking”
The following links will give you more information about sex trafficking especially the Washington post article and the Guardian and BBC links.
Washington post article:
News night BBC video:
Nick Davies – About Truth in the Media:
Sex trafficking in sports:
Dallas TV News show about super bowl sex slave myth:
Human traffic website:
Sex Trafficking in Asia:
The following information is from a report from the Crimes against children research center which talks about the Unknown Exaggerated Statistics of Juvenile Prostitution.
Crimes against Children Research Center ● University of New Hampshire ● 126 Horton Social Science Center ● Durham, NH 03824 (603) 862‐1888●Fax: (603) 862‐1122●www.unh.edu/ccrc