Friday, May 18, 2007

(Another Day In) Human Trafficking

Click on the map for a peek at the flow of human trafficking.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing activist and author Gloria Steinem, who was in Albany with The New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition. New York is a major port of entry, transit and destination for human-trafficking victims. Sex trafficking can involve prostitution, pornography, selling brides and other exploitation. Labor trafficking can include forced labor at sweatshops, farms, domestic work and other areas.

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Gov. Eliot Spitzer and legislative leaders agreed Wednesday to strengthen bills against human trafficking (Newsday). Thursday the NY POST ripped a new one for an Indian socialite (the daughter of the couple mentioned in the Muttontown Sex Slave story below) in SLAVE FLICK A HIT WITH CRUELLA JR.
Pooja Sabhnani, 22, her sisters, Tina, 20, and Dakshina, 19, and her brother, Rahul, 17, the children of Varsha Sabhnani and her husband, Mahender, are under investigation in the victims' barbaric, five-year ordeal in which they were beaten, tortured, starved and forced to work 21 hours a day, a law-enforcement source told The Post.

Pooja, a 2006 graduate of the Parsons School of Design who works for her parents designing packaging for their lines of trendy, international perfumes, says on her Web site that her favorite movies include "Human Trafficking," a two-part miniseries that aired on the Lifetime cable channel in October 2005.
Indian Couple on Long Island Keeping Slaves! (Long Island - WABC, May 15, 2007) UPDATE June 27, 2008 - A husband and wife on Long Island are under arrest Tuesday, accused of forcing two women to becoming indentured servants. Long Island reporter Emily Smith in Mineola.
Police say the woman, 35-year-old Varsha Mohender, did most of the beating and torturing, along with the help of her 51-year-old husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhini.

It all happened over five years, detectives say, in their $2.5 million home in the exclusive North Shore community of Muttontown.

Neighbors say that all they know is the couple lived with their four children, ages 16 to 25. They allegedly ran a perfume business out of their home.

But Sunday, police say one of the slave victims had enough and wandered down Jericho Turnpike until Adrian Mohammed spotted her.

"[I asked,] 'Did he hurt you?' and she then rolled up her sleeve and I saw multiple, multiple pinches, as she did herself," he said. "She rotated and pinched and said 'Master do, Master do that.'"

Mohammed called 911, which resulted in two arrests and the rescue of a second victim, according to police.

They say this was real slavery, and that the couple made their workers pay for any misbehavior by forcing them to take 30 scalding showers in three hours or eat 25 hot peppers in one sitting.

Police say the female homeowner even used a small pocket knife to cut one of the victims behind her ears. It left scars even Mohammed noticed.

"We looked behind her ears and saw blood and scrapes and knew she was abused," he said.

"It's hard to believe this could happen in our neighborhood," neighbor Randhir Bajaj said.

In a meticulous multimillion dollar home like this, it's hard to imagine living a captive life. But investigators say they found the second victim hiding in a crawl space underneath a stairwell. They say she was waiting for anyone to take her away from it all.
Jorge Melchor is facing federal charges of human trafficking. The charges are: bringing in and harboring aliens, importation of aliens for immoral purpose, transportation for prostitution and reentry of deported aliens. This morning a woman identified simply as "Angelica" testified that Melchor took her and other women to apartments and trailers in Tallahassee where he forced them to sleep with several men over the course of two days.

Angelica said he imported the illegal immigrants from South America; she is from Guatemala.

They were transported over the border to Houston and forced to walk through the woods for several nights until they were picked up and transported to Tallahassee, according to Angelica's testimony.

In response to questions from prosecutor Corey Smith, Angelica said she was taken to about 10 different homes and forced to sleep with as many as 10 people per home.

On the second day, she said she ran away to a neighbors' house, where they promptly called the police.

Check for updates.

Korean sex trafficking: past and present. A blogger wonders why the past is a bigger deal than the present in Korea, linking to a news article, “Enslavement of women persists despite new law.”

Russian FSB steps up combatting human trafficking, arests gang leader
Three members of a human trafficking group, one of them an Israeli national, have been detained in Moscow as part of an ongoing investigation into the practice, news agency RIA Novosti reports, referring to the Prosecutor General's Office.
According to reports, the leader of the criminal group was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Russian Armed Forces, Dmitry Strykanov, who was arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) along with 20 other suspects March 14. According to investigators, Strykanov was the group's organizer, and was involved in human trafficking and illegal immigration from Southeast Asia and former Soviet republics to Western Europe through Russia, although he has consistently denied the charges, RIA Novosti says. The criminal group involved Moldavians and Ukrainians, according to the FSB. They subsequently used the foreign passports to apply for European visas, change the passport data and illegally send people to Western Europe, news agency cites the FSB.
In early May, thanks to close cooperation between military investigators and their foreign counterparts, one of the organizers of this criminal enterprise the Israeli national, Avi Yanai was detained. Also detained were two nationals from a former Soviet republic, whose names have not been released, RIA Novosti adds.

The UAE Human Trafficking Committee was established under Federal Law 51 for the year 2006 to address the crime of human trafficking. It represents the first law of its kind in the Arab world to address the practice of human trafficking and demonstrates the UAE's commitment to international treaties and standards. The Committee is tasked with developing an implementation framework for this important legislation. The UAE recently ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime which highlights the country's ongoing efforts to address this issue. [more]

YOGYAKARTA (Antara): The Central Government is going todraft a government regulation (PP) on human trafficking, according to a minister. "The Government is at present in the process of collecting data needed to draft the anti-trafficking regulation," Woman Empowerment Minister Meutia Farida Hatta said Tuesday.

The regulation would immediately be drafted after the completion of the data collection, which was expected to last for six months, she said when speaking in a panel discussion on the Role of Mother in the National Education organized by Sarjawiyata TamanwiswaUniversity.

The Indonesian Government and Parliament passed a bill on human anti-trafficking last March 2007, she said. In November 2006, Minister Meutia said that 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific region agreed to establish cooperation in fighting against human trafficking and eradicating `modern age slavery'. [more]

Human-trafficking suspect takes deal
Ugly face of human trafficking comes to fore
FBI and Metro Vice take down 5th Hispanic brothel

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