There is no excuse to deny or ignore the undeniable exploitation of countless human beings
People have been asking me my thoughts on the recent and sad reports that Somaly Mam’s story of being trafficked into prostitution as a child are not true.
I know many good people who have selflessly supported Mam’s work in Cambodia for many years. I commend them and know their fund raising efforts have done much good. My view is that while the founder of any movement or organisation can be flawed, the movement itself, when it is good and necessary, should not rise or fall because of the faults of its founder. This article by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women’s Taina Bien-Aime in the Huffington Post captures my broader thoughts on the matter.
The Somaly Mam Story: What We Still Know About Sex Trafficking
…What the Somaly Mam story highlights is a state of affairs that many of us in the social change movement bemoan, namely that simple stories of exploitation rarely grab the public’s imagination, the donors, or the press. Unless the overdone images of runny noses, torn clothing, or worse, naked children in a cage waiting to be sold, are splashed on glossy pages, the actual suffering of human beings too often fails to trigger widespread empathy or outrage.
In addition to this heightened need for sensationalism, our society craves numbers. Suffering in small quantities is rarely enough. Given the undercover and “hidden in plain sight” crimes of human trafficking, no entity has been definitively able to pin down the actual number of victims. From the United Nations to national statistics, the numbers range widely from 2.5 million to 20.9 million. Irrespective of the range, all agree that the majority of those estimated individuals are women and children with a majority of that group ending up in the sex trade. In a recent report, the International Labor Organization estimated that profits from human trafficking generated $150 billion, two-thirds of which, or $90 billion, stem from commercial sexual exploitation.
Cambodia is designated as a source, transit and destination country for labor and sex trafficking. The U.S. State Department also found that the sale of virgin women and girls continues to be a problem and that Cambodian men form the “largest source of demand for child prostitution.” Regardless of its founder’s personal failings, the Somaly Mam Foundation has plenty of urgent work ahead.
In collaboration with the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, Dr. Melissa Farley, of Prostitution Research and Education, interviewed 133 Cambodian men who purchased commercial sex. The study shows that almost all of these male buyers interviewed in Phnom Penh stated that they witnessed extreme violence inflicted on the prostituted women, more often than not controlled by pimps. The men surveyed also saw children available for paid sexual abuse in brothels, bars and massage parlors. One of the “johns” astutely said that “prostitution is the man’s heaven but it is also those girls’ hell.”
The Somaly Mam episode cannot be used as an excuse to deny or ignore the undeniable exploitation of countless human beings in the sex trade. Nor should it be a vehicle to call, as some mainstream human rights organizations are doing, for the full decriminalization of the sex industry, the equivalent of legalization of prostitution. A vision to end human rights abuses must be applicable to every person whose rights are trampled, including women sold and exploited in the sex trade. The right not to be prostituted cannot be trumped by the purported right of men to purchase women’s bodies. The history of the women’s movement to end violence shows time and again the difficulty for a violated woman, whether in domestic abuse, sexual assault, rape or discrimination, to be heard, to be believed, to receive justice…
These undeniable facts certainly do not condone fabrication, but the revelations about Somaly Mam cannot erase the horrors of the sex trade and the growing movement of genuine, courageous survivors exposing these truths. The misguided excuses to ignore this reality by promoting legitimization of exploitation, including identifying sex trafficked children as “sex workers”, must continue to be met with vigilance and concerted action.
Whether it hurts the woman or not, the men don’t care
The sex industry done well at spinning prostitution as a positive good for all involved. This piece in The Irish Times cuts through the gloss and shows what life is like for many prostituted women (and there’s no reason to believe these experiences are limited to Ireland). Here’s an extract:
The release last week of the annual report from Ruhama, the charity for women affected by prostitution, triggered a mild flurry of curiosity about the lives of one of the most contentious groups in society.
Last year, these women “reported horrific levels of sexual, physical and emotional abuse”, said the charity’s chief executive, Sarah Benson. They were punched in the face, in the stomach, were kicked down stairs, beaten for refusing to have sex with men, were locked in, were refused food, were burned and bitten.
“Women were told by buyers that they were ‘ugly’, ‘not very good’, that they ‘should at least try to look like you’re enjoying it’ while their bodies were used in whatever way the buyer wished,” said Benson. Which means “turning yourself into a public toilet”, in the words of one former prostitute this week.
The notion of a mutually pleasurable, damage-free transaction – as promoted by the industry and supporters of legalisation – sits wildly at odds with the reality of these engagements. Were it not for the wreckage they leave behind, the self-delusion of the average sex buyer would be laughable. Read the full article here
According to Dines’s research the prevalence of porn means that men are becoming desensitised to it, and are therefore seeking out ever harsher, more violent and degrading images…”I have found that the earlier men use porn,” says Dines, “the more likely they are to have trouble developing close, intimate relationships with real women. Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. They are bewildered, even angry, when real women don’t want or enjoy porn sex”…
Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes “the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships,” says Dines. “Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanisation of an oppressed group…The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects…
In this piece, also in the Guardian, Julie Bindel highlights the success of Sweden’s approach to prostitution: penalising the buyer of sexual services. An extract:
Today, Förbud mot köp av sexuell tjänst: en utvärdering 1999-2008 (Prohibition of the Purchase of a Sexual Service: an Evaluation 1999-2008), a report on the evaluation of the 11-year-old Swedish law that criminalises those who pay for or attempt to pay for sex, is released, and its conclusion is that the legislation has been overwhelmingly positive for all (except the pimps, traffickers and punters, of course). I hope it will put paid to the scores of assertions bandied about during the past decade that the law has been detrimental to those in prostitution as well as to wider society…
…today’s report, a comprehensive evaluation of the Swedish law, conducted by an independent commission appointed by the government, and led by the chancellor of justice (the highest legal officer in Sweden) shows that legislation criminalising demand has been a resounding success. The evaluation concludes that, since the law came in to force in 1999, the number of women involved in street prostitution has halved, whereas neighbouring countries such as Denmark and Norway have seen a sharp rise; that there is no evidence of an increase in off-street prostitution; and that, despite a significant increase in prostitution in the neighbouring countries during the past 10 years, there is no evidence of a similar increase in Sweden.
I hope those who are being pressured by vested sex industry interests to extend legalisation in Australia will read this report. Anyone interested in the issue should also read Making Sex Work: a failed experiment with legalised prostitution by Mary Lucille Sullivan, which documents how all the positive claims made about the benefits of legalisation failed to be realised in Victoria.
Stop Porn Cultures conference: how industrialised porn harms us all
I’ve just come back from the US where I attended the Stop Porn Culture conference in Boston. While I can’t say I enjoyed it quite as much as the enchanted evening listening to James Taylor and Carole King perform in Washington (my smooth-taking mate DJM from the north of England scored $15 tickets on the sidewalk an hour before the show), it was good to be with like-minded women – and some men – committed to unmasking the harms of Big Porn Inc.
The conference examined the nature and impact of the global porn industry and the move toward ever more violent and degrading forms of pornography. The papers were disturbing. We learnt of the tactics porn companies use to get men hooked on porn, of the porn profit trails leading to mainstream corporations, of porn’s influence on the music industry, of racist stereotypes of Black, Asian and Latino women perpetuated in pornography, of the filming of sexual torture of women in war situations. We watched Chyng Sun’s film ‘The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships’. I hadn’t seen animated images of children used in pornography before. Now I have. This material, so life-like and realistic – is one of the latest trends in pornography, protected as free-speech under the constitution of the United States of America, thanks to the efforts of the ‘Free Speech Coalition’.
I also picked up Dr. Gail Dines new book Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality (Beacon Press, Boston, 2010), which I read on the plane home (read David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers on the way over. Reckon I’ll choose Anne of Green Gables for the next trip). The book is a confronting no-holds barred look at what porn is and where it is taking us, including the niche markets of teen sex, torture and gonzo porn. Professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston, an internationally acclaimed speaker and author, and a feminist activist, Dines argues that the proliferation of sexualised imagery is a major public health concern that we cannot ignore. She argues pornographers have hijacked our sexuality, selling is back to us in forms ever more dark and cruel. Contrary to stereotypes of anti porn feminists as ‘man hating’, it is clear Dines cares for men and boys and porn’s impact on them. Also contrary to the labels, Dines makes it clear she is not anti sex, just anti industrialised, corporatized porn sex which destroys real intimacy.
Gail Dines is a founding member of Stop Porn Culture, an educational and activist group made up of academics, anti-violence experts, community organisers and anyone concerned about the increasing pornification of the culture.
I’m reprinting here, with her permission, Gail’s opening address to the conference:
Welcome to the Stop Porn culture Conference of 2010. We are thrilled to host these two days of keynotes and workshops, and to provide a space where we can discuss the harmful effects of an industry that saturates our society with misogynistic and racist images. In this room we have women and men who are activists, anti-violence experts, academics, anti-racist educators, students and citizens who feel deep in their gut that something is wrong with the culture. Everywhere we look we see what it means to live in a pornified culture where the images, themes and stories of porn seep into our everyday lives. Whether it be teens sexting or Miley Cyrus doing a pole dance, the dominant discourse around sex and sexuality has been hijacked by the pornographers.
We come together this weekend to share ideas and discuss strategy, and we do this because we recognize that we need to build a robust movement that takes on this predatory industry. This weekend you are amongst friends. It is not often that those of us opposed to porn find a place where we can feel welcome. The academy has basically turned us into outliers, the mass media has caricatured us, and we are ridiculed and insulted all over the web.
If the chatter is to be believed, then apparently we are anti-sex prudes who hate men and scream rape every time a woman has sex with a man. To read about us, it would appear that we are against fun, sexual creativity, playfulness, masturbation and of course orgasms. We are depressing, unappetizing and worse yet, out to ruin everyone else’s sex life.
Of course, all this is just a way to belittle us and legitimize the porn industry. I would say that anti-porn feminists are pro-sex in the real sense of the word, pro that wonderful, fun and deliciously creative force that bathes the body in delight and pleasure. And what we are actually against is porn sex. A sex that is debased, dehumanized, formulaic and generic, a sex based not on individual fantasy, play or imagination, but one that is the result of an industrial product created by (mostly) men who get excited, not by bodily contact, but by market penetration and profits. A sex that encodes deep cultural scripts of male entitlement and female subservience.
To appreciate just how bizarre it is to collapse a critique of pornography into a critique of sex, think for a minute if we were critiquing McDonald’s for its exploitive labor practices, its destruction of the environment, and its impact on our diet and health. Would anyone accuse us of being anti-eating or anti-food? I suspect that most readers would separate the industry (McDonald’s) and the industrial product (hamburgers) from the act of eating and would understand that the critique was focused on the large-scale impact of the fast food industry and not the human need, experience, and joy of eating. So, why, when we talk about pornography, is it difficult to understand that one can be a feminist who is unabashedly pro-sex but against the commodification and industrialization of a human desire? The answer, of course, is that pornographers have done an incredible job of selling their product as being all about sex, and not about a particular constructed version of sex that is developed within an industrial setting.
Understanding that porn is an industry means that it needs to be understood as a business, whose product evolves with a specifically capitalist logic. This is a business with considerable political clout, with the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles, and use public relations to influence public debate. Like the tobacco industry, this is not a simple matter of consumer choice; rather the business is increasingly able to deploy a sophisticated and well-resourced marketing machine, not just to push its wares but also to cast the industry’s image in a positive light. As a major industry, the porn business does not just construct and sell a product; it constructs a world in which the product can be sold: the technologies, the business models, the enthusiastic consumers, the compliant performers, the tolerant laws, even the ideologies that proclaim porn to be the very pinnacle of empowerment and liberation.
As anti-porn feminists we refuse to buy into the “porn equals empowerment” argument and instead look at the industry from a critical and macro perspective. This means looking for patterns and explaining how they came to be, their dynamics and the structural forces that perpetuate them. We acknowledge that some women can make porn work for them. Jenna Jameson is fabulously rich, Sasha Grey is on the fast track to becoming a major crossover star, and Tera Patrick is a one woman industry. But for all the Jennas, Sashas and Teras, there are thousands of women that go to the San Fernando Valley with stars in their eyes and come away with scars on their bodies. Some go back to their low paid jobs while others end up on the streets under the control of pimps, in the brothels of Nevada, or doing the type of porn that is considered to be beyond the mainstream, even by the porn industry.
You won’t be seeing these women on Oprah or Howard Stern. These are the women the pro-porn people never want to talk about because they bring into stark focus just how the industry really treats women. Their lives illustrate the contempt and utter disregard that the industry has for women and the reality of their lives is hidden behind the mantra of “well, they consented”. What does consent mean in a world where women are the poorest, hungriest and most overworked group? What does consent mean in a world where, according to economist Amartya Sen, 100 million women are missing? And we don’t even notice their absence. For these women, gender isn’t some abstract concept to be played with or deconstructed within a post-modern discourse, it is a lived experience and it shapes, determines and controls the conditions of their lives.
See also this blog piece by Susan Hawthorn of Spinifex Press, who also attended the SPC conference.
Award winning Canadian journalist and author Victor Malarek was in Australia recently speaking about the international trade in the bodies of women and girls.The exploitation of women and girls in the sex trade was one of the most neglected human rights abuses in the world today, Victor Malarek said, describing the trade as “international sexual terrorism”. Malarek is author of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Slave Trade and The Johns: Sex for sale and the men who buy it. The tour was co-sponsored by Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation and the Salvation Army. It was a privilege to share a platform with Victor at a number of events. Here is a copy of his speech.
Somaly Mam in Australia next week
Cambodian trafficking survivor Somaly Mam will be speaking in Sydney next week. Sold into Cambodia’s sex trade at the age of 12 and forced to work in a brothel alongside other children where she was raped daily, Mam is co-founder of AFESIP, a Cambodian NGO which provides hope to other victims. Honoured as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009, Mam has launched the Somaly Mam Foundation as a vehicle to support anti-trafficking organisations and to provide victims and survivors with a way to have their voices heard around the world. Hear Somaly Mam’s inspiring story on Tuesday June 22. Details here.
The Natashas: Inside the new global sex trade (Arcade, NY, 2003) by award-winning Canadian journalist Victor Malarek is one such book. A brutal expose of the lucrative trade in the flesh of women and girls from Eastern Europe, The Natashas is a testament to human cruelty in its most extreme forms. This scathing indictment demonstrates how the 21st century version of slavery is alive and well, thanks to the demand of men and institutionalised corruption. Young girls plucked from overflowing orphanages and sold into the trade; young women lured with promises of jobs or kidnapped and ‘broken in’ in slave camps in Kosovo and Serbia, killed if they refuse to comply; systemic complicity by police, local officials and governments.
Senior investigative reporter on CTV’s award winning investigative current affairs show W5, Victor Malarek has written a follow-up, titled The Johns: Sex for Sale and the men who buy it (Arcade, NY, 2009) which goes to the heart of the problem: demand. The insatiable demand of men for the bodies of women; men who care nothing for these women’s rights or dignity, for where they have come from and where they might end up. He describes this exploitation as “one of the most overlooked human rights abuses on the planet today”.
The Salvos and Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, are hosting the following events with Victor Malarek as guest speaker. Salvos Social Justice Director Danielle Strikland will also speak and I’ll be MC.
Please show your concern for this horrendous violation of human rights with your attendance, and let your friends know too.
Listen to Victor Malarek:
Hear the stories of trafficked Eastern European women here:
Somaly Mam to visit Australia in June
Former Cambodian victim of sexual slavery, co-founder of a foundation to combat trafficking in women and children for sexual slavery and author of The road of lost innocence, Somaly Mam will be speaking in Australia next month.
‘Veronica’ is a 21-year-old Australian woman who has taken up film director-cum-pimp Justin Sisley’s offer to auction her virginity for his film.
“I need to do something with my life” is one of the justifications she gives here:
Being paraded in a meat-market style display in a Nevada brothel in an auction for her virginity is ‘something’ alright.
Veronica also says she’s never done “anything out of the ordinary” and that it’s a “good opportunity” to “challenge the way people think about sex”. In addition, the money could help her family.
She also says she finds it “hard to find a good man”. A rich sleeze who bids for her virginity is going to solve that problem?
Veronica’s interview feels terribly scripted, especially when she talks about challenging prevailing views about sex. I wonder if Sisley helped with her lines?
Veronica seems to think she will be involved in a one-off that will have no further bearing on her life.
“But it’s not going to be a regular thing, so in my head I can justify that I’m not going to be a prostitute,” she said.
But it will be a regular thing. The film will go viral in seconds and Veronica’s prostitution will be what she will always be remembered for. Regularly. It is unclear if Sisley plans to film this enchanted evening between two strangers. If he does, then it means she has been used to make pornography.
And what are the terms and conditions of the arrangement? What if the man who buys her wants to do things to her she hadn’t expected? What if he’s into torture, bondage, S&M? What if wants to access-all-areas? What if he wants to knock her around a bit? What if he stalks her after the event?
Where are the protections for her?
Perhaps Veronica needs to find out why the other candidates have dropped out of the project and why the filmmaker (who, incidentally, is advertised on a Government website) had to start from scratch and hunt for some fresh new virgins?
There are apparently some male ‘virgins’ (really, how would you know?) also taking part. Alex, 20, says he wants to “meet someone”. And John is “excited about the journey” that will lead him to his male or female buyer (he doesn’t mind which). It’s all about the journey. My amazing journey to the Nevada cattleyard where I was sold. By John.
The film makes a mockery of moves to address the global slave trade, which especially prizes young virgins. ‘Defloration’ websites are distressingly popular. And Veronica will be contributing to the spin of the global sex industry which paints sex selling as an exciting career move for young women.
If it goes ahead, this film will further entrench the commodification of sexuality. And Veronica may find herself wishing she’d found something else to do with her life.
Last month I briefly mentioned a Tasmanian case in which a father, a registered sex offender convicted of possessing child pornography, was given visitation right to his two daughters.I thought the story warranted a more in-depth examination, so I asked Caroline Norma to take a closer look. Caroline isa PhD candidate with the Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. She is a member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in Australia, and works part-time with the Policing Just Outcomes Project.
[Trigger warning for survivors of sexual assault and inter-familial rape]
Justice Robert Benjamin in the Robins v Ruddock case of22 January this year awarded a registered sex offender access rights to his two daughters. This was despite the fact that, in his judgment, Justice Benjamin said he believed one of the daughters, a ten year old, who told the court she was scared of spending time alone at night with her father. She had reason to be scared. Her father had been convicted for possessing child pornography, and was listed on the state’s sex offender register. Justice Benjamin believed the girl’s mother who told the court she had seen her ex-husband sexually abusing his stepdaughter. He believed a forensic psychologist who told the court the ten-year-old daughter had also been sexually abused at some point. Justice Benjamin believed the ‘mother was truthful in giving evidence’ (p. 22), and that she was unable to intervene in her husband’s abuse of her daughters because of his violent and controlling behaviour. Justice Benjamin described her ex-husband as having poor impulse control, as being ‘manipulative and disingenuous’ (p. 23), as opportunistic, as engaging in inappropriate ‘communication’ with his daughter, and as acting in self-serving ways. However, despite fully understanding and acknowledging the sexual threat the father posed, Justice Benjamin ignored the pleas of the girls’ mother and awarded a sex offender fortnightly access to his daughters.
How did Justice Benjamin arrive at this decision? The reason he was able to believe the girls, while still deciding to grant a sex offender access to them, seems to rest in an implicit belief in a biologically determinist ‘hydraulic model’ of male sexuality. This is a term coined by the head of the International Center for Research on Women, Geeta Rao Gupta. Gupta argues that even in the 21st century, some men still think their penises operate like hydraulic systems. In technical terms, a hydraulic system operates ‘by the pressure created by forcing water, oil, or another liquid through a comparatively narrow pipe or orifice’. So some men justify their raping behaviour on the basis of an unsuppressible and explosive biological need for sexual release. They imagine their penises function in a similar way to a hydraulic system operating with semen under pressure. They worry about their hydraulic systems breaking down if a vagina (or indeed any hole!) is not found to trigger the release valve.
The comedic quality of this bizarre ‘hydraulic model’ idea of male sexuality fades quickly into tragedy when the model is applied by judges in familial sexual assault cases. In Justice Benjamin’s case, an implicit belief in a hydraulic idea of male sexuality appears to have led him to think the father would rape the girls only if certain conditions prevailed. Specifically, three circumstances had to be guarded against if the father’s hydraulically-operated sexuality wasn’t going to explode:
First, the father must not come across the girls at night-time when they are less alert and wearing fewer clothes;
Second, he must not come across one of them alone, but only together in a pair (Justice Benjamin explains that he sees ‘the risk of the father acting inappropriately with the children [a]s significantly diminished when they are awake and alert and when the children are together’, at p. 23); and
Third, the girls must not be in the father’s bed.
Justice Benjamin’s judgment expresses a clear idea about what triggers the operation of the father’s hydraulic penis: provided the father doesn’t see his kids in darkness, sleepiness, or alone, there will be no risk of his sexually assaulting them. So Justice Benjamin made court orders designed to prevent these three conditions arising. First, he orders the two sisters to sleep in the same room, and the father to have another adult stay overnight at his house when the girls sleep over each fortnight. This person must be in the house between the hours of 8pm and 7am. Second, Justice Benjamin ordered that there be a ‘door on the children’s bedroom which is capable of being shut at the request of the children’ (p. 19). Third, he ordered that the father must not ‘invite’ the girls into his bed.
Justice Benjamin’s implicit acceptance of this myth of the male hydraulic penis in his reasoning means that the two girls now face real danger. The reality of men’s sexually abusive behaviour is very different from the view crystallised in the biologically determinist ‘hydraulic penis theory’. In reality, abusers go to great lengths to gain sexual access to girls at all times of the day, and often even look for employment that allows them to work with children. They put a lot of time and effort into grooming girls for sexual abuse, often using pornography and animals to instruct them. They document and share with other men techniques of sexual abuse. They go to great lengths to cover up the abuses they perpetrate, and will threaten and harass girls who attempt to speak out against them. To sexual predators, custody rights can seem like manna from heaven, allowing them to abuse their victims in the privacy and convenience of their own homes. In the Robins v Ruddock case, the father now has enough time and space to properly groom his daughters away from their mother so they will never again speak out against him.
The safety of children is endangered when people who appear to believe in hydraulic penises hear court cases involving children. Hydraulic penises are just a myth, and have no basis in reality. Biological determinist myths about male sexuality are dangerous because it looks like they render influential people like Justice Benjamin incapable of taking proper action to protect children’s safety and wellbeing. There are very few powerful people on whom children can call to protect them, and as long as myths about male sexuality permeate the Australian court system, judges will threaten, rather than armour, the human rights of the weakest members of our society.
It’s not sex it’s rape
I’ve written before about how rape is too often minimised in reporting of sexual crimes, reduced to “had sex with” and other lesser depictions.
Lauredhel from W.A, in a piece titled ‘A forensic semanticist on sex and rape’ published on the Hoyden About Town blog, makes the same point. Here’s an extract:
In Trenton, N.J., a group of up to seven guys—a mix of adults and minors—paid a teenager for her 7-year-old sister. They allegedly gang-raped the girl as the rest of the partygoers looked on.
Yet, the lead in the Web site story began, “Police in New Jersey’s capital say a 15-year-old sold her 7-year-old sister to have sex with as many as seven men and boys.”
Breaking news: The 7-year-old girl from Trenton didn’t “have sex with” up to seven men. If there was sexual contact, she was gang-raped. Read story here.
Why isn’t incest rape?
In an older but still vitally significant piece, Caroline Taylor discusses the courts’ refusal to use the word ‘rape’ in incest trials:
In one case, after complaints from the defence barrister, the survivor was threatened with contempt of court charges if they did not refrain from using the term rape when they described repeated acts of sexual penetration by their father. In a discussion between the trial judge and defence lawyer the judge declared that since ‘incest was consensual’ it could not therefore be rape, and so the survivor was wrong to make such a claim. To add insult to injury the defence barrister added that using the term rape suggested some kind of violence was used! Two other cases from the same sample involved legal discussions involving the inappropriateness of survivors or police using the term rape in ‘incest’ trials.’
In ‘Girl Slavery in America’, a recent post published on Huffington Post, Executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, Malika Saada Saar, highlights (like this earlier piece I published) that there is a marketplace for the bodies of girls in the West as well as other parts of the world. She also makes the very important point that it is not the girls who are victims of the prostitution trade who should be penalised, but the men who fuel demand for them in the first place.
…Unfortunately, in both urban and rural regions of the nation, American-born girls are being trafficked and sold. An estimated 100,000-300,000 American children are at risk for becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. According to the Department of Justice, the average age of a prostituted girl in the U.S. is 12-14 years. These sexually exploited girls are routinely raped, beaten into submission, and even tattooed like cattle by their pimps.
…we must …stem the demand for buying and selling girls for sex.
Men who purchase girls for sex are committing child abuse. They are not simply paying for sex; they are instead perpetrating brutal acts of rape against vulnerable children who do not choose to sell their bodies. No child wants to be sold for sex.
It is time to prosecute those who sell and purchase girls. If they are subject to punishment for their criminal acts against children, pimps and “johns” will be less interested in the marketplace of very young girls. The laws already exist—but there is minimal political will, at the state or federal level, to prosecute them–especially the “johns”. Despite all the political jingoism about being tough on crime or protecting our children, lawmakers are remarkably indifferent to prosecuting these child abusers.
How is it that in our nation, in the 21st century, any one of our daughters can be bought and sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation, and without the severe threat of punishment? What is happening that girls’ lives are worth so little? In the context of a civilized society, this level of tolerated violence against girls is an irreconcilable contradiction. No girl in America should be purchased, sold, raped, abused or exploited — and with impunity.Read article here.
They also hacked the PM’s site, plastering it with porn in a protest against the Government’s internet filtering plans. Parliament House staff also received porn spam emails.
So now we have porn vigilantes demanding their entitlement to every form of pornography – which would include child sexual assault images – by wrecking the computer operating systems of a democratic parliament and declaring cyber war on Australia. So great is their desire for violent porn and child porn, by overwhelming the system with pornography they also force others to view it against their will. This is how the porn lobby views freedom? Unleashing a form of cyber terrorism to get its way?
Speaking of illegal, Senate Estimates hearings of the Legal and Constitution Legislation Committee last week heard that Classification Board Director Donald McDonald had issued called-in notices for 37 unclassified porn magazines between July 1 and December 21, 2009. In the 12 months before ,he called-in 127 magazines. The called-in titles included ‘Live Young Girls’ and others imported by Namda/Windsor Wholesale, whose General Manager is David Watt of the Eros Foundation which launched the Australian Sex Party.
Many of the recalled titles endorse rape and incest and represent very young girls as desperate for sex with older males. The magazines have been illegally distributed in corner stores, milkbars and petrol stations including McDonald’s Fuelzone for who knows how long. See earlier blog
In addition, in the six months to December 31, 2009, McDonald had called in 440 pornographic films, including incest titles. From 2008 to July 2009 he had called in 386 titles. Under our laws, distributors who fail to put their publications through the classification system have three days to respond to these notices. So, guess how many distributors have responded?
While the Classification Board notifies police about illegal publications and films, there is no reporting back on enforcement. It is possible nothing happens. No one seems to know. And bear in mind, these are only the titles that were found. How many more are out there?
Porn distributors have demonstrated that they think they can do what they want and get away with it. It seems they are right. The system is broke. It needs fixing.
Maybe take up the whole day with it?
“Viewing porn online becomes a major problem only when people become so preoccupied that they spend 16 to 18 hours a day doing nothing else but watching porn, with serious impacts on relationships, work, studies, and finance,” Dr Sitharthan said.
So it’s only a problem if every waking moment is taken up with it? What about 10 hours a day? Or eight? Or three or four? Is porn use now so normalised that anything under 16 hours of viewing on-line porn is considered unproblematic?
If you or someone you know is a compulsive porn user, I’d like your thoughts on when you think porn use is a problem.
Throw in some dead prostituted women perhaps?
In another example of pimp culture gone mainstream , a Queensland schoolboy set up a Facebook page called “Kill my hooker so you don’t have to pay her”. The site was taken down by Facebook – but not before it attracted 18,000 members.
How about starting with educating boys that violence against women is wrong?
President of the Australian Sex Workers Association, Elena Jeffreys, took the opportunity to offer to get prostituted women into schools and educate students about the “reality of prostitution”.
Given that the association thinks prostitution is a good career choice for women and given their moves to loosen up our visa system so that more Asian women can be prostituted here, I’m not sure how much reality the school kids would get.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
Heather Douglas – Parent – Pembroke School
“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
Paul Teys – Principal – Hunter Valley Grammar
“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
“As you read, be prepared to feel both grief and rage.” Robert Jensen
“These accounts are among the most unsettling you will ever read.” Steve Biddulph
“This powerful and humane book is a breakthrough…Big Porn Inc shows us we are poisoning our own spirits.” – Steve Biddulph
“A landmark publication” – Clive Hamilton
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It, Men of Honour, Sexts Texts & Selfies, Raising Girls, Raising Boys, MTR DVD, Ruby Who? DVD & book, Girl Wise guide to friends, Girl Wise guide to being you, Girl Wise guide to life and Girl Wise guide to taking care of your body, and the new Wise Guys for the combined discounted price of $250.
‘The foremost authority in Australia cyber safety lays it on the line and challenges parents to find their digital spine.’ – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
Whether it is problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – these books are written especially for you – to help you in your journey. Purchase all four together and save $18.50 on postage! Author: Sharon Witt
In this DVD, Melinda takes us on a visual tour of popular culture. “Melinda’s presentation leaves audiences reeling. She delivers her message with a clarity and commonsense without peer.” – Steve Biddulph, author, Raising Boys, Raising Girls
In this easy-to-read updated book, Steve Biddulph shares powerful stories and give practical advice about every aspect of boyhood.
“Overflowing with incisive understandings…a comprehensive and in-depth guide.” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Men of Honour -written by Glen Gerreyn- encourages and inspires young men to take up the challenge to be honourable. Whether at school, in sport, at work or in relationships, we must develp our character to achieve success and experience the thrills life has on offer.
Purchase the Ruby Who? DVD and book together for only $35 saving 10% off the individual price.
“Getting Real contains a treasure trove of information and should be mandatory reading for all workers with young people in health, education and welfare” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Adolescent Psychologist
Do you read women’s lifestyle magazines? Have you thought about how magazines might affect you when you read them? Faking It reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media, and the sexual objectification of women.
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.