Sky is a South Korean college student who studies Korean folk music in South Korea. Because of the economic downturn, it's been difficult to find a job that pays her well during the summer. If she works at a restaurant or any other service sector, she would only be able to make $5.00 an hour. And it is only if she gets lucky. But, she heard from one of her friends that if she works at a massage parlor, she could make roughly $200 or $400 per hour. Of course, she wouldn't be just massaging her customers. She would be performing other sexual flavors from masturbation to oral sex depending on what her customers want from. She already convinced herself that it's different from prostitution because she is not having actual intercourse with her customers. Besides, she needs money to buy Gucci purse that she wants and pay for her tuition next semester.
Sexual exploitation is booming and justice turns a blind eye
Skyis not the only college student who happened to work at a massage parlor in a sexy langerie. In fact, she told the journalist that four out of ten friends of hers who are in college work at a massage parlor like she is. She also told the journalist that it gets busier during the day than night. Because their student status and they need to be home with their parents at night, college students often choose to work during the day time than night time.
Women's rights in South Korea
Gender discrimination in South Korea is already severe enough for women in public setting as well as private spheres. According toUN development indicator in 2007, women only "accounted for 13.7 percent of legislators, 8.0 percent of administrative and managerial positions and 40 percent of professional and technical positions." Washington Post reported earlier this year that women in South Korea makes 38% less than men, indicating the widest income gap between women and men among the developed world.One blogger who currently lives in South Korea points out a few things in regard to women's rights and status in South Korean society as follows:
Only recently have married women gained the status of "human". This came during a spousal rape court case - a man was actually found guilty of raping his wife. The judge noted that this must be taken on a case-by-case basis and should not be used as precedent.
Ajumas, generally middle aged or older women from poor backgrounds, are considered a neuter or third sex who are neither a women or a man.
When marrying, a woman's name is crossed off her parent's records and added to her husband's.
A euphemism for a widow is "A woman who has not died yet".
Most women are expected to do all of the child-raising.
Women feel they have to choose between having a career or raising a family.
College girls' commodified identity and massage parlor job
More and more college students are working part time at massage parlors. Such phenomenon however carries much deeper implication to women's rights in the South Korean culture. Though the college students might have chose to enter the industry, one has to wonder what led them to believe that $150/hr for performing oral sex or masturbation on a random stranger is worth the cause. Also, one has to question if they believed in their intelligence or other talents in themselves, whether they have still chose to enter the sex industry. Certainly, if they knew that their identity as a person worth more than a girl with a pretty face or a nice body, they would not have felt the needs to be in the sex industry even for economic reason.
For these college girls, once they failed to prove themselves to be smart enough to enter the prestigious colleges in South Korea, their next chance to acquire success in life is to find a nice husband who can support them for the rest of their lives. Or at least that is what the society tells them what their success in life should be. Moreover, in order to find a good husband with a solid income, the girl has to be pretty, skinny, nice, and obedient to her husband. She cannot be opinionated nor argumentative towards her man.
Danger of commodifying women
In a cultural setting like this, no one can blame these college girls for not being able to find a job in other sectors but massage parlors. After all, massage parlors highly esteem their quite but flirtatious personality with a pretty face and nice body. In particular, their economic needs make it even harder to resist the temptation of high paying job at massage parlors. Think about this. if nobody, including themselves, believes in them that they are worth more than a pretty face and nice body, what makes anyone expect that they would be confident enough to apply for different jobs than working at massage parlors? At that point, it really doesn't matter what kind of talents or personality strength that she was innately born with because it is already suppressed enough to be considered that the talent or the strength in her does not exist.
Suffolk County authorities arrested a Queens woman and her driver for allegedly forcing women into prostitution in Nassau and Suffolk counties in a move that enforced a 2007 New York State anti-human trafficking law for the first time on Long Island.
Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota (center) at a new conference Tuesday announcing Long Island's first-ever sex trafficking arrests under a 2007 New York State law. Evidence on the table in front of him includes cash, passports and condoms.
Jin Hua Cui, 44, of Flushing, pleaded not guilty last week to charges of sex trafficking, promoting prostitution and conspiracy.
She allegedly coerced at least eight Korean women into prostitution at massage parlors that act as fronts for brothels in Hicksville and Huntington Station by using threats of violence after they applied for jobs as nail salon attendants. The women were then advertised on Craigslist, Suffolk County prosecutors said.
Investigators executed a search warrant at her 35th Avenue home, where they seized $20,000 in cash, business records, passports and boxes of condoms. The johns paid $60 or $80, sometimes more, for sex, while Cui took that money and the victims were left with whatever tip the customer paid, prosecutors said.
Cui’s co-defendant, 53-year-old Sangyel Kuen of Flushing, who drove the victims from Queens to Long Island in a Lexus, pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution at his arraignment June 22. He told the court that Cui was engaging in sex trafficking.
Suffolk County police officers opened the four-month investigation when they began to suspect that women at the Huntington Station massage parlor were possible human trafficking victims. Authorities also raided the massage parlors and seized the Lexus.
Now, the question is: Will the victims talk? “These types of cases are difficult to investigate and prosecute primarily because the victims are hesitant to cooperate,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said at a news conference Tuesday.
Jin Hua Cui
Cui, who is Chinese, would threaten the victims by telling them that if they did not work as prostitutes, she would have them killed by the Chinese mafia, prosecutors said. They could not confirm if she actually had any connection to the gang.
Police said she also used threats of embarrassing the victims by telling their families and community that they work as prostitutes. “The embarrassment factor back in Flushing is huge,” said Detective Lt. Edward Reilly, commander of Suffolk County police kidnap investigations team.
Prosecutors suggested this may only be the tip of the iceberg. “There are other girls that we have yet to speak with,” said Assistant District Attorney Jessica Spencer of the special investigations bureau, who is handling the case.
Some of the victims, who are in their 30s and 40s—none of whom speak English—had been involved in the alleged trafficking ring for weeks, while others were victimized for months.
Authorities would not comment on the victims’ status following their alleged captors’ arrest, but standard procedure is for trafficking victims to be brought to group homes for those in similar situations. They may become eligible for special visas, allowing them to stay in the country after the case is closed.
A spokesman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which is also involved in the investigation, was not immediately available for comment.
“New York State’s human trafficking law, enacted in 2007, was designed to fight the scourge of modern day slavery and enable law enforcement and service providers to help victims who are virtually hiding in plain sight,” said Sean. M. Byrne, acting commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). “What may at first appear to be a routine prostitution case could be something far different and far more sinister.”
Suspect sex trafficker Jin Hua Cui being driven to a massage parlor on Long Island by Sangyel Kuen (SCDA)
Cui is being held at Suffolk County jail on $10,000 bail. She is due back in Suffolk County court July 28.
Nassau County prosecutors are currently investigating a sex trafficking case but have yet to bring charges against a suspect. The office has criticized the state law because there are only three drugs—marijuana, methadone and GHB, better known as the date-rape drug—that a sex trafficker can be charged with using to impair a victim’s judgment.
The law excludes crack-cocaine, crystal meth and heroin—the three drugs experts say pimps often feed to prostitutes. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office has said alcohol should be included as well.
There had been 20 arrests statewide for sex trafficking since 2008, resulting in seven convictions with 11 cases still pending as of April 15, according to DCJS.
Queens County prosecutors have laid claim to the first sex trafficking conviction under the New York law, sentencing the trafficker to 25 years in prison in January. In that case, 32-year-old David Brown “bought” a 19-year-old woman and pimped her out on Craigslist.
Those cases are in addition to a Suffolk County sex trafficking case pending in federal court. Brother and sister bar owners and their bar manager were arrested in August 2009 after being accused of forcing Latin American women, some as young as 17, to perform sex acts on patrons for money.
They threatened to report the victims to immigration authorities if they refused. Those who still resisted were assaulted and raped, prosecutors say.
(Last updated on June 29, 2010 at 6:03 pm) and filed under Featured,Long Island News, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry