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Sexual Exploitation

South Africa - Study shows extent of PTSD problem among SA’s sex workers - (16 August 2018)

A University of the Witwatersrand study of prostitutes in Soweto shows that two-thirds suffer depression and only 14% said they had never been a victim of violence. Of that same sample 6% showed symptoms of post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD). The cause of this according to Jenny Coetzee at the faculty of health sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, is due to the high levels of violence they experience. “You are going to find very high levels of trauma and depression and with that comes high levels of drinking,” said Coetzee.

Canada - New prostitution laws do not make prostitution safer - (16 August 2018)

When Canada decided to tackle prostitution by adopting “end demand” laws, it was supposed to make prostitution safer and healthier but precisely the opposite has happened. According to new research presented at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam researchers from both Canada and France found that prosecuting only the men who buy sex instead of prosecuting the prostitutes as well – actually made life worse for prostitutes by pushing the trade further into the shadows, making it more difficult to negotiate prices and condom use and making it less likely that they would access health services. This has made things worse, not better, for prostitutes. In spite of all this prostitution remains inherently harmful and cannot be made safe.

Netherlands - Things you probably didn’t know about the red light district - (01 August 2018)

Amsterdam was founded by a group of fishermen who were looking for a safe place close to the North Sea to settle in. The area was soon filled with bars and prostitution increased. In the last 30 years at least 127 prostitutes have been murdered in the Netherlands and in the majority of the cases the crimes have never been solved. The number of total deaths in the Netherlands from 2006 to 2016 was relatively stable at between 133 000 and 149 000 a year.

USA - Statistics about women trapped in prostitution - (01 August 2018)

Research related to women working in various aspects of prostitution indicates that women working in prostitution are faced with higher rates of: drug addictions, sexually transmitted diseases, violent assaults, and mental health problems such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder than the general population. Diagnosis of PTSD per country of prostituted respondents is as follows: seventy 74% in Canada, 68% in Columbia and 75% in South Africa. Between 66% and 90% of women in prostitution were sexually abused as children. Seventy percent of interviewees in a study by Silbert and Pines noted that childhood sexual abuse had been an influence on becoming involved in prostitution.

USA - New York State passes bill to crack down on child sex trafficking - (17 July 2018)

A bill passed by the New York Assembly and Senate creates a new felony charge of “sex trafficking of a child” and would make it easier for prosecutors to win convictions by removing the current requirement that they prove suspected traffickers used force, fraud or coercion to ensnare victims in the sex trade. “It will give prosecutors the tools they need to put the most heinous of sex traffickers in jail,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin who sponsored the Assembly version of the bill. Prosecutors and advocates have been pushing for the bill for years, arguing that the existing law, and the requirement that force, fraud or coercion be proven, made it too difficult to win convictions.

South Africa - Decriminalizing sex work will fuel drug and human trafficking - (17 July 2018)

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) has argued that plans to fully decriminalize prostitution will lead to increased abuse, human trafficking and drug trafficking. ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said that prostitution is inextricably linked to the illegal drug trade. Decriminalization would see the removal of criminal penalties for prostitutes as well as those making use of their services. Meshoe has slammed the governing party for failing to provide adequate jobs as an alternative to sex work and said we have a problem of human trafficking income in this country and women and child abuse.

UK - Sex robots will not stop trafficking and prostitution - (21 June 2018)

Sex robots have been promoted as an aid to prevent sex crimes, reduce loneliness and promote safer sex. But scientists dismissed the claims made on behalf of ‘sexbots’ – lifelike robots created for sexual gratification that can cost as much as £11 000 (about R138 000). Researchers from King’s College London and at St George’s University Hospitals Trust said it was fanciful to suggest the dolls could eliminate sex trafficking or prostitution. They were also unable to find a single study on the health implications of sexbots. They also criticized designers for using unrealistic representations of women. Dr Chantal Cox-George of St George’s said: "It is speculative whether the development of a sexbot marketplace will lead to lesser risk of violence and infections or drive further exploitation of human sex workers”.

Zambia - Crackdown on sex dolls sparks debate on rights, religion - (21 June 2018)

No one sells sex dolls openly, no one admits to owning one and no one has been arrested but Zambia is waging a fierce campaign against sex dolls. The government launched a crackdown on the sex toys, threatening offenders with heavy jail terms over the dolls which, it says, are "very unnatural”. The action has propelled the issue of sex dolls to the top of the news agenda and made them a hot topic of conversation and debate on social media, dividing opinion in the largely conservative southern African country."Being a Christian nation, obviously we are anchored in Christian principles and one of the values is morality and ethics," Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili said.

South Africa – Police colonel says prostitute’s clients ‘will be exposed’ - (21 June 2018)

Colonel Shawn van Wyk, Station Commander of the Lansdowne police station in Cape Town is warning residents to refrain from encouraging prostitution in the area. This follows an intense operation to curb prostitution and remove prostitutes from the streets of Wetton and Lansdowne. “The number has decreased since our last operation and we will continue to cure the streets from these activities through several operations.” “We are also warning clients who support prostitution to step back. We will expose their faces or identity to the community if they continue. With their support prostitution will continue to be an issue”. Having taken up the position earlier this year, he said he will continue to tackle the ills of society with his team and will not tolerate any further illegal activities in the area.

USA - Another hotel cancels an event eroticizing violence against women - (07 June 2018)

A few months ago the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) learned about a “Black and Blue” event that eroticizes violence against women, happening in a Sheraton Hotel in Houston. We sent a letter to the corporate headquarters of this company and asked our friends, Love People Not Pixels in Houston, if they could lead the local charge directly in getting this event canceled. Love People Not Pixels collaborated with the Houston Area Against Trafficking Coalition to successfully get the event cancelled! Events like this “Black and Blue” weekend normalize bondage, domination and sado-masochistic behavior and even the torture of women for pleasure.

South Africa - ‘Voices of the people’ called for in sex work research - (07 June 2018)

The legislation on sex work was recently on the agenda for the Multi-party Women's Caucus in Parliament. Currently, The Sexual Offences Act of 1957 forbids prostitution, brothel-keeping and procuring, and other activities related to prostitution. The purpose of the meeting was for women’s caucus members to finalize decisions and make proposed recommendations. However, this did not happen as members felt that more needed to be done. Cynthia Majeke, a member of the UDM said that more voices need to be heard before decisions can be made. “We don’t want a situation where you call a meeting in a room like this and say you have reached stakeholders. We want a situation where you go to even the rural areas and we hear the voices of people before we can take any decision.” Her sentiments were echoed by Nthabiseng Khunou of the ANC. “If we really want to say this is a clear representation of our country and the demographics of the country are taken seriously we need to make it a point that we go to different provinces, get as many submissions as possible.” Speaking on the abuse that sex workers experience at the hands of police, and the comments of stakeholders at the summit on the role played by police in the policing of sex work, ANC MP Machwene Semenya, said that the ministry should be more involved. “We want the Minister of Police to take up the issues.” A call has been put out that more people should be included in the research. Members of Parliament in attendance and the organisations present agreed that all South Africans need to be represented. No follow-up dates were provided at the meeting.

South Africa - The Equality Law: Targeting Demand for the Sale of Sex - (24 May 2018)

The South African government has been researching possible options for legislation on prostitution for over two decades. In May 2017 the Minister of Justice published the South African Law Reform Committee’s report on project 107, Adult prostitution. Partial decriminalization, also known as the Equality Law in South Africa, views prostitution as a form of gender based violence (GBV) and would only criminalize those who exploit others through prostitution: buyers and third parties such as pimps and brothel owners. It targets the demand for the sale of sex rather than the women who are victims of GBV while selling it. This method is believed to reduce rates of sex trafficking by creating an undesirable environment into which to traffic victims. The equality model also creates resources for individuals to exit prostitution such as health care, legal representation, skills training and housing. There will need to be a significant cultural shift for the equality law to be fully implemented. Men who are in power will have to view other men’s actions as worthy of punishment, rather than take a forgiving “boys will be boys” attitude. Savannah Estridge is a research intern at Amnesty International.

USA - Statistics of violence in the sex trade - (24 May 2018)

Nearly all (92.2%) trafficked women in a study, ‘The Health Consequences of sex trafficking and their implications for Identifying victims in Health care facilities’ (Lederer, L and Wentzel, C. 2014), report being subjected to physical violence; such as being shot, strangled, burned, beaten, stabbed, or punched. Many are victims of multiple forms of violence. Respondents reported an average of 6.25 of the 12 forms of violence. 55% report suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 42% had attempted suicide at least once. 43% of sex buyers in a Chicago study believe that if a man pays for sex, the woman should do anything they ask. 47% of young prostituted women in a Chicago study reported being raped by pimps or buyers. 42% of Ohio women first sold under the age of 18 had been victims of customer-related or pimp-related violence and had been to the emergency room at least once as a result. Workplace homicide rates for women in prostitution, according to one study with a small sample, are 51 times higher than the next most dangerous occupation for women.

USA - Trump signs ‘FOSTA’ bill targeting online sex trafficking - (11 May 2018)

President Trump signed a bill that gives federal and state prosecutors power to pursue websites that host sex-trafficking ads and enables victims and state attorney general’s to file lawsuits against those sites. The signing comes just days after seven executives for Backpage.com were arrested on a 93-count indictment that alleges the website facilitated prostitution and laundered tens of millions of dollars in profits and that teenage girls were sold for sex on the site. Some of those girls were killed. The government also shut down Backpage’s classified ad websites around the world and moved to seize houses and bank accounts around the United States.

South Africa - Sex Trade's Female Victims have ‘Damaged Lives’ - (11 May 2018)

A quarter of a million people live in modern slavery in South Africa. Every eight hours a woman is killed by a male partner and one woman in five has suffered rape or sexual assault at least once. Among prostituted women estimates of HIV rates range between 39 percent and 71 percent. Men from both the U.S. and the U.K. regularly travel as sex tourists and pay to have sex with the most vulnerable and marginalized women and girls. The presence of international aid agencies, charities and nongovernmental organizations working toward developing better civil society infrastructures appear to do relatively little to tackle the problem of sex trafficking. Until paying for sex under any circumstance is stigmatized and criminalized and women and girls are helped to escape the sex trade, trafficking will continue to flourish and abusers will act with impunity Julie Bindel is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and researcher and has been active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children.

Thailand - Tourism body says it opposes ‘sex tourism’ - (20 April 2018)

Thailand’s tourism body has said in a statement that it “strongly opposes any form of sex tourism” as it hopes to welcome a record number of vacationers this year. “The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) ensures that it’s marketing strategy and policy to move Thailand forward as the ‘Quality Destination’ has stepped in the right direction … and strongly opposes any form of sex tourism,” the TAT said in a statement. Signs offering “soapy massages”, bubble baths given to brothel clients that usually end with sex and go-go bars have helped to bolster Thailand’s reputation as a sex destination. There are around 123,530 prostitutes in Thailand according to a 2014 UNAIDS report.

South Africa - MP caucus takes submissions on prostitution - (06 April 2018)

Submissions have been heard on the SA Law Reform Commission’s report on prostitution. Just some of the participants were the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Embrace Dignity, Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation SA, Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce, Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation SA, trade union federation Cosatu and Doctors For Life International. Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute said in a statement through the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation SA, which represents 31 organisations, that a decriminalised sex industry was the worst possible policy for SA. Chairperson, Masefele Morutoa said: “The SALRC report recommended either continued criminalisation or partial criminalisation, but no position was taken by Cabinet as yet.”

USA - ‘A Victory for Survivors’: Congress Passes Anti-Sex Tracking Bill - (06 April 2018)

At long last Congress has passed a bill to combat online sex trafficking now that the Senate has approved the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), 97 to 2. It’s been a wide-open secret for years:  pimps and traffickers use websites like BackPage to advertise women and children for sale. Law enforcement has turned to these sites to find criminals and victims but the prosecution of the internet companies has been largely out of the question. “Hopefully it will send a signal to people that sex exploitation isn’t the business to get in now,” said Lisa Thompson, vice president of research and education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

South Africa - What the price of prostitutes teaches about SA economy - (14 March 2018)

High unemployment rates, a symptom of an ailing economy, have meant that many young people find their only source of income in selling their bodies. What’s more, it’s a case of small change in the sex trade in small towns across the country. Marius Oosthuizen, a leadership, strategy and ethics expert at the Gordon Institute of Business Science says he pays close attention to the price of prostitutes in his field work because it helps provide a nuanced sense of the micro-economy. In the rural areas it costs just R50. What he sees is tragic and underscores a major block in kick starting economic growth. South Africa has a largely consolidated economic sector that is unlikely to create jobs on a massive scale without significant policy change.

Ireland - 'It's not normal' ex prostitute calls for crackdown on escort agency websites - (14 March 2018)

Rachel Moran was forced to work in prostitution at just 15-years-old after she became homeless. Now 42, she is urging the government to shut down escort agency websites and put pimps out of business to try and end Ireland's prostitution problem. The business of having your body used is relentlessly traumatic for any woman who has any type of sense of herself. “It’s not normal to use a human being like a sex doll”. Research has found that one in 12 Irish men pay for sex and that there are around 1,000 people working as prostitutes. “There is no such thing as sex work, because prostitution is neither sex, nor work, its sexual abuse and monetized molestations. The Government needs to shut down the online escort agencies. “It’s a really ridiculous situation when you have a law that criminalizes a behavior, but you have a website that facilitates the same behavior.

Australia - Former prostitute calls for its end - (23 February 2018)

A former prostitute says the more money that you charge the more you are expected to do. Gwyneth Montenegro a former prostitute had slept with over 10,000 men. She has revealed that she had the problem of physical violence. The glamorization of the industry leads women to believe becoming a prostitute will afford them a life of luxury, when that reality is far from the truth. The biggest problem with the portrayal of prostitution and escorting in the media is polarizing. She also said: “I will never forget that sickening feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach, as I waited the results from a series of STD tests. What had I done with my life? Why had I been so foolish?”

Netherlands - Aspiring prostitutes Can Now Get a Certified Diploma - (23 February 2018)

A new Dutch organization by and for sex workers in collaboration with the city of Amsterdam has officially opened The School for Amsterdam Prostitutes. The new institution will provide a 4-month course for aspiring prostitutes from all over the world. The course offers “sexual knowledge” for its participants. The cost for enrolment will be 400 Euros. This is in large part due to subsidies by the city of Amsterdam and volunteer teachers.

Netherlands - Prostitutes School Means Trouble for Cannabis Store - (23 February 2018)

Not everybody is happy with the arrival of a new school. Due to current Dutch laws there is a big chance that the world famous cannabis/coffee shop, ‘The Bull Dog’, will eventually have to close its doors. The so called “distance rules” ordains that coffee shops within a 250 meter range of a school should be closed. The School Of Amsterdam Prostitutes will be located 249 meters from cannabis store.

Canada - Who are we talking about when we talk about prostitution? - (09 February 2018)

Prostitution is now illegal in Canada and a criminal offence occurs every time sexual services are exchanged for compensation. Canada’s new prostitution laws which came into force in 2014 are consistent with laws now in place in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Northern Ireland, France and the Republic of Ireland. In Canada, four new criminal offences target prostitution and the development of economic interests in prostitution. Those who exchange their own sexual services for compensation cannot be prosecuted for their participation in the commission of the new offences.Is prostitution itself harmful and exploitative? Or is sex work a legitimate form of labor that people should be permitted to safely engage in as a matter of personal choice? This is the polarized debate playing out worldwide as countries struggle over how to legislate the commercial exchange of sex. The arguments are largely ideological, but they lead to social discourse and influence what is researched, what problems are identified and what solutions are proposed. Those who support the Nordic model see that activity as harmful and seek to end its practice. In the debate over prostitution and enacting the new prostitution laws Parliament identified prostitution itself as a problem and expressed concerns about the exploitation inherent in it and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it. Those supporting the legislation expressed the belief that prostitution could not be made safe. Parliament also expressed the view that prostitution causes social harms, including the objectification of the human body and commodification of sexual activity. To protect the human dignity and equality of all Canadians, they enacted laws focused on discouraging the activity of prostitution. They describe the activity of prostitution itself as a form of violence against women and as a cause and consequence of gender inequality. Researcher Meagan Tyler identifies three distinct types of harm to women who engage in prostitution: The increased likelihood of experiencing physical and sexual violence; the psychological harm including post-traumatic stress and dissociation; and the harm associated with the sex of prostitution itself which, she argues, dehumanizes and objectifies women.

India - Measures for the government to outwit prostitution in India - (09 February 2018)

Prostitution is an illegal act where a woman consents to sexual favors in return for commercial gains. They use themselves for monetary gain without realizing the damage they are doing to themselves. Prostitutes in India usually come from the downtrodden sections of society and when they are offered large sums of money for this commercial trade many of them just give in. Whatever the cause, the whole act is totally demoralizing and strict measures have to be taken by the government to curb this ugly menace from its roots and end it once and for all. Here are some possible measures that the government can do to bring in steps to revolutionize society and remove such practices: Government should work towards bringing in strict enforcements of law to see that no one should dare enter into such activities. Creating awareness about the bad effects of prostitution through effective social media campaigns can lead to a change in thinking and perspective. Creating mass employment opportunities for youth and the unemployed will help people drift away from such immoral acts. Along with employment opportunities, these people can be provided parallel education in the evenings. Banks that are owned by the government can allocate special funds on a temporary basis to help women in this field to fund their children’s education. A woman who is entirely into prostitution finds it difficult to come back to terms with normal living. The government should also provide a few hours of counseling sessions by experts in the field about the ill effects of being in prostitution, what effects it would have on themselves, health vulnerabilities, adverse effects on the family and reputation in society. Government can offer many such remedies by working on their needs and helping them by allocating funds and monetary support systems. They should be made to think about coming out of their ugly worlds, inspired to live life in the mainstream by educating themselves, and leading a life full of dignity.

USA – The ‘chatbot’ taking on Seattle’s sex trade - (18 January 2018)

You can find “her” number within fake messages placed alongside real ads on websites popular with those looking to buy sex. Naive and innocent, the chatbot will tell you she is nervous and check that her age is “cool with you”. If you say yes, that’s when it’s revealed: you’ve been talking to a chatbot, and buying sex is a crime that harms women the world over. The tool is part of groundbreaking efforts in Seattle to fight sex trafficking, an industry that like many others has moved online, and in doing so has become acutely difficult to prevent. Using chatbots, and machine learning, specialists here believe they can simultaneously achieve two huge goals –deterring men and helping women.

South Africa – 70% of SA sex workers don’t protect themselves - (18 January 2018)

Despite being offered a daily pill to protect them from HIV almost three-quarters of women sex workers stopped taking the pills after a year. This is according to a study published in the PLoS journal (Public Library of Science) conducted by the TAPS Demonstration Study (Treatment and Prevention for Female Sex workers in South Africa). The study tested almost 700 women, and says that the average woman was “married or had a steady partner, worked in brothels, and were born in Zimbabwe”. Almost half of the women tested were HIV positive (341). Of these, 139 decided to go on ARVs. Around 60% of them were still on the medication after a year. The sex workers who tested HIV negative (351) were offered one pill, Truvada, to take every day to protect them from the virus and 219 women accepted the offer. But a year later only 49 women were still taking Truvada – although none of those still on the pills had contracted HIV. “The final retention rate was lower than we would like. However, there were no seroconversions among those women who stayed on the PrEP arm,” said Robyn Eakle, a senior researcher from the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (WRHI), which was part of the study. Last year the SA Law Commission recommended that sex work remain illegal. “The issue of sex workers is not just for the Minister of Health but involves other Ministers,” said Motsoaledi. “India has not decriminalised sex workers, but health workers in Bangalore are working very openly with sex workers and police are not arresting them.”

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International