What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? - Human Trafficking

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
It's been a while since I've been all ranty, so I've decided it's time for another edition of "What the Fuck is Wrong With These People?" Today's edition focuses on the issue of human trafficking.

You probably think, "Surely human trafficking isn't a problem here in the good ole U.S. of A.? Human rights and freedoms are a priority here!" Well, it turns out, not so much.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked into or transited through the U.S.A. annually for sex slaves, domestics, garment and agricultural slaves. When the scumbags are caught, our ultra-compassionate government agencies often treat the slaves as criminals themselves, seeing as how they're all illegal alieny and everything.

According to the Trafficking in Persons Report, issued in June 2007, men, women and children are bought and sold, or forced into indentured servitude for the purposes of domestic service, forced child labor, child soldiers, sex trafficking and prostitution, children exploited for commercial sex, and child sex tourism all over the world. The following countries are defined by the Trafficking in Persons Report as "Tier 3" countries, or countries that have failed to make significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons as defined by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Algeria, Bahrain, Burma, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

According to the Not For Sale Campaign, a nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking, children and women are being sold on Craigslist. On Craigslist.

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

What the fuck is wrong with us that we continue to have fabulous foreign relations with countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain, who are so clearly contemptuous of human rights and dignity? Actually I know that answer to that question, and it disgusts me. We can't let a little thing like buying and selling human beings interfere with our unfettered access to the crude, after all. Especially since those uppity Iraqis refuse to settle down and act right.

But what the fuck is wrong with us that we allow people to be bought and sold on Craigslist?

I've been trying to think of some karmic justice that's appropriate for the perpetrators of these crimes, and my imagination is failing me. I was thinking of forced labor pumping crude oil by hand in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Bahrain, followed by visitation with a prisoner named "Guido," but somehow that just doesn't do the trick. Help me out, here, Hot Chicks and Smart Men - I need some creative justice for these asshats.

31 comments:

Cindi in CO said...

Well, I'm always down with castration in cases like this, but it's so unimginative. Maybe we should take pointers from the Inquisition, that whole mess ought to produce something useful to our day and age.

Craigslist. Jesus.

david-de-beer said...

I'd suggest for a more comprehensive reading "The Natashas", by Victor Malarek.

unfortunately, it focuses exclusively on the more recent trade in white Eastern European women for the sex trade.
It gives acknowledgement, at least, to the existence of human trafficking being a far longer problem in, respectively, Asian, South American and African countries and nationalities.

mostly, Malarek gives some backstory to the "tier" system, and underlines both why it has become useless as well as a hypocrisy. Among other things, the USA itself is and has been from the start, excluded itself from the list.
Also, it has been noteworthy how US political allies were conveniently promoted up the tier system, while in every one of those nations the people on the ground have reported that nothing has changed.
Malarek's book's focus is the sex trade, and in this regard it's worth mentioning that American men are among the premier sex tourists of the world (men who go on vacation for naughty and generally illegal pleasures).

http://humantrafficking.org
is a pretty handy site for quick summaries of individual nations, in all forms of trafficking.

not bedtime feel-good reading, no:)

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, David, and thanks for the references.

The US's hypocrisy on this issue is simply astounding to me, given our history. How can we possibly justify this?

I knew American men were the primary "sex tourists" - we talked about that when NAMBLA was our featured guest. Bleh.

BTW, we seldom have bedtime feel-good topics when it's time for "What the Fuck is Wrong With These People." But there's always Cute Little Kittens when we need a break.

Michelle K said...

What should be done with them?

Working in sewage treatment plants removing "things" that clog.

Naked.

Janiece Murphy said...

Michelle, I knew there was a reason why I liked you. Hehe.

John the Scientist said...

The conspicuous country missing from this list is China. Smuggling of illegal immigrants who then become indentured servants in the US and EU is endemic in that country, on top of the sex trade.

Once again, if you are a large enough trade partner, the West will overlook a lot of stuff.

Nathan said...

OK,

I'm gonna get yelled at here. And no, I'm not about to say that Human Trafficking or ignoring it are good things. Obviously their the complete opposite of good.

That having been said, I get a little bent out of shape anytime I hear someone saying "Hey, its really about the oil", as in all the people who poo-pooed Gulf War I because it was "really about oil". So what if it was? Oil is just about the most important commodity in the world. Our economy comes to a standstill without it. People can't afford to drive to the places where they'll spend money or they're out of money because they have a long commute to work. Flying becomes out of reach to a lot of people. In the extreme, people can't afford to heat their homes. And the effects of unavailable or high priced oil cascade throughout the economy.

I may be saying this badly, but when our government does something either bad or less than optimal because they need to keep the oil flowing, I'm willing to look at that as a "tough choice". Oil is about as far from trivial as you can get. When we tell Saudi Arabia we're not going to buy their oil because of a principal we're hurting ourselves waaaay more than we're hurting them.

Its a really crappy world sometimes. Maybe if we got around to getting ourselves some affordable energy alternatives we could tell all the bad guys to stick it until they learn to behave.

And I'll repeat:
Trafficking? Bad. Bad. Bad.

Sticks we have available to wave at the bad guys? Not so many.

(Please don't hurt me.)

Anne C. said...

In some ways, I agree with you, Nathan. An oil crisis would not only hurt us, it would primarily hurt the poor among us. We really need to get our asses in gear on more sustainable fuel sources and not be dependent on morally-challenged nations.
THAT is what people hopefully think when they see references to modern slave trade.

And it is stomach-churningly horrible that slavery still exists, particularly that of children. We have a LOOOOOONNNGG way to go before we can call ourselves an enlightened species.

I like the castration angle, so lets combine that with the sewage duty (doody? ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

John, I hear you. MFN status evidently forgives a lot of sins.

Nathan, I'm not getting the Shovel of Doom™ just yet. I understand what you're saying, and I don't perceive your comments to mean you're all "yay, human trafficking!"

I understand about tough choices, but this particular tough choice has led to the compromise of our morals and values way too many times. Of course fossil fuel is the cornerstone of our economy...so why haven’t we put on our thinking caps to find a better way so that corrupt countries like Saudi Arabia can't hold our principles hostage? Our policy in the Middle East is direct result of our dependence on their oil, and I don't hear anyone talking about how fabulously that's worked out for us. Looking the other way while they engage in human trafficking is just a small piece of how we continue to allow bad behavior from our so-called "allies." Our dependence on their oil is at the heart of all of it. That's called "root cause analysis" in my business.

And Anne said "Sewage Doody." Hee!

Michelle K said...

Nathan,

I think I have to strongly disagree with you.

Sometimes, some things are so wrong that we have to take a stand. IIRC, there were claims that the south would fonder if slavery were outlawed, yet slavery was outlawed anyway.

There were claims that chaos would ensue were women to be given the right to vote (as women were not smart enough to vote on the issues, and would only consider trivial things). Well, it's not just women who consider trivial things when voting.

There were claims that anarchy would ensue when schools were integrated, yet it was managed.

Sometimes it is more important to do the right thing.

Yes, increased oil prices would be very bad, I live in a rural state, so I know this extremely well (there is no walking distance to anything around here). Yet American survived the oil crisis of the 70s, and American could survive another crisis now.

Sometimes we must do what is right, or else we find that the platform upon which we stand and from which we preach was nothing more than sand that washed away when the tide came in.

People don't have to like us. They just have to accept that we are willing to do the right thing for the right reasons.

Of course that's not going to happen with that Big Furry Jerk in the Oval Office. But in the future.

John the Scientist said...

I'm with Nathan 100% on what he said. Cut off our energy supply for 6 months and we'd be back to the 1800s, except for nuclear and coal-fired electric plants. Not to mention that even the slaves have better medical care than the richest European of the 19th century due to trickle down from what the West accomplishes with oil. If you think the 1970s were bad, an embargo today would be orders of magnitude worse. How big a stock of, to pick something at random, anti-biotics and vaccines do we have? 6 months, probably less. Cutting off the feedstocks (Organic chemistry for everything is largely petroleum based - do you have asthma? Would you like to have your medicine rationed?) and distribution would have health and other consequences beyond most peoples' imiaginations. It would not be a repeat of the 1970s, it would be far worse, given the greater current population and greater density in more sensitive urban areas.

I'm not willing to put American lives in immediate jeopardy without a good idea that the embargo would result in a win for our side. I don't think it would. They're willing to live without our money for longer than we are willing to live without their energy.

That being said, there are some things we could do covertly to try to force these countries into line, but we don't. We can also police our own nationals a lot better.

I'm reminded of General Napier's comments on the suttee:

You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

Jeri said...

My sons have occasionally complained "Mom, I'm a slave."

I usually respond, "Darn right. You have no rights, I own this house, this car, your food and the air you breathe. When you're 18, you have the option to leave and start supporting yourself. I hope that works out well for you."

It's usually kind of funny - but not in this context!

It is scary that corruption and MFN status helps this evil underbelly of society survive. Your comment about the victims being punished for their alien status is so desperately sad, I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I am in my country.

Karmic justice? Send them out to do agricultural work in 110 degree sun for the day, then every evening tie them to a post and provide whips and stones to their former slaves. At night, ensure that they are available as sex victims to whoever wants them.

Repeat. Indefinitely.

Janiece Murphy said...

John, I understand exactly what you and Nathan are saying - I'm not suggesting we institute an immediate embargo, I'm suggesting we address the root cause, i.e., our dependence on foreign oil.

My father was a mathematician/economist who worked in the energy business. He said for years that petroleum was much too valuable a resource to waste by burning it for energy. Naturally, no one was interesting in listening to that opinion. So he became a deputy sheriff.

Michelle K said...

At night, ensure that they are available as sex victims to whoever wants them.

Repeat. Indefinitely.


Don't take this the wrong way, but I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.

And I don't think turning victims into perpetrators really helps. I mean, isn't that how child abuse continues from generation to generation?

But poo, I'm telling you. That's the solution. Make the human poo work day in and day out with the poo of humans. :)

Janiece Murphy said...

John, it just occurred to me that your comments were probably directed at Michelle and not me.

Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin...

Nathan said...

Michelle,

There's a lot that John said better than I could and with a lot more specificity ('cause he knows stuff and stuff like that). In my own ignorant fashion, I'll just follow up by saying that there is such a thing as a time when a nation has to look out for its own self interest. That's the whole point of having nations.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't be looking for alternate energy sources (in our own self interest). It doesn't mean we shouldn't be chasing down slavers in our own borders (maintaining a civilized society is part of the contract our government has with its citizens). It also doesn't mean we shouldn't be addressing the problem worldwide (as long as it cause too horrible of a problem at home). Sorry, that's just how I feel.

That having been said, I've got no problem with us invading Afghanistan. The guy who attacked us was/is there. Send in the troops. I've got a big problem with us invading Iraq. The guy running the place was a problem for his own citizens and an irritant to us, but not at a level that required a war. And if we hadn't already been committed in Iraq, I would have made a big argument for us going into Darfur to stop the genocide there. Why? Because we're one of the only countries that can. I'd have considered that mission much more worthy.

I know I'm mixing up a lot of things that have nothing to do with each other. I'm just trying to say that some issues need to be solved with sacrifice and some can hopefully be dealt with by other means.

Nathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan said...

Should be (as long as it doesn't cause...

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan's a double poster, Nathan's a double poster!

John the Scientist said...

Janiece - yes I was responding mostly to Michelle's comment, because I don't think a new embargo will be as harmless as the one in the 1970s - not that that one was any picnic - I lived through that mess.

But I think we agree that the root cause is us giving money to shitheads for something we should find a way to replace in our economy. It's just not going to be replaced anytime soon. We can't even get any new nuke plants built in this country, and that's the closest technology at hand for reducing dependence.

I also worry that the Saudis would use this issue to whip up even more anti-Western rhetoric than they already fund via their madrassas. We've been notoriously inept at the information war to date, and I can't see anyone in the US government handling this one with the care it deserves.

There are ways of leaning on these guys clandestinely, though, and Michelle is right that it's a crime not to. We can at least confine the problem, if not eliminate it, and make sure our nationals don't add to it.

As for punishemt - I'm sure the ChiComs have preserved the knowledge of how to conduct the old Chinese torture "Death by 1000 cuts" somewhere.

Janiece Murphy said...

But I think we agree that the root cause is us giving money to shitheads for something we should find a way to replace in our economy.

Amen, brother.

Beastly said...

Ok all as a new poster to this blog I will have to point out a sad yet real fact. We too traffic in persons here in the good ol' USA. Yep Nathan take a walk down into the garment district some time and tell me I am wrong. There are a lot of folks "sponsored" by the owners of sweat shops that change location regularly to keep it under the radar. In San Diego it was produce, candles, meat packing and yep even prostitution that sucked in a lot of folks looking for a better life than they had in China, The Phillippines, Guatemala, and many of the other countries you had mentioned. They are crammed into containers in their embarkation point, forced to live somewhere on the deck of a ship with only about a quarter inch of steel between them and the elements, disembarked in the container after sitting for days off shore, spirited away in lovely panel vans to the nearest factory, city, farm etc and forced to work their passage off in the trade of the sponsors choice. So as we point the finger at these others and come up with wonderous ways to punish their misdeeds we should also take a moment to ask ourselves who is cooking our Chinese take out, harvesting our avacado or making our designer frock and shoes? HMMMM let's look in for a little while too as we have our bed turned down by the cute maid at the Ramada with the lovely slavic accent. I'm just saying!

Janiece Murphy said...

Beastly, you are correct, and the Trafficking in Persons report mentions some of the issues you talk about. There's whole sections on indentured servitude.

Janiece Murphy said...

And David mentioned up-thread about how the US conveniently excluded itself from the list. Easy to come out on "top" if you're not subject to inspection...

I'm just saying!

John the Scientist said...

Well, the sweatshop stuff has indentured servants for sure, but not so much the areas coming in contact with the public such as maids. I know for a fact that Chinese restaurants in the NY area don't use indentured servants, they pay protection money to the Triads just like everyone else.

But if you were to go out and buy a toy badge, then barge in to your favorite Chinese place waving it and yelling "INS" you would not get fed that night, and it would probably not be a good idea to try to get a meal at any Chinese place within a 50 mile radius for a year or so afterward. Just sayin'.

Nathan said...

Beastly,

I thought the original post alluded to the Trafficking in the US so I didn't address it separately. Of course, you're absolutely right. Google "Golden Venture" for a nice little story. And a couple on Long Island was just sent to jail for a very long time about this issue and the servants they kept at home.

I'm sure John is right about the restaurant staff, but I've been through a number of sweatshops (200 women and girls sitting at sewing machines), and I strongly suspect those women were all indentured.

And John,

I've had dealings with some of the tongs when setting up filming in Chinatown. Lots of fun, that.

Michelle K said...

John,

I think my major point is that right now we do next to nothing.

The US claims to be the pinnacle of democracy and freedom, yet we sit on our hands instead of acting to defend human rights.

But I wonder whether the oil crisis would be any worse than the one we're already heading towards. (Hummers + Skyrocketing consumption in China and India = Not so much gas for the US in the future)

I also wonder if it would be a zero sum game. In other words, if we started cracking down on human rights offenders and the Saudis cut us off, it is possible that other countries with whom we currently have problems might change their tunes about us, and change the balance of power?

Because in order to do what we're talking about, there would have to be a major policy shift in the US on multiple levels, and such a shift might change our friends and allies throughout the world.

John the Scientist said...

Nathan - the sweatshops have them for sure. My MIL used to run a restaurant in the area, so I have more than a passing familiarity with that underworld.

Tongs in Chinatown? - I thought they'd all moved to Flushing. ;-)

Canal and Mott is awash with organized crime from the Guidos north of Canal to the Tong south of it. Last time I was in Chinatown, I overheard two Russian Mafiosi wandering down the street. Add the human tafficking and the ChiCom and KMT operatives in the area, and the place is like a bad spy novel.

John the Scientist said...

Michelle - I seriously doubt any of our other allies give a rats about human rights. The German's don't, the French don't, the Russians don't and the Chinese don't, and those latter two will be jockeying for power in any instability we create.

We're not headed for consumption bottlenecks that soon, we need to give ourselves time to work on new technology without harming our technical capacity with an energy crisis. The major problem for us is lack of refinery capacity. Jim needs to get on building an Alaskan refinery stat.

Michelle K said...

Actually (I'm being serious here, don't laugh)

I was thinking of Venezuela and Iran.

Especially Iran. The general populace is quite different from those currently in power, and I seriously wonder how long they'd managed to stay in power if the US stopped treating the country like Hitler Reincarnated. (GODWIN'S LAW! I LOSE!)

Venezuela, it's hard to say for certain. Chavez in some ways reminds of Quadaffi. But look at Lybia in recent years and see what time (and prescription pharmaceuticals) can do.

But the point is that ethics and history provide a basis for some of the actions of these countries. I mean, just imagine what Iran would be like now if not for Kermit Roosevelt. Imagine South America without Reagan's support for "anti-communist" dictators.

Or, it could be that it's way past my bedtime, and I'm too tired to form coherent thoughts.


I think that if the US stopped acting like a thug, some of the countries who are so adamantly opposed to us might change their tunes.

John the Scientist said...

Michelle - Iran would be better off if it were not for Roosevelt, hell it would have been better off without Gertrude Bell, but without Reagan's interventiosn South America would be still dominated by Cuba and the Sandinistas, and Chavez would have become dictator-for-life long ago, instead of losing that election.

We need to pick our battles, and given the threat of the Cold War, the attitude of "he's our SOB" was somewhat justified in certain cases, if grossly overused.

I participated in debates like these among Sovietologists at the end of the Cold War, which is one reason why I went to the USSR - to see for myself. The debate was: throw open the doors of detente, or talk tough. I interviewed a lot of ex-military in the USSR. Their opinion was near-unanimous. The government USSR would not have budged and backed Grobachev in his reforms if Reagan had not started to talk seriously about Star Wars. The power structure was so entrenched that it did not matter if the people on the street, well, you can't say "loved" America, but saw us in a positve light. The people had no power. It required a weakening of the power structure, and Star Wars was the lever. While the sceince might have been sketchy (I think we could have had at best a 50% interdiction rate on Soviet ICBMs) - it was light eyars ahead of what they could do, and Vietnam had bankrupted them (They said that no matter th outcome, we had "won" Vietnam, but that's a story for another post). Reagan could seriously propose a half-assed Star Wars and take 5% of our GDP. It would have cost them 30 - 40% of theirs to come up with soimething not even as good, so they cracked. We then went on to widen the cracks through cultural exchanges, some of which I participated in, but the exchanges would have done no good if we hadn't opened up the cracks.

If we soften with regards to Iran, it will be seen as weakness, and the mullahs will use that to claim victory and cement their power. If we increase the threats, the mullahs will have the fence-sitters rally around them and remain in power. We have to walk a fine line. But unless the average people are willing to fight the mullahs, which they are not, their opinion of us matters not at all. I haven't figured out what the lever is that we can use to crack them, so I'll settle for containment at this point.