New York Times: “The Girls Next Door”; Worldwide Sex Trafficking; Role of Porn


Our opponents like to focus on the handful of women who have become relatively rich selling sex, women who have achieved a measure of choice and control in their lives (example). The reality for vast numbers of other participants in the sex trade is far less appealing, as The New York Times makes clear in “The Girls Next Door” (2004).

Far from being a domain of consenting adults, unconsenting minors are common. Inspired by porn, men are seeking out rougher acts and ever younger, more compliant girls. Men run the trafficking rings, and employ older women to facilitate the indoctrination of the girls. Most girls burn out quickly, generally within 2-4 years. Law enforcement often fails to perceive trafficking as a serious problem, or even participates in the trade, as do elements of the media, which run traffickers’ ads for “models” and “nannies”…

These sex slaves [near the US-Mexican border] earn no money, there is nothing voluntary about what they do and if they try to escape they are often beaten and sometimes killed…

…the United States has become a major importer of sex slaves. Last year, the C.I.A. estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked annually into the United States. The government has not studied how many of these are victims of sex traffickers, but Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, America’s largest anti-slavery organization, says that the number is at least 10,000 a year. John Miller, the State Department’s director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, conceded: ”That figure could be low. What we know is that the number is huge.” Bales estimates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time. Laura Lederer, a senior State Department adviser on trafficking, told me, ”We’re not finding victims in the United States because we’re not looking for them…”

In Eastern European capitals like Kiev and Moscow, dozens of sex-trafficking rings advertise nanny positions in the United States in local newspapers; others claim to be scouting for models and actresses…

”…[Young women’s] idea of prostitution is ‘Pretty Woman,’ which is one of the most popular films in Ukraine and Russia. They’re thinking, This may not be so bad…”

While European traffickers tend to dupe their victims into boarding one-way flights to Mexico to their own captivity, Mexican traffickers rely on the charm and brute force of ”Los Lenones,” tightly organized associations of pimps, according to Roberto Caballero, an officer with the P.F.P… [A]t least 15 major trafficking organizations and 120 associated factions tracked by the P.F.P. operate as wholesalers: collecting human merchandise and taking orders from safe houses and brothels in the major sex-trafficking hubs in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago…

Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, an organization based in Arlington, Va., that fights sexual exploitation in South Asia and Southeast Asia, says: ”Sex trafficking isn’t a poverty issue but a law-enforcement issue. You can only carry out this trade at significant levels with the cooperation of local law enforcement. In the developing world the police are not seen as a solution for anything. You don’t run to the police; you run from the police.”

Once the Mexican traffickers abduct or seduce the women and young girls, it’s not other men who first indoctrinate them into sexual slavery but other women. The victims and officials I spoke to all emphasized this fact as crucial to the trafficking rings’ success. ”Women are the principals,” Caballero, the Mexican federal preventive police officer, told me. ”The victims are put under the influence of the mothers, who handle them and beat them. Then they give the girls to the men to beat and rape into submission.” Traffickers understand that because women can more easily gain the trust of young girls, they can more easily crush them. ”Men are the customers and controllers, but within most trafficking organizations themselves, women are the operators,” Haugen says. ”Women are the ones who exert violent force and psychological torture…”

[The girls] would be told that if they tried to escape, one of their family members, who usually had no idea where they were, would be beaten or killed. Working at the brutalizing pace of 20 men per day, a girl could earn her captors as much as $2,000 a week. In the U.S., that same girl could bring in perhaps $30,000 per week…

Jonathan M. Winer, deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says, ”The girls are worth a penny or a ruble in their home village, and suddenly they’re worth hundreds and thousands somewhere else…”

‘When I was taken to Mexico, I knew things were going to be different,” she said. The ”customers” were American businessmen. ”The men who went there had higher positions, had more to lose if they were caught doing these things on the other side of the border. I was told my purpose was to keep these men from abusing their own kids.” Later she told me: ”The white kids you could beat but you couldn’t mark. But with Mexican kids you could do whatever you wanted. They’re untraceable. You lose nothing by killing them…’

I.J.M.’s president, Gary Haugen, says: ”It’s the easiest kind of crime in the world to spot. Men look for it all day, every day.”

But border agents and local policemen usually don’t know trafficking when they see it. The operating assumption among American police departments is that women who sell their bodies do so by choice, and undocumented foreign women who sell their bodies are not only prostitutes (that is, voluntary sex workers) but also trespassers on U.S. soil. No Department of Justice attorney or police vice squad officer I spoke with in Los Angeles — one of the country’s busiest thoroughfares for forced sex traffic — considers sex trafficking in the U.S. a serious problem, or a priority…

All the girls I spoke to said that their captors were both psychologically and physically abusive. Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist’s patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners — toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens — as well as what she called a ”damage group.” ”In the damage group they can hit you or do anything they wanted,” she explained. ”Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group…”

Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves says: ”The physical path of a person being trafficked includes stages of degradation of a person’s mental state. A victim gets deprived of food, gets hungry, a little dizzy and sleep-deprived. She begins to break down; she can’t think for herself. Then take away her travel documents, and you’ve made her stateless. Then layer on physical violence, and she begins to follow orders. Then add a foreign culture and language, and she’s trapped…”

”There’s a vast misunderstanding of what coercion is, of how little it takes to make someone a slave,” Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission said. ”The destruction of dignity and sense of self, these girls’ sense of resignation…”

If anything, the women I talked to said that the sex in the U.S. is even rougher than what the girls face on Calle Santo Tomas. Rosario, a woman I met in Mexico City, who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years, said: ”In America we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.” She said that she believed younger foreign girls were in demand in the U.S. because of an increased appetite for more aggressive, dangerous sex. Traffickers need younger and younger girls, she suggested, simply because they are more pliable. In Eastern Europe, too, the typical age of sex-trafficking victims is plummeting; according to Matei of Reaching Out, while most girls used to be in their late teens and 20’s, 13-year-olds are now far from unusual.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., are finding that when it comes to sex, what was once considered abnormal is now the norm. They are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. ”We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit,” says I.C.E. Special Agent Perry Woo… ”With new Internet technology,” Woo said, ”pornography is becoming more pervasive. With Web cams we’re seeing more live molestation of children.” One of I.C.E.’s rec
ent successes, Operation Hamlet, broke up a ring of adults who traded images and videos of themselves forcing sex on their own young children…

Typically, a young trafficking victim in the U.S. lasts in the system for two to four years. After that, Bales says: ”She may be killed in the brothel. She may be dumped and deported. Probably least likely is that she will take part in the prosecution of the people that enslaved her…”

Even Andrea, who was born in the United States and spoke English, says she never thought of escaping, ”because what’s out there? What’s out there was scarier. We had customers who were police, so you were not going to go talk to a cop…”

See also:

D.A. Clarke: Women Adopting Men’s Bad Habits Is Not the Answer
People often talk about the abuses endured by women and children in the sex trade and pornography as the price of a free society, implying that the lives of these people are a tragic but necessary sacrifice if we are to avoid totalitarianism, censorship and so on. My first reaction is always one of stunned outrage – it is so very evident that the people making the sad preachments about necessary sacrifices are never the ones who are being sacrificed, and the freedom about which they have such tender and righteous feelings does not extend to those who are enslaved to ensure it. Then comes a second reaction: What free society? For if the conditions under which the vast majority of prostitutes, and many unpaid sexual servants, live is not fascism, then what is?

Gloria Steinem at Smith: Cooperation, Not Domination
…there are more slaves in proportion to the world’s population–more people held by force or coercion without benefit from their work–more now than there were in the 1800s. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, children and adults forced into armies: they all add up to a global human-trafficking industry that is more profitable than the arms trade, and second only to the drug trade. The big difference now from the 1800s is that the United Nations estimates that 80% of those who are enslaved are women and children…

Prostitution Research & Education: How Prostitution Works
Real sexual relationships are not hard to find. There are plenty of adults of both sexes who are willing to have sex if someone treats them well, and asks. But there lies the problem. Some people do not want an equal, sharing relationship. They do not want to be nice. They do not want to ask. They like the power involved in buying a human being who can be made to do almost anything…

Testimony in Massachusetts: Johns who like porn are the “most dangerous and potentially violent” (explicit language)
I considered the men who were into pornography to be the most dangerous and potentially violent since that is what aroused them. One time a customer took out a heavy leather belt and started beating me across the stomach and breasts. He was into pornography which showed young girls tying each other up and whipping each other.

Salon: Atlanta’s underage sex trade
The problem isn’t restricted to so-called Hotlanta; Herbert notes, dispiritedly, that “the overall market for sex with kids is booming in many parts of the U.S.” But the city’s role as a convention and travel hub has given it a particular boost. And advocates say that the prevailing preference for ever-younger prostitutes — fueled by “the cultural emphasis on the sexual appeal of very young women and girls” and “the widely held belief among johns that there is less risk of contracting a disease from younger prostitutes” — has pimps and sex traffickers recruiting more at-risk kids than ever before.

Letter to the Gazette: “Addressing prostitution, promiscuity in war on AIDS”
Most sex workers in developing nations are more like slaves than they are like the “D.C. Madam”. Trafficking in women is a human rights violation that self-styled progressives like Garrett should oppose. Moreover, heterosexual women in the Third World, who lack the social power to enforce safe-sex guidelines in their relationships, are being infected with AIDS at an alarming rate by husbands who patronize prostitutes.

Certified Sex Therapist Marty Klein Wants You to Believe Porn Is Harmless
“Our legal system gives the image of children’s eroticism no existence as cultural artifact, sociological phenomenon, historical reality. By taking it completely out of context our society strips it of true meaning; demonizes it; and ultimately leaves it to those who are confident in their biases and invested in everyone’s proud ignorance. What hubris, as Homer would have said, to think we know everything there is to know about such an important subject…”

The Science Behind Pornography Addiction
[Performers in the sex industry] have high rates of substance abuse, typically alcohol and cocaine, depression, borderline personality disorder which is a particularly serious disorder and dissociative identity disorder which used to be called multiple personality disorder. The experience I find most common among the performers is that they have to be drunk, high or dissociated in order to go to work.

Testimony in Minneapolis: Prostitutes Blackmailed with Porn
Another way that pornography plays a part in the lives of my clients is that as young women, very young women, some as young as eleven, they want the good things that they see on TV, and they see taking part in nude modeling, taking part in movies–pornographic movies–as a way to be a star, get to Hollywood. Now, this may seem foolish to those of you who are adults and say ha ha, we know that is wrong. We are talking about children who are very naive and are told that Marilyn Monroe made it this way, Brooke Shields made a movie about Pretty Baby. You have been there baby, you can do it.

Realities of Teen Prostitution Mock Notions of ‘Sex Work’, ‘Sex-Positive’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Empowerment’; Media Glamorizes Pimps
“What you see in the movies, what you see on TV — it’s not like that,” Sara says. “They don’t tell you the part about the rapes. They don’t tell you about getting beat up. They don’t tell you that you might die every day.”

Testimony in Los Angeles: Pornographers Place Recruitment Ads for “Models” in Newspapers
And she proceeded to tell me her friend, who’s on welfare, has three children, saw an ad in the newspaper. It said, “Girls, Girls, Girls.” And she brought it in and showed it to me, and it’s very typical in all the newspapers: Modeling, $300 a day. And she felt she could get money for her children for Christmas for presents. She didn’t have money.

Testimony from N
orthampton: Porn Entwined with Years of Domestic Abuse; Sex Ads in Alt Weeklies (explicit language)

After an unwanted visit from him, when he was abusive and once again insistent on sexual acts, I discovered later when receiving my phone bill, that prior to the abuse, he had made many phone calls to the 1-900 sex calls that he had [seen] in the Valley Advocate…

Pasadena Weekly: “Lives for sale”
“They’re always a point of concern,” Pasadena Police Chief Bernard Melekian told the newspaper. “We follow up on them fairly regularly. I have always been surprised that the [Pasadena] Weekly underwrites the exploitation of women to some degree.”

…“Asian Lovers: Best Young Girls in Town,” “Asian Girl: Pretty Apples,” “Grand Opening, Young Asian Cuties,” read several ads that appeared recently in the Weekly…

Ivy Suriyopaf, an attorney with the Asian-American Defense League, said that if an ad is suspicious, newspapers shouldn’t run it.

“Publications have a choice about whether to run certain ads,” said Suriyopaf. “If they have any reason to believe that businesses are conducting illicit activities, they have a social responsibility to report it to the authorities or, at the very least, not run the business’ advertisements.”

Belltown Messenger: “Greed, Lust and Ink”

…the only motivation for running escort ads in the first place is unbridled greed-and these supposedly liberal publications can’t have it both ways when defending the rights of society’s underdogs in their editorial content…

The “adult services” sections of the Stranger and Seattle Weekly are no bargain for those in the sex industry. They bill at four times the rate of the regular ads and then some.

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