Gloria Steinem, the 78-year-old feminist pioneer, was on a six-day Learning Tour in Delhi, Bengal and Bihar earlier this month, inspired by Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a grassroots movement to end sex trafficking. In a freewheeling chat during her stay, Steinem opened up to Ruchira Gupta, founder president of Apne Aap, on her latest tryst with trafficking victims in Calcutta, Obama’s re-election, Monroe’s loneliness and more. Excerpts.
Experience now reveals that what works — and has worked in Nordic countries, where trafficking has actually diminished — is to de-criminalise the women or men who are prostitutes, offer them services and practical alternatives, and prosecute the pimps, traffickers and brothel owners to the full extent of national and international law. After all, there is a greater percentage of the world’s population in slavery now than there was at the peak of the slave trade — with sex slavery about 80% and labour slavery about 20%, according to the UN, though the line between the two is sometimes academic.
The point is: you may have a right to sell your own body, but you have no right to sell the bodies of others. We must stop arresting the victim. In Nordic countries, they fine and educate the customer, not just to embarrass him, but to give them the facts of human trafficking for which he is part of the market.
The good news is that though the trafficking lobby and a few academics tell us there are only two alternatives, legalisation or criminalisation, we now know this Third Way actually works. It’s not about being moralistic and anti-sex — on the contrary. It’s pro-sex and mutual pleasure. We have a T-shirt that says, Eroticize Equality.
WASHINGTON, D.C., United States: In an effort to stop a rising tide with the use of online networks for human trafficking, two U.S. Representatives of Congress, Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, along with Democrat Carolyn Maloney of New York, have sent a bipartisan letter to the largest online search engine in the world – Google, Inc. Questioning current practices and policies at Google, specifically within the offices of Google Adwords, the Congresswomen are sending a joint letter from Congress to Google to bring hard questions to the internet giant.
Stepping up their efforts, the Blackburn and Maloney Congressional team are bringing Google’s employee policies under the microscope. Unless Google answers the questions regarding the handling, receiving and allowing of online advertising by Google Adwords the corporate giant may be questioned further.
“It’s about time that we all take a close look at the largest ad publisher in the world – Google,” said Phil Cenedella, founder and director of The National Association of Human Trafficking Victim Advocates, an advocacy group that works on-the-ground with women and girl victims of human trafficking and now over 41 global partners. “This problem is worldwide and it’s growing right under our feet,” continued Cenedella. “The U.S. is one of the biggest consumers of modern slaves and illegal slave labor worldwide and this includes sex-trafficking.”
The United Nations (UN.GIFT) and STOP THE TRAFFIK have created a new joint project called ‘GIFT box’ which will take place during the 2012 Olympics to inspire visitors, both from the UK and abroad, to take action to stop the trade.
The GIFT box is a giant public art installation, which will demonstrate to people how victims of human trafficking can be deceived; beyond the promises of exciting opportunities that will entice people to the box, once inside, the stark reality of human trafficking will be revealed.
There are four different types of boxes, each dealing with the forms of human trafficking prevalent on the streets of London: domestic servitude, forced street crime, sexual exploitation, and forced labour. Whilst the GIFT box will be evocative, it will also be family-friendly and will inspire people to advocate and end trafficking in their own communities.
OLYMPIA, Wash. —An Olympia woman is sharing her harrowing story of human trafficking at the United Nations this week, and she’s using Washington state as an example of what government should be doing to end the scourge.
Rani Hong was just 7-years-old when she was taken from her mother in India and traded on the open child slave market.
She survived, and she’s now sharing her story with world leaders at a United Nations summit on human trafficking.
“My traffickers told me I would never have a voice, that nobody would ever listen to me,” she said at the summit.
Her husband, Trong, is also a survivor of the child slave trade from Vietnam.
Six months have passed since Congress allowed Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) to expire, jeopardizing the centerpiece of U.S. policy to combat human trafficking. To help move this critical legislation forward, World Vision, International Justice Mission (IJM), the Polaris Project, and Safe Horizons are joining together to urge Congress to renew the TVPRA and help end slavery for the 27 million enslaved people around the world.
Our goal is to get 10 more senators to sponsor the TVPRA in order to reach a total of 50 Senate co-sponsors by April 30.
Join us by tweeting these senators – who have NOT yet sponsored the TVPRA – by using the hashtag #endslavery
An angry crowd, outraged by the abuses said to be perpetrated on a loving nanny by her employers, was expected to rally on Thursday to send them an unmistakable message: Never again.
Dozens of domestic workers and supporters, among them Occupy Wall Street activists, would gathe to protest the mistreatment that Patricia Francois, 53, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago who lives in Flatbush, said she suffered at the hands of her employers while she took care of their daughter.
“The little girl I was taking care of is a wonderful little girl. I stayed in the job for a long time because of her, even though I endured a lot of verbal abuse,” Francois said. “And even though I have a family back home depending on me, he crossed the line by hitting me.”
“He” is filmmaker Matthew Mazer and and according to Francois, he punched her in the face more than three years ago.
The situation of Francois and other women like her is ironic: While we trust them with our most precious possessions — our children, our elderly parents, our homes — they have traditionally been among the most exploited and abused of society’s laborers.
“We are the part of the 99% that is directly in contact with the 1% of this country every single day,” said Jocelyn Gill-Campbell, a former nanny and organizer with Domestic Workers United, the largest coalition of nannies, housekeepers and caretakers in the city.
“Domestic workers care for them, their loved ones, and the most precious elements of their lives, yet we are abused and mistreated,” Gill-Campbell added.
In 2010, New York became the first state to pass a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, guaranteeing minimum standards for New York’s over 200,000 privately employed, mostly immigrant women, nannies, housekeepers, and elder caregivers, such as paid days of rest and protection from discrimination and harassment.
But as advocates who worked for six years to pass the landmark legislation explain, abuse and exploitation will continue unless employers who violate domestic workers’ rights are brought to justice.
GENEVA (3 April 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, urged the Government of Lebanon to carry out a full investigation into the death of Alem Dechasa, a 33-year-old Ethiopian migrant domestic worker who committed suicide on Wednesday 14 March 2012, a few days after she was seen been beaten by men and dragged into a car in the Lebanese capital.
These acts of abuse caught on video* and posted on a social media websites, show the victim shouting and struggling to resist a man dragging and forcing her into a car as bystanders stood by.
“Like many people around the world I watched the video of the physical abuse of Alem Dechasa on a Beirut street,” said the UN expert monitoring contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences. “I strongly urge the Lebanese authorities to carry out a full investigation into the circumstances leading to her death. I also express my deepest condolences to Ms. Dechasa’s family and friends”
“The cruel image on the website reminded me of the many migrant women workers I met in Lebanon during my official visit to the country last year,” she said. “Women who had been victims of domestic servitude told me they had been under the absolute control of their employers through economic exploitation and suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse.”
At the end of her visit to Lebanon in October 2011, Ms. Shahinian urged the Government to enact legislation to protect the some 200,000 domestic workers in the country, indicating that without legal protection some of them would end up living in domestic servitude. “Migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, the majority of whom are women, are legally invisible,” she said at the time. “That makes them acutely vulnerable.”