PUNJAMMIES™ are made by women in India rescued from forced prostitution seeking to rebuild their lives. Proceeds from the sales of PUNJAMMIES™ provide fair-trade wages, savings accounts, and holistic recovery care.
THESE are gorgeous and I want some
this is really cool
Sunitha Krishnan has dedicated her life to rescuing women and children from sex slavery, a multimillion-dollar global market. In this courageous talk, she tells three powerful stories, as well as her own, and calls for a more humane approach to helping these young victims rebuild their lives.
Sunitha Krishnan is galvanizing India’s battle against sexual slavery by uniting government, corporations and NGOs to end human trafficking.
‘Comfort Women’ Are Old Now, But Still Fighting
Surviving “comfort women” continue to see each other in monthly gatherings, sharing stories or belting out love songs with the videoke machine.
Recently, they met at the office of Lila Pilipina, a survivors’ group in Quezon City.
It was the end of May and there was a heavy downpour that morning, but it didn’t drown out the sound of the voices of the lolas—grandmothers in Filipino—as they sang their own rendition of love songs from forgotten times.
They shared a bowl of hot soup and a loaf of cheese bread before discussing the next steps in their struggle for justice.
"We can no longer take back what happened to us but my hope is for future generations to not suffer the same thing," said one survivor named Virginia Villarma.
The issue of so-called comfort women isn’t usually mentioned by the Japanese government.
Philippine authorities have also been quiet, afraid that the issue may strain economic ties with Japan, which accounted for 18 percent of the Philippine export market in 2011.
However, in early May a Japanese politician brought the issue to the surface when he drew international press attention by saying that sex slaves served a necessary role during the Second World War, particularly to provide relief to Japanese troops.
"For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone," said Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, Japan.
Hashimoto’s words angered the women once part of the comfort system here and in South Korea.
"Such statement is unbecoming of a public official," Lila Pilipina said in a statement. “Japan cannot rewrite history by justifying such wrongful acts and thus exonerate its crimes against women.”
The group asked the Philippine government to issue a diplomatic protest. Instead, the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs reminded Japanese officials to be careful in making comments on the issue of comfort women.
Now, survivors are planning to stage a rally on July 22, coinciding with Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation address.
Comfort women have long sought a public, worldwide apology from the Japanese government for the war atrocities committed. They want an apology, too, from Hashimoto, who has since claimed that he was misquoted by the press.
They are also seeking legal compensation from the Japanese government and for the Philippine government to join them in these demands.
"We want the Japanese government to recognize and apologize for its military policy of the use of comfort women during the war," said Richelda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, which collects testimonies of Filipina comfort women. “Nobody has the right to use women in furtherance of their objectives.”
Lila Pilipina started in 1992 with 174 members. Today only 103 members of the organization are still alive.
They are part of the estimated 100,000 to 250,000 Asian women, many between the ages of 13 and 15, who were abducted by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II to serve as sex slaves.
The army kept them in military brothels where they were repeatedly raped, according to their own testimonies gathered by Lila Pilipina.
For seven decades these lolas have been searching for an apology and financial compensation for what they suffered.
"We will not waver," said Pilar Frias, 87 years old and widely known as Lola Pilar.
Japanese soldiers abducted Lola Pilar in 1943. She was only 16 years old at the time. She was forced to walk with Japanese military men as they roamed far-flung villages in her province in Camarines Sur in search of Filipino guerilla camps. In between the hunt for rebels, the Japanese troops would take turns raping her. She said around 100 soldiers raped her.
Lola Pilar said there are no words for the pain she went through during this time. When she was pregnant with her second child her husband left her when he heard her story.
To her last breath, she vowed, to join her fellow survivors in the quest for justice.
It’s not easy.
The lolas are old. Their legs are wobbly and they easily get tired.
No Justice Yet
Lila Pilipina’s Extremadura said that their arduous and painful struggle hasn’t gotten them any justice yet.
"We have exhausted everything," Extremadura said, referring to the legal actions taken by the group.
On April 2, 1983, 18 Filipino comfort women filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court of Japan. They demanded post-war accountability including compensation and reparation.
On Christmas Day of 2003, the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that Japan’s legal system has limitations in complying with international laws.
The mayor’s words have now energized the survivors.
Survivor Villarma can’t remember how old she is. Her almond-shaped eyes squint and her wrinkles seem to double as she tries to remember. Her lips, covered with a faded purple lipstick, purse into an embarrassed smile. She says she is 81. Or 82. No, she is 83, she says finally after counting from 1929.
She forgets many things, such as what she did yesterday morning or the morning before that.
But Lola Virginia, as her family and friends call her, will never forget that scorching noon day in 1943 when three Japanese soldiers dragged her from an empty street in Manila, pulled her black wavy hair and forcibly put her in their car, a small sedan. She was 14. They brought her to an abandoned building not far from Manila Bay where she saw many other girls her age locked up in different rooms.
The soldiers beat her for hours until she could no longer scream. In the evening, more Japanese military men came. And it was then when they took turns raping her. She had lost count. The rapes went on every single night for three months until she and the other girls managed to escape.
Maria Rosa Luna Henson, known as Lola Rosa, was the first Filipino comfort woman to come out in public in 1992, a move that gave way for others who suffered the same plight to also tell their stories.
Lola Rosa died in 1997 but her story did not die with her. For three months in 1943, soldiers raped her from morning to evening, she said in a story she has told and retold and which joins other testimonies compiled in the book “Justice and the Comfort Women,” published by the University of the Philippines, Manila.
Every comfort woman has a story to tell. Many of them no longer remember their children’s ages or how many grandchildren they have. But they still remember the atrocities of war.
Iris Gonzales is a Manila-based journalist and blogger, writing economic, development and humanitarian stories. Some of her work may be read at http://www.irisgonzales.blogspot.com
Sex Worker: Still not asking for it by dyke-recovery
I’m a feminist and a sex worker and i am so very, very sick of the “is it rape or theft if you fuck a hooker?” or the i use to get “You work in a strip club you shouldn’t get pissed off when someone tries to touch you, you’re the one working there”. Sorry but this is a service, not the selling of ones’ body or body parts. We own us, we decide how much we do, NOT the client or patron. We have the same rights as every other woman; to feel safe not only in our personal lives but in our work lives. It is not okay to do more than what is agreed to when paying for a service from a sex worker. If you are told no, you are told NO.
If a banker gets robbed did he deserve it because he is a banker? No.
If a soldier is shot during war, did he deserve to be shot purely for being a soldier? No.
Does a psychologist deserve to be verbally attacked because they’re paid to listen to other people’s thoughts? No.
So does a sex worker deserve to have their services abused purely because they are working in the sex industry? No.
Um I’m pretty sure a “sex worker” is just a fancy term for prostitution so I think that deems your argument invalid
Um actually a sex worker is a prostitute, a stripper, a cam worker, a porn star a porn model, a sugar baby so no my fucking argument is not invalid and if a prostitute says “hey man i don’t do x service” THAT DOES NOT GIVE THE CLIENT THE RIGHT TO DO X SERVICE JUST BECAUSE CLIENT HAS PAID FOR A SERVICE AND IF A SEX WORKER OF ANY KIND INCLUDING A PROSTITUTE SAYS NO THE ANSWER IS NO. “NO” DOES NOT BECOME INVALID JUST BECAUSE THE PERSON SAYING NO IS A PROSTITUTE.
Guys I’m allowed to say “no” to helping someone buy dog food if I’m too uncomfortable with them. Restaurants are allowed to say “no” so servicing you if they feel uncomfortable. Bars are allowed to say “no” to selling someone drinks, and they can kick you out of a movie theater for being disruptive.
If you’re threatening violence at any place of business, that business is allowed to refuse service.
So why would a sex worker have any different rights?
That’s clever. Using this argument forever, now.
pissed that this even had to be said.
Meera is a survivor of human trafficking in Nepal. In the latest issue of Symbolia, Dan Archer illustrates her experiences working for pennies a day.
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I’ve done many different kinds of sex work. I’ve been a cam girl, a porn performer, a professional sub, and a performer at a peep show (similar to a stripper). I’ve also been working in retail and food service simultaneously.
I get so frustrated at how I’m treated at work. It really gets to me. I find myself involuntarily crying once I get into my car to drive home. I hate how dehumanizing it is. People don’t acknowledge me as a person. They think I’m less than them because of my job. Maybe they don’t actively think that, but that’s how they treat me. Oh, by the way, I’m talking about the food service job.
When I’m doing sex work I can refuse a customer. I can be rude to them if they are being rude to me. I don’t have to apologize for their mistakes. I don’t have to be sweet when they are being inappropriate. I negotiate my limits, and I only do what I feel comfortable doing. They don’t get to order off the menu, I’m not going to bend over backwards for them.
I find it oppressive to work for minimum wage. I find it oppressive to act like the customer is always right. I find it dehumanizing to apologize for things that aren’t my fault, like how much something costs or if you order something wrong and you want it remade the correct way. I find it dehumanizing to say “Hi! How are you?” and in response get “Yeah I just need a blah blah blah” and then have a customer go back to their cell phone conversation. I hate being reduced to a cash register.
Yes, this. Excellent. During my many presentations on sex work and sex workers, people would try to make the point or ask the question “well why don’t these people just get a real/decent/non-sex work job? there are jobs! you can go to McDonald’s and get a job.”
But food service, I would argue, is more dehumanizing in some ways than sex work. There is no job autonomy in food service. You work for minimum wage, less than 8 bucks and hour. And you have to work all the time (if your place of employment will even give you the hours you need) to make rent payments. Sex work, in all the varieties it comes in, can provide more opportunities and is often times more lucrative than working a minimum wage job. Sex work is labor.
People, during my presentations, try to argue that sex work is inherently exploitative, and that is what is wrong with it. But I argue that all work is exploitative.
The last time someone was arguing about sex work with me, I said I didn’t want to take away someone’s choice to do sex work and they said, “It’s not a choice if you do it to put food on the table.” Show of hands: how many of us go to work in order to put food on the table? Right.
Prostitution affects other women, even women who’ve never accepted payment for sex once in their lives. Ever heard men say something along the lines of “all women are whores?” They damn well believe it, too. And that’s why men expect sex in return for giving women gifts, why they think that offering a woman they just met on the street the “right” amount of money will change her no into a yes, why they date rape women for whom they bought dinner as taking what was “owed” in return. The transactional model of sex is one of the cultural beliefs underlying the sexist phenomenon of nice guy syndrome that everyone on this site rightfully hates so much. “Nice guys” give women presents and flowers and kindness, and they’re genuinely bewildered—and angered—when the women don’t repay them with sex. Men believe all women have a certain price; when you find the “right one” you get the sex.
Feb. 1 2013
Amid the parties and fun of Super Bowl 2013, authorities say, there is a dark underworld of girls and women being forced into the sex trade. Sitting in the festive lobby of a New Orleans hotel, festooned with San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens decorations, Clemmie Greenlee, a former victim of sex trafficking from Nashville, recalled being brought to cities around the South to prostitute for those attending such large-scale events.
For Greenlee’s pimps, the influx of people provided a massive money-making opportunity.
“When they come to these kinds of events, the first thing you’re told is how many you’re gonna perform a day,” she said Friday. “You’ve got to go through 25 men a day, or you’re going through 50 of them. When they give you that number, you better make that number.”
Having been abducted and gang-raped by her captors at age 12, Greenlee said, she was one of about eight girls controlled by a ring of pimps, men who injected them with heroin and, at times, kept them handcuffed to beds. For trying to run away, she was once stabbed in the back.
Now 53, Greenlee works at Eden House in Uptown New Orleans, the first shelter for sex-trafficking victims in Louisiana; the center opened in October 2012.
“If you don’t make that number (of sex customers), you’re going to dearly, dearly, severely pay for it,” Greenlee said. “I mean with beatings, I mean with over and over rapings. With just straight torture. The worst torture they put on you is when they make you watch the other girl get tortured because of your mistake.”
Sex and Super Bowls
In the past year, authorities in Louisiana have been working to raise awareness about the rampant sex trafficking that has historically accompanied the Super Bowl. While there is a widespread perception that human trafficking is a problem only in foreign countries, data from the U.S. Department of Justice show the average American prostitute begins working between the ages of 12 and 14.
Established in 2006, the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, plus faith-based and nongovernmental organizations, has been meeting regularly to try to increase trafficking arrests and rescue the victims.
As a tourist destination, New Orleans attracts sex workers year-round, said Bryan Cox, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in New Orleans. But many of those young women are not here by choice. So, in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, both outreach and undercover efforts have ramped up.
Those efforts have paid off to some degree already. As of Thursday, at least eight men had been booked with sex trafficking and five female victims had been rescued from their clutches, Cox said, noting that such cases are investigated jointly by the New Orleans Police Department, State Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, among others.
Two of the women, ages 21 and 24, were brought to Covenant House, a homeless shelter for young people at the edge of the French Quarter, according to executive director James Kelly. After taking a shower and spending the night, however, the women left without accepting the services Kelly and others were trying to offer them.
“We believe they went back to turning tricks,” Kelly said. “We did our best to try to care for them and try to get them to stay, but they were 21 and 24, and there was no way we could force them to stay, and neither could the FBI.”
Such behavior is common, Greenlee said, noting that she had repeatedly returned to her captors after stays in the hospital or jail, mainly out of fear. She said many times, the women are brainwashed; they believe they have no other options, no future to pursue.
“They’re terrified,” she said. “You can say you’re going to save us, you can say we don’t have to worry about the pimps no more. We already know what power they have shown us. So either you come back to them, or you find out two days later they either got your grandmother or they just broke your little baby’s arm.
“There’s no such thing as we want to go back to these guys,” she said. “We do not feel that no one — not even the law — can protect us, and we do not want to die. I’d rather live in that misery and pain than to die.”
Messages on bars of soap
Aside from police sting operations, advocacy groups and local police agencies have been trying to combat the problem by handing out pamphlets to local hotel concierges, bartenders and club bouncers, asking them to be on the lookout for women who appear fearful and show signs of being controlled by the men they’re with. One of the signs a woman is being trafficked is that she is not allowed to speak for herself, advocates say.
Some groups have been handing out to hotels bars of soap that have a sex trafficking hotline phone number on them, hoping that women who are desperate to escape will see the number on the soap bar and take a chance on a phone call that could save them. Other groups have been providing strip clubs with posters that urge people to call in tips.
For Greenlee, her chance at a turnaround came from a similar help card in Nashville. Having run away from her captors in her 30s, she said, they did not chase after her because she had “aged out.” Living in an abandoned house in Nashville, shooting heroin with other junkies and prostituting herself, she had lost all hope of a normal life.
But one woman, a former sex worker who knew Greenlee and had graduated from Magdalene House, a safe house program in Nashville — the philosophy of which Eden House was based on — visited Greenlee almost weekly. She would leave little cards with the Magdalene House telephone number on them. But having given up, Greenlee shunned the woman and her cards.
After about five months of cards piling up, one day Greenlee woke up and realized she needed to take the chance. She was 42 years old. “I went to the phone and I pulled out some of them 99 pieces of paper that girl had left.
“The one thing I had in my head was, ‘If I learn how to live and heal, I can get back and get those girls. I can go back and tell people what they do to us,’” she said. “I’m not ashamed of what done happened to me. I don’t care if I never get a husband. It just don’t make no sense that we had to go through this.”
“It’s not as easy as saying, ‘Call this number, escape,’” said Kara Van De Carr, executive director of Eden House. “But women who have hit rock bottom and realize they’re going to die in that lifestyle will try anything to get out.”
Authorities urge those who suspect trafficking to contact local police or the Department of Homeland Security at 1.866.347.2423. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center also staffs a toll-free 24-hour hotline at 888-373-7888.
Woman finds a cry for help found inside a Halloween decoration, written by a Chinese factory worker
In October, a woman in Oregon bought some Halloween decorations at Wal-Mart and hidden inside one of the plastic decorations was this note from a Chinese factory worker. The authenticity of the note is still being looked into, but according to Human Rights Watch, it certainly looks and sounds legit:
We’re in no position to confirm the veracity or origin of this…. I think it is fair to say the conditions described in the letter certainly conform to what we know about conditions in…labor camps…. If this thing is the real deal, that’s somebody saying, “Please help me, please know about me, please react.” That’s our job.