How about a war on slavery?

This past December, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon warned that the current geo-economic crisis would add fuel to the already raging fire that is international human trafficking. 146 years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, there exists more slaves on planet earth now than at any other given time. The UN puts the number of current slaves at some 27 million human beings, though a recent UN report offers the caveat that forced labor is much harder to track and enumerate than the most proliferate form, that of sex-slavery, and so the exact number may well be higher.

World wide, the majority of slaves are women (though in some African countries the majority are children) who are bought, sold and rented out for sexual service. Perhaps more disturbing than the numbers themselves is the ease in which the process of delivering a woman from her (often economically desperate) everyday life to the status of being a piece of property.

Take less than an hour of your day and give a look and listen to this documentary that concerns the ever growing sex slave trade in eastern Europe. It begins with an Ukrainian, newlywed chap that had seen his wife off to Turkey with a friend only to receive a rather chilling phone call from said friend that begins;

“I sold your wife…”

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://en.sevenload.com/pl/KNJQLI1/500×314/0″></script><p>Link: <a href=”http://en.sevenload.com/videos/KNJQLI1-The-real-sex-traffic”><img src=”http://static.sevenload.com/img/sevenload.png” width=”66″ height=”10″ alt=”The real sex traffic” /></a></p>

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24 Responses to How about a war on slavery?

  1. tdaxp says:

    Definitely too bad laws in many European states prohibit the function of a market economy in this sector, and so lead to predcitable grey- and black- market activity. Similar dynamics can be seen around drugs in the US, doubtless around cell phones in North Korea, etc.

  2. Eddie says:

    Two great reads about the subject are:

    E. Benjamin Skinner in FP giving an overview of sorts
    http://www.utne.com/print-article.aspx?id=18250

    which includes a link to a collection of brief testimonies of slaves
    http://www.utne.com/2008-07-01/Politics/More-Slave-Stories.aspx

    Also, please consider William Finnegan’s report from Eastern Europe/Turkey, “The Countertraffickers”:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/05/080505fa_fact_finnegan

    The bravery and skill of the police officers doing their best amid the corrupt morass known as law enforcement is worth noting in the story, if only to provide a tiny but relevant ray of light in a dark, terrible situation that only gets worse.

    The NYT notes Albania’s speedboat traffickers in a new report today…
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/world/europe/17albania.html?ref=global-home

  3. Carl says:

    I watched this documentary about six months ago. Chilling. There is a small corner of hell reserved for those who choose to make money off the sale of other human beings.

  4. Thanks for the suggested reading, Eddie.

    Tdaxp, are you suggesting an international effort to legalize prostitution?

    Carl, agreed.

  5. Roy Berman says:

    Nick Kristof at the NYT has been doing excellent work on trying to raise awareness on these issues, but you hardly see it in any other mainstream media. I’ll be sure to check out this documentary later. Have you seen a similar one “The Virgin Trade”? Pretty upsetting stuff.

  6. I haven’t but I’ll give a search for it later.

  7. von Moltke says:

    Tdaxp, your comments are as shocking as the film. Are you not aware that prostitution is legal in Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.? There is human trafficking because people like yourself believe this to be a situation which women want to be involved in. The Turks have a long tradition of sexual enslavement, and the disdain in modern Turkey for Slavic women, even amongst the educated, is shocking. This is where the title of the Malarek book, The Natashas, comes from.

    There continues to be substantial smuggling and slavery throughout the Balkan peninsula, particularly in Bosnia and Albania, in addition to Turkey. Many of the sources of income for these criminals are UN and NATO troops/police.

    The point apparently overlooked by some amongst us is that these people are not law-abiding citizens, and the practice cannot be cured by the “free market,” (ostensibly the cure for everything else). There must be severe punishments for the men who visit prostitutes and those who smuggle and hold women. This kind of oblom bullshit and “free market” babble would be laughable if it were not so cruel.

  8. Dan Nexon says:

    Indeed, this has been a huge dilemma for advocates of legal and regulated prostitution. In principle, that should allow greater protections for women; in practice, it just seems to provide a “protective belt” for pimps and sex traffickers.

  9. Sejo says:

    Well, it isn’t exactly legal in Italy: you can sell your body but anyone else sharing your profit is a criminal and, while you’re on your own, you cannot prostitute in the streets or sharing an apartment with colleagues.
    From what one can read on the papers, it seems that the Italians have been cancelled from the street prostitution industry by Eastern Europeans, namely Albanians and Romanians, who are gaining a reputation for an unknown violence against women and themselves.
    Again, the problem is that there is a market for sex: people willing to ‘rent’ what is pretty materialist to call a commodity. Our current government is passing laws after laws to hit the consumers. A new one is waited for the upcoming weeks.
    We Italians just want them at home, you see, delivered at the door from a friend and are getting used to pay girls and boys in Congress seats. Cash is so démodé and credit cards never made it here.

  10. Eddie says:

    A reviewer for one of the trafficking books put it best: what has been happening unnoticed by most is a “mass annihilation” of young girls from Eastern Europe and Russia and some of its former holdings. Now we see similar cruelty involving the Iranian women who leave home out of a naive or desperate desire to secure a better future.

    What kind of “annihilation”? I would imply it is a mental, emotional and social variety. The scars of the sort of treatment one receives in such situations are usually not the sort well-hidden in even the best of socioeconomic situations.

    Every time legalization is brought forward as a cure, you look at places where it is and see the same kind of situations you do elsewhere… rampant abuse, fraud and horrific penalties for girls who cross their pimps. The issue is one of power… the girls have next to none, the pimps have it all and the police/gov’t have little incentive to do anything about the girls, often b/c they are foreign girls few give a damn about anyway.

  11. tdaxp says:

    Sejo’s comments are valuable in dismantling von Moltke’s accusations. Really, von Moltke’s comment reminds me of those who first set up California’s bizarre electricity system (which was a bizarre combination of complete unregulation and heavy government interference), and then claimed this prooved a market system does not work.

    A similar criticism can be made for Nexon’s comment.

    Most developed countries have quite efficient regulatory frameworks for goods such as alcohol and tobacco. It is a shame that puritanism of von Moltke’s sort is causing so much harm, by preventing the emergence of a similar regulatory system for prostitution and recreational drugs.

    Eddie’s 7/20 comment is better, but falls into the same trap. Puritanism prevents the emergence of a coherent regulatory framework, and the solution offered is less regulation (in the form of black marketization of the social situation).

    These half steps, such as Sejo outlines in Italy, are like California’s half-thought-out electrical system: a recipe for disaster.

  12. Thomas says:

    This practice is, indeed, abhorrent and it deserves a major international effort to put a stop to it.

    It should be said, though, that one of the great cultural achievements since the enlightenment has been the virtual elimination of legalized slavery the world ’round. In two hundred years, we have gone from slavery being an economic staple in every corner of the world to being officially illegal in virtually every nation on earth. It is now considered one of the greatest crimes against humanity itself, vying only with genocide for global revulsion. This transition can only be a good thing.

    Unfortunately, slavery in a number of forms persists in much of the world and tragically, most often it is sexual or child slavery. Thank you, Munro, for bringing this to our attention. It really is time for a global push to put and end to this.

  13. Sejo says:

    Thank you, Tdaxp. My pleasure.

    While not directly linked to the discussion, here
    http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/intercettazioni/2104809//0
    you can read the transcripts and hear the files recorded by one of the girls involved in the major scandal about Berlusconi’s sexual habits. I’m sorry, it’s in Italian; I’m sure an online translator can do the magic better than me.

    The ‘best’ lines are from the paragraph «È il 4 novembre»:
    Silvio: I’m gonna take a shower too. Wait for me in the large bed if you finish first.
    Patrizia: Which one, [Vladimir] Putin’s bed?
    Silvio: Putin’s bed.
    You surely know about the friendship between Berlusconi and Putin, as well as between Mr. B and Mubarak, Topolanek, Gheddafi.

    In the paragraph «È il 5 novembre», the man accused to provide partners for our Prime Minister asks Patrizia if he has given money to her. She replies to having been granted five thousand Euros but that she’s had nothing but a promise to see Berlusconi’s intervention in a building project she has.

  14. celticdragon says:

    What an absolute frakking nightmare.

    Even worse…it’s women with the pimps and slavers who are “befriending” girls and luring them in. I am so angry right now, I think think of much else to say except I wish I had “Vlad” in a my scope with a 155 grain .30-06 round loaded. After him would be that travesty of a judge that let him out. (I’m another girl saying this, btw…!)

    Thomas Hobbes was right: Life is “Nasty, poore, brutish and short” for far too many indeed.

  15. von Moltke says:

    Sejo and Tdaxp, there is rampant Zwangsprostitution in Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, despite practically a government supported system of “privatized” “small business” “entrepreneurial” prostitution in each country. Contrary to your anecdote from Italy, where doubtless the case is no better then semi-policed states like Czech or Turkey, there is no solution in promoting “good prostitution.” Perhaps it would be more instructive to explain the fact that Holland has not accomplished your noble goal, than that Italy has failed at it. Italy cannot even collect taxes.

    How is this nonsense from the Italian Cappo and the Pimp in Chief of Russia germane to the issue of forced prostitution, and the abduction and enslavement of helpless and desperate people. The attitudes you all share illustrate why it is so difficult to police this form of slavery, not the fact that there is not a free market of women selling their bodies to men who nature has ruled out of reproduction. This is a matter of values, and the comments of Thomas and Nexon are on point. It is hardly puritanism to be opposed to prostitution. Perhaps when each country in the world is equally wealthy and equally well-governed and well-policed, then legal prostitution would not have the absolutely intolerable problems that are cited in this report and in every practical case study on the issue. You and Marx are both waiting for this to happen, while some of us suspect it may never.

    FYI, Tdaxp, the most smuggled item in Europe is tobacco (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/433.pdf) . This can also be confirmed by a visit to the custom’s museum in Hamburg. Surely you will argue that the cause of this is taxes on smoking and a market that is not sufficiently free, as there is no evidence to support the argument you make (just hypothesis). You are proposing a very dangerous experiment… not for you, of course, but for innocent women. As a brave free-marketeer like yourself there is likely no room for moral quibble, but only for expounding half-baked theories without a shred of proof and every indication contradicting to your hypothesis. I am also opposed to tobacco, though it is less dangerous to allow it, as the damage to the individual is nearly exclusively a personal choice and that damage is nothing like what happens to the victims of prostitution. I am not opposed to a non-desperate woman deciding based on her free will that she wants to sell her body, but this is an extreme exception in the reality of prostitution. You fail to take cognizance this reality.

  16. JackUH says:

    @TDAXP: If “puritanism” is such an impediment to an ideal regulatory system, then I guess places like Cambodia and India, where no such “puritanism” exists, should have excellent systems for prostitution in place? They are so efficient that even the youngest are employed in such a profession..

  17. Sejo says:

    Von Moltke, I think it is unfair to blame who does not think like you as someone who has not moral values. Your choice, though, to think that the others do not share a sense of piety for the young Slavs and Africans being forced at a very young age on the streets. On the contrary, I said that the problem was the perception of a human being as a commodity on rent.
    What I wrote was a correction of your statement about my country: it has a very conflicting system of laws about the prostitution issues and can only vaguely be labeled as a country where it is legal. In fact, it is for an individual but every attempt at doing it can lead to arrest. Hence, it is not legal at all.
    However, it is wrong too that Italy cannot collect taxes on prostitution: not being legal, there is no chance for the State to raise taxes at all on the people involved. I don’t know where you come from but I doubt that your country – if not Netherlands – can collect taxes on drugs. On other areas of economy, unfortunately, Italy knows how to collect taxes: I pay some 43% of my income as an individual and an Ltd.

    By the way, if you meant ‘chief’, the Italian word for it is ‘capo’. ‘Cappo’ is nice, though, as it sounds like ‘cappone’: a neutered cockerel. Lol.

  18. tdaxp says:

    Sejo,

    It’s my honor. I enjoy engaging in an open and honest intellectual discussion.

    von Moltke,

    there is rampant Zwangsprostitution in Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, despite practically a government supported system of “privatized” “small business” “entrepreneurial” prostitution in each country.

    If your argument is that there is a broken, politically-controlled, crafts-era system of prostitution in those countries, I fully agree.

    Of course, if you have a broken regulatory system, you will get broken results.

    Tobacco and Alcohol are not controlled by a dispersed network of small-business owners. Rather, both businesses are allowed to achieve scale, which makes regulation both effective and straight-forward.

    Handcraft industries are distorted relics of a pre-industrialized form of existence. From prostitution in Germany to agriculture in India, they serve to make politicians feel good about themselves, rather than serve the public good.

    You sell your body (that is, rent your labor and the thinking that controls it) to your employer, but would refuse that liberty to others. Your opposition to tobacco clarifies the matter for me, though. Your argument — that people should not be allowed to engage in activities that you dislike — is internally coherent, if none the less totalitarian.

    Jackuh,

    If “puritanism” is such an impediment to an ideal regulatory system, then I guess places like Cambodia and India, where no such “puritanism” exists

    Obviously this is not true, unless by puritanism you mean an early-modern-era strain of theological practice within the Anglican Communion. As my comment did not indicate such an understanding, I find your statement hard to comprehend.

  19. feeblemind says:

    Wretchard at Belmont Club had a post some time ago about an orphanage in Spain. Every so often a limo would pull up and take away small children to be used as sexual playthings by the rich, powerful and well-connected. I suspect the same thing is likely true in sexual slavery. Sexually deviant behavior is not relegated to the poorer classes. Anyway, I am thinking that this is why this type of slavery will be particularly hard to stamp out. There are influential people that participate in these activities and that is why stamping out the practice will be next to impossible. They are in a position to thwart it. Is the UN going full bore to stamp out slavery? If not, why not? Anybody have a better explanation?

  20. von Moltke says:

    Sejo, I understand your system, as it is the same as in Austria. One difference is that Austria is not run by a mafia. I am not simply talking about Italy’s inability to collect taxes on illegal acts, but its inability to collect taxes on normal businesses. Italy’s public debt to GDP ratio and bond rating are an indication of this fundamental problem in its government. My point is: Italy is not an example of a country whose legal system raises hurdles for the idealized prostitution free market that Tdaxp is proposing (ostensibly as a solution to the massive rape and slavery problems on record in every system known), because Italy is largely incapable of enforcing the laws it purports to have. Aside from the inability to collect taxes, Italy apparently also has problems collecting garbage and running other public utilities, related to the systemic corruption in its government.

    Tdaxp, I am more familiar with the system in Germany on this issue, and I am aware that nearly no prostitutes in Germany are German. Perhaps the Germans are puritans, like the notorious Dutch puritans, but it is an indication that the profession is undesirable–any German woman could freely choose to become a prostitute and work in her own brothel and will receive substantial police and medical services from the state. This, of course, is not a free market, because a free market would not have the police interfere with the crime that is inevitably associated with prostitution, nor government services for small businesses. The non-criminal market demands a price that many the good people seeking these services, despite their best intentions, are unwilling to pay, hence creating an underground market where the real abuses occur. The Dutch have avidly tried to eliminate this Zuhälter problem in prostitution, but it is clearly a problem that the demand for prostitutes (girls, new meat, usw) amongst a “non-puritanical” society is such that a certain amount of street-level criminal prostitution inevitably occurs. It seems clear to me that less regulation, or encouraging demand for prostitutes, is not the solution in light of the facts on the ground.

    I appreciate your feedback on tobacco. My dislike of tobacco does not mean that I think it should be illegal, but heavily regulated and strongly discouraged. It is deadweight loss. In the name-calling, you overlooked the point of my argument: although cigarettes are regulated in a way you approve of (?), there is still massive smuggling and criminality in the tobacco trade. Does this inform your thinking at all on your proposal for prostitution? The analogy is that instead of cigarettes, female slaves, would be brought for rape to the inevitable black market. To me, as a puritan, there is a difference between the rape of a woman and the smoking of a black-market cigarette, but something tells me I am not alone in my line of logic. Dogmatism is not a virtue. It is a virtue to recognize the differences in things and respond accordingly. I do not like tobacco, but it should be allowed (as should marijuana) because it does not do the damage that things that should be forbidden (prostitution, heroin) do. All of those things should be discouraged by public policy.

    What exactly do you envision in practice for an economic system of prostitution which you approve of? Your argument is that this will eliminate the rape of unwilling victims, or that it doesn’t matter that these women are being raped?

    Sejo and Tdaxp, I don’t accuse you of having no values, but of proposing completely unrealistic solutions to a very, very serious violation of human rights, or making comparisons to cigarettes and calls of “piety” or “puritanism” that convey a failure to comprehend the seriousness of this issue.

  21. tdaxp says:

    I am beginning to wonder if von Moltke is a troll…

    My point is: Italy is not an example of a country whose legal system raises hurdles for the idealized prostitution free market that Tdaxp is proposing (ostensibly as a solution to the massive rape and slavery problems on record in every system known),

    I have no idea how you can interpret my repeated calls for a rational regulatory structure as an “idealized… free market” aside from an infamiliarity with the English language, willful ignorance, or active deception.

    Tdaxp, I am more familiar with the system in Germany on this issue, and I am aware that nearly no prostitutes in Germany are German. Perhaps the Germans are puritans, like the notorious Dutch puritans, but it is an indication that the profession is undesirable

    By this logic, farm labor in California should be criminalized, as a large fraction of farm laborers are foreign nationals.

    To be consistent, you would also need to use that logic to criminalize positions in which Indian and Chinese scientists predominate, such as professors of Computer Science, because these jobs are likewise undesireable to Americans.

    Or perhaps your standard should only be used in Germany, and not other countries?

    there is still massive smuggling and criminality in the tobacco trade

    Clearly, the high-tax regime of Europe creates a larger grey market for this product than in low-tax regimes. This is a fault of an irrational tax regime, such as one that that designed to be punitive (that is, strongly discourage use) rather than one with a better goal, such as raising general revenue.

    The analogy is that instead of cigarettes, female slaves, would be brought for rape to the inevitable black market.

    The rest of your paragraph is intellectually dishonest, a rhetoric bait-and-switch, and so cannot be responded to.

    What exactly do you envision in practice for an economic system of prostitution which you approve of? Your argument is that this will eliminate the rape of unwilling victims, or that it doesn’t matter that these women are being raped?

    American puritans make similar illogical but rhetorically powerful pseudo-questions with regard to marijuana use. That is, like you, they note the current association of marijuana distribution with violent crime, and assert that therefore legalization advocates support violent crime. The innanity of this line of reasoning is obvious.

    Sejo and Tdaxp, I don’t accuse you of having no values, but of proposing completely unrealistic solutions

    I know you make that assertion. You just don’t provide any foundation for it.

    Rather, your solution to the problems of a grey market is to make it a black market. This is backwards.

    to a very, very serious violation of human rights,

    Again, backwards. You would deny to others rights you enjoy, and condemn those in a market to violence because you don’t want to provide a regulatory structure with it. The violation of human rights here is on your hands.

    making comparisons to cigarettes

    I am sorry if rational argument deprives this issue of the rhetorical power you would prefer. Reality can be tough on our biases.

    and calls of “piety” or “puritanism” that convey a failure to comprehend the seriousness of this issue.

    The seriousness here comes from the rapes, murder, violence, theft, etc., which exist because you and those who think like you refuse to provide an appropriate regulatory structure. What horrors these are! How terrible it is that the worst of totalitarian influences can adopt such double-speak and cause such havoc!

  22. tdaxp says:

    feeblemind,

    Was there evidence provided? Certainly it may be true, but I read an identical Jack Chic ‘toon some time ago…

  23. Sejo says:

    One difference is that Austria is not run by a mafia.

    Are you saying that a whole country of sixty millions is run by organized crime mobsters? No, I’m sorry, you can’t. First, it is impossible to have sixty millions devoted to crime, as it would burst in all the Continent. Second, given the chance this is our case, I guess – don’t you? – that a few millions in the sixty would make a sort of revolution. Third, good Lord, you are offending policemen and judges who fought the mafia and died for this.

    I am not simply talking about Italy’s inability to collect taxes on illegal acts, but its inability to collect taxes on normal businesses. Italy’s public debt to GDP ratio and bond rating are an indication of this fundamental problem in its government.

    It just shows that a Catholic country is not so suited for free market as its people tend to vote for politicians who spend more than the State earns, favoring welfare systems who do not provide that a false sense of stability. Spain is not better, unfortunately for them.
    Let’s be serious, I do not pay taxes because I like it but because otherwise I’d receive in a few months a letter from the Treasury saying me that every thing I own – home(s), car(s), whatever – is not mine anymore unless I pay. Sure, very rich people have ways to avoid declaring the whole income as they can afford tax-free accounts offshore and whatever else. But please, be serious. Every statistical survey would tell you that tax evasion in Italy is diminishing year after year.

    My point is: Italy is not an example of a country whose legal system raises hurdles for the idealized prostitution free market that Tdaxp is proposing (ostensibly as a solution to the massive rape and slavery problems on record in every system known), because Italy is largely incapable of enforcing the laws it purports to have.

    Maybe. I would not feel comfortable here if it was to become like the «red light district» in Amsterdam as I have not felt comfortable there. Maybe I’m a puritan myself, afterall. Still, it doesn’t work as it is now and a hard prohibition will not work as long as there are people willing to ‘rent’ fifteen minutes of sex for fifty euros.
    So, something must be done to stop the human trafficking. We all agree like we all agree that rape is an horrible crime against the individual. But what? Stopping the Schengen treaty and not allowing any Eastern European (or African or whatever) to come here? It does not work.
    Building factories in their countries so they won’t have to emigrate? And who would do that work, a foreign government?
    Jailing any girl strolling down the road?
    Again, I do not like prostitution because I do not like to be perceived as a piece of meat and I do not think that other humans are. I’m definitely a religious man, with a good bit of God’s fear and a decent respect for Noachide laws. Still, if there’s a phenomenon, it has to be dealt in a way or another. As marijuana, I guess it would be much more wise to make it fully legal and collect taxes as well as giving health and security. Oh, yes, we don’t know how to collect taxes. I always forget it.

    Aside from the inability to collect taxes, Italy apparently also has problems collecting garbage and running other public utilities, related to the systemic corruption in its government.

    Ok. It’s a bit of a cliché – as railroads run better than in Britain, safe and clean water is avalaible in every household when not every European country can claim the same, or schools are open and free for everyone up to university level degrees, or our public hospitals and even dental care are between the very best in the world (according to the WHO) and largely better than in most Western European countries, and thanks to the tax collected – and I could answer that every strong bureaucracy gives birth to corruption as it is the only way to skip the bureaucrats themselves, but I guess it would be too laissez-faire for me to say. And for you to accept.
    After all, I never bribed anyone but – hey, too many taxes – I’m closing my two Ltds this year in favor of a personal, freelance fiscal position. This must mean something. It does to me.

  24. GAURAV says:

    I HAVE NOT A CLUE AS YOU DO….BUT KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK…
    TOO MANY BUGGERS FROM HELL MESSING UP OUR WORLD…
    GOD BLESS