China’s Stolen Children
How the One Child Policy is fuelling child trafficking in China
On 9th July 2012, the BBC broadcast a report on how Chinese authorities arrested 800 human traffickers and rescued nearly 200 children. These high-profile raids revealed the prolific extent of child trafficking across China, reawakening the need for the Chinese government to combat this heinous crime. An estimated 190 children are snatched every day - more than twice the number taken in England and Wales in a year.
A journalist for the Observer, Clare Dywer Hogg, wrote in an article named ‘Has anyone seen our child?’ that “if 190 people were dying every day from the same illness, you'd call it an epidemic.
And that's exactly what it is, except nobody really wants to talk about it - Especially the Chinese government.” She adds
‘La Dolce Vita’ – Sex Trafficking and the Italian Mafia
On the 19th May, the Mayor of Brindisi made a statement blaming the local mafia (Sacra Corona Unita) for the deadly bomb blast at the Francesco Morvillo Falcone School. The bomb exploded at 7:45am just as the students were arriving at school, killing one girl and injuring 6 others. Observers pointed to the fact that the school is named after Francesca Morvillo, the wife of famous anti-mafiajudge Giovanni Falcone, who was assassinated with her husband and three bodyguards by a mafia bomb 20 years ago. Italian mafia culture is romanticised by Hollywood such as the glamorous Marlon Brando in ‘The Godfather’ or the American/Italian Mafioso boss Tony Soprano in the ‘Sopranos’; but in reality the mafia is not only terrifyingly rife all over Italy, it also terrorises communities and infamously runs human trafficking rings as part of their organised crime.
The Unkindest Cut of All
The Fate of Britain’s Trafficked Illegal Workers in the Recession
The Economic Crisis in Europe has even had an impact on illegal immigrants. Despite the UK’s dwindling economy and lack of employment opportunities, illegal economic immigrants from India, trafficked in by their own people, still come to fulfil their dreams of a ‘better life’ in this country. But in reality this ‘dream’ all too quickly materialises into a living nightmare.
Sleeping amongst rats and rubbish, desperate for work, these illegal immigrants live in makeshift homes in garden sheds and garages, coined ‘sheds with beds’. They are desperate to return home and even by apply for voluntary deportation, yet they are trapped in a bureaucratic no-man’s land; without any official identity documents, the process of deportation is very slow – ironically they were instructed by their traffickers to destroy their identity papers in order to make deportation difficult.
These ‘sheds with beds’ are Greater London’s 21st century slums, hidden at the end of gardens and down alleyways of row after row of terraced houses;
Organs for sale…
The word ‘trafficking’ is stereotypically prefaced with ‘sex’ or ‘drugs’ - far less frequently by the adjective ‘organ’. Often deemed a mere myth, organ trafficking is terrifyingly real and prolific around the world, despite having a lower profile. Indeed, like sex and drug trafficking, it targets the world’s most vulnerable. Organ trafficking is classically divided into two categories; those who willingly (although ignorant of the procedure and consequences) sell their organs, and those who have their organs stolen from them. The first example is rife in the poorest countries of the world; an estimated 250-300 people in Bangladesh sell their organs (mostly kidneys) for money each year. These victims are illegally exploited, often not paid what they are owed and are then plagued with severe health problems.
A case study conducted in Bangladesh, interviewed 33 kidney sellers who claimed they had never received their promised payment and all suffer from serious health issues. The study, which appears in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, reports that people selling their organs are
The Fight against Trafficking
I am often asked how Red Light Campaign makes a difference in the fight against human trafficking - how do our artworks, engagement with the issue and awareness-raising events actually counteract trafficking?
Human trafficking and sex slavery is an age-old aspect of every society and is still, like the victims it affects, swept under the carpet. As the trafficking of human beings is becoming worryingly accepted as an unstoppable fact of life, the fight against it therefore requires thinking outside of the box - outside the ‘norms’ and confines of society. Those not directly affected by human trafficking, remain unaware of how rampant it is in our society. It is this unconscious obliviousness, which allows traffickers to calm conduct their business; a fact that Red Light Campaign hopes to change.
The fight against human trafficking requires an approach that consists of at least three layers: First, the actual persecution of traffickers, which is the very core of the “fight” against trafficking; the second layer is the attempt to protect and rehabilitate the victims themselves; this in turn, is related to the third layer - raising society’s awareness of this issue. It is this three-layer approach, which is required to increase the likelihood of success in this on-going struggle.
When considering the victims of human trafficking, two main areas of concern come to mind:
Human Trafficking Online
How often do you go on a classifieds website, such as Craigslist or Gumtree? And what do you search for? The NY Times journalist Nicholas D. Kristof has recently reported on how pimps are using certain websites to traffic and sell their girls online. Advertising and selling a prostitute over the internet, from a pimp’s perspective, is perfect. It makes their job significantly easier as it removes the risk of their girls being arrested when soliciting on the street. Websites such as Backpage.com earn 22 million dollars annually through their ‘adult services’ adverts where girls are bought, sold or bid for like items on eBay. This online platform also makes it much more difficult for authorities to crack down on these trafficking and prostitution rings due to their constant movement from site to site.
In one of Nicholas D. Kristof’s articles, he interviews a former prostitute called Alissa, (her street name) who is forever reminded of her former life by a deep scar on her cheek where a pimp sliced her with a potato peeler, warning her not to run away. Alissa managed to escape and did testify against her pimps (6 of them went to prison for up to 25 years) but she is particularly scathing about Backpage.com. She compares it to the concept of buying a child at the American chain Wal-Mart – buying girls online is the same principle, and yet is accepted.
The 46th American Super Bowl, the most watched TV event of the year, took place in Indianapolis on 5th February 2012. But beneath the momentous excitement, there was a much darker side to the adrenaline of the players, the adoring fans and the vast kegs of beer. Like many other major sporting events, the Super Bowl is a focal point for the prostitution and sex trafficking of young women and girls. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that up to 300,000 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 are lured and ensnared into the U.S. sex industry each year, and it is estimated that tens of thousands of under-age girls were potentially trafficked through Indianapolis for February’s Super Bowl. Mobile brothels are set up in cabs in stadium car parks, and hotel rooms across the city are occupied by girls, purchased as commodities for “pleasure.”
Exact numbers of victims are hard to come by, but host cities, law enforcement agencies and civil society are becoming increasingly aware of the monstrous fact that “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States.” Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, stated in a trafficking prevention meeting last January, that more had to be done to prevent this sex slavery before Dallas hosted the big game.