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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Maid in Hong Kong was ‘unpaid slave’: Prosecutors


January 20, 2015
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih described in vivid detail how she was "tortured", living for months on nothing but bread and rice, sleeping only four hours a day and being so badly beaten by her then-employer.
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong employer accused of starving and beating her Indonesian maid treated the woman as an “unpaid slave”, prosecutors said Tuesday on the last day of hearings in a case which has shocked the city.

In the course of the six-week trial, 23-year-old Erwiana Sulistyaningsih described in vivid detail how she was “tortured”, living for months on nothing but bread and rice, sleeping only four hours a day and being so badly beaten by her then-employer Law Wan-tung that she was knocked unconscious.
Pictures of Sulistyaningsih, who was admitted to hospital in Indonesia last January emaciated and in critical condition, sparked widespread anger in her home country and even drew comment from the president.
In closing arguments prosecutors admitted it was “difficult to determine” when the injuries were inflicted but concluded that Sulistyaningsih was enslaved by Law, 44, who denies all charges of abuse.
“The defendant was never satisfied with her work. The question was why did it take seven months for her to send her away? This certainly defies common sense. The only explantation was that (Sulistyaningsih) was treated like a slave, an unpaid slave,” said prosecutor Louisa Lai.
Law’s defence accused the former maid and another two domestic helpers involved in the case of being “opportunistic”. They said that if Sulistyaningsih’s account were true it would “amount to a horror story”.
“The evidence of Erwiana is unsatisfactory… so exaggerated as to impact on its truth,” said defence lawyer Graham Harris.
He suggested that her injuries could have been accidental.
“Can you rule out as a reasonable hypothesis that any scar or any damage might have been caused by accidental falls?” he asked the judge.
The case has shone a spotlight on the plight of migrant domestic helpers in Asia and the Middle East after reports of torture and even killings.
In March last year a Malaysian couple were sentenced to hang for starving their Indonesian maid to death, while in the same week a Singaporean couple pleaded guilty to abuse after their helper lost 20 kilos in seven months.
Such cases have prompted a clampdown on domestic worker visas in some countries — Myanmar suspended a seven-month-old scheme in September and Indonesia has pledged to stop sending domestic workers abroad from 2017.
Law faces 21 charges — also pertaining to two other former domestic helpers — including grievous bodily harm with intent, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages. The most serious carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Sulistyaningsih and Law were both in court Monday but neither made a statement.
Protesters outside the court shouted “Justice for Erwiana!” and held placards reading “We are not slaves”.
The verdict was set for February 10.


Uncovering Spring Break's Hidden Underbelly

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sold in Myanmar and trafficked to China

Jonah Fisher reports on woman and children being bought, sold and trafficked from Myanmar to China

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It's been a year since Khin Khin Oo was sold by her father.
Eight thousand yuan ($1,300; £830): That was the price for a cute four-year-old Burmese girl from a broken home.
Crouched in the doorway of her bamboo house, Khin Khin Oo's grandmother Ma Shan told me the story. "I grow corn and rice but my son is a heroin addict so we have no money," she said.
Ma Shan's family life is in disarray. Just a couple of metres away in the dark of the house, her son sits listening to us talk about him, staring blankly ahead.
Ma Shan's daughter isn't in much better shape. She ran off with another man (according to Ma Shan, having been drugged with spiked orange juice), leaving her two small children to live with her parents.
One of them, an energetic boy, plays in the mud by the stilts of the bamboo house, as we look at pictures of his sister Khin Khin Oo.
"One day her father Soe Khine came back for her," Ma Shan recounted. "But after she'd been away four days I knew something was wrong."
A childhood photograph of Khin Khin Oo Khin Khin Oo was sold by her troubled father in Myanmar
An old photograph showing Khin Khin Oo's family The family was plagued by financial problems, Ma Shan said
Map of Myanmar-China border region The Chinese town of Ruili is located near the Burmese border
Fearing the worst, Ma Shan turned detective and, with a village elder, went to speak some of Soe Khine's friends. They quickly found out he was in financial trouble.
"He'd lost all his money playing cards," she said, shaking her head.

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While she was gone, I didn't even want to eat; I was so worried”
Khin Khin Oo's grandmother
At that point, the Burmese police became involved. They found Soe Khine and he confessed that with the help of a local Kachin woman, he had sold his daughter to a Chinese trafficker.
The police followed the trail to the Chinese border town of Ruili, where they discovered that Khin Khin Oo had been traded again, this time for 12,000 yuan ($2,000; £1,277), to a childless couple who wanted to adopt.
After a week and a joint operation with the Chinese police, Khin Khin Oo was rescued and returned to her grandmother.
"While she was gone, I didn't even want to eat. I was so worried," she said.
Luckily Khin Khin Oo had been well treated, with the Chinese couple seemingly unaware that she'd been trafficked.
She was returned to her grandmother in Hankan who, fearing for her safety, sent her back to China this time to live with an aunt.
In this file photo taken on 16 November, 2013, women cuddle their child at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China China's one-child policy and the preference for sons has created a shortage of women in the country
Missing women The trafficking of Burmese children like Khin Khin Oo is thankfully rare.
But Myanmar's north-eastern border region with China has become notorious for the exploitation of young women.
China's one-child policy and its preference for sons has created a shortage of women and wives.

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There are four girls from Kutkai township who went to China to work; they haven't been heard from for eight months”
Myint Kyaw Community leader, Namkhan
Demographers estimate that by 2020, there will be a surplus of 24 million men, desperately looking for spouses.
The trafficking that we hear about along the Burmese border is complex, with the families often complicit in the financial transaction being made.
At his table in a camp for displaced people in Namkhan township, community leader Myint Kyaw is flicking through photos of missing women.
"These are four girls aged between 15 and 18 from Kutkai township who went to China to work. They haven't been heard of for eight months," he said.
"This lady is 26 years-old and missing too. We're trying to trace her through our community living in China."
In all, he estimates that about 10% of the local Ta'ang women have been sold or trafficked in some way.
Lamo Bokdin Lamo Bokdin, a victim of human trafficking in Myanmar, says she is now in the process of rebuilding her life
Escaped Lamo Bokdin is one of those women. When she took a job in a restaurant in the Chinese border town of Ruili, she thought she was a normal employee.

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I refused [to marry her brother] but my boss said she would just sell me to someone else”
Lamo Bokdin Burmese trafficking victim

"Then my boss told me I didn't need to work at the restaurant anymore and that I was to marry her brother," she said.
Forty thousand yuan ($6,500; £4,152) had apparently been paid to secure the deal.
"At first I refused but my boss said she would just sell me to someone else." So Lamo was forced to move to her husband's home in Beijing. For three months, she was kept as a prisoner in his house.
"I wasn't allowed to make phone calls and I had to stay inside. My husband said we could only go and visit my parents when we had a baby."
Then after three months of captivity Lamo found a way to escape.
"I lived at the top of the two-storey building. The house had small windows covered with netting - so I cut the net with scissors and jumped down into the street," she explained.
"Luckily, nobody who saw me land cared. So I took a car to the train station where the police helped me get a ticket out of Beijing."
Lamo now shares a tent with her sister and is rebuilding her life. She earns a small amount of money weaving traditional skirts.
She is one of the survivors of a thriving trade in human lives.

Monday, January 5, 2015

جو تيوب | لازم نقلع عشان مصر

Trial shines light on teen sex trafficking in Milwaukee


Roy Kennard Weatherall, 45, is escorted into a courtroom at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Thursday. He’s on trial on charges that he pimped, sexually assaulted and beat a girl and solicited others for prostitution.

Mike De Sisti

Roy Kennard Weatherall, 45, is escorted into a courtroom at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Thursday. He’s on trial on charges that he pimped, sexually assaulted and beat a girl and solicited others for prostitution.

Milwaukee police detective Dawn Jones explained how girls are branded, literally, through tattoos, as property of one pimp or another

The young woman alternatively sobbed with longing and flared in anger as she testified about the man prosecutors say recruited her into prostitution when she was 15.
Roy Kennard Weatherall, 45, is on trial in Milwaukee for allegedly pimping, sexually assaulting and beating up the girl, soliciting others for prostitution and trying to intimidate witnesses not to testify against him — 14 counts in all. He says the girl was already prostituting before he met her, had already worked for a different man, and that she voluntarily gave him her earnings to help cover their living expenses.
If convicted, he would join a growing list of Milwaukee men who have drawn vulnerable young teens into the underworld life of prostitution, where they work long, dangerous hours and invest their total earnings and emotions with men they call "daddy."
Weatherall's main victim, named "SDD" in court documents, had come to authorities' attention in July 2013 when she was stopped by FBI agents during Operation Cross Country, an ongoing effort to identify and rescue minors caught in sex trafficking operations. It's a crime with disturbingly deep roots in Milwaukee. Several area men have been convicted of trafficking young girls and been sentenced to decades in prison. A Boys & Girls Club staffer who tries to inform youth about the dangers of traffickers, said the city is known as "the Harvard of sex trafficking." In the 2013 sweep, 10 children were rescued in Wisconsin, second only to 12 in San Francisco, according to the FBI.
Though she first denied she was reporting to any pimp, in September SDD gave her true story to the FBI and Milwaukee police. The opening came after Weatherall beat her during a car trip back to Milwaukee from a strip club dancing job in Wisconsin Rapids, she said.
SDD, now 18, ignored a subpoena earlier in the week and was arrested as a material witness. An attorney appointed for her said SDD would refuse to testify without immunity for any illegal activity she might describe.
By Wednesday afternoon, she finally took the witness stand. She said she never made it to high school. She said she met Weatherall in 2011 and "he seemed nice."
She had told investigators she began having sex with him late in 2011, while she was still 15, and she believed he was in his 20s. On the witness stand, however, SDD said she couldn't remember when it happened. "I can't remember the first time. I'm a prostitute. I've had sex with lots of men." She testified she had started prostituting at 13, under the control of a different pimp.
SDD said she moved into Weatherall's house on N. 16th St. and they got a dog for Christmas, and eventually she began dancing at strip clubs in northern Wisconsin for Weatherall.
She denied he made her do prostitution. She said she did that on her own but admitted she gave all the money she made to him "because I thought I was being taken care of."
Asked by the prosecutor if she still kind of liked Weatherall, SDD replied, "I love him."
Yet she also described how he beat her regularly and once made her ride naked in the back seat of a car from Wisconsin Dells to Milwaukee with the windows down, after a fight related to her dancing at a club. Back home, he beat her, using a metal pole that broke her elbow.
"He beat me senseless. I was blacking out," she told jurors.
"I looked like the 'Elephant Woman.' My face was broken," she sobbed. "Everything was broken."
That prompted her to leave for Florida, she said. But the prostitution business was "too busy" in Orlando and SDD returned to Milwaukee, and to Weatherall. She denied that his numerous Facebook pleadings for her to come back was a factor.

Looking for a father

During testimony Thursday, SDD repeated that Weatherall never made her work as a prostitute, or forced her to give him all her earnings or made her recruit other girls. She tried to say she couldn't remember things she told the FBI, but would then admit she was being truthful when she made the earlier statements. She said that though she went to her mother when she last left Weatherall, she's chosen to be homeless since his arrest, rather than stay with her mother.
Donna Sabella, a mental health nurse and professor at Drexel University, and an editor of the Journal of Human Trafficking, said the lives of young victims are much like domestic violence relationships, in which the victim loves the person who is abusing them, whether a spouse, parent or friend.
She noted for that for girls in prostitution, the trauma is worse the earlier they get involved, and often results in arrested development — young women with the social or emotional age of someone 12 or 13, someone who was lacking support in another environment.
"Somebody loves them for a minute," Sabella said of why girls fall in with pimps. "It has nothing to do with sex. Some really are looking for a father. The irony is they get the opposite of what they wanted."
Sabella supports the increased prosecution and awareness of trafficking, yet notes that at the same time it has become somewhat normalized through some music, pimp costumes and shows like "Pimp My Ride."
After hearing a description of SDD's testimony, Sabella called it a fairly common response among girls who have been trafficked. "What's going to happen to her now? That's as big an issue," Sabella said.
SDD was released from custody after her testimony Thursday.
Milwaukee police detective Dawn Jones testified she has investigated dozens of sex trafficking cases and spoken with hundreds of victims. Sixteen jurors listened intently as Jones laid out the culture, rules and lifestyle associated with "the game," and tried to explain why so many girls become part of it.
Jones explained how girls are branded, literally, through tattoos, as property of one pimp or another, and how they can "choose up" and work for a second pimp by looking one in the eye. Severe beatings and transfer payments may accompany the process.
Jones said successful pimps exercise such control over their "stable" that girls without other support find it hard to even imagine fending for themselves and will see working for a different pimp as their only escape. But sometimes, Jones said, the girls, or their families, do finally turn to law enforcement.
In Milwaukee, that cooperation has led to the conviction of several men for sex trafficking, and some very long federal sentences.
Weatherall was charged with soliciting a different 15-year-old girl for prostitution in 2005, after she was arrested in a sting. He wound up pleading to a charge of causing mental harm to a child but was later allowed to withdraw the plea. The Court of Appeals found there was an inadequate factual basis for the plea, because Weatherall denied encouraging the girl to engage in prostitution.
The charge was ultimately dismissed when prosecutors could not find the victim after the appellate ruling.
Weatherall's current trial is expected to last into next week. Other women who prosecutors contend he either pimped or tried to pimp are expected to testify.

About Bruce Vielmetti
author thumbnail Bruce Vielmetti writes about legal affairs.