The Crusade Against Sex Trafficking

By Noy Thrupkaew

This article appeared in the October 5, 2009 edition of The Nation.
September 16, 2009

This article is the first part of a two-part series. The next installment will explore alternative approaches to addressing the problem of trafficking for the purposes of forced prostitution.
–The Editors

Gary Haugen is cradling the padlocks in his thick hands. A former high school football player–bristly crew cut, broad shoulders squeezed into a dress shirt–Haugen has more the mien of a military man than a lawyer, although his image is in keeping with the muscular work of the organization he founded and heads. The president of the International Justice Mission, an evangelical Christian organization devoted to combating human rights abuses in the developing world, Haugen is musing over the mementos of IJM’s work in India and Cambodia. The padlocks look ordinary enough: heavy brass, a squat square one, a round one with a key. But they had once hung on the doors of brothels, until local law enforcement busted the establishments in raids initiated by IJM. Continue reading

LV: STRYPER Guitarist To Marry Former High-Class Prostitute

June 2, 2009

Guitarist Oz Fox of reactivated Christian hard rockers STRYPER will marry Annie Lobért, a 41-year-old former call girl who founded the international Christian ministry Hookers for Jesus, on June 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Lobért (pictured below) worked for 11 years as a prostitute and escort in Las Vegas, which included catering to celebrities and professional athletes.

Lobért gives lectures in both secular and religious communities on the effects of the adult entertainment industry. Additionally, she has been heard on talk radio and interviewed in major news publications throughout the world, including the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia and Africa. She is the author of “Hooker for Jesus”, a soon-to-be-released autobiography targeting both secular and religious audiences.

Original and videos on Roadrunner’s Blabbermouth

AZ: Neighbors complain about sexually-oriented temple

by Peter Corbett – Feb. 26, 2009 04:17 PM
The Arizona Republic

Police have investigated a sexually oriented temple operating in a downtown Scottsdale home after complaints from neighbors.

Scottsdale police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark said police visited the Phoenix Goddess Temple last week to investigate a complaint that it was a house of prostitution but could not determine if the allegations were true.

A city zoning code enforcement case, which started in October, is separate from the more recent police visit to the property at 68th Street and Exeter Boulevard.

The temple plans to move to Phoenix next month because its residential property is not large enough for a church under Scottsdale’s zoning code, said Tracy Elise, temple mother priestess.

The temple has drawn police attention because its tenets connect spirituality and sexuality and it employs sexual healers and teaches its members about tantric sexual techniques.

“It’s perceived as a sex church,” Elise said. Continue reading

Born to Be a Woman of God

December 22, 2008
Ade Mardiyati

On a dreary morning in Yogyakarta, in a brick house, some 10 meters from the main road in Gedong Tengen, Notoyudan hamlet, an 8-year-old girl is folding yellow paper napkins with a friend. They work slowly, whispering comments about boys and giggling as they form perfect little paper triangles.

“Mom, how many of these napkins should I cut and fold?” the 8-year-old calls out to a woman wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and Muslim headscarf.

“Make it 40,” the woman answers. “There will be a lot of people coming today.”

The girl’s mother, Mariyani, is a transvestite.

In July, Mariyani established Indonesia’s first pesantren for transvestites.

By definition a pesantren is an Islamic boarding school. Mariyani uses the word pointedly, to improve her Continue reading

World AIDS Conference under way in Mexico City

Charlie Butts – OneNewsNow – 8/6/2008 12:00:00 PM

The World AIDS Conference in Mexico City is under way, and a couple of Christians — one a ministry leader and the other a journalist — are offering their perspective of the conference.

According to their reports, the conference does more to promote the homosexual lifestyle than it does to deal effectively with the worldwide aids situation. Bruce Sonnenberg of He Intends Victory ministry says many at the conference are in need of Jesus.

“…I mean there’s booths here that promote homosexuality and [there are] booths that promote condoms, a booth that promotes sex workers or prostitutes. There’s cross dressers and [there are] just a lot of people who need to hear that Jesus loves them,” he maintains.

Dan Wooding of Assist News Service describes the conference as having a “circus atmosphere.”

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control shows that HIV infections among homosexual men have risen 75 percent over the last decade and a half (see related video report). Sonnenberg and Wooding say that means the education approach has not worked, and they believe what is needed is a lifestyle change.

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=205264

CA: Ex-prostitute reaches out to girls still on streets

Oakland

IN THE EARLY morning hours, Dee Dee Perry gets in her car and does “spiritual drive-bys” along International Boulevard in East Oakland.

She drives up and down the busy corridor known as the “track” looking to proselytize to prostitutes. That’s exactly how Perry was saved nearly 20 years ago from her life on the streets: Church workers convinced her to give up prostitution and to kick her drug habit.

“I will pop a U-turn in the middle of the street,” said Perry, 45. “I have to let them know that there is hope and they don’t have to live like this.”

Perry is a member of Victory Outreach Church in West Oakland and is actively involved in the church’s Twilight Treasures ministry, which targets women and children involved in prostitution. Almost every night of the week, Perry passes out fliers promoting messages of love, faith and recovery.

“A lot of the girls aren’t ready to accept the Lord,” she said. “I just try to talk to them and give them a chance to think about what they want to do with their lives.”

Perry and faith-based organizations are doing their part along with city and county agencies to address the city’s problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Perry is determined to reach girls as young as 11 and 12 who are peddled for sex on the streets and on the Internet. She hopes that by sharing her testimony as a former prostitute it will inspire girls to break away from the grip of their pimps who often rape, beat and manipulate them into the sex trade.

“I don’t have anything to hide,” is what Perry tells many of the girls she meets wearing short shorts and tight miniskirts. “I’m living proof that it’s possible to change.”Rock bottom

 

In the early morning hours one day in 1991, a church worker from Victory Outreach found Perry on “the track” at International Boulevard and 104th Avenue. She had hit rock bottom after 20 years of prostituting and using crack cocaine. Through the church, Perry was able to get off the streets and get connected to counseling services.

“I had to do a lot of soul-searching to figure out what took place,” Perry said. “And I’m still soul-searching.”

Perry said she first became involved with prostitution when she set up a call-girl service with friends in grammar school. Perry said growing up she mainly dated men who could be her “sugar daddy” and take care of her and buy her nice things.

“I wanted the money,” she said. “That’s the mentality that led me one step closer to the prostitution lifestyle.”

By the time Perry was 23, she was a functioning crack addict. She said she would get high in the restroom at her job at the phone company and then go back and sit at her desk to work. She supported her drug habit by prostituting herself in Oakland with runs to Reno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“I was an outlaw,” Perry said. “I never had a pimp and I recruited other girls.”

Perry said it used to be a thrill to take a girl to a hotel and know she was going to come out and hand over $500 to her. Perry parceled out the money to the girls but kept most of it for herself. She said there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do to keep her addiction going.

‘Treated like dirt’

 

Now Perry has a different attitude.

She explains to the girls who walk “the track” hunting for tricks that prostitution is not worth the danger they put themselves in and their lives are priceless.

“It’s fast money, it’s easy money,” said Perry. “But it’s not always easy when the cops are handcuffing you on the street or when you get pistol-whipped or you get beat down or you get in the car and you don’t get paid for what you’ve done and you get treated like dirt.”

Many of the girls Perry comes across have become hardened by prostitution and life on the streets. She said sometimes they pretend everything is OK but they have been “brainwashed” by their pimps.

“Some days it seems like a no-win situation,” Perry said. “But the thing I like about it is getting to know the person behind the face, behind the makeup and behind the dress.”

Perry doesn’t have a specific approach when she confronts the girls on the street. She said sometimes she just tries to befriend them, or offer to buy them a cup of coffee or to pray with them.

“It’s not a basic routine for me,” Perry said. “I allow God to lead me with different people because everyone is an individual.”

A way out

 

On holidays, including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day, Perry makes care packages including hygiene products to pass out to prostitutes. Perry said it’s important to let the girls know she is here for them.

“I give them my number and I tell them there’s a way out if they want,” Perry said.

Over the years, Perry has gotten to know many of the girls by their real names, and their street names such as “Candy” or “Sugar.”

Perry posts their names on what she calls a “Most Wanted” list and prays for them. She prays the girls will someday be able to realize their self-worth.

Perry considers herself a success of the Twilight Treasure ministry. She said her life’s work is to continue reaching out to girls selling their bodies on the streets. It’s impossible for her to know how many girls she’s saved from prostitution, but she knows that the lessons she has learned could make the difference in someone else’s life.

“People don’t care what you know until they know you really care,” Perry said. “They have to see that you’re real.”

http://www.insidebayarea.com/timesstar/ci_9065006

Elliot Spitzer and America’s Ethical Perversity

by Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi_Lerner@tikkun.org
  
 The cross-the-political-spectrum attacks on Elliot Spitzer and the intensity of the demands that he resign his office show just how far the  Right-wing sexual moralizing has been able to trump any other kind of ethical reasoning in American society.
  
 Going to a prostitute is legal in some states and some countries around the world, and is often the very arrangement that saves families from splitting up whose sexual energies have diminished but whose love is intact. It’s not uncommon for men (and now increasingly women as well) who have achieved great power in our society by adopting an outer show of ruthless pursuit of power and influence (even, as in Spitzer’s case, if the power is aimed at pursuing laudable ends) to feel a deep  emptiness and loneliness that is not addressed by friends or spouse, and hence to seek some kind of outside connection no matter how superficial that is not bound by previous rules and roles. Nevertheless, I and many others in the religious and spiritual world oppose that practice when it involves adultery or prostitution, because it depends on the objectification of another human being, so that sex is disconnected in ways that it should not be from a significant encounter with the spirit of God in the other or a deep recognition that is the only real way to overcome existential or situational alienation. 
  
 Moreover, the trade in women for sexual purposes has frequently led to rape and abuse and the kidnapping of young women who are sold into sexual slavery. All of these outrageous practices are abhorrent and should be challenged. The flaunting of sexuality in the media, and the implicit message that the only real satisfaction comes from having the most physically attractive people as sexual partners, not only generates huge dissatisfaction even as it allows corporate advertise to become predators manipulating our personal sense of inadequacy to sell their products, but also generates desires that feed the sexual trade in women. Given this larger social context, until sexual satisfaction is so broadly available in our society that no one has to pay for it and so deeply tied to love that no one is objectified in the process, this kind of exploitation of women and degradation of sex is likely to continue. All of these practices foster the sexual predators of the contemporary world. 
  
 So Elliot Spitzer deserves to be critiqued and ought to be doing deep atonement for what he did.  His previous moral arrogance and willingness when he had power to do so to prosecute others for their participation in creating prostitution rings makes him an easy target. We, in turn, might practice the forgiveness that our religious and spiritual traditions preach, particularly those of us who have been willing to honeslty face how flawed we ourselves are, and how at times we ourselves fail to embody in our actual practice with others the values that we publicly espouse. Humility and compassion are also part of the path of a spiritual progressive. 
  
 But the intensity of the critique of the N.Y. governor, tied with the demand that he resign, shows more about American society’s ethical perversity than about Spitzer. 
  
 The President of the U.S. and the Vice President, working in concert with several other high ranking officers of our government, lied and distorted to get us involved in a war that has led to the death of over a million Iraqis, the displacement of 3 million more, the death of 4,000 Americans and the wounding of tens of thousands more. After token opposition in Congress, our elected representatives have overwhelmingly passed budgets funding this war, rather than refuse to fund any military projects until the President stopped the war and withdrew the troops.
  
 Meanwhile, our government has overtly engaged in torture, wiretapping of our phones, and violation of our human rights and the rights of people around the world. Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Charles Schumer votes to confirm as Attonrey General a right-wing judge who refused to repudiate these crimes. 
  
 The U.S. government has rejected every attempt to implement the Kyoto environmental agreements or to work out new agreements sufficiently strong to reverse environmental destruction that is certain to lead to new levels of flooding particularly in several poor countries around the world. The consequence: tens of millions of deaths. 
  
 The Clinton Administration pushed, along with corporate support, a set of trade agreements that have devastated the farmers of many developing countries, forcing many off their farms and into city slums where their daughters and sons are often sold into sexual slavery.  The global economic system we have fostered has led to increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, so that over one out of every three people on the planet lives on less than $2 a day, 1.5 billion live on less than one dollar a day, and over 15,000 children die every day from malnutrition-related diseases and inadequate availability of medicine that is hoarded by the rich countries who can afford the prices made to ensure huge profits to the pharmaceutical industry. 
 
 Health insurance companies and private medical profiteers are doing all they can to ensure that there will be no health care for tens of millions of Americans, unless that is provided in ways that guarantee corporate super-profits and thereby guarantee that the cost of health care paid through taxes will be huge and create anger at all government social welfare and well-being programs, leading to their likely de-funding. 
People in the US have faced severe economic crises on a regional and soon on a national level because corporations move their centers of production to countries in Asia where they can exploit workers with less government or union interference and where they can destroy the environment with less societal restraints. Wild to achieve greater profits, corporations and the rich have managed to support politicians who lower the taxes on the rich, in the process bankrupting the public sector or severely reducing its ability to provide enough funds for quality education, health care, libraries, public transportation, and social welfare. 
  
 That there is no outcry for these government officials and corporate leaders to resign immediately or be impeached, that there is no moral outrage at the entire system that produces this impact, is America’s ethical perversity. Instead, the only crime against humanity that the media takes seriously and the politicians fear is being exposed for personal sexual immorality. While everyone basks in their own self-righteous demands on Spitzer, we all allow media and elected officials to fundamentally distort our ethical vision and play out our morality on the smallest of possible stages while ignoring the global and personal consequences of our larger ethical failures.
  
 Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine www.tikkun.org <http://www.tikkun.org> , Chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives www.spiritualprogressives.org <http://www.spiritualprogressives.org> ,  rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue-without-walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, and author of The Left Hand of God. He welcomes comments at RabbiLerner@tiikkun.org
 
If you agree with this perspective, call your local media and ask that it be presented alongside the mainstream views. And help us continue to provide alternative analyses by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (www.spiritualprogressives.org) and urging your friends to do so as well!   
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