In Egypt, “Prostitute” Is a Slippery Term

By L.L. Wynn, American Sexuality Magazine
Posted on June 26, 2008, Printed on October 15, 2009

It was 2000 and I was at a dinner party in Cairo. I was sitting with *Malak, a belly dancer, and we were eyeing up a young woman who had large oval eyes thickly lined with black kohl and a wide mouth painted salmon. It was the first time Malak and I had seen her at Haroun’s house. After she’d been introduced around to the group of friends — dancers, actresses, businessmen, and me, an American anthropologist — that met every Thursday night for drinks and dinner, Malak looked her up and down skeptically, and then she said to me in a low voice, “She’s a prostitute. Look, obviously that vulgar man thinks so too, because he wouldn’t dare put his hands all over her like that unless he was sure she was a prostitute.” Continue reading


Punishing Sex Workers Won’t Curb HIV/AIDS, Says Ban-Ki Moon

The politics of human trafficking

06/26/2008 07:38 PM | By Joseph A. Kechichian, Special to Gulf News

When Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, the US Department of Defence published a series of glossy annual reports titled Soviet Military Power, which annotated thousands of minute details about the USSR’s armed capabilities.

They were impressive documents but full of exaggerations and, over time, Moscow engaged in a similar exercise, either to refute American assertions or engage in its own propaganda efforts.

At the State Department, and about the same time, modest programmes launched the annual Patterns of Global Terrorism, although the latter were far more descriptive.

Only the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices preceded these publications, going back to the early 1970s, when President Jimmy Carter elevated human rights concerns to the policy level.

In all of these reports, including the ones that displayed blatant misinformation, an effort was made to let facts speak for themselves. Starting in the late 1990s, a slew of new areas of concern emerged, including religion – with the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom -and now human trafficking.

The June 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, a 295 pages document available at, is in its eight edition and seeks to address a deadly serious issue.

Human trafficking means the actual trade in persons, which is akin to modern-day slavery, as its victims are clearly forced into labour or sexual exploitation.

The detailed report estimates that approximately 600,000 to 800,000 individuals are made to involuntarily cross national borders to satisfy criminal gangs each year.

To be sure, trafficking in people is wrong, and using physical force is neither pleasant nor victimless. Whenever someone is enslaved – readers are encouraged to consult the original to better understand heart-breaking cases – we all lose part of our humanity.

The extremely detailed report clusters countries in four categories.

Using a unique methodology, the manuscript seeks to determine whether a nation is a “country of origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking,” the extent to which a particular government complies with international standards, as well as capabilities “to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons”.

Those that comply are in Tier 1 (29 States) and include such impeccable powerhouses as France and Britain.

Those that are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance are placed in Tier 2 (70 States), including Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, the UAE and Yemen.

Governments that do not fully comply with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to correct their behaviours are placed in Tier 3 (14 States).

This is the shortest list and includes Algeria, Burma, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Kuwait, Moldova, North Korea, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria. Remarkably, 40 countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Libya, are grouped under a special Watch List because of mixed results.

Besides its infantile classification bordering on a high-school grading system, what is troubling in this latest study, is the sense of misplaced proportionality.

Undeniably, they are abuses in many spots around the world, including in rich countries such as the United States where modern-day slavery and prostitution rings are notorious.

While the US is not listed (an involuntary lapse that will hopefully be corrected in the 2009 edition), frequent news reports surface -when they do – of smuggled Chinese workers brought into the country in shipping containers, or Latin American garment workers illegally held in miserable sweatshops not far from Beverly Hills.

Thousands of former East European women work on the streets of London or Rome or any number of capitals. While these countries have strict laws, how often are they actually enforced? How many of those forced to travel to wealthy nations are apprehended?

Although most of the individuals who are arrested are eventually deported, what happens to their smugglers when these cases surface, and what about the corruption that exists within law enforcement communities?

Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a rare declaration, which “deeply regretted” that the information on their countries were wrong, and called on the State Department to “revise its unfriendly policy towards” them.

Ministers further concluded that such data intended to place “unjustified pressure for political ends” that must have come as a shock.

In the event, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were on the Tier 3 blacklist, allegedly because many domestic servants or other low-skilled labourers faced “conditions of involuntary servitude”.

Bahrain and the UAE graduated to Tier 2 status for noticeable progress and, in the words of Ambassador Mark Lagon, US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s senior adviser on the human trafficking problem, the two countries “continued to make significant improvements”.


If the GCC ministers were disturbed by the tone of this latest report, their unusual call for revisions insisted on a fairer appraisal of whatever cases existed within the region.

Indisputably, there were cases of abuse among the 20 million expatriate workers that toiled on the Arabian Peninsula, but these needed to be placed in their proper perspectives.

Absent such attention, governments around the world will ignore or criticise well-thought-out and clearly well intentioned reports, just as so few paid attention to the old propaganda bulletins that entertained so many.

Human trafficking is a terrible tragedy and the result of man’s insatiable and universal appetite to accumulate wealth fast.

Its gradual disappearance will occur when honest work is once again valued far more than get rich schemes and, towards that end, it behooves those who pride themselves of living in “perfect societies” not to throw stones in haphazard fashion.

Everyone must remain vigilant but one should also be careful not to crumble under one’s own weight in hypocrisy.

Dr Joseph A. Kechichian is a commentator and author of several books on Gulf affairs.

Cabaret owners lash out at sex trafficking claims

By Nassos StylianouCABARET owners launched a scathing attack against the authorities as the House Equal Opportunities Committee yesterday found that there were too many loopholes in attempts to tackle the sexual exploitation of women.

The Association of Cabaret Owners was furious that they had not been invited to yesterday’s meeting of the Equal Opportunities Committee on the issue of human trafficking in Cyprus. In a statement released by the Association, they said they were victims of public misinformation.

“In a democratic state, a thorough discussion should be had, something that is not taking place in Cyprus since we are not allowed to answer criticisms made against us,” their statement read.

They also condemned the police for allegedly using false declarations from witnesses, while the Justice Ministry was not immune from criticism either, with the cabaret owners claiming that refuge centres for victims of human trafficking were a “witness hatchery”.

The House committee said yesterday that they may consider inviting the cabaret owners to a meeting in two or three weeks, but first wanted to hear from various government departments in a bid to get to the root of the problem.

During yesterday’s meeting, it became apparent that sexual exploitation through human trafficking was not being tackled effectively, as court cases against suspects of sexual exploitation could take more than a year to be examined, meaning that the victims may have already left the country.

Rita Superman of the Cyprus Police’s Anti-Trafficking Unit Police confirmed that some victims were also being blackmailed and threatened by former employers into not giving evidence against them, while she added that nobody had been sentenced on the grounds of sexual exploitations and the length of sentences for people found guilty of similar crimes were not harsh enough.

Asked why cabarets and other nightspots notorious for sexual exploitation of women that were found guilty were not closed down, Superman said:

“Cabarets have been closed down in the past, but their owners always seem to find ways of getting around this, for example we have had cases where they simply changed the name of ownership and open the same business again,” she said.

The Mediterranean Institute of Management last week announced that trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Cyprus has taken on dangerous dimensions after the latest US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report placed Cyprus on what is called the Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

Cyprus is the only EU country in that category.

Maria Poyiadji from the Social Welfare Service said that it was a serious problem of mentality on the island that gives Cyprus such a bad name in Europe when it came to human trafficking.

“There is a serious issue of a problem when it comes to mentality,” she said. “Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation are not only found in cabarets, they can also be found in other places, even in village coffee houses,” she added.

According to Superman, the Anti-Trafficking Unit had noticed a shift in the countries of origin of victims of human trafficking, with a significant number of women who suffer from sexual exploitation on the island coming from the Dominican Republic.

“Fifteen out of the 41 victims this year are from the Dominican Republic. As the standard of living in Eastern Europe has gone up and awareness has increased in those countries, human traffickers are moving to other countries,” she said.

A Justice Ministry representative confirmed that victims of sexual exploitation from the Dominican Republic were told that they would be taken to Spain and have no idea of the kind of work lined up for them in Cyprus.


Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008

India: Tirupati-Tirumala hills grapple with rising AIDS cases

Shwetal Rai
SCARY STATS: AP AIDS Control Society says there are over 200 sex workers in the Tiruptai-Tirumala hills area.


Hyderabad: There has been a steep rise in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in one of India’s holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites, the Tirupati-Tirumala hills.


Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society has found out that over 200 commercial sex workers operate in the area.


“We have come across this information through unofficial sources that there is commercial sex activity even in Tirumala. There are about 200-300 sex workers there,” Project Director, AP AIDS Control Society, K Chandravadan said.


The discovery reveal that sex workers clandestinely operate in about 15 secluded spots in the hills.


Chittoor — another district known for its pilgrimage sites — has also been identified as a high-risk zone. Incidentally, smoking, drinking and non-vegetarian food are banned in the Tirupati-Tirumala hills.


The temple authorities, however, have denied the findings.


“I disagree with the media reports. There are thousands of employees here who are sincere and dedicated. There is no scope for such scandals. We would never allow it,” Executive Officer, Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam, KV Ramanachary defended.


Special VIP darshans, a possible dress code and alleged discrimination against scheduled castes — the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam has been enmeshed in various controversies lately.


While the temple authorities are now in damage control mode, news of rampant prostitution has shocked devotees.

South Beach brothel/bus pulled over

Posted on Wed, Jun. 25, 2008

Clyde Scott — a 41-year-old with the words ”trust no man” tattooed on his back — was the driver and money holder.

Leah Harriss, Princess Thigpen and Kimberly Daniels allegedly lured the potential clients aboard and, along with Leighann Redding, offered sex for cash.

And Christine Morteh, 29, was their madame, police say.

These six tooled through South Beach in a massive limo bus last weekend in what police are calling a brothel-on-wheels.

Their enterprise came to a screeching halt at 3:15 Sunday morning, when they picked up the wrong fare — three undercover Miami Beach cops — within walking distance of the police station.

”It was very brazen,” said Detective Juan Sanchez, a Miami Beach police spokesman. “They were offering everything from lap dances to sex.”

Now, the six face charges that range from violating the public dance hall ordinance (the women were technically ”dancing”) to possession of a controlled substance (Scott had six tablets of Viagra on him at the time of his arrest).

And, of course, multiple counts of prostitution.

The bus — a sleek, black conversion vehicle that has the cab of a tractor trailer — is no longer in service.

Cops have it locked up, seizing it as evidence.

The arrests were part of a city-wide crackdown on prostitution over the weekend that led to 78 arrests, including at least seven felonies, and helped recover a missing person.

The sweep also netted a large cache of evidence, including drugs, a firearm and money.

But the highest-profile bust was the bus, which pulled up to the undercover detectives in the 1100 block of Collins Avenue.

The cops’ interest was piqued when Harriss, Daniels and Thigpen hopped out and offered an all-you-can-drink ride for $40.

They quickly learned that Morteh was pimping out the women on board. It is not believed that any johns were on the bus when detectives were invited aboard.

The accused took their clothes off, performed lap dances, and for $125, beckoned their clients to the VIP room — a curtained-off area in the back of the bus — according to the report and a detective’s testimony in court.

Oral sex was an additional $100.

”You’ll get your money worth,” Redding said, according to the police report.

Then there was the money — more than $2,000 in the cash drawer alone.

”It was spread out all over the place,” a detective, whose name is being withheld, said in bond court. “It was on their G-strings. In 19 years, I’ve never seen this.”

This weekend’s sweep also led to authorities discovering at least one minor selling sex, said Judy Orihuela, a spokeswoman for the FBI.

The six arrested in the bus sting have since posted bond.

”We’re always looking at ways to make this city a better place to be in,” Sanchez said. “Our detectives were in the right place at the right time, and were able to realize what they had presented to them.”