When Old Fat Perverts Have Cold Hard Cash

by Michelle Brock on March 31st, 2010

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Last night Jay and I had our friend Bry and her mom, Renee (above),  stay over at our place in Costa Rica. We were having a lovely candle-light conversation (power was out!) about their vacation in the Capos region of the country, and soon the topic turned to human trafficking and prostitution.

One day they had gone to eat at beach restaurant, and saw a bunch of beautiful local women rubbing lotion on some 400 lb. American men on the beach.  The men were groping and stripping the women right in public, not heeding any attention to the fact that there were kids around.  All the people in the restaurant were disgusted, but the restaurant would not do anything because the men were buying tons of beer from them.

Here is my question: how arrogant do these guys have to be to believe that these young women want to do this?  That rubbing lotion and giving sexual favours to rude, 400lb. foreign men is somehow appleaing to them?

It all comes down to cold, hard cash.  As Victor Malarek says, money is the ultimate conscience-pacifier.

On another day, Bry and Renee saw the same local girls with their blue-haired pimp, waiting for customers.  Yes, sexual exploitation is thriving here indeed.

What would you do if you saw this happening? Tell the restaurant you were no longer going to give them business as long as they were serving the guys on the beach? Confront the men personally? Talk to the girls? Issues of safety come into play if traffickers are involved.  These are tricky situations, and we must learn how to address them and handle them properly if we are to make a difference in the lives of exploited girls.

Michelle Brock

Vancouver Olympics = Rise in Demand

by Michelle Brock on March 29th, 2010

2010 vancouver olympics logo4 300x223I just received an email this week from Michelle Miller from REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity), who ran the Sex is Not a Sport campaign at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  The results are in – demand for paid sex and sex entertainment went up, and at one point ten different women were offered directly for sale on Craigslist by an anonymous person.  There was a rise in the use of escort services and attendance at sex clubs, and the team raising awareness about human trafficking got spit on, shoved, grabbed, and insulted.  Welcome to the Olympics.  Great job to those who poured their time and effort into decreasing demand at the Olympics – your work is so valuable and necessary.

Research has shown that big sporting events spike levels of trafficking.  It is simply a matter of economics. Where there is demand there is supply.  Guys are way more willing to go to strip clubs and pay for sex when they are away from home.  It is the whole “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mentality.  Sure, there are some women who take advantage of the masses and willingly sell their bodies.  But what about the rest?

This all makes me think ahead to the London 2012 Olympics and what must be done to prevent trafficking there.  London is already key destination and transit country for victims of sex trafficking, and I can only imagine how many girls will be brought in to service demand.  Any ideas on how we can stop this from happening?

Michelle

Border Alert!

by Michelle Brock on March 25th, 2010

One of my biggest frustrations regarding Canada’s (non) response to human trafficking is its border crossing protocol.  I was talking with a friend who works in customs at the Canada/US border, and she said they do not receive any kind of special training in how to look out for and identify human traffickers.

I just crossed the Costa Rica-Panama border yesterday and was pleased to see this written right on the customs form: The penalty for sexual abuse towards minors in Costa Rica implies prison. I just had to take a picture of it.

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As we waited in line to cross into Panama, we saw a huge billboard that warned girls about falling prey to sexual exploitation and forced prostitution when seeking promised work abroad  I couldn’t help but think how necessary this type of advertising is at Canadian airports and border crossings.  Not only is it important to warn girls who are naively entering a country that their promises might turn into nightmares in a few short hours, but ads must also target men who plan to use these girls.

Despite the shortcomings of Panama and Costa Rica in anti-trafficking efforts, Canada would do well to follow their example at border crossings.

Michelle Brock

Costa Rica: A Hot Spot for Sexcapades

by Michelle Brock on March 23rd, 2010

Since becoming aware of sex trafficking as a global problem, I think about it often when I travel. Currently I am living in Costa Rica in Central America, where prostitution is legal and booming. In fact, it is becoming more and more of a hotspot for sex tourists, who do not want to travel as far as Asia to buy sex.

Not only are Costa Rican girls and women trafficked into Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, and Japan, but foreign girls from Russia, Colombia, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Eastern Europe have been identified as victims of forced prostitution in Costa Rican bars and strip clubs. Child sex tourism is flourishing in regions such as Guancaste, Limon, Puntarenas, and San Jose.

On the plane ride to San Jose, I sat next to an American man in his 40s who regularly visits Costa Rica by himself, though he has no friends, family, or business here. Hmm. It is no wonder why men are flocking here when there are articles like this one in GQ about getting laid in Costa Rica.

In my interview with the author of The Natashas: A New Global Sex Trade and The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It, Victor Malarek mentioned that Ludwig Feinberg, a trafficker that was kicked out of Canada, relocated to Costa Rica with his human trafficking operations. This guy has some serious business-savvy. Because legalized prostitution makes victims more difficult to locate, Feinberg, along with many others, is able to make a boatload of cash in a place like Costa Rica.

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Down the street from where I live is a bar that is known locally as “Sonya’s Knob” (right). Prostituted girls work here under supervision of their “mothers.” I wonder what their stories are. Do they want to be there? It is a constant reminder to me of how exploitation of women exists everywhere.

Michelle Brock

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