Sex workers


Nearly every woman I know can recall one or more instances in which she was sexually assaulted, harassed, threatened, inappropriately touched or even raped.


Yet few told anyone about it at the time, or reported it to the police.
I have clear memories of three such episodes from my childhood, one of which involved a man who owned a store in my neighborhood. Not knowing at age 11 anything about reproduction (in 1952, expectant teachers had to take leave when they “showed”), I was terrified that I could become pregnant from having been forced to touch his penis.

I had trouble sleeping, and I avoided the block where the store was. Yet, fearing that the assault was somehow my fault, I said nothing to my parents.
Experts on sexual assault and rape report that even today, despite improvements in early sex education and widespread publicity about sexual assaults, the overwhelming majority of both felony and misdemeanor cases never come to public or legal attention.

It is all too easy to see why. More often than not, women who bring charges of sexual assault are victims twice over, treated by the legal system and sometimes by the news media as lying until proved truthful.
“There is no other crime I can think of where the victim is more victimized,” said Rebecca Campbell, a professor of psychology at Michigan State University who for 20 years has been studying what happens legally and medically to women who are raped. “The victim is always on trial. Rape is treated very differently than other felonies.”

So, too, are the victims of lesser sexual assaults. In 1991, when Anita Hill, a lawyer and academic, told Congress that the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her repeatedly when she worked for him, Ms. Hill was vilified as a character assassin and liar acting on behalf of abortion-rights advocates.

Credibility became the issue, too, for Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant chambermaid who accused the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of forcing her to perform fellatio in a Manhattan hotel room.Prosecutors eventually dropped the case after concluding that Ms. Diallo had lied on her immigration form and about other matters, though not directly about the encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.
When four women, two of whom identified themselves publicly, said they had been sexually harassed by Herman Cain, the Republican presidential hopeful, they, too, were called liars, perhaps hired by his opponents.

Charges of sexual harassment often boil down to “she said-he said” with no tangible evidence of what really took place. But even when there is DNA evidence of a completed sexual act, as there was in the Strauss-Kahn case, the accused commonly claim that the sex was consensual, not a crime.
“DNA technology has not made a dramatic change in how victims are treated,” Dr. Campbell said in an interview. “We write off a lot of cases that could be successfully prosecuted. It’s bunk that these cases are too hard to prosecute.”

Victims must be better supported with better forensics, investigations and prosecutions, Dr. Campbell said. “This is a public safety issue. Most rapists are serial rapists, and they must be held accountable.”

In one study, published in 1987 in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 126 admitted rapists had committed 907 rapes involving 882 different victims.
Rapists are not the only serial sexual offenders. Witness the all-too-frequent revelations of sexual abuse of children involving multiple victims and persisting for decades even when others in positions of authority knew it was going on.

In the latest such scandal, an assistant football coach at Penn State University stands accused of molesting 10 boys. The charges led to the firing of a revered head coach, Joe Paterno, and forced the resignation of the university president for failing to take more immediate action.
The Risks

Last year, according to the Department of Justice, 188,280 Americans were victims of sexual violence.

Among female victims, nearly three-quarters are assaulted by men they know — friends, acquaintances or intimate partners, according to federal statistics.
But fewer than 40 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Underreporting is more common among male victims and women raped by acquaintances or domestic partners. Only one-quarter of rapes are committed by strangers.

The result of underreporting and poor prosecution: 15 of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail, according to the network. Dr. Judith A. Linden, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, reported in The New England Journal of Medicine in September that in the United States, “fewer than half of rape cases are successfully prosecuted.”

Victims may be reluctant to report a rape because they are embarrassed, fear reprisals and public disclosure, or think they won’t be believed. “Victims often think they somehow brought it on themselves,” said Callie Rennison, a criminologist at the University of Colorado in Denver. “Rape is the only crime in which victims have to explain that they didn’t want to be victimized.”

These feelings are especially common among college women who may have been drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs when raped by a date or acquaintance.

Victims may not realize that any form of sexual behavior that is not consented to and that causes discomfort, fear or intimidation is considered sexual assault in most jurisdictions. That includes indecent exposure, unwanted physical contact (including kissing and fondling) and lascivious acts, as well as oral and anal sex and vaginal rape, whether with a body part or an instrument.

A minor — in general, 16 or 17, depending on the state — can legally consent to sexual activity. A person of any age who is forced or threatened, developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, unconscious or preparing to undergo a medical procedure cannot legally consent to sexual activity.

Among young children, girls and boys are equally at risk of being sexually abused. But as they age, girls increasingly become targets; among adults, women represent about 90 percent of cases.

Experts have long debated whether rape should be seen as an act of aggression and control or the product of an irresistible sexual urge. To the victim, the distinction is moot.

The consequences can include pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and low self-esteem; self-blame and depression; substance abuse and eating disorders; fears of intimacy; numbness;post-traumatic stress disorder (nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety attacks, difficulty functioning); borderline personality disorder; unexplained physical problems; and even suicide.

Thus, even if rape victims choose not to report the attacks, prompt medical attention and psychological counseling can be critically important to their long-term well-being.

 

* Text by JANE E. BRODY, NYT, December 12, 2011

The FBI estimates that each year more than 100,000 underage American girls are exploited for commercial sex

Underage prostitution in the US is organized crime’s third biggest money-maker after guns and drugs. But the kids get blamed instead of the criminals. Young girls are put behind bars for walking the streets, with no offer of rescue or help.

The US State Department regularly puts out reports on how horrific human trafficking is in other countries.
Yet for the home country, the FBI estimates that each year more than 100,000 underage American girls are exploited for commercial sex. The average age is 13 years old. But the usual treatment the children get, when arrested, is either jail time or probation.

In the US, prostitution laws do not exempt minors from prosecution. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported 1,600 juveniles were arrested for prostitution within just one year.
But lawyers say in the US, the paradox of the system is that the children are prosecuted for crimes for which they cannot legally give consent.

“We say that this child is a victim and yet we send them to jail. Somewhere along the line, there’s something wrong with that and we need to take a look at ourselves and a look at the fact that we have made detention, and law enforcement, and the criminal justice system, and juvenile justice system a default setting for what happens to these kids. And we just kind of lock them up and shove them away. And that’s the end of our response to these issues, this system. We wanna make sure that these kids are treated as victims,” says Raychel Lloyd from Girls Educational and Mentoring Services.

But treating the victims and providing for their recovery requires funding.
“There’s no federal money for US victims of trafficking,” says Tina Frundt who works with a non-profit group in Washington, which helps the children to get their lives back providing them with housing and medical treatment. She herself was trafficked at the age of 13.

Tina says it is easier for the government to label the children as prostitutes, charge them and send them to detention centers, rather than fund shelters and invest in their future.

“There’s not enough housing for sex trafficking victims at all. So what they’re saying is that for their safety we will arrest them and put them in jail. Then we charge the victim. We don’t put rape victims in jail, why would we put victims who were trafficked in jail?” asks Frundt.

Almost all of the victims of child trafficking remember being constantly raped and abused both by pimps and clients.
“Many of the young people we served have been incarcerated and charged as an adult under the age of 16. So they have this lengthy 15, 20, 30, 40 arrests both as a juvenile and as ‘an adult’ for prostitution. When they go to apply for public housing, they are not eligible for that. When they go to do certain employment, that pops up in a background check and they are booted out of an employment training program,” says Raychel Lloyd.

The past of such children is already scarred as it is. And the non-profit organizations that help victims of sex trafficking say by prosecuting the children and by not investing in their recovery it is the government that scars their future.

Published: 16 April, 2011

WILL women soon have a Viagra of their own? Although a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently rejected an application to market the drug flibanserin in the United States for women with low libido, it endorsed the potential benefits and urged further research. Several pharmaceutical companies are reported to be well along in the search for such a drug.

The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?


In the 1950s, female “frigidity” was attributed to social conformism and religious puritanism. But since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, American society has become increasingly secular, with a media environment drenched in sex.


The real culprit, originating in the 19th century, is bourgeois propriety. As respectability became the central middle-class value, censorship and repression became the norm. Victorian prudery ended the humorous sexual candor of both men and women during the agrarian era, a ribaldry chronicled from Shakespeare’s plays to the 18th-century novel. The priggish 1950s, which erased the liberated flappers of the Jazz Age from cultural memory, were simply a return to the norm.


Only the diffuse New Age movement, inspired by nature-keyed Asian practices, has preserved the radical vision of the modern sexual revolution. But concrete power resides in America’s careerist technocracy, for which the elite schools, with their ideological view of gender as a social construct, are feeder cells.
In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny is bewitching in art, but in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.


Meanwhile, family life has put middle-class men in a bind; they are simply cogs in a domestic machine commanded by women. Contemporary moms have become virtuoso super-managers of a complex operation focused on the care and transport of children. But it’s not so easy to snap over from Apollonian control to Dionysian delirium.


Nor are husbands offering much stimulation in the male display department: visually, American men remain perpetual boys, as shown by the bulky T-shirts, loose shorts and sneakers they wear from preschool through midlife. The sexes, which used to occupy intriguingly separate worlds, are suffering from over-familiarity, a curse of the mundane. There’s no mystery left.
The elemental power of sexuality has also waned in American popular culture. Under the much-maligned studio production code, Hollywood made movies sizzling with flirtation and romance. But from the early ’70s on, nudity was in, and steamy build-up was out. A generation of filmmakers lost the skill of sophisticated innuendo. The situation worsened in the ’90s, when Hollywood pirated video games to turn women into cartoonishly pneumatic superheroines and sci-fi androids, fantasy figures without psychological complexity or the erotic needs of real women.


Furthermore, thanks to a bourgeois white culture that values efficient bodies over voluptuous ones, American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense — a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts. Contrast that with Latino and African-American taste, which runs toward the healthy silhouette of the bootylicious Beyoncé.


A class issue in sexual energy may be suggested by the apparent striking popularity of Victoria’s Secret and its racy lingerie among multiracial lower-middle-class and working-class patrons, even in suburban shopping malls, which otherwise trend toward the white middle class. Country music, with its history in the rural South and Southwest, is still filled with blazingly raunchy scenarios, where the sexes remain dynamically polarized in the old-fashioned way.


On the other hand, rock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps. Black rhythm and blues, born in the Mississippi Delta, was the driving force behind the great hard rock bands of the ’60s, whose cover versions of blues songs were filled with electrifying sexual imagery. The Rolling Stones’ hypnotic recording of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster,” with its titillating phallic exhibitionism, throbs and shimmers with sultry heat.


But with the huge commercial success of rock, the blues receded as a direct influence on young musicians, who simply imitated the white guitar gods without exploring their roots. Step by step, rock lost its visceral rawness and seductive sensuality. Big-ticket rock, with its well-heeled middle-class audience, is now all superego and no id.
In the 1980s, commercial music boasted a beguiling host of sexy pop chicks like Deborah Harry, Belinda Carlisle, Pat Benatar, and a charmingly ripe Madonna. Late Madonna, in contrast, went bourgeois and turned scrawny. Madonna’s dance-track acolyte, Lady Gaga, with her compulsive overkill, is a high-concept fabrication without an ounce of genuine eroticism.


Pharmaceutical companies will never find the holy grail of a female Viagra — not in this culture driven and drained by middle-class values. Inhibitions are stubbornly internal. And lust is too fiery to be left to the pharmacist.


Camille Paglia, a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts, is the author of “Sexual Personae.”


By CAMILLE PAGLIA (NYT. June 25, 2010)

Jasmine Caldwell was 14 and selling sex on the streets when an opportunity arose to escape her pimp: an undercover policeman picked her up.
The cop could have rescued her from the pimp, who ran a string of 13 girls and took every cent they earned. If the cop had taken Jasmine to a shelter, she could have resumed her education and tried to put her life back in order.

ATT00062
Instead, the policeman showed her his handcuffs and threatened to send her to prison. Terrified, she cried and pleaded not to be jailed. Then, she said, he offered to release her in exchange for sex.
Afterward, the policeman returned her to the street. Then her pimp beat her up for failing to collect any money.
“That happens a lot,” said Jasmine, who is now 21. “The cops sometimes just want to blackmail you into having sex.”
I’ve often reported on sex trafficking in other countries, and that has made me curious about the situation here in the United States. Prostitution in America isn’t as brutal as it is in, say, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia (where young girls are routinely kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by brothel owners, occasionally even killed). But the scene on American streets is still appalling — and it continues largely because neither the authorities nor society as a whole show much interest in 14-year-old girls pimped on the streets.
Americans tend to think of forced prostitution as the plight of Mexican or Asian women trafficked into the United States and locked up in brothels. Such trafficking is indeed a problem, but the far greater scandal and the worst violence involves American teenage girls.
If a middle-class white girl goes missing, radio stations broadcast amber alerts, and cable TV fills the air with “missing beauty” updates. But 13-year-old black or Latina girls from poor neighborhoods vanish all the time, and the pimps are among the few people who show any interest.
These domestic girls are often runaways or those called “throwaways” by social workers: teenagers who fight with their parents and are then kicked out of the home. These girls tend to be much younger than the women trafficked from abroad and, as best I can tell, are more likely to be controlled by force.
Pimps are not the business partners they purport to be. They typically take every penny the girls earn. They work the girls seven nights a week. They sometimes tattoo their girls the way ranchers brand their cattle, and they back up their business model with fists and threats.
“If you don’t earn enough money, you get beat,” said Jasmine, an African-American who has turned her life around with the help of Covenant House, an organization that works with children on the street. “If you say something you’re not supposed to, you get beat. If you stay too long with a customer, you get beat. And if you try to leave the pimp, you get beat.”
The business model of pimping is remarkably similar whether in Atlanta or Calcutta: take vulnerable, disposable girls whom nobody cares about, use a mix of “friendship,” humiliation, beatings, narcotics and threats to break the girls and induce 100 percent compliance, and then rent out their body parts.
It’s not solely violence that keeps the girls working for their pimps. Jasmine fled an abusive home at age 13, and she said she — like most girls — stayed with the pimp mostly because of his emotional manipulation. “I thought he loved me, so I wanted to be around him,” she said.
That’s common. Girls who are starved of self-esteem finally meet a man who showers them with gifts, drugs and dollops of affection. That, and a lack of alternatives, keeps them working for him — and if that isn’t enough, he shoves a gun in the girl’s mouth and threatens to kill her.
Solutions are complicated and involve broader efforts to overcome urban poverty, including improving schools and attempting to shore up the family structure. But a first step is to stop treating these teenagers as criminals and focusing instead on arresting the pimps and the customers — and the corrupt cops.
“The problem isn’t the girls in the streets; it’s the men in the pews,” notes Stephanie Davis, who has worked with Mayor Shirley Franklin to help coordinate a campaign to get teenage prostitutes off the streets.
Two amiable teenage prostitutes, working without a pimp for the “fast money,” told me that there will always be women and girls selling sex voluntarily. They’re probably right. But we can significantly reduce the number of 14-year-old girls who are terrorized by pimps and raped by many men seven nights a week. That’s doable, if it’s a national priority, if we’re willing to create the equivalent of a nationwide amber alert.
 

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (NYT;May 7, 2009)

******************************************************************

Some comments  from  Editors’ Selections NYTimes, than  aim to highlight the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.

Prostitucion

I live in New Zealand where prostitution is legal. This has helped sex workers in many ways although problems remain. It’s legalization hasn’t started NZ down any sort of moral slippery slope and in fact (as an American expat) I find my new homeland to be a much more moral place than the US (although again certainly not perfect).
— David, Rotorua, New Zealand

How come no one ever writes about young teenage boys ‘on the street’?…..it’s just as much a problem in the the USA, as it is in Thailand, or other exotic sex tourism locations that do get written about.
— Tim Hughes, Amesbury,England,UK

 

Many state have laws allowing newborns to be abandoned at hospitals to prevent them from being discarded into dumpsters. These children are placed in protective custody by the state. How about making similar laws to protect girls who are in forced prostitution? They would just need to show up at any emergency room to escape their abuse. I have never heard of any state allowing children 13 yrs old to consent to sex. The pimps, johns and corrupt police officers need to be prosecuted as high-level sex offenders. It is immoral to not offer strong protection and care to these children.
— Minta Keyes, Tucson, AZ


My parents through me out of the house after failing freshman year of college 43 years ago- a teen as an adult I had no idea what to do. Raped, pregnant they wouldn’t let me back. But as others say – the goverment can help but also the biggest help is good people – not just nonprofit charities – just people – friends to drive you to the hospital, a man who hires and trains you for a small job, neighbors to babysit…allows you to move on to a better life. So now I try to help others since I got into a good life – after many years.
— Karenna, Witherbee, NE

 

Nice sentiment, but don’t the thousands of men who USE prostitutes also share some blame? Would you hang out and play poker with a guy who cheats at cards? Why is it so easy to hang out with guys who use teenage girls for sex? Only men can change this horrific cultural phenomena by ostracizing men who think a few moments or evening with a prostitute is acceptable entertainment. Why don’t you write that column Mr. Kristoff? Are you willing to point out that the customer is a MAJOR abuser too? If men recognized that paying for sex is a morally depraved act and called each other on it, the pimps, cops, social workers, etc. would be out of a job.
— Sandy McIntire, Mount Hope, WV

In 2003 I went to Atlanta representing the Department of Justice to a meeting about the problem of juvenile prostitution. In a room were school officials, the police, child welfare representatives, a judge from the juvenile court and several other people from other agencies. All of these agencies could not figure out why children “disappeared” from the system. The schools could not track dropouts, the police laughed at the 15 year old on the street with her pimp leering over the door of the car, the child welfare people whined about the case loads and the judge passed stern judgement on the children who came before her court while the child welfare agency released the children into the tendure care of their pimps. I pointed out repeatedly to OJJDP and the people that the view was agency centered rather than child centered. I also pointed out that many european countries are now bar coding children to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks. No, their systems are not perfect but they sure seem superior to the period “crises” which we seem very adept and rediscovering. See Every Child Matters in the United Kingdom. Last year we discovered 4 children who had been murdered in Washington DC and discovered in a freezer. That was the ultimate example of children falling through the cracks. We can track stolen cars but not missing children in those cracks.

 

Michael Wiatrowski, Ph.D.
Woodbridge, Virginia

 

 

Thank you for showing that forced child sex slavery happens not just across the globe but also across the street.

You wrote: “Prostitution in America isn’t as brutal as it is in, say, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia (where young girls are routinely kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by brothel owners, occasionally even killed).”

Sadly, prostitution here IS as brutal. In this country–in my own state and in yours–young girls ARE routinely kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured by brothel owners. And yes occasionally even killed. These are US citizens as well as internationals. This brutal treatment is not an exception or occasional rare case, but a regular part of child prostitution in the US. How else would the brothel owners control them?

My anti-trafficking work has taken me to 40+ countries including many of the ones you mentioned. My organization is a member of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, and sadly we see the same brutal treatment that happens in other countries happening right in our backyard.

Thank you again for continuing to shine light on the darkness of child sex slavery. We appreciate your work very much.

Diana Scimone
President
Born to Fly International, Inc.
Stopping child sex trafficking…setting kids free to soar
http://www.born2fly.org
http://www.dianascimone.com
— Diana Scimone, Orlando, FL

In trying to figure out how we can defeat sex trafficking, a starting point is to think like a brothel owner.
My guide to that has been Sok Khorn, an amiable middle-aged woman who is a longtime brothel owner here in the wild Cambodian town of Poipet. I met her five years ago when she sold me a teenager, Srey Mom, for $203 and then blithely wrote me a receipt confirming that the girl was now my property. At another brothel nearby, I purchased another imprisoned teenager for $150.

brothellarge

Astonished that in the 21st century I had bought two human beings, I took them back to their villages and worked with a local aid group to help them start small businesses. I’ve remained close to them over the years, but the results were mixed.
The second girl did wonderfully, learning hairdressing and marrying a terrific man. But Srey Mom, it turned out, was addicted to methamphetamine and fled back to the brothel world to feed her craving.
I just returned again to Ms. Khorn’s brothel to interview her, and found something remarkable. It had gone broke and closed, like many of the brothels in Poipet. One lesson is that the business model is more vulnerable than it looks. There are ways we can make enslaving girls more risky and less profitable, so that traffickers give up in disgust.
For years, Ms. Khorn had been grumbling to me about the brothel — the low margins, the seven-day schedule, difficult customers, grasping policemen and scorn from the community. There was also a personal toll, for her husband had sex with the girls, infuriating her, and the couple eventually divorced bitterly. Ms. Khorn was also troubled that her youngest daughter, now 13, was growing up surrounded by drunken, leering men.
Then in the last year, the brothel business became even more challenging amid rising pressure from aid groups, journalists and the United States State Department’s trafficking office. The office issued reports shaming Cambodian leaders and threatened sanctions if they did nothing.

girlslarge

Many of the brothels are owned by the police, which complicates matters, but eventually authorities in Cambodia were pressured enough that they ordered a partial crackdown.
“They didn’t tell me to close down exactly,” said another Poipet brothel owner whom I’ve also interviewed periodically. “But they said I should keep the front door closed.”
About half the brothels in Poipet seem to have gone out of business in the last couple of years. After Ms. Khorn’s brothel closed, her daughter-in-law took four of the prostitutes to staff a new brothel, but it’s doing poorly and she is thinking of starting a rice shop instead. “A store would be more profitable,” grumbled the daughter-in-law, Sav Channa.
“The police come almost every day, asking for $5,” she said. “Any time a policeman gets drunk, he comes and asks for money. … Sometimes I just close up and pretend that this isn’t a brothel. I say that we’re all sisters.”
Ms. Channa, who does not seem to be imprisoning anyone against her will, readily acknowledged that some other brothels in Poipet torture girls, enslave them and occasionally beat them to death. She complained that their cruelty gives them a competitive advantage.
But brutality has its own drawbacks as a business model, particularly during a crackdown, pimps say. Brothels that imprison and torture girls have to pay for 24-hour guards, and they lose business because they can’t allow customers to take girls out to hotel rooms. Moreover, the Cambodian government has begun prosecuting the most abusive traffickers.
“One brothel owner here was actually arrested,” complained another owner in Poipet, indignantly. “After that, I was so scared, I closed the brothel for a while.”
To be sure, a new brothel district has opened up on the edge of Poipet — in the guise of “karaoke lounges” employing teenage girls. One of the Mama-sans there offered that while she didn’t have a young virgin girl in stock, she could get me one.
Virgin sales are the profit center for many brothels in Asia (partly because they stitch girls up and resell them as virgins several times over), and thus these sales are their economic vulnerability as well. If we want to undermine sex trafficking, the best way is to pressure governments like Cambodia’s to organize sting operations and arrest both buyers and sellers of virgin girls. Cambodia has shown it is willing to take at least some action, and that is one that would strike at the heart of the business model.
Sexual slavery is like any other business: raise the operating costs, create a risk of jail, and the human traffickers will quite sensibly shift to some other trade. If the Obama administration treats 21st-century slavery as a top priority, we can push many of the traffickers to quit in disgust and switch to stealing motorcycles instead.

* By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (NYT, January 11, 2009)

Word that convicted “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jean Palfrey committed suicide Thursday morning shocked Capitol Hill, where Palfrey’s most famous known client, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), was going about his day’s work.

Palfrey, 52, whose prosecutorial saga ballooned into a full-fledged political sex scandal, was found dead around 11 a.m. in a shed behind her mother’s mobile home in Tarpon Springs, Fla., according to police. Detectives say she was the victim of “an apparent suicide by hanging.”

Her demise stunned defense attorneys around town, who described Palfrey’s suicide as every defense lawyer’s worst fear.

Palfrey’s lawyer, Preston Burton said, “This is tragic news, and my heart goes out to her mother.”

Another D.C. defense attorney, Barry Boss, told the Sleuth, “The whole thing, from start to finish, had a real sense of tragedy for her, her employees and her customers. If this were Shakespeare or the opera, it would seem like a fitting final act.”

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, contending that her company was “a legal, high-end erotic fantasy service” with clients “from the more refined walks of life.” (Jay Mallin — Bloomberg News) The tragedy of how Palfrey wound up taking her own life in a trailer park was eerily foreshadowed in an interview she gave ABC News last year as she awaited trial on prostitution-related charges of racketeering and money laundering.

She vowed that she would never again return to prison. (She had already served time in the 1990s on other charges involving prostitution.) “I sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years,” she said.

Palfrey faced up to 55 years in prison for her conviction on April 15 by a federal jury of running a prostitution service. She was free pending her July 24 sentencing.

Palfrey’s was one of the most widely dropped names around Washington for many months last year as the town’s chattering class — namely the media — contemplated a trial that had the potential to humiliate scores of important men at the highest echelons of politics. That never came to pass, though Palfrey did make a name for herself nationally when she provided ABC News with thousands of pages of her phone records last summer.

Though it had titillating potential and most of Washington waited with bated breath for a knockout sex scandal that would implicate high-level politicians, the biggest name on that particular set of phone records was Randall Tobias, the State Department’s administrator of foreign aid programs, who resigned as a result.

But it was a gumshoe reporter working for Hustler publisher Larry Flynt who nabbed the most high profile name of all on Palfrey’s client list: Senator Vitter, whose telephone number showed up six times on Palfrey’s escort service’s phone log between 1999 and 2001, when he was a House member.

Palfrey later posted her phone records on the Internet.

Vitter famously apologized last July for committing “a very serious sin” in his past, but he has so far avoided any political fallout for his involvement in the escort service. He luckily narrowly avoided having to testify last month at D.C. Madam’s trial.

Palfrey claimed all along that her service provided “erotic fantasy,” not actual sex. And she planned to rely on the testimony of her clients, including Vitter, to back up that claim, though ultimately her defense rested its case without calling any witnesses.

The senator’s office did not return a phone call and email seeking reaction to Palfrey’s suicide. Around the time that the story broke Thursday, Vitter was seen walking from the Capitol back to his office in the Senate Hart office building, where just Wednesday night, the Louisiana National Guard hosted a crawfish boil, which Vitter attended.

(Note: While Palfrey’s middle name routinely was spelled as “Jeane” in news accounts throughout her legal ordeal, police in Florida say the name on her California-issued driver’s license was Deborah Jean Palfrey.)

By Mary Ann Akers | May 1, 2008;

Reading between the sheets, the world of “Kristen” and Eliot Spitzer may seem relatively benign. She may have been abused as a child, and tangled with drugs and homelessness, but she was also a consenting adult who apparently kept half the cash that customers paid for her.

That’s a dangerously unrepresentative glimpse of prostitution in America. Those who work with street prostitutes say that what they see daily is pimps who control teenage girls with violence and threats — plus an emotional bond — and then keep every penny the girl is paid.

“Sometimes I meet a girl who says, ‘I have a really good pimp — he beats me only with an open hand,’ ” said Rachel Lloyd, a former prostitute who runs a program for underage prostitutes in New York City. “Many of the girls see the pimps as boyfriends, but violence is integral to everything that happens in the sex industry. That’s how you get punished for not bringing in your quota for that evening, or for looking your pimp in the eye.”

Bradley Myles, who works in Washington for an antitrafficking organization called Polaris Project, says it is astonishing how similar the business model is for pimping across the country. Pimps crush runaway girls with a mix of violence and affection, degradation and gifts, and then require absolute obedience to a rigid code: the girl cannot look the pimp in the eye, call him by his name, or keep any cash.

Every evening she must earn a quota of money before she can sleep. She may be required to tattoo the pimp’s name on her thigh. And in exchange he may make presents of clothing or jewelry.

It’s complicated: What keeps her isn’t just fear, but also often an emotional connection.

“When somebody wields power over you to kill you and doesn’t, you feel this bizarre thankfulness,” Mr. Myles said. “It’s trauma bonding.”

When a middle-class white girl ends up controlled like this — think of Elizabeth Smart, the Utah girl who was kidnapped in 2002 and apparently did not try to escape — then everybody is outraged at the way the kidnapper manipulated her. But when the girls are black, poor and prostituted, there is either indifference or an assumption that they are consenting to the abuse.

“It’s about race and class,” said Ms. Lloyd, who is bewildered when she sees Amber alerts for abducted children. Last year she worked with 250 teenage girls who had been prostituted, and not one of them ever merited an Amber alert.

“If we served 250 white girls from upstate middle-class homes, we’d be rolling in money,” she added, “and we’d be changing the law.”

Changing the law is on the agenda. The House of Representatives passed a landmark bill in December, by a vote of 405 to 2, that would make the federal authorities much more involved in cracking down on pimps and trafficking.

But the Justice Department is fighting the House bill, and Senator Joe Biden, who is chairman of a crucial subcommittee, has dawdled on it. A broad coalition of antitrafficking leaders from left and right sent the Justice Department a furious letter scolding it for being soft on pimps.

That may be the only letter in history signed by both Gary Bauer and Gloria Steinem, by executives of the National Organization for Women and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Of the 100,000 prostitution-related arrests each year, the great majority of them are of women and girls; pimps and johns are much less likely to be arrested.

All those girls will never get a tiny fraction of the attention of the Elizabeth Smarts or Natalee Holloways, who fill the cable television niche for a “missing blonde” story. So let’s not let “Kristen” displace the broader reality.

Sure, there are young women who voluntarily sell sex; some of them have posted lately on my blog, nytimes.com/ontheground. Reasonable people can disagree about whether the police should devote resources to such cases.

With prostitution as with narcotics, no legal model has worked perfectly. I’ve argued that the approach with the best record is the Swedish model — decriminalizing the sale of sex, while making it an offense to pimp or to buy sex.

But whatever one thinks of legalizing prostitution, let’s face reality: The big problem out there is the teenage girls who are battered by their pimps, who will have to meet their quotas tonight and every night, who are locked in car trunks or in basements, who have guns shoved in their mouths if they hint of quitting. If the Spitzer affair causes us to lose sight of that, then the biggest loser will be those innumerable girls, far more typical than “Kristen,” for whom selling sex isn’t a choice but a nightmare.

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (Columnist New York Times, March 16, 2008)
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 Biography of  Nicholas D. Kristof
Nicholas D. Kristof writes op-ed columns that appear twice each week in The New York Times. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he previously was associate managing editor of The Times, responsible for the Sunday Times.

Mr. Kristof grew up on a sheep and cherry farm near Yamhill, Oregon. He graduated from Harvard College and then studied law at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.

He later studied Arabic in Cairo and Chinese in Taipei. After working in France, he caught the travel bug and began backpacking around Africa and Asia, writing articles to cover his expenses. Mr. Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 120 countries, plus all 50 states, every Chinese province and every main Japanese island.

He’s also one of the very few Americans to be at least a two-time visitor to every member of the Axis of Evil. During his travels, he has had unpleasant experiences with wars, malaria, mobs carrying heads on pikes, and an African airplane crash.

After joining The New York Times in 1984, initially covering economics, he served as a Times correspondent in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo. In 2000, he covered the presidential campaign and in particular Governor Bush, and he is the author of the chapter on Mr. Bush in the reference book “The Presidents.”

In 1990 Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism.

Mr. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006, for commentary for what the judges called “his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world.”

He has also won other prizes including the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award. Mr. Kristof has taken a special interest in Web journalism and was the first blogger on The New York Times Web site.

In his column, Mr. Kristof was an early opponent of the Iraq war (see: The Day After, Sept. 24, 2002; The Stones of Baghdad, Oct. 4, 2002; and Revolving-Door Monsters, Oct. 11, 2002), and among the first to warn that we were losing ground to the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. His columns have often focused on global health, poverty and gender issues in the developing world. In particular, since 2004 he has written dozens of columns about Darfur and visited the area eight times.

Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are authors of “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” and “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia.” Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are the parents of Gregory, Geoffrey and Caroline. Mr. Kristof enjoys running, backpacking, and having his Chinese and Japanese corrected by his children.

The woman who investigators said Gov. Eliot Spitzer chose for a sexual tryst — a dalliance that sparked his tumble from the highest perch of power in New York State — has been identified in published reports as a 22-year-old New Jersey native with humble roots.
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The woman, known only as “Kristen” until now, was legally named Ashley Youmans but now calls herself Ashley Alexandra Dupre, The New York Times reported.
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Dupré, 22, a former resident of Belmar, N.J., lives in a Flatiron District apartment where a throng of media showed up last night.

Kristen, according to an investigation, met with Spitzer on Feb. 13 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington for sex, a meet-up arranged through the international call-girl outfit called the Emperor’s Club.

Spitzer, who was referred to by an FBI agent in an affidavit as Client 9, paid $4,300 for the session, one of many that investigators said he had with women employed by the prostitution ring that operated in several cities worldwide.
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Spitzer, who announced his resignation yesterday, may have paid up to $80,000 for such services over time. The outfit ranked women by their physical assets and other traits, and charged as much as $5,500 per hour. Kristen was described in an affidavit as “an American, petite, very pretty brunette, 5 feet, 5 inches, and 105 pounds.”
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Dupré describes herself on her MySpace page as a lover of music. The page is candid, reciting the disturbing details of a hard life.

“I am all about my music, and my music is all about me,” she writes. “It flows from what I’ve been through, what I’ve seen and how I feel. I live in New York and am on top of the world. Been here since 2004 and I love this city, I love my life here.

“But my path has not been easy. When I was 17, I left home. It was my decision and I’ve never looked back. Left my hometown. Left a broken family. Left abuse. Left an older brother who had already split. Left and learned what it was like to have everything, and lose it, again and again.”

The page also contains audio of one of Dupré’s own tracks, “What We Want,” sung in a seductive voice in which she coos, “I know what you want. You’ve got what I want.”
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It continues: “Can you handle me, boy? Can you take my hand and carry me, boy?”

An attorney who represented Dupré before a grand jury looking into the case said: “We are not confirming or denying that she is Kristen.”

But the attorney, Don Buchwald, said the basic biographical story reported about Dupré’s life is accurate. He said Magistrate Michael H. Dolinger appointed him to represent Dupré.

When reached at the family’s Jackson, N.J., home, a man who identified himself as Dupré’s brother said: “Ashley is my sister, and I have no comment.”

A message left at her Manhattan apartment was not returned.

A woman who lives on the same floor of the high rise on West 25th Street said she was shocked about Dupré’s alleged role in the scandal. “I know she’s not leaving her apartment right now,” said the neighbor, who identified herself only as Alina.

Nick Hanson of South Huntington was surprised to find out that someone on his MySpace friends list was involved in the Spitzer saga.

“I really never met her or talked to her,” he said. “I just added her as a friend,” after she sent him an invitation. “It seemed like she was very interested in music.”

* BY ZACHARY R. DOWDY
( March 13, 2008)
Staff writers Denise M. Bonilla, Eden Laikin, Tim Healy, Anthony M. DeStefano and Karla Schuster contributed to this story.

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) – Authorities in eastern India have teamed up with prostitutes as the officials accelerate a drive against the trafficking of girls into the trade.

It is a rare display of official approval for the efforts of prostitutes in West Bengal’s Sonagachhi area, one of Asia’s largest red-light districts.

In the past year alone a prostitutes’ organization has rescued more than 550 women and girls from brothels and from traffickers, the state’s social welfare department officials said.

“The state government had no choice but to join hands with the sex workers as they seem to be doing a better job in tackling trafficking,” said Samarajit Jana, an official from India’s AIDS control program, which helps run the project.

Younger girls are usually helped to get back to their home village. Adults are usually given housing and job training.

“I was kidnapped and forced to entertain old men, but now all that is past as I am trying to make a new beginning in life,” said Anjali, a 16-year-old girl who was rescued last month by prostitutes from one of the brothels crammed into Sonagacchi’s crowded maze of alleyways.

Anjali is among hundreds of poor girls shifted to one of six new government-sponsored rescue centers across the state. They learn embroidery and sewing among other crafts.

This has been possible after the government formed an alliance last month with the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya (DMSC), an organization founded in 1995 that now represents 65,000 sex workers in West Bengal.

DMSC focuses its rescue efforts on minors entering the trade and those who were deceived into joining it.

“We have realized that we are the most effective weapon against this social evil that forces minor girls into sex trade,” said Bharati Dey, a former prostitute, who leads the campaign.

At least 20,000 women and girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution in India every year, the government said.

Many pass through West Bengal on their way to Mumbai, Delhi and other cities in India, as well as the United Arab Emirates, police said.

Most of these girls are from India’s northeast and neighboring Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, they said.

In India, trafficking and profiting by selling a person for sex is illegal, but paying for sex with an adult prostitute is not.

India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development wants to change the laws to allow police take stern action against clients, but critics have stalled the plan.

Prostitutes and groups working with them fear such a move would force the trade deeper into the shadows.

The DMSC now plans to spread its campaign across the state and elsewhere in India.

(Editing by Jonathan Allen and Jerry Norton)

The scale of an unspeakable horror from Bosnia’s rape camps and the horrors of Rwanda’s genocide in the 1990s to the atrocities being perpetrated daily in northern Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region, the tally of body bags runs alongside another grim body count: the numbers of women and girls, but in some places men and boys too, subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Reliable and comprehensive figures are hard to come by: victims are often too traumatised or too fearful to speak out. But a report on “Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict” by the Geneva-based Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) picks its way as systematically as it can through conflict after conflict, in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, piecing together the evidence.

It is grim reading. In Bosnia’s war up to 50,000 women were subject to sexual violence; over 14 years perhaps 40% of Liberia’s population suffered similar abuse; just under half those interviewed in a randomised study in Sierra Leone in 2000 had been raped, and more than a quarter had been gang-raped.

Such sexual violence can lead to severe physical as well as psychological damage: high numbers of fistula cases have been reported during conflicts in Burundi, Chad, Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and elsewhere. An earlier DCAF report recorded that an estimated 70% of Rwanda’s rape survivors were infected with HIV/AIDS. The offspring of such violence are often stigmatised or abandoned as “children of hate”. In other words, the damaging health, economic and social consequences live on long after conflicts end.

Can such violence be curbed? In Darfur, marauding militias prey on women and children collecting firewood, food or animal fodder outside refugee camps. In some places, African Union peacekeepers have sent out trucks with soldiers to follow the women and provide as much protection as they can.

Alongside practical initiatives like these “firewood patrols”, DCAF calls, as have earlier UN resolutions, for more women peacekeepers. They get along better with locals and also improve the behaviour of their male counterparts (in Congo in 2005 the UN registered 72 allegations of sexual violence of one sort or another against its own troops; 20 were substantiated). The percentage of women serving in UN military and police units is tiny; but some women have recently had senior posts in UN missions. And earlier this year Liberia received the UN’s first-ever all-female contingent—103 Indian policewomen. It would help, says DCAF, if victims of sexual violence were more involved and better cared for in programmes for disarmament and demobilisation.

But when it comes to curbing sexual violence during conflict, ending a culture of impunity is key. The statute of the International Criminal Court allows for the prosecution of rape and similar violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity and even potentially as acts of genocide. Earlier this year the chief prosecutor decided to focus one of the court’s investigations on atrocities carried out in 2002-03 in the Central African Republic—where rapes may have exceeded murders.

The increasing use of rape, by governments as well as militias, as a weapon of war is to be the target of a UN General Assembly resolution that is expected to pass soon. After intense lobbying by Sudan (the resolution named no names, but evidently the shoe fitted) among the UN’s Africa group, backed surprisingly by South Africa, the language of the resolution has been watered down somewhat. But it still calls for the UN secretary-general to report back next year on what is being done to protect civilians against sexual violence—and to hold to account, among others, governments that target their own citizens in this way.

* War’s other victims/Dec 6th 2007/From The Economist print edition

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As criminal gangs run amuck in Iraq, hundreds of girls have gone missing. Are they being sold for sex?

Safah, 14-year-old Iraqi girl was kidnapped and imprisoned in a dark house in Baghdad’s middle-class.

It was finally settled at $10,000. Later a fake passport with her photo and assumed name had already been forged for her.

Safah is part of a seldom –discussed aspect of the epidemic of kidnappings in Iraq: Sex trafficking. No one knows how many young women have been kidnapped and sold since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, based in Baghdad, estimates from anecdotal evidence that more than 2,000 Iraqi women have gone missing in that period.

But admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue.
The collapse of law and order and the absence of a stable government have allowed criminal gangs, alongside terrorist, to run amuck.

These Iraqi women and girls being sent to Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Persian Gulf countries for sexual exploitation.

Families are usually so shamed by the disappearance of a daughter that they do not report kidnappings. And the resulting stigma of compromised chastity is such that even if the girl should resurface, she may never be taken back by her relations.

Two other girls, Asmah, 14, and Shadah, 15, were taken all the way to the United Arab Emirates before they could escape their kidnappers and report them to a Dubai police station. The sisters were then sent back to Iraq but, like many other girls who have escaped their kidnappers and buyers, were sent to prison because they carried fake passports.

The sisters hear rumor that the men paid their way out of jail and are back on the streets.

The locations are secret to keep the women safe from both trafficking gangs trying to cover their tracks and outraged relatives who may try to kill the women to restore their clans’ reputation.

The next three weeks were the worst in Safah’s life
“I was tortured and beaten and insulted a lot in that house,” Safah says.

· It was summarized of TIME, May1, 2006