Another Sex Trafficking Ring Comes Tumbling Down

by Maia Blume

Success! A small but rapidly growing mom-and-pop shop prostitution ring operating out of the Boston area and New York has been busted. Five people (three in Massachusetts and two in New York) were just arrested on multiple charges relating to forced prostitution and trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

The group has been operational for over five years, running brothels out of roughly 11 apartments in the greater Boston area. They would post ads on Craigslist and in newspapers in Massachusetts, New York, and California seeking Asian women to move to Boston to work as escorts (in a few instances, the women were in the country illegally). These traffickers were so aggressive in wanting to expand their business and grow their brothels, that they spent over $13,000 in one seven month period placing ads in just one local newspaper in Boston … who knows how much they spent in total! Once here, the women were picked up from a local bus station, distributed amongst the group’s apartments and forced to have sex for money. If they were not complicit, the ring leaders, Hong Wei, known as Ms. Chen, and Jing Liang Chen, known as Mike, would threaten to harm their families. Continue reading

Buy a North Korean Woman for Less Than a Used Car

by Amanda Kloer

The global recession has affected China like every other country in the world. But despite a dip in the Chinese economy, at least one imported product remains affordable there: North Korean women. In China, a woman can be imported from North Korea for about $1500, less than the price of a decent used car. And the business of trafficking women from North Korea to China is booming.

Korea estimates that anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people from North Korea are currently living in China. Of those, about 80% are women. And of the women, almost 90% have been trafficked at some point or are currently victims of trafficking. For the most part, these women are trafficked into marriages. The one child policy in China has created a generation where men greatly outnumber women and Chinese wives are hard to come by. So Chinese men who want to get married are forced to look elsewhere. Some try to meet foreign women through legitimate means. But others just buy a wife from North Korea and have her shipped over, like an imported wine. Or rather, a piece of imported meat.

Sex trafficking is also going strong, serving the Chinese men who are looking to get laid rather than married. Sometimes, women are offered jobs in the Chinese tech industry. Those jobs turn out to be stripping for Internet webcasts and/or forced prostitution. North Korean women who are forced into prostitution face even more risks than those forced into marriages, because if caught, they face additional punishments back home.

Both the forced marriages and the sex trafficking are leading to a generation of Chinese-Korean children without a clear home. The children of trafficked women and their husbands or johns often end up not just homeless, but stateless as well. Usually, this happens when the Korean mother is caught in China without proper documentation and deported to North Korea, often to prison or a labor camp where she can’t bring the child. If the Chinese father doesn’t take responsibility for the child, then the kid ends up an orphan which no parent or country able and willing to take care of him or her.

The cross-border trafficking of women from North Korea to China has become an epidemic in the truest sense to the word. It’s spreading farther into both countries than the border region and infecting thousands of women. It’s even affecting a new generation of children, living without a family or a country to call home.

Photo credit: benjamin_mercadier

Share

Why Are iPad Factory Workers Killing Themselves?

by Amanda Kloer

A growing string of worker suicides and attempts has plagued a Chinese factory operated by Foxconn, the China-based tech company that produces, among other products, the new Apple iPad. In the past month, four employees at a single factory have attempted suicide, and 11 workers have killed themselves since 2007. And perhaps even more telling, all four of the most recent attempts have taken place at the factory. What is happening to these workers that is causing so many to turn to suicide?

The Longhua-based factory where workers are jumping off the roof in growing numbers is huge. It’s actually the single largest assembly base for consumer electronics in the whole world. They employ and house around 300,000 workers on their massive compound. And when I say massive, I mean massive — a Foxconn consultant once turned up at the wrong entrance, and had to drive for 30 minutes to reach the next closest one. Foxconn, the company who runs this and other factories, is famously secretive and one of the least transparent companies in the world. In addition to the iPad, they also make products for some of the world’s leading electronic companies, including Sony, HP, Amazon, Nokia, Motorola, Nintendo, Microsoft, Dell and Cisco. Basically, if you own a computer, phone, iPod, Wii, Kindle, or printer, chances are it came from Longhua.

That means if there is something rotten in the state of Longhua, it’s not just affecting one company or a small percentage of consumers. It’s affecting almost every major electronics producers and millions, if not billions, of consumers who use their products. With such a volume of business at stake, Foxconn has a vested interest in making sure any pesky human rights issues at the factory don’t leak out or interfere with production. Perhaps that’s why they didn’t investigate the suicide of a worker last July, who jumped to her death after an iPhone prototype she was in charge of went missing. And perhaps that is why they’ve either refused to comment on the recent string of suicides, or brushed them off as the result of domestic disputes.

Continue reading

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Never Forget

By Michelle

The horrors of the Nazi Holocaust shocked the conscience of the world. Hitler’s machinery of mass murder methodically led 12 million civilians to their death, and, upon his demise, sparked a revolution in international law and politics that forever changed the landscape of our global systems — even if actual implementation of the new norms remains lagging.

Today, on the Israeli holiday of Yom HaShoah, the world pauses to commemorate the six million Jews lost to the Nazi’s campaign of hatred. Events, small and large, are scheduled today and tomorrow throughout the world, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is holding a week-long “Days of Remembrance,” which this year honors the Allied soldiers who liberated the Nazi death camps at the end of World War II, and were among the first to uncover the sheer brutality of Nazi rule. As General Dwight D. Eisenhower remarked after a visit to Buchenwald: Continue reading

The Definition Debacle (or, The Many Meanings of Genocide)

By Michelle

11 December 1948 United Nations, New York: Mr. Ales Bebler (Yugoslavia), signing of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It’s a more exciting debate than you think. Not excited? Ok, then it’s an incredibly important debate with significant ramifications on (the theoretical possibility of) international response to genocide. Read on.

The International Legal Definition

Following Raphael Lemkin’s footsteps, the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (or the UN Convention on Genocide, UNCG) defines genocide as: Continue reading

Demi vs. Kim: The Real Pimpin Issue

by Rachel Lloyd

There’s been lots of coverage in the last 24 hours on the Twitter ‘feud’ between Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian. Yet the glaring omission from all the articles, blogs and commentary is any real analysis of Demi’s point – that we glamorize and glorify pimp culture, use terminology that seems to legitimize the practice, and in doing so ignore the fact that pimps are modern-day slave-owners.

I’m the founder and Executive Director of GEMS, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, the nation’s largest service provider to girls and young women who’ve been commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked. Every day, I witness the impact that pimps have on the lives of girls in this country. Girls are left with physical and psychological scars from the brutal tactics of adult men who prey upon some of the most vulnerable children in our society and then sell them for profit over and over again.

Demi, and her husband Ashton, have met some of the girls GEMS serves, heard their horrific stories about being under pimp control and have taken action. They launched the DNA Foundation with the goal of ending child sex trafficking both in the US and abroad and recently donated a $250,000 Pepsi Refresh grant to support GEMS services to survivors of domestic trafficking. Both Demi and Ashton have been raising the alarm about the epidemic of child sex trafficking that’s happening right here in the US to American girls for over a year now, and yet it’s an exchange with Kim Kardashian that has garnered the most attention.

Kim Kardashian, like most people in this country, is probably totally unaware of the harsh reality of pimping and thinks of it in the context of a Jay-Z song, a 50 Cent video, an Oscar-winning song and movie, or a caricature from the 1970’s. I’m sure if Kim knew the real stories, tears and scars behind the glorified images of pimps, she’d think differently about the language she used. I’d encourage her and anyone else who uses ‘pimpin’ as a verb to watch our Showtime documentary ‘Very Young Girls’ to learn the truth about pimp culture.

Ultimately though this issue isn’t about Kim or Demi. It’s about the girls and young women whose lives are systematically destroyed by pimps/traffickers. It’s about changing our societal acceptance of pimps and ‘pimpin’ and calling it what it really is: trafficking and slaveholding. Over 100,000 children in this country are exploited through the commercial sex industry each year, and the median age of entry into the sex industry is estimated to be between 12 and 14 years old. If those facts haven’t been enough to start a national dialogue about domestic trafficking of girls in the US, perhaps a Twitter exchange between two celebrities will be.

The Twitter exchange between Ms. Kardashian and Demi Moore (Mrs. Kutcher): Continue reading

Being Social For Social Justice

By MGJack

Do you Blog, Twitter, Facebook or MySpace for social justice? Would it not be great to go to just one place and add your post just once and it goes everywhere you have a social presence? I have come across an up and coming service called Hubze that will do just that for you. Please read how Hubze could really help you spread the word about your social justice cause .

What is Hubze?

Just imagine this. Would it not be great to have only ONE place you had to go online to be social? Right now many of us have to perform the overwhelming task of signing onto and posting to all our social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFinder, Ning and all these other social networks…and the truth is…it is a lot of work. I mean should social networking not be fun and easy to do so we in fact do it. Add to that the fact that many of us use social networking as a business application promoting our business and building are brands.

How do we fix this? Enter Hubze. Hubze plans to simplify your life by giving you a platform where you only have to go to ONE place to enter any content. One place to blog, update, share, chat, email, market and search. One place to simplify your online life.

Hubze is not going to be just another social network. Hubze is not going to be just another online marketing system. Hubze is going to be the ONE STOP SHOP you need! And at Hubze simplifying your online life is only the beginning.

Hubze is all about what it’s founders call “Elegant Organization” This concept allows you to bring all of your social interactions into one place. Twitter, Facebook, Direct Matches, Linkedin, BetterNetworker, Myspace, etc. and post to all of them at the push of a button from one single platform. The Hubze MeCard is only the tip of the iceburg here and will be the first of many other services to come. Recently Hubze let out of the bag that they will provide a service that will allow anyone to customize the look and feel of there Facebook page similar to the customization folks enjoy in MySpace. The HubzeCard will always be a free service for all who sign up. For more information on Hubze and to get the HubzeCard service free go to: www.hubze.mgjack.com  for full details. You must be invited by another Hubze member like me so Click and join for FREE.

Share

Holocaust Remembrance Day

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is Sunday, April 11, 2010, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is asking communities across the nation to organize observances during April 11–18, 2010.

The Museum has designated “Stories of Freedom: What You Do Matters” as the theme for the 2010 Days of Remembrance. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, and we will pay tribute to the U.S. soldiers who helped defeat Nazi Germany and liberate Holocaust survivors from years of suffering. These stories of freedom remind us that individuals have the power to make a difference.

We invite you to join the nation in remembrance. The Museum has created the Planning Guide and Resources for Annual Holocaust Commemoration, a free CD/DVD set filled with advice and ready-to-use videos and resources for organizing civic, military, and interfaith observances. This resource is free and may be obtained by filling out the Request Form. In addition, you may also view these and other resources on the Museum’s special Days of Remembrance Web site. We also invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on Days of Remembrance with the Museum and other citizens through our web site and various social media sites.

Remembrance not only obligates us to memorialize those who were killed during the Holocaust, but it also reminds us of the fragility of democracy and the need for citizens to be vigilant in the protection of democratic ideals.

Thank you for joining communities across the nation as we remember the victims as well as survivors of the Holocaust.

For questions contact: DORDVD@ushmm.org

Share

Chocolate Paves the Path to the Dark Side

by Angela Longerbeam

When the Easter Bunny visits your house this year, will he be complicit with the slave trade? Before delivering treats to more fortunate children, did he hop on over to Africa’s Ivory Coast and make sure trafficked children weren’t harvesting his cocoa? That Easter Bunny. We love him, but he sure is a slacker sometimes. 

News has swirled around for awhile now regarding labor practices in the chocolate supply chain. In spite of signing the Cocoa Protocol back in 2001 and thereby promising to move toward slave-free chocolate production, companies like Hershey seem to be okay with kids farming their cocoa. It is heavy labor in and of itself, unsuitable for children, and made infinitely more exploitative with no pay and a daily serving of abuse. They either support these labor practices directly, or else they support it indirectly, by looking the other way. 

Eating chocolate is bliss, and so, of course, is ignorance. 

The demand for transparency and ethical business practices have surfaced through petitions and organized boycotts. Fair trade chocolate brands are becoming more prevalent and popular all the time. But we, as concerned consumers, only have as much knowledge on the subject as chocolate companies allow -– and no company in its business-sensed mind is going to make itself look bad. 

That’s why a journalist from Denmark, Miki Mistrati, has gone undercover to see what’s really happening on the Ivory Coast’s cocoa farms in a new documentary called The Dark Side of Chocolate.  

Continue reading

Book review: Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Reposted from: A Passion To Understand

This is the book that started it all for me again.  I had always known at the back of my mind that sooner or later I was going to have to face up to my horror and read up about the Rwandan genocide.  Once I picked up this book in late 2007, it started a process of discovery for me and culminated in me forming this blog.

There have been several books written on the genocide by people from all walks of life.  Sociologists, journalists, a United Nations general and a hotel operator have all written excellent and compelling books but this book was written by a normal, everyday woman.  Immaculée Ilibagiza was a student in 1994, just like me, and she had gone home for the April holidays, just like I used to do.  The difference is that Immaculée is Tutsi.

Left to Tell is the story of how her entire family was killed in the genocide and how she was hidden in the bathroom of a local pastor along with seven other women for 91 days.  There were days on end when the pastor could not secret away food to them as he had not even told his family that he was hiding the women and they suffered from starvation, dehydration and the wasting of their limbs.  They could not stand, exercise or eve stretch their legs.

Immaculée is a devout Catholic and in this book she talks of the miracles that occurred and how her faith carried her through the most trying period of her life.  I’m not a religious person but I found this book to be absolutely inspiring and incredible. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to see what happened in the genocide through the eyes of a survivor.  This is an excellent introduction to anyone wishing to know more about the events but who does not feel ready to ready one of the more technical or complex books.  Just make sure that you have a box of tissues handy because this book is absolutely touching.

Immaculée has written two more books since this one and maintains a blog too in which she speaks of her faith and the journey she has take since 1994.  The blog is simply called Immaculée.

Share