Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | News podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate and listen

 Previous Home Up Next


Vocapedia > USA > Violence


Abuse, Sexual assault, Sex crimes,

Sex trade / trafficking, Prostitution




Steve Breen

Comment cartoon

The San Diego Union-Tribune


20 April 2011















sexual violence










sex crimes








sex offender


100000005415081/a-frightening-myth-about-sex-offenders.html - September, 2017












juvenile sex offenders > state registries










listing sex offenders on Internet registries



















predatory sex offender





















Illustration: Wesley Allsbrook


Sexually Assaulted at UVA


APRIL 4, 2015
















assault / sex assault / sexual assault











army-sexual-assault-alvarado-pretrial-confinement - August 9, 2022





































































sexual assaults in colleges












sexual assaults in the military


army-sexual-assault-alvarado-pretrial-confinement - August 9, 2022












1970s and '80s:

50 sexual assaults

and at least 10 brutal murders

committed in Northern California

by a violent psychopath










commit sexual assault






be sexually assaulted



















Illustration: Wesley Allsbrook


Sexually Assaulted at UVA


APRIL 4, 2015

































sexual abuse























- psychologically preparing someone for sexual abuse.










USA > be sexually abused        UK

















The Trap:

American prisons'

deadly sex trafficking cycle

G    28 June 2018





The Trap: American prisons' deadly sex trafficking cycle

Video        G        28 June 2018


The Trap investigates how prisons and jails across the United States

have become recruiting grounds for human traffickers,

who are targeting incarcerated women and trafficking them

out of correctional facilities and into pimp-controlled prostitution


















Survivors Ink:

Erasing the marks of sex trafficking

G    18 November 2014





Survivors Ink: Erasing the marks of sex trafficking

Video        Guardian Docs        18 November 2014


Rebranded: how Survivors Ink

is erasing the marks of the US sex trafficking industry.


Pimp-led prostitution

is one of the most violent and prolific

forms of trafficking found in the US,

with hundreds of thousands of women

sold annually for commercial gain.


Many are branded with tattoos by their traffickers

as a sign of ownership and control.


After experiencing such an ordeal in Columbus, Ohio,

Jennifer Kempton founded Survivors Ink,

a grassroots project

that helps formerly trafficked women

to cover up their branding

with their own symbols of hope and recovery.


Kempton explains how she left

years of abuse and drug addiction behind

and is helping others to do likewise.


















sex trade












Mexico's Sex Trade










prostitute for drugs




















USA > prostitution        UK / USA
















watch?time_continue=1&v=8aTNKZChogk - G - 28 June 2018

















forced prostitution






prostitution ring






red light district
















call girl





call girl ring



















Polly Adler exiting a police van after being arrested in 1936.

The more successful Polly’s brothel became, the more hounded she was

— by the police, by Tammany Hall, by the Broadway mob.



NY Daily News Archive

via Getty Images


The Manhattan ‘Madam’ Who Hobnobbed With the City’s Elite


Nov. 2, 2021    5:00 a.m. ET











































human traffickers / trafiicking


watch?time_continue=1&v=8aTNKZChogk - G - 29 June 2018

































pimps and johns


watch?time_continue=1&v=8aTNKZChogk - G - 29 June 2018










USA > pimping        UK











































USA > sex trafficking / traffickers        UK / USA









































watch?time_continue=1&v=8aTNKZChogk - G - 29 June 2018

















































be trafficked










slave        USA












the leading website

for prostitution and sex trafficking

in America




a classified advertising Web site

that is used to sell auto parts,

furniture, boats — and girls






































sex work











USA > sex workers        UK / USA












Margaret Jean St. James    1937-2021


advocate for sex workers


She founded a group

called COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics)

and devoted her life

to the cause of decriminalizing prostitution.









sex party / orgy










teen prostitutes










child-prostitution cases / child prostitution












"Innocence Lost"


































Corpus of news articles


USA > Violence


Abuse, Sexual assault, Sex crimes,


Sex trade, Prostitution



Life Sentences for 2 Sex Traffickers

Who Preyed on Mexican Immigrants


JUNE 15, 2014

The New York Times



It was a sprawling family business, employing drivers, dispatchers and doormen. There were “steerers” who passed out “chica” cards on the street to solicit customers. There was even a mechanic who swept vehicles for tracking devices that might have been surreptitiously placed by federal agents, prosecutors said.

And, of course, there were the women — smuggled into the United States from Mexico and forced to work in a network of brothels in and around New York City, or shuttled to farms in New Jersey, where they had sex with up to 25 migrant workers a day in sheds in the fields, with men paying about $30 for 15 minutes of sex, the government said.

The ringleaders, Isaias Flores-Mendez, who is about 42, and his brother, Bonifacio, 35, both natives of Mexico, are among 16 people who have now pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the sex-trafficking ring, which was broken up in April 2013.

Life sentences are not unprecedented in federal sex-trafficking cases; there have been at least 11 imposed nationally in cases since 2009, according to research by Alexandra F. Levy, a lawyer with the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center, a group that arranges free legal help for victims.

James T. Hayes Jr., the special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in New York, said the life terms imposed in the state and elsewhere were “a sign of how seriously” judges were taking such cases.

The New York case also highlights how structured such an operation can be; Judge Forrest, of Federal District Court, called it a “vertically integrated enterprise,” as she sentenced the younger brother on May 30.

“Your criminal enterprise,” the judge said, “was, for these women, not a chosen way of life but living in a daily hell.”

A prosecutor, Rebecca Mermelstein, told the judge that the “entire enterprise is only workable because it is staffed, so to speak, by women who do so under duress, because the conditions are so horrific that it’s not the kind of thing that anyone could really choose.”

The office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, has said in court papers that the Flores-Mendez ring was part of a larger network of sex traffickers operating between Tenancingo, Mexico, New York and elsewhere. Women were typically lured through the promise of romantic relationships and a better life, and were forced into prostitution after they arrived, the office said. The judge noted that women who refused to submit were beaten, isolated and starved.

“Because money drives these crimes — as it does so many others — we have pursued forfeiture of the traffickers’ illegal profits and restitution, seeking some recovery for the victims,” Mr. Bharara said in a statement. He added that the victims, mostly poor, without legal status and traumatized and terrorized by the traffickers, were “some of the most vulnerable and powerless in our society.”
Continue reading the main story

Government filings show that brothels were operated at 350 First Street in Newburgh, N.Y.; in a second-floor apartment at 613 Seneca Avenue in Queens; on the second floor of a two-story yellow house at 20 Rose Street in Poughkeepsie; and in an apartment at 121 Elm Street in Yonkers — the busiest of the brothels, with two women working weeklong shifts and each seeing about eight to 10 customers a day.

Prosecutors have estimated that more than 400 women were victims of the trafficking conspiracy, including some who were minors. On one intercepted phone call, a defendant was heard discussing a “new girl who is only 17,” prosecutors said.

The government said it had been unable to locate or identify the vast majority of the victims, and that of the few who were interviewed by the authorities, most would not cooperate largely out of fear of retaliation. One woman who did cooperate, cited in court records as Victim 1, entered the United States at age 17 with her baby, after the brothers arranged to have her smuggled across the border, prosecutors said.

She was flown from California to New York in September 2006, where the younger Flores-Mendez brother took her to a house on 112th Street in Queens; there she was forced to sleep with her baby under a kitchen table and charged $200 in monthly rent and $50 weekly for food, prosecutors said.

Over much of the next year, the government said, the woman was forced to have sex against her will. In statements she submitted at the brothers’ sentencings, she said she had been forced to have sex with 15 to 35 men a day, in brothels and through delivery to “sex buyers.”

“I was forced to prostitute myself in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island City, Philadelphia and the Bronx,” she wrote.

Isaias Flores-Mendez’s “dehumanization of Victim 1 in the interest of profit was without bounds,” prosecutors wrote. He forced her to take birth control pills, and when he mistakenly believed that she was pregnant, “he grabbed me by the neck, slammed me against the wall, beat me repeatedly, and forced me to swallow more pills so that I would have an abortion,” the woman wrote.

She finally escaped, but was almost killed when the brothers saw her crossing the street one day in Queens and accelerated their car toward her, forcing her to jump out of the way, she added.

Such callousness toward the women seemed to be typical of the operation, court records suggest. Another defendant, Alejandro Degante-Galeno, who worked as a driver, was overheard on a court-ordered wiretap telling his son, Sergio, who was also charged in the case, that one woman “should be punished for wanting to rest and for not wanting to sexually service more customers.”

When the older brother, Isaias Flores-Mendez, was sentenced on May 14, Judge Forrest said he had run “a depraved and deplorable sex mill.” The judge noted that he had apologized briefly to his family in court. “But he owes an apology to so many more people,” she said. “He is, in my view, remorseless.”

When, two weeks later, the younger brother, Bonifacio, was sentenced, he apologized profusely to the victims, saying through an interpreter that he had acted out of greed, for money, and asked for their forgiveness. “I’ve realized that what I’ve done was the worst thing that you can do to a woman,” he said. “I feel like the worst man on earth.”

Judge Forrest showed no leniency. “We know there were mornings when you woke up in your bed surrounded by your family, and a woman who had been trafficked woke up in a locked, windowless room in a basement, unable to go out unless she was let out,” the judge said.

The brothers were each ordered to forfeit about $1.7 million and pay $84,000 in restitution to Victim 1.

Lori L. Cohen, a lawyer with Sanctuary for Families, an agency that worked with Victim 1 and several other trafficking victims in the case, said the woman was “extremely grateful” for the life sentences but she remained fearful that her family in Mexico “could be at risk” because she had reported the abuse.

At each sentencing, one of the prosecutors, Amanda Kramer and Ms. Mermelstein, read aloud a translation of Victim 1’s statement, in which the woman had explained why she was not appearing in person.

“I am scared for me, my family, and for my family in Mexico,” the woman wrote. “I want to forget all of this and just have peace in my life.”


A version of this article appears in print

on June 16, 2014, on page A16

of the New York edition with the headline:

Life Sentences for 2 Sex Traffickers Who Preyed

on Mexican Immigrants.

Life Sentences for 2 Sex Traffickers
Who Preyed on Mexican Immigrants,






Is Delhi So Different

From Steubenville?


January 12, 2013

The New York Times



IN India, a 23-year-old student takes a bus home from a movie and is gang-raped and assaulted so viciously that she dies two weeks later.

In Liberia, in West Africa, an aid group called More Than Me rescues a 10-year-old orphan who has been trading oral sex for clean water to survive.

In Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players are accused of repeatedly raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl who was either drunk or rendered helpless by a date-rape drug and was apparently lugged like a sack of potatoes from party to party.

And in Washington, our members of Congress show their concern for sexual violence by failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark law first passed in 1994 that has now expired.

Gender violence is one of the world’s most common human rights abuses. Women worldwide ages 15 through 44 are more likely to die or be maimed because of male violence than because of cancer, malaria, war and traffic accidents combined. The World Health Organization has found that domestic and sexual violence affects 30 to 60 percent of women in most countries.

In some places, rape is endemic: in South Africa, a survey found that 37 percent of men reported that they had raped a woman. In others, rape is institutionalized as sex trafficking. Everywhere, rape often puts the victim on trial: in one poll, 68 percent of Indian judges said that “provocative attire” amounts to “an invitation to rape.”

Americans watched the events after the Delhi gang rape with a whiff of condescension at the barbarity there, but domestic violence and sex trafficking remain a vast problem across the United States.

One obstacle is that violence against women tends to be invisible and thus not a priority. In Delhi, of 635 rape cases reported in the first 11 months of last year, only one ended in conviction. That creates an incentive for rapists to continue to rape, but in any case that reported number of rapes is delusional. They don’t include the systematized rape of sex trafficking. India has, by my reckoning, more women and girls trafficked into modern slavery than any country in the world. (China has more prostitutes, but they are more likely to sell sex by choice.)

On my last trip to India, I tagged along on a raid on a brothel in Kolkata, organized by the International Justice Mission. In my column at the time, I focused on a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old imprisoned in the brothel, and mentioned a 17-year-old only in passing because I didn’t know her story.

My assistant at The Times, Natalie Kitroeff, recently visited India and tracked down that young woman. It turns out that she had been trafficked as well — she was apparently drugged at a teahouse and woke up in the brothel. She said she was then forced to have sex with customers and beaten when she protested. She was never allowed outside and was never paid. What do you call what happened to those girls but slavery?

Yet prosecutors and the police often shrug — or worse. Dr. Shershah Syed, a former president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan, once told me: “When I treat a rape victim, I always advise her not to go to the police. Because if she does, the police might just rape her again.”

In the United States, the case in Steubenville has become controversial partly because of the brutishness that the young men have been accused of, but also because of concerns that the authorities protected the football team. Some people in both Delhi and Steubenville rushed to blame the victim, suggesting that she was at fault for taking a bus or going to a party. They need to think: What if that were me?

The United States could help change the way the world confronts these issues. On a remote crossing of the Nepal-India border, I once met an Indian police officer who said, a bit forlornly, that he was stationed there to look for terrorists and pirated movies. He wasn’t finding any, but India posted him there to show that it was serious about American concerns regarding terrorism and intellectual property. Meanwhile, that officer ignored the steady flow of teenage Nepali girls crossing in front of him on their way to Indian brothels, because modern slavery was not perceived as an American priority.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done a superb job trying to put these issues on the global agenda, and I hope President Obama and Senator John Kerry will continue her efforts. But Congress has been pathetic. Not only did it fail to renew the Violence Against Women Act, but it has also stalled on the global version, the International Violence Against Women Act, which would name and shame foreign countries that tolerate gender violence.

Congress even failed to renew the landmark legislation against human trafficking, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The obstacles were different in each case, but involved political polarization and paralysis. Can members of Congress not muster a stand on modern slavery?

(Hmm. I now understand better the results of a new survey from Public Policy Polling showing that Congress, with 9 percent approval, is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, lice or Genghis Khan.)

Skeptics fret that sexual violence is ingrained into us, making the problem hopeless. But just look at modern American history, for the rising status of women has led to substantial drops in rates of reported rape and domestic violence. Few people realize it, but Justice Department statistics suggest that the incidence of rape has fallen by three-quarters over the last four decades.

Likewise, the rate at which American women are assaulted by their domestic partners has fallen by more than half in the last two decades. That reflects a revolution in attitudes. Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” notes that only half of Americans polled in 1987 said that it was always wrong for a man to beat his wife with a belt or a stick; a decade later, 86 percent said it was always wrong.

But the progress worldwide is far too slow. Let’s hope that India makes such violence a national priority. And maybe the rest of the world, especially our backward Congress, will appreciate that the problem isn’t just India’s but also our own.

Is Delhi So Different From Steubenville?,






Want a Real Reason to Be Outraged?


October 27, 2012

The New York Times



THE silliness began when Todd Akin claimed during his Senate campaign in Missouri that in the case of “legitimate rape,” women “shut that whole thing down” to prevent pregnancy. Then, a few days ago, Richard Mourdock of Indiana seemed to blame God for such pregnancies, saying this was “something God intended to happen.” I think God should sue him for defamation.

But our political system jumps all over verbal stupidity, while giving a pass to stupid policies. If we’re offended by insensitive words about rape, for example, shouldn’t we be incomparably more upset that rape kits are routinely left untested in the United States? And wouldn’t it be nice if Democrats, instead of just firing sound bites, tackled these underlying issues?

A bit of background: A rape kit is the evidence, including swabs with DNA, taken at a hospital from a woman’s (or man’s) body after a rape. Testing that DNA costs $1,200 or more. Partly to save money, those rape kits often sit untested for years on the shelves of police storage rooms, particularly if the victim didn’t come outfitted with a halo.

By most accounts, hundreds of thousands of these untested kits are stacked up around the country. In Illinois, 80 percent of rape kits were going untested as of 2010, Human Rights Watch reported at the time — embarrassing the state to begin a push to test all rape kits.

In Michigan, the Wayne County prosecutor, Kym Worthy, said she was shocked to discover more than 11,000 rape kits lying around untested — some dating to the 1980s. Worthy said that her office is now going through the backlog and testing those that are running into statute of limitations deadlines.

So far, of 153 kits tested, 21 match evidence in a criminal database and may involve serial rapists. But Worthy, who herself was raped while she was in law school, says the broader problem is indifference to sex crimes.

“Sexual assault is the stepchild of the law enforcement system,” she said. “When rape victims come into the criminal justice system, they are often treated poorly. They may be talked out of pursuing the case.”

The bottom line, Worthy said, is that “sexual assault is not taken as seriously as other crimes.” That — more than any offensive words — is the real scandal.

Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California, eliminated the rape kit backlog in state crime labs after she took office. “If you don’t test it, you’ve got a victim who is absolutely petrified, and you’ve got a rapist who thinks he got away with it,” she said. “There could be nothing worse as a continuing threat to public safety.”

The lackadaisical attitude toward much sexual violence is seen in another astonishing fact: Sometimes, women or their health insurance companies must pay to have their rape kits collected.

“No other forensic evidence collection is treated in this way,” said Sarah Tofte of the Joyful Heart Foundation, which has focused attention on the rape kit backlog. If her home is broken into, she notes, the police won’t bill her or her homeowner’s insurance company “for the cost of dusting for fingerprints.”

Yet another indication of cavalier attitudes: In 31 states, if a rape leads to a baby, the rapist can get visitation rights. That doesn’t happen often, but the issue does come up. In Massachusetts, a convicted rapist is suing for access to the child he fathered when he raped a 14-year-old girl.

One way to start turning around this backward approach to sex crimes would be to support the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (Safer) Act, a bipartisan bill in Congress that would help local jurisdictions count and test their rape kits.

According to data from the Department of Justice, one person in the United States is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes. A slight majority of rapes are never reported to the police, and others are never solved. For every 100 rapes, only three lead to any jail time for the rapist, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

There has been plenty of outrage this year, justifiably, at the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and Penn State for averting their eyes from sexual abuse of children. Yet America as a whole typically does the same thing when it comes to the trafficking of teenage girls by pimps, which amounts to rape many times a day. The police often treat those girls as criminals, rather than victims, even as the pimps get away.

These problems are not insoluble, and we are seeing progress. Some prosecutors are going after pimps in a serious way, and according to surveys, sexual assault has fallen by 60 percent over the last couple of decades. Even the furor over the comments by Senate candidates shows that times are changing.

So, sure, let’s pounce on politicians who say outrageous things. But even more, let’s push to end outrageous policies. Routine testing of rape kits would be a good start.


I invite you to comment on this column on my blog,

On the Ground.

Please also join me on Facebook and Google+,

watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

Want a Real Reason to Be Outraged?,






American Horror Story


June 12, 2012

The New York Times




Standing a few feet away from Jerry Sandusky, as he laughed and reminisced with friends in the front row of the courtroom, made me want to take a shower.

Just not in the Penn State locker room.

That was the gateway to horror where innocence was devoured by evil, over and over and over again, without a word being said. Just rhythmic smacking and slapping noises, silent screams, gutted psyches.

The lead witness in Sandusky’s trial — the former defensive coach at Penn State is charged with molesting 10 boys over 15 years — was a nice-looking, short-haired 28-year-old in white shirt and tie, a narrow parenthesis of a man.

He seemed confident enough when he started, but, as he talked, he grew more and more agitated, running his hand and fist over his face, sliding glances at the 68-year-old, no-neck monster Sandusky at the defense table, staring at the pictures of himself as a young boy with a big grin and bowl cut, relishing the thrilling new world of football heroes that Sandusky had opened up to him. In the photos the prosecution put up on a screen, Sandusky’s hand was usually gripped, mano morta, on the boy’s shoulder.

By the end of his testimony, he looked haunted and acted jittery. His pain seemed fresh.

The prosecution charges that Sandusky used Second Mile, his charity for disadvantaged kids, as a perverted recruiting tool, putting asterisks next to the names of boys who were fatherless and blond, making up weird contracts for boys to sign, giving them money, ostensibly for doing good schoolwork, but really as a way to keep them from fleeing — and telling.

Like pedophile priests, Sandusky was especially vile because he targeted vulnerable boys. Later, when victims finally spoke up, there was a built-in defense: those boys were trouble; you can’t believe them.

The first witness, who met Sandusky through Second Mile, said he was 13 when the nightmare started. His father was not in the picture and he didn’t get along with his stepfather, so he mostly lived with his grandmother. The attention, trips and sports-equipment presents from Sandusky, who “would act like he was my dad” in front of others, seemed heaven-sent, until hell yawned when Jerry kept putting his hand on the boy’s knee in his car.

“Basically, like, I was his girlfriend,” the witness said, adding: “It freaked me out extremely bad.”

The horror grew worse. After racquetball and basketball games, the coach would say, “Let’s get a shower.”

It would begin with a soap battle with liquid soap from the dispenser, the witness said, escalate to bear-hugging, slapping, rubbing, soaping, wrestling, maneuvering the child on the ground, kissing his thighs, forcing him to give and receive oral sex, and attempting anal sex.

“I was a little kid; he was a big guy,” the witness said, adding that he weighed “a hundred pounds, soaking wet.”

When he tried to push the slab of an older man away, he said, Sandusky would get mad and “play box” with open-hand slaps. Asked why he didn’t tell his mother, he replied bluntly that he was “too scared,” and “other than that, the other things were nice and I didn’t want to lose that” — going from unloved kid to a petted mascot for a legendary football team.

They never spoke of “the shower thing.”

“It was basically like, whatever happened there never really happened,” he said.

On road trips to bowl games, Sandusky would share a room with the boy, then covertly put a hand under the cover to grope him before he was awake. When the boy would wake up, he said, Sandusky would act as though he’d been doing sit-ups next to the bed. If the boy was recalcitrant, Jerry would threaten to send him home.

When the boys would try to get away, Sandusky grew clingy and possessive; he would even stalk them.

A string-bean who graduated from high school last week repeatedly broke down in sobs on Tuesday, recalling a similar pattern with Sandusky that would begin with blowing on his stomach. “I kind of thought he sees me as family, and this is just what his family does,” he said.

When he distanced himself, he said, Sandusky stalked him to his house and argued with his mother and grandfather about spending more time with him as he hid behind a bush. When he and his mother tried to tell authorities at his school, where Sandusky was a revered volunteer football coach who was routinely able to pull the boy out of classes and assemblies, they were met with skepticism. Sandusky, they were told, had a heart of gold.

When a wrestling coach walked in on the two lying on the floor face to face, after hours in a room with a rock-climbing wall, he accepted Sandusky’s lame excuse that they were practicing a wrestling hold because, as he told the court on Tuesday, “Jerry would never do anything inappropriate.” Adding, “I had the utmost respect for Jerry.”

It’s hard to believe that a monster like Sandusky was harbored by Happy Valley for so long. It was an open joke in Penn State football circles that you shouldn’t drop your soap in the shower when Jerry was around.

Only the boys in the shower weren’t laughing.

American Horror Story,






She Has a Pimp’s Name

Etched on Her


May 23, 2012

The New York Times



We think of branding as something ranchers do to their cattle. But it’s also what pimps do to women and girls they control across America.

Taz, a 16-year-old girl here in New York City, told me that her pimp had branded three other girls with tattoos bearing his name. When she refused the tattoo, she said, he held her down and carved his name on her back with a safety pin.

More about Taz in a moment. That kind of branding isn’t universal, but it’s very common. An alleged pimp indicted last month in Manhattan is accused of tattooing his street name on a prostitute’s neck, along with a bar code. He allegedly tattooed another prostitute with a symbol of his name on her pubic area, along with a dollar sign. In each case, the message was clear: They were his property, and they were for sale.

Such branding is a reminder that women being sold on the streets in America are — not always, but often — victims rather than criminals. That consciousness is spreading, and we are finally seeing considerable progress in tackling domestic sex trafficking.

So far, in 2012, states have passed more than 40 laws relating to human trafficking, according to Megan Fowler of Polaris Project, an anti-trafficking organization.

Prosecutors and police are increasingly targeting pimps and johns, and not just the women and girls who are their victims. In Manhattan, the district attorney’s office recently started a sex trafficking program and just secured its most comprehensive indictments for sex trafficking. Likewise, a federal prosecutor in Virginia brought sex trafficking charges last month against a man accused of selling a 14-year-old girl in several states.

Now President Obama is said to be planning an initiative on human trafficking. I’m hoping that he will direct the attorney general to make sex trafficking a higher federal priority and call on states to pass “safe harbor” laws that treat prostituted teenage girls as victims rather than criminals.

The other important shift is growing pressure on Backpage.com, a classified advertising Web site that dominates the sex trafficking industry. Calls for Village Voice Media, which owns Backpage, to end its links to sex trafficking have come from attorneys general from 48 states, dozens of mayors from around the country, and some 240,000 Americans who have signed a petition on Change.org.

Resolutions are pending in the Senate and House calling on Village Voice Media to get out of this trade. At least 34 advertisers have dropped Village Voice Media publications, including the flagship, Village Voice in New York City.

In its defense, Village Voice Media notes that it screens ads and cooperates with the police. That’s true, but Taz — the 16-year-old with her former pimp’s name carved into her back — told me that three-quarters of her “dates” had come from Backpage.

I met Taz at Gateways, a treatment center outside New York City. She told me that she ran away from home in New York City at the age of 14 and eventually ended up in the hands of a violent 20-year-old pimp who peddled her on Backpage.

Skeptics mostly believe that prostitutes sell sex voluntarily, while anti-trafficking advocates sometimes suggest that they are almost all forced into the trade. The truth is more complicated.

Taz wasn’t locked up, and, at times, she felt a romantic bond with her pimp. She distrusted the police — with reason, for when officers found her in December, they arrested her and locked her up for four months in juvenile detention.

Yet Taz wasn’t exactly selling sex by choice, either. She said her pimp issued his four girls a daily quota of money to earn; if they didn’t, he would beat them. They could never leave, either, Taz said, and she explained what happened when her pimp caught her trying to run away:

“I got drowned,” she recalled. “He choked me, put me in the tub, and when I woke up, I was drowning. He said he’d kill me if I left.”

Another time, Taz says, she tried to call 911. “He hit me over the head with a glass bottle,” she recalls. Then he ordered another of his girls to sweep up the broken glass.

I bet the police looked at Taz and saw an angry, defiant prostitute who hated them and didn’t want to be rescued. There was an element of truth to that. But there’s another side as well, now visible, and it underscores the importance of helping these girls rather than giving up on them. Taz is emerging as a smart, ambitious girl with dazzling potential. She loves reading and writing, and when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up, she smiled a bit self-consciously.

“I’d like to be a pediatrician,” she said.

    She Has a Pimp’s Name Etched on Her, NYT, 23.7.2012,






Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex


April 18, 2012
The New York Times


If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand, then you should listen to an expert on American sex trafficking I interviewed the other day.

But, first, wish her happy birthday. She turns 16 years old on Thursday.

She asked me to call her Brianna in this column because she worries that it could impede her plans to become a lawyer if I use her real name. Brianna, who grew up in New York City, is smart, poised and enjoys writing poetry.

One evening when she was 12 years old she got into a fight with her mom and ran out to join friends. “I didn’t want to go home, because I thought I’d get in trouble,” she said, and a friend’s older brother told her she could stay at his place.

Brianna figured she would go home in the morning — and that that would teach her mom a lesson. But when morning arrived, her new life began.

“I tried to leave, and he said, ‘you can’t go; you’re mine,’ ” Brianna recalled. He told her that he was a pimp and that she was now his property.

The pimp locked her in the room, she recalled, and alternately beat her and showed her affection. She says that he advertised her on Backpage.com, the leading Web site for sex trafficking in America today, as well as on other Web sites.

“He felt that Backpage made him the most money,” Brianna said, estimating that half of her pimp’s business came through Backpage.

Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of America’s prostitution ads (many placed by consenting adults who are not trafficked), according to AIM Group, a trade organization. Backpage cooperates with police and tries to screen out ads for underage girls, but that didn’t help Brianna.

Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media, and significant minority stakes have been held in recent years by Goldman Sachs and smaller financial firms such as Trimaran Capital Partners and Alta Communications. My research shows that representatives of Goldman, Trimaran and Alta, along with a founder of Brynwood Partners, all sat on the board of Village Voice Media, and there’s no indication that they ever protested its business aims.

When I wrote recently about this, these firms erupted in excuses and self-pity, and in some cases raced to liquidate their stakes. I was struck by the self-absorption and narcissism of Wall Street bankers viewing themselves as victims, so maybe it’s useful to hear from girls who were victimized through the company they invested in.

I met Brianna at Gateways, a treatment center for girls who have been sexually trafficked. It’s in Pleasantville, 35 miles north of New York City, on a sprawling estate overseen by the Jewish Child Care Association. Gateways is meant for girls ages 12 to 16, although it has accepted one who was just 11 years old. Virtually all the girls have been sold on Backpage, according to Lashauna Cutts, the center’s director.

Gateways has only 13 beds, and Cutts says that the need is so great that she could easily fill 1,300. “I have to turn away girls almost every day,” Cutts told me.

The public sometimes assumes that teenage girls in the sex trade are working freely, without coercion. It’s true that most aren’t physically imprisoned by pimps, but threats and violence are routine. The girls typically explain that they didn’t try to escape because of a complex web of emotions, including fear of the pimp but also a deluded affection and a measure of Stockholm syndrome.

Once, Brianna says, she looked out her window — and there was her mother on the street, crying and posting “missing” posters with Brianna’s photo. “I tried to shout to her through the window,” she remembered. But her pimp grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back. “If you shout, I’ll kill you,” she remembers him saying.

“If I tried to run, I thought he might kill me, or I’d be hurt,” she said. “And, if I went to the cops, I thought I’d be the one in trouble. I’d go to jail.”

Pimps warn girls to distrust the police, and often they’re right. Bridgette Carr, who runs a human-trafficking clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, tells of a 16-year-old girl who went missing. A family member found a photo of the girl on Backpage and alerted authorities. Police raided the pimp’s motel room and “rescued” the girl — by handcuffing her and detaining her for three weeks.

That mind-set has to change. Police and prosecutors must target pimps and johns, not teenage victims. Trafficked girls deserve shelters, not jails, and online emporiums like Backpage should stop abetting pimps. Sex trafficking is just as unacceptable in America as in Thailand or Nepal.

And let’s all wish our expert, Brianna, a joyous “Sweet Sixteen” birthday!

    Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex, NYT, 18.4.2012,






Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey

Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted


December 14, 2011
The New York Times


An exhaustive government survey of rape and domestic violence released on Wednesday affirmed that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and in some instances may be far more common than previously thought.

Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

“That almost one in five women have been raped in their lifetime is very striking and, I think, will be surprising to a lot of people,” said Linda C. Degutis, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey.

“I don’t think we’ve really known that it was this prevalent in the population,” she said.

The study, called the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, was begun in 2010 with the support of the National Institute of Justice and the Department of Defense. The study, a continuing telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 16,507 adults, defines intimate partner and sexual violence broadly.

The surveyors elicited information on types of aggression not previously studied in national surveys, including sexual violence other than rape, psychological aggression, coercion and control of reproductive and sexual health.

They also gathered information about the physical and mental health of violence survivors.

Sexual violence affects women disproportionately, the researchers found. One-third of women said they had been victims of a rape, beating or stalking, or a combination of assaults.

The researchers defined rape as completed forced penetration, forced penetration facilitated by drugs or alcohol, or attempted forced penetration.

By that definition, 1 percent of women surveyed reported being raped in the previous year, a figure that suggests that 1.3 million American women annually may be victims of rape or attempted rape.

That figure is significantly higher than previous estimates. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network estimated that 272,350 Americans were victims of sexual violence last year. Only 84,767 assaults defined as forcible rapes were reported in 2010, according to national statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But men also reported being victimized in surprising numbers.

One in seven men have experienced severe violence at the hands of an intimate partner, the survey found, and one in 71 men — between 1 percent and 2 percent — have been raped, many when they were younger than 11.

A vast majority of women who said they had been victims of sexual violence, rape or stalking reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as did about one-third of the men.

Women who had experienced such violence were also more likely to report having asthma, diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome than women who had not. Both men and women who had been assaulted were more likely to report frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping, limitations on activity, and poor physical and mental health.

“We’ve seen this association with chronic health conditions in smaller studies before,” said Lisa James, director of health for Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit group based in San Francisco that advocates for programs to end violence against women and girls.

“People who grow up with violence adopt coping strategies that can lead to poor health outcomes,” she said. “We know that women in abusive relationships are at increased risk for smoking, for example.”

The survey found that youth itself was an important risk factor for sexual violence and assault. Some 28 percent of male victims of rape reported that they were first assaulted when they were no older than 10.

Only 12 percent of female rape victims were assaulted when they were 10 or younger, but almost half of female victims said they had been raped before they turned 18. About 80 percent of rape victims reported that they had been raped before age 25.

Rape at a young age was associated with another, later rape; about 35 percent of women who had been raped as minors were also raped as adults, the survey found.

More than half of female rape victims had been raped by an intimate partner, according to the study, and 40 percent had been raped by an acquaintance; more than half of men who had been raped said the assailant was an acquaintance.

The public release of the report was postponed twice, most recently on Nov. 28. The findings are based on completed interviews lasting about 25 minutes each; they were conducted in 2010 with 9,086 women and 7,421 men.

Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted,






The Molester Next Door


November 7, 2011
The New York Times


The longest, most exhaustively researched article I ever wrote for a newspaper or magazine was about a child molester who had sexually abused a little boy living down the street. The abuse went on for more than two years, beginning when the boy was 10.

This molester had a job. A house. A wife. Two kids of his own. And he gained access to his victim not through brute force but through patience, play and gifts: help with his homework, computer games, a new bike. To neighborhood observers, including the victim’s parents, the molester’s attentiveness passed for kindness, at least for a while. A molester’s behavior very often does.

The arrest on Saturday of a former Penn State University assistant football coach — who is accused of sexually abusing eight pre-adolescent, adolescent and teenage boys — brought this all back to me. I wonder if people who know the coach and saw him working with kids will comment on how genuinely nurturing he seemed and how this surely prevented or discouraged suspicions about him.

This is something that has come up repeatedly over decades — I wrote that article back in 1991, for The Detroit Free Press — but that remains tough to accept: the predator to watch out for is less likely to don a trench coat and lurk behind a bush than to wear a clerical collar and stand near the altar or to hold a stopwatch and walk the sidelines. And he (or, for that matter, she) works with children as a function of being drawn to them for reasons beyond their welfare.

The former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, 67, founded and ran a charity program for disadvantaged boys. That’s one of the ways he got to know and interact so extensively with kids, some of whom received special favors related to his college-football connections. His alleged abuse of them is said to have occurred over a 15-year period ending in 2009.

He maintains his innocence of the charges against him. That’s important to note, because sexual abuse of children is a crime so rightly enraging that the specter of it has prompted unfair rushes to judgment in the past.

But true or not, the accusations against Sandusky, spelled out in great detail in a 23-page grand jury report, bring to mind many proven cases in which a molester occupied a position of trust, identified and gravitated to children who were especially vulnerable, made them feel special and was by all outward appearances their champion, which many molesters indeed believe themselves to be.

In their own minds these molesters aren’t predators. They’re people whose affinity for children just happens to have a sexual element, the satisfaction of which they’ve convinced themselves isn’t such a big, harmful deal.

Parents face a tricky challenge. They need to be watchful but not paranoid, because most clergy members, scout leaders, camp counselors and coaches aren’t abusers in waiting and are improving children’s lives. They deserve the opportunity to.

But parents should also remain conscious of an additional lesson suggested by the Penn State story. Institutions do an awful job of policing themselves.

That has been true of the Boy Scouts, which has paid out tens of million of dollars in response to lawsuits by former scouts molested by adults who continued to work in the organization despite complaints or questions about their behavior.

That has been true of the Roman Catholic Church, whose diocesan heads and bishops repeatedly transferred abusive priests from one parish to another rather than report them to law enforcement authorities. This cover-up spanned decades and went all the way up the hierarchy of the church.

Many factors explain it, including a fear of scandal and desire to protect the church’s image. The Boy Scouts, too, didn’t want messiness exposed.

Was that a dynamic at Penn State as well? Two university officials have been indicted for not contacting the police after being alerted many years ago to the possibility that Sandusky was abusing boys from his charity on university premises.

And there are lingering questions about whether the university’s renowned head football coach, Joe Paterno, was irresponsible.

According to an account in the indictment that he hasn’t disputed, a graduate assistant in 2002 told him of inappropriate activity in a university shower between a boy and Sandusky, who had already retired from his longtime job as the coordinator of the football team’s defense. Coach Paterno relayed that to a university official, then apparently moved on. And Sandusky continued to interact with troubled boys.

Paterno absolutely should have followed up. Maybe he just couldn’t envision someone like Sandusky — a distinguished professional, a seeming do-gooder — as a molester. But it’s important that we all do.

The Molester Next Door,

NYT, 7.11.2011,






A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave.


November 27, 2010

The New York Times



Americans tend to associate “modern slavery” with illiterate girls in India or Cambodia. Yet there I was the other day, interviewing a college graduate who says she spent three years terrorized by pimps in a brothel in Midtown Manhattan.

Those who think that commercial sex in this country is invariably voluntary — and especially men who pay for sex — should listen to her story. The men buying her services all mistakenly assumed that she was working of her own volition, she says.

Yumi Li (a nickname) grew up in a Korean area of northeastern China. After university, she became an accountant, but, restless and ambitious, she yearned to go abroad.

So she accepted an offer from a female jobs agent to be smuggled to New York and take up a job using her accounting skills and paying $5,000 a month. Yumi’s relatives had to sign documents pledging their homes as collateral if she did not pay back the $50,000 smugglers’ fee from her earnings.

Yumi set off for America with a fake South Korean passport. On arrival in New York, however, Yumi was ordered to work in a brothel.

“When they first mentioned prostitution, I thought I would go crazy,” Yumi told me. “I was thinking, ‘how can this happen to someone like me who is college-educated?’ ” Her voice trailed off, and she added: “I wanted to die.”

She says that the four men who ran the smuggling operation — all Chinese or South Koreans — took her into their office on 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan. They beat her with their fists (but did not hit her in the face, for that might damage her commercial value), gang-raped her and videotaped her naked in humiliating poses. For extra intimidation, they held a gun to her head.

If she continued to resist working as a prostitute, she says they told her, the video would be sent to her relatives and acquaintances back home. Relatives would be told that Yumi was a prostitute, and several of them would lose their homes as well.

Yumi caved. For the next three years, she says, she was one of about 20 Asian prostitutes working out of the office on 36th Street. Some of them worked voluntarily, she says, but others were forced and received no share in the money.

Yumi played her role robotically. On one occasion, Yumi was arrested for prostitution, and she says the police asked her if she had been trafficked.

“I said no,” she recalled. “I was really afraid that if I hinted that I was a victim, the gang would send the video to my family.”

Then one day Yumi’s closest friend in the brothel was handcuffed by a customer, abused and strangled almost to death. Yumi rescued her and took her to the hospital. She said that in her rage, she then confronted the pimps and threatened to go public.

At that point, the gang hurriedly moved offices and changed phone numbers. The pimps never mailed the video or claimed the homes in China; those may have been bluffs all along. As for Yumi and her friend, they found help with Restore NYC, a nonprofit that helps human trafficking victims in the city.

I can’t be sure of elements of Yumi’s story, but it mostly rings true to me and to the social workers who have worked with her. There’s no doubt that while some women come to the United States voluntarily to seek their fortunes in the sex trade, many others are coerced — and still others start out forced but eventually continue voluntarily. And it’s not just foreign women. The worst cases of forced prostitution, especially of children, often involve home-grown teenage runaways.

No one has a clear idea of the scale of the problem, and estimates vary hugely. Some think the problem is getting worse; others believe that Internet services reduce the role of pimps and lead to commercial sex that is more consensual. What is clear is that forced prostitution should be a national scandal. Just this month, authorities indicted 29 people, mostly people of Somali origin from the Minneapolis area, on charges of running a human trafficking ring that allegedly sold many girls into prostitution — one at the age of 12.

There are no silver bullets, but the critical step is for the police and prosecutors to focus more on customers (to reduce demand) and, above all, on pimps. Prostitutes tend to be arrested because they are easy to catch, while pimping is a far harder crime to prosecute. That’s one reason thugs become pimps: It’s hugely profitable and carries less risk than selling drugs or stealing cars. But that can change as state and federal authorities target traffickers rather than their victims.

Nearly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, it’s time to wipe out the remnants of slavery in this country.

A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave.,










Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


sexual violence > prostitution > UK



global economy

cheap labour, forced labour, slavery >

21st century



Roman Catholic church > Clergy sex abuse worldwide



Roman Catholic church > Clergy sex abuse > Australia



Roman Catholic church > Clergy sex abuse > Ireland



Roman Catholic church > Clergy sex abuse > USA



Ireland > Tuam > Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home



Roman Catholic church > Clergy sex abuse > Vatican, Popes


USA > child abuse



USA > rape



sexual harassment / misconduct



violence against women worldwide







home Up