Packaging abuse of women as entertainment for adults

TheStar.com – living – Packaging abuse of women as entertainment for adults

Cruel, degrading scenes `normalized’ for generation brought up in dot-com world

January 26, 2008


Living Columnist
The hottest place on Earth this month was Las Vegas.

That was the site of the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo where thousands of, um, exhibitors and fans of pornography came together to look at the latest in media, toys, games, gadgets, paraphernalia and genitalia.

Yes, the pornography industrial complex is so huge that it can fill one of the world’s biggest convention halls, so mainstream that it need no longer operate in the dirty raincoat section of your local newsstand or video store, so available that it’s on basic cable, so accessible that any child could Google her way to Internet sites where women (and men and children) are brutalized for somebody’s fun and profit.

According to the Internet Filter Review, worldwide porn revenues, including in-room movies at hotels, sex clubs and the ever-expanding E-sex world, topped $97 billion in 2006. That’s more than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.

Listen, I am no prude. I get a kick out of some porn. I was at a strip club as recently as last month. I love sex. I talk dirty. But when I can easily find websites that show women subjected to what can only be described in a family newspaper as waterboarding by ejaculate – or simultaneous impalement on more than one fire pole, or sexual practices that will cause E. coli infections – I have to wonder where the industry gets these ideas.

Not exactly the fun and games most of us enjoy in the bedroom (or wherever your pleasure). It’s as if, just like TV reality shows, the fear factor/cruelty/shock value has to be continuously ratcheted up to get them into the tent, especially online. And make no mistake, when you see women being brutalized this way, you are not seeing an act. That woman really is gagging, really is gasping for air, really is drowning.

Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography.

Every second.

That’s a lot of women who, for whatever their reasons, and most likely they are economic, are being tortured.

That’s a lot of sticky keyboards.

There’s a huge market for the domination of women.

Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been tracking the trend for years. In his new book Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, he writes with alarm about how the “cruelty line” in mass-market pornography is driving up. At the same time, the “normalization” line – “the measure of the acceptance of pornography in the mainstream of contemporary culture” – is also up, sharply.

“If pornography is increasingly cruel and degrading, why is it increasingly commonplace instead of more marginalized?” he writes. “In a society that purports to be civilized, wouldn’t we expect most people to reject sexual material that becomes evermore (sic) dismissive of the humanity of women? How do we explain the simultaneous appearance of more, and increasingly more intense, ways to humiliate women sexually and the rising popularity of the films that present those activities?”

Two answers, perhaps.

Like the proverbial frog in the pot of simmering water, we’re not aware of how the temperature is slowly being fired up.

Pop tarts used to be the exception among rocker chicks, not the writhing music video rule. Pole and lap dancing were for strippers, not workout DVDs. Body shots were fatal bullet wounds, not sexy ways to get drunk and show off on Facebook.

As a result, society, especially its younger members who can’t remember a non dot-com time, is increasingly accepting of the systematic debasement of women. It’s probably why more young women participate in their own exploitation and abuse and it’s also why, at least according to online discussions I have seen, many young men think going through the back door on a first date is normal.

“Porn constantly marches toward these practices that heighten men’s domination of women and reinforces this notion that pleasure is to be extracted from women,” says Jensen, on the phone from Texas. “(Men) may not seek out multiple penetrations but they can experience the pleasure of seeing the domination of women enacted sexually. They’ll say, `I may never do rape porn, multiple penetration or sexual practice X, but I like watching it.'”

The other explanation? The marriage of capitalism and so-called freedom of expression.

Not that Jensen advocates censorship. He just wishes there were legal limits when damage can be demonstrated.

“An important discussion to have is how to construct a law that is both consistent with free speech and a realistic understanding of how mass media affect our culture,” he tells me. “We do this all over the place. We’re balancing the value of speech with the harms that speech can create. That’s why we have libel laws, sexual harassment law, conspiracy law and laws against insider trading in the stock market.”

The thing is, there are data that suggest a correlation between the amplification of “gonzo porn” and media violence and a concurrent drop in rapes and violent crimes, at least in the U.S. It could very well be that the more women choke almost to death on screen, the fewer of them do in real life.

But how curious it is that women are the ones to pay the price either way? And the most likely way it’s going is not going to be pretty.

Concludes Jensen: “It may be that the more overt sexualization of violence is the only place the industry has to go – and then we’ll see what the culture’s values really are.”

http://www.thestar.com/living/article/296391

MASSEUSE FACING A LEGAL KNOT

New York Post

By PHILIP MESSING

January 25, 2008 — The masseuse who discovered actor Heath Ledger’s body does not hold a state license to do massage therapy, officials said yesterday.As a result, Diane Lee Wolo zin , 45, may face charges that could put her behind bars for four years. The state Education Department, which licenses massage therapists, found that Wolozin was not licensed, a spokesman said.

The department passed that information to the NYPD.

Practicing massage therapy without a license is a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Neither the Police Department nor the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office could immediately say whether they would pursue charges.

Wolozin found Ledger unconscious in his bedroom at his SoHo apartment Tuesday.

She called his latest squeeze, Mary-Kate Olsen, four times before calling 911 for help. The operator gave her instructions in performing CPR, but it didn’t help.

Licensed massage therapists are supposed to be certified in CPR, the Education Department spokesman said.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01252008/news/regionalnews/masseuse_facing_a_legal_knot_428145.htm

Assistance for Minors Rescued from Sexual Exploitation

Posted on Friday, 25-01-2008
Ghana – IOM has been asked to lend support to the Ghanaian government in providing care and assistance to a group of minors rescued from a brothel in Ghana on 19th January following a police raid.More than 160 women and girls were taken to an initial shelter for preliminary screening following the raid on the eve of the African Cup of Nations tournament being hosted by Ghana. Some of the women and girls were pregnant and others had babies.

The majority of those interviewed were adults who were not identified as victims of trafficking and were released by the police following registration by the Department of Social Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and other government authorities.

However, 14 girls under the age of 18 and four babies are now receiving comprehensive care and rehabilitation assistance including food, clothing, counselling, medical screening and treatment as well as recreational activities at another shelter.

A medical team will carry out detailed medical screenings at the weekend in order to define a comprehensive treatment for the girls and babies.

Although it is not yet clear how the girls had ended up in the brothel, most of the women and girls registered from the raid had come to Accra from various regions in Ghana with their brothers, sisters, uncles, or other relatives in order to engage in petty trading, learn a trade, attend school, or seek new opportunities. Some said they had come to stay with their uncles, but had left because they were being maltreated.

The operation – the largest ever carried out in Ghana to protect potential victims of human trafficking – was undertaken by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service in close collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs. The Ministry has been mandated by the 2005 Ghana Human Trafficking Act to coordinate all efforts among national taskforce members to prevent and combat human trafficking in Ghana, including protecting child victims who have been trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.

Following the signing of a tripartite agreement with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and the Department of Social Welfare, IOM is providing financial and technical assistance to help support the rehabilitation of the girls and babies at the centre through IOM’s Global Assistance Fund for trafficking victims, an emergency fund made available by the US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).

For further information, please contact:

Jo Rispoli
IOM Accra
Tel: (233) 21-508-698/9 or 21-518-413/4 
E-mail: jrispoli@iom.int

http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/pbnAF/cache/offonce?entryId=16451

Trafficking – need for major cultural shift in UK

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker today reinforced the government’s commitment to stamping out sex trafficking at a conference organised by CHASTE – Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe.
 
He told a packed conference hall – at the International Salvation Army headquarters in London –  that the time had come for a major cultural shift in Britain regarding prostitution and sex trafficking.
 
He said: “One of the vilest crimes that threatens our society is the trafficking of human beings. This modern day slavery is an evil practice, perpetrated for profit with no regard for the consequences for the victims or society as a whole. It is often the product of organised criminality that knows no borders and that feeds on the exploitation of the vulnerable.

“Some men might question perspective a man can bring to leading the government’s agenda of dealing with these awful crimes. For me, the fact that the victims are women, and sometimes children, and that the crimes are very often perpetrated by men, makes it even more important that men should be taking some responsibility for the solution. As a result, I’ve taken a strong personal interest in this issue.”
 
Mr Coaker outlined how he had led a ministerial visit to Sweden where it is a criminal offence to buy sex and said the government had begun to implement a 62-point Trafficking Action Plan. He also promised more financial support.
 
The work of CHASTE was praised by Fiona Mactaggart MP, a former Home Office minister who said:
 
“At a time when too few individuals and organisations have the courage to stick their necks out and demand action on issues of prostitution, CHASTE has been determined, open and independent in the way it works to tackle this issue which degrades and even kills women.”

CHASTE’S Chief Executive Dr Carrie Pemberton told delegates from India, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia and the UK how it was crucial to tackle issues surrounding demand:
 
“It is time to wake up to human rights in the 21st century. How come in the 21st century that trafficking for sexual exploitation is one of the fastest growing areas of global trade, amassing hundreds of thousands of pounds for those involved, and being fuelled by a growing demand for casual sex for payment with no societal accountability?
 
“The costs which are incurred in this trade are wide-ranging and profound. From the appalling health legacy on women who are trafficked, with a minimum of a dozen serious mental and physical health impacts incurred during their trafficked experience, to the ubiquitous experience of rape for 90% of women caught in prostitution across the world, to the wider public health impacts in the dissemination of STVs and HIV, with unprotected sex being a key and cynically abusive hallmark of the use of trafficked women within the sex market economy.

“From physical and emotional damage incurred by the women themselves, to the costs of funding international criminal networks and the associated fields of criminal enterprise into which each £40 appointment flows. The costs to our economy of the enforcement fight against this appallingly abusive and vicious trade, to the social costs of a degraded view of the beauty and special gift which is our bodies given in relationship to one another. At every level this trade is quite appalling. The time has now come that we simply have to pay attention to the demand which is driving the engine of this abuse.
 
“I am delighted that we have the support of four key platform speakers from across the NGO spectrum in Sweden to encourage this shift in attention. Sweden’s pioneering legislation in 1999 has enabled the world to take a fresh look at the way governments and society can address the multiple abuses involved in purchasing sex.
 
“With a standard fine or a maximum imprisonment of six months for the offence, hundreds of men in Sweden have been prosecuted to date, and more importantly attitudes have been significantly altered – particularly amongst the purchasing target group – 20-55 year old males.

“This is in stark contrast to Germany where legalisation of prostitution has triggered an extraordinary increase in demand, with one survey returning a statistic of 1.2 million German men daily purchasing sex. Small wonder that the World Cup in 2006 saw women in their thousands being purchased in dedicated booths more suitable for parking bikes than taking care of people – and the authorities in Germany now have no real idea about how many women are now caught in prostitution there, with thousands having been placed at risk across Europe to being inwardly trafficked for that international sporting event.
 
“This is not an experience to be replicated in Britain, and we need to take steps now in our general culture, legislation, education and media to properly inform one another of the real human costs of purchasing people for sex in our contemporary world.
 
“Sweden passed legislation on criminalising the purchasing of women by clients in 2009. This was part of legislation deemed to be a gross violation of women’s integrity. I warmly welcome the fact that the UK government is closely scrutinising this too as a model to follow. It is a brave step to take – but the right one.”

http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/news.aspx?action=view&id=2076

Raids on brothels highlight the scale of trade in humans

Times Online Logo 222 x 25

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From
January 25, 2008

A nationwide clampdown on human-trafficking has led to police raids on more than 500 brothels, most of them in residential areas.

Operation Pentameter 2 has detected a significant shift in the nature of the sex trade in Britain.

Once dominated by red-light areas and massage parlours, prostitution is controlled increasingly by organised gangs that bring women into the country and coerce them into sex slavery.

Pentameter has carried out raids on 542 brothels, resulting in more than 300 arrests and the seizure of £400,000 in suspected criminal assets.

A number of women and children have been taken into the care of the Poppy Project, which has extended its operations from London to Yorkshire and the Midlands.

The Home Office intends to publish a new assessment of the scale of human-trafficking later this year. It is accepted widely that the 2003 figure of 4,000 trafficked women in Britain is a serious underestimate.

Vernon Coaker, the Home Office Minister, said: “Trafficking has changed everyone’s perception of what is happening in prostitution. It is nothing less than modern-day slavery and, with its connections to organised crime, it is a priority for the Government and the police service.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article3247824.ece

UN: More Human-Trafficking Dat[a] Needed

newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-un-human-trafficking,0,5857382.story Newsday.co

By VERONIKA OLEKSYN

Associated Press Writer

5:22 PM EST, January 22, 2008

VIENNA, Austria

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Better data is needed to determine the magnitude of human trafficking so it can be targeted effectively, and some countries are not taking the problem as seriously as they should, the top U.N. anti-crime official said Tuesday.
“We only see the tip of the iceberg but we have not succeeded in pushing this iceberg out of the water,” Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Vienna-based United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told The Associated Press in an interview.

Costa, who described human trafficking as possibly the most difficult issue his office deals with, made his comments before a conference on the matter to be held in Vienna next month.

The three-day gathering, which starts Feb. 13, is part of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. The initiative was launched by Costa’s drugs and crime office in March 2007 to increase knowledge and awareness of the issue, promote effective responses and foster joint action partnerships.

“We need to mobilize people by understanding better and we need better statistics so as to identify specifically what to do,” Costa said, while acknowledging that the matter was “murky” and often difficult to quantify.

“We are dealing with human beings. We are not dealing with commodities and that makes it difficult to measure — but we will succeed,” he said.

In preparing the meeting, known as the Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking, Costa said organizers have run into countries that appeared not to fully grasp the severity of the problem.

“We did run into some member states that, how can I say, maintain … a sort of benign neglect who say, for instance, ‘Well, this is not human trafficking or slavery — it’s just prostitution,'” Costa said.

“I sense that greater educational efforts on our part are needed to make sure that the crime is fully understood and the severity fully appreciated,” he added.

Costa declined to divulge any names, saying he did not want to “shame” anyone.

“Those are limited cases but in some instances they are important cases, countries well known to all of us,” he said.

Costa also noted that some states — such as Moldova, Belarus and Nigeria — were becoming very “militant” in their efforts to stop trafficking.

“Belarus and Moldova are on the right track in terms of recognizing the severity of the problem,” Costa said, adding that some European and Asian countries, as well as the United States, have also been doing more to fight human trafficking.

Moldova, Belarus and Nigeria were ranked as recruiting countries in a report by the drugs and crime office released in April 2006. The report showed that most victims of human trafficking are women and children who are abducted or recruited in their homelands, transported through other countries and exploited in destination countries.

The report also found that the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation or forced labor affects virtually every region of the world and called on governments to do more to reduce demand, protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

On Tuesday, Costa also noted the existence of a U.N. protocol designed to combat human trafficking, adding that it called for better statistical evidence.

“We would like now, on account of this protocol, (to) put additional pressure on member states so that we do get … basic information,” he said.

* __

On the Net:

U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime: http://www.unodc.org

Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking: http://www.ungift.org/index.php

(This version CORRECTS RECASTS 1st graf to add element of targeting the problem; corrects quote in 5th graf to make it read “specifically what to do” sted “specifically what is going on.”)

Ghana: 160 prostitutes arrested in Accra brothel raid

Tension Hits Soja Bar
General News – Wed, 23 Jan 2008
‘SOLDIER BAR’, an Accra-based popular brothel has suddenly become a ghost town, two days after it was raided by armed policemen and 160 prostitutes arrested.

The notorious Accra brothel at Kwame Nkrumah Circle was raided by policemen last Saturday night when business was at its peak for the mostly child prostitutes who ply their trade in ramshackle makeshifts.

At around 11:00am yesterday when DAILY GUIDE visited the area, there was virtually no sign of human activity, and though a few of the child sex workers who were earlier arrested had managed to return, a tensed feeling of fear and uncertainty had enveloped the entire vicinity. The hitherto vibrant and noisy sex den which was always burning with one activity or the other had been left almost deserted.

Some of the returnee teen sex workers were seen murmuring among themselves in small groups as they narrated their ordeal.

They openly insulted and heaped curses on the police and journalists who smoked them from their hideouts.

One common thing they all complained of was the fact that the raid was conducted on a Saturday night when business was at its peak.

Though some of them were jubilating, apparently because they had returned to ‘business’, it was clear that the aura of security around them was visibly absent.

The doors to the bars were locked but the brothel rooms were open, albeit with no customer around. A few drinking bars around the brothel were however operating normal business.

DAILY GUIDE, in a quest to get more information, picked up a chat with the child prostitutes. Some of them noted that when they were arrested and sent to the Madina Social Welfare Centre, they never anticipated that they would be released so soon.

Others openly made mockery of the police, and bragged that no one could get them out of business.

The sex workers alleged that some of them could not find all the money they had earned on Friday and Saturday before the police team stormed the place.

They then started to drift toward their rooms and the conversation ended. Later in the day, this paper revisited the sex joint with a photojournalist to take pictures of the outside view of the place, and it was noticed that the tension had intensified. The few sex workers who were around as well as their pimps became suspicious and started to trail the movement of the two journalists.

For about 20 minutes, the picture could not be taken and the journalists had to fake phone calls and speak as if they were waiting for a friend.

During the wait, some of the pimps were seen reading a copy of DAILY GUIDE which had carried the story of the raid. One of the teen prostitutes was heard complaining to a bus conductor who was calling on passengers to board a commercial vehicle nearby.

Speaking in Twi, she expressed surprise that the press had carried the story, and complained that business would no longer be brisk for them. She added that the police and the media were unnecessarily making life difficult for them.

She blamed their ordeal on colleague prostitutes who have ‘okro’ mouths, and gave out too much information to outsiders.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that not all the escaped sex workers had returned to the brothel, and the whereabouts of some of them remained unknown, even though reports indicate that the police had set them free.

Meanwhile, the investigative journalist whose undercover work as a pimp at the ‘Soldier Bar’ led to the raid, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has expressed strong misgivings that the sex workers had been released.

“I do not blame the police because they had done their part and sent the girls to the Social Welfare Centre. Before that there had been several meetings and the agreement was that once the raid had been conducted, the Social Welfare people would take the girls through rehabilitation. Clearly, that had not been done and the girls have been released so it is most likely that after some time, they would start selling their bodies again especially when they have not been given any means of livelihood,” he told this paper.

He suggested that the entire structure at the sex base should be pulled down to prevent the girls from operating there.
“After all, they are wooden structures and since an illegality is going on there, the state should have no problems pulling it down.

“I am very disappointed that the girls were released and the owner of the brothel is still around and has not been prosecuted,” Anas added.
By Halifax Ansah-Addo