Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shattered Hearts: Sexual Trafficking of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota

Shattered Hearts: Sexual Trafficking of American Indian Women and Girls in Minnesota


After a client disclosed her own experience, Minnesota American Indian Women's Resource Center recognized that other Native women coming to the agency for housing, domestic violence, and sexual assault service might have similar stories. Staff contacted other Native-specific housing and social service agencies in Minnesota to ask what their caseworkers wereseeing in terms of sexual exploitation of Native women and girls. Several reported an increasing number of Native women and girls coming in for domestic violence and sexual assault services, later acknowledging that their assailant had trafficked them for prostitution.

Police reports from Duluth showed that Native girls were being lured off reservations, taken onto ships in port, beaten, and gang-raped. Tribal advocates in South Dakota and Minnesota had also begun raising red flags, reporting that Native girls were being trafficked into prostitution, pornography, and strip shows over state lines and internationally to Mexico. In Canada, research studies were consistently finding that Canada‟s indigenous women and girls are hugely over-represented in the sex trade. One report described Canadian Aboriginal and American Indian youth as being at greater risk than any other youth for sexual exploitation and trafficking.

In September 2008, the Advocates for Human Rights released its sex trafficking needs assessment report, commissioned by the Gerald D. Vick Human Trafficking Task Force pursuant to its mandate from the Commissioner of Public Safety. The needs assessment evaluated government response to sex trafficking in Minnesota, identified facilities and services currently available to sex trafficking victims, assessed the effectiveness of those services, and made recommendations for improvement.  In that report, the Advocates for Human Rights noted the significant lack of information about American Indian trafficking victims and the relative absence of services to not only help them find safety, but to also heal from having been prostituted.

Despite Minnesota's significant efforts to identify sex trafficking victims and meet their needs, to our knowledge there had never been any sort of summary report produced in either Minnesota or the U.S. regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of this nation‟s indigenous girls and women. MIWRC approached the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to request support to develop a report which would aggregate what is known to date about the commercial sexual exploitation of American Indian women and girls in Minnesota, and to develop a set of recommendations for addressing gaps in knowledge and addressing the needs of victims. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation agreed to support the project, which began in November 2008 and resulted in this report.

Organization of the Report

This report is organized to tell a story. For any story, there is always a setting, a context within which the story unfolds. Therefore,

Section I briefly describes the historical experiences of American Indian women in the U.S. that have made them uniquely vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation, and unique in the ways that such exploitation impacts their well-being.

Section II describes the methods and sources used to produce this report, and our definitions for the terms we use to describe the experiences of commercially sexually exploited Native women and girls.

Section III provides information about the prevalence of Native women‟s and girls‟ involvement in the sex trade in Minnesota, across the U.S. and in Canada.

Section IV describes Native women‟s and girls‟ patterns of entry into commercial sexual exploitation.

Section V is a summary of the risk factors that have been found to facilitate Native women‟s and girls‟ entry into commercial sexual exploitation, and of current data describing the representation of Native women and girls in those facilitating factors in Minnesota.

Section VI provides information about barriers and challenges to helping Native women and girls to escape commercial sexual exploitation.

Section VII contains our conclusions and recommendations.


Nezua on The White Professional Anti-Racist: HILARIOUS!!! (Thanks, Nezua!)

News With Nezua | The White Professional Anti-Racist

IN THIS ERA of shifting cultural demographics and a shrinking white population, some heroes are gettin’ paid to be the Enlightened Whites. Unfortunately, too often this means repeating oppressive power structures but under the guise of altruism.

News With Nezua | The White Professional Anti-Racist from nezua on Vimeo.

Aida Quilcue: Indigenous Leader in Colombia, on Women, the Minga, and Paramilitary Violence

[source: here @ International Cry]

A Message from Aida Quilcue

Posted by Ahni on April 4, 2009 at 7:34am 0 comments 1,387 views

In this video you will hear Aida Quilcue, one of most prominent indigenous leaders in Colombia, talking about the situation facing indigenous peoples, the Social and Communitarian Minga, and what it means to be a victim in Colombia.
The Chief Counselor of the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC), Aida is one of the key figures behind the Minga Popular, a national process of Mobilization and Conscience that aims for the total transformation of Colombia.
Last year the Minga brought forward an unprecedented mobilization that lasted for more than a month. It came to an end in Bogota, with 30,000 Indigenous People demanding the return of land, improved health care and education, and the end to the current regime of terror and greed under President Alvaro Ulribe.
Over the last six years more than 1,240 indigenous people have been murdered in Colombia and at least 53,885 have been displaced. State-sponsored assassinations, paramilitary violence, and forced disappearances are also frequent.

 Or watch this video on Google: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5309022787009325555#


  1. Paramilitaries Threaten Aida Quilcue and Social Organizations : Intercontinental Cry

Land = Life: Tarcila Rivera of Quechua culture [euro/anglo languaged location: Peru, South American]

[image of Tarcila Rivera is from here]
"We cannot develop our culture, our life if we do not have the land that gives us life" 
-- Tarcila Rivera

Indigenous Women

"Are you going to sing and dance?" asked an inquisitive journalist to a group of indigenous women from Latin America.

They looked at him with fury and snapped: "We do not sing and we do not dance."

Tarcila Rivera, a Peruvian indigenous woman of Quechua origin, explains: "We are of flesh and bone, like everybody else. We are not exotic and are much more than our traditional costumes.

We have economic, political, cultural, gender problems, like all the women attending this Forum, she adds. We want to participate in politics, have a voice at the UN, use a computer."

Indigenous women are annoyed that in the NGO Forum's program the plight of indigenous women is subsumed within ethnicity and culture.

And no wonder. They have come to Beijing [2006 ECD International Women's Conference] with a serious platform which has a lot in common with the demands of rural women, only that they suffer a double discrimination: as women and as indigenous people.

Despite having made great strides in terms of organization and coordination at continental level, Latin America's indigenous women still feel marginalized and not understood by their Latin American sisters.
They were disappointed, for example, at the token role they played during "diversity" workshops and celebrations in the Latin American and Caribbean tent.

There are 40 million indigenous people in the part of the Americas that stretches from Mexico to Cape Horn in Chile, with 59% of the women living in rural areas. Four fifths of illiterate peasants are women of indigenous origin. Rural illiteracy is 5 t o 10 times higher than in the cities.

Although they share common problems with non-indigenous women, such as lower pay than men and being powerless in their own organizations, indigenous women have additional problems such as racial and cultural discrimination.

"When we go to a government office, to the hospital they treat us like dirt," says Rivera. "What we demand is mutual respect."

In preparation for Beijing, Latin America's indigenous women met in Ecuador and then in Argentina where they prepared a draft platform which they are now finalizing at the Forum.

Their demands include bilingual and intercultural education in their indigenous language as well as in Spanish. They want titles and protection of the lands where they live.

"We cannot develop our culture, our life if we do not have the land that gives us life," Rivera explains.

Instead, the protection traditionally afforded in several Latin American countries to indigenous territories is being dismantled by new laws allowing indigenous lands to be sold.

Indigenous women are also asking for participation in educational and research programs that affect or concern them. They want credit and reward for their traditional knowledge (of traditional plants, for example) as well as international and national policies that benefit them while respecting their identity. Of the United Nations they ask that an equal number of men and women is invited to attend workshops and meetings.

Finally, they say governments should ratify the International Labor Office's (ILO) resolution 169 on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous people.

As for the future, Latin America's indigenous women are working on establishing a permanent continental network for training and exchange of experiences.

"We also want to understand the problems of indigenous women from other regions and join in a word wide network that will strengthen us all," Rivera says.

They have moved so far so fast in the last few years that it is perfectly possible that Rivera's dream of a web of indigenous people acting and interacting with each other will be a reality before the next world conference on women.

Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker
Copyright © 1996-109

Radical Feminist Yanar Mohammed's letter to U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton

[image of Yanar Mohammed is from here]

[Source for what follows is here: here]

Yanar Mohammed: Thank you Hillary for submitting to our patriarchs

In a visit to Egypt which was meant to be a landmark in US-Arab relations, Hillary Clinton chose to have her head covered with a veil, thus forwarding a clear message to more than a hundred million Arab women: "if an American Secretary of State can wear it, it should be okay for you too."

Women of the Arab world and the Middle East suffered and struggled from patriarchal Islamist oppression which escalated in the last two decades. One simple example of the oppression is the excluding of females from all decision making positions as they are thought of as "emotional" and "irrational". Therefore, a woman cannot be a judge in court; neither can she be a full witness, as two women's testimony will be equal to one man. Other examples of the oppression travel around the world dressed in full black, with no openings, even for breathing.

In a total control of governmental and non-governmental mass media, Islamist ideologists brainwashed generations into the idea that females are deficient human beings with an evil urge to disgrace and dishonour. Therefore, they should be restricted into a narrow zone lest they bring shame and filth upon the innocent unsuspecting patriarchs at home. The same ideologists who hold the binding veil in one hand, hold another unreserved banner in the other hand which assures the males' biological need for more than one sexual partner and tries to polish legalized polygamy with baloney testimonies of "'...being fair among wives when it is too difficult".

None of these misogynist ideologists mention the human catastrophe which befalls the female and children population in an Islamist city. In the religious city of Najaf , south of Baghdad 20% of the adult female population are abandoned wives with no income. They are second, third and fourth wives of men who had taken off for other women. Their husbands do not care to divorce them or to spend on their wives and their children. In the "holy" city of Najaf , masses of destitute women and children roam in the streets and may manage to live off the charity of religious institutions which had justified their abandonment and poverty in the first place.

The Islamist ideologists do not feel compelled to justify the tragedy of tens of thousands of women and children of a polygamist culture. They continue to pump a woman serves man ideology to the young generations to perpetuate the males' misogynist practices and the females' submission to misogyny as part of faithfulness and godliness.

There was a time of progressive leftist change in the Arab and Middle Eastern societies. It coincided with a world-wide movement for liberation from colonialism. Our mothers' generation benefited from that age as they reached to the university seats and became doctors and engineers.

Still, it took many years of political and feminist struggle to get rid of the veil and the control of patriarchs who imposed the veil on them. As you may know Hillary, these women were not born with the veil. It always takes a misogynist patriarch to tie it around your head and neck. But these women gracefully succeeded and got rid of the veil, the symbol of their oppression. From thereon came the female Ministers, judges, scientists, doctors, and engineers.

Hillary ...
We are proud of our bodies and do not need to cover them to please your allies, the Islamist patriarchs. We also know that our fight for women's rights needs to parallel with a fight to end the US occupation in Iraq , as we have only witnessed deterioration in our lives and social status since day one of the occupation. Thanks to you and others like you, the Islamist patriarchs are ruling as government and militias in Iraq now. We know that women of Iraq cannot dream of a day of freedom as long as the US troops are in here.

If you need to flirt with your Islamist patriarch allies, go ahead. But never dare speak in the name of women and women's rights. Stick with the patriarchs in the boy's club as it serves you better.

Yanar Mohammed
Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq , president
June 6, 2009

White Man's Trinity: The Rule and Maintenance of Patriarchy, Prostitution, and Poverty

[image is from here]

I am trying to absorb and comprehend the information in the last twenty posts here, including my viewing of the film, "The Selling of Innocents"; the stories of Native North Americans forced into white Christian Boarding Schools, which were primarily places for psychic as opposed to fully lethal genocide; and the atrocities perpetrated by men, endured and resisted by women globally. I am struck once again with how complex the web of white male supremacist atrocities are. Not impossible to understand, but not simple. Not simply about "patriarchy" or "capitalism" or "whiteness", but all of the above and more. Which is not to say men don't rule worldwide. They do. Men created capitalism. Men maintain patriarchy with a brutal hand. Men control the location and production of poverty.

In the film, The Selling of Innocents, we have a story of post-colonial patriarchal cultures, in the relatively small impoverished country of Nepal and in portions of the city of Mumbai in India, in which women and girls have little value as human beings separate from their connection to men; and their "value" to men is to be used and abused as something that is worthless. We have a story of a society that has been ravaged and permanently altered by colonial invasion and rule, in India's history by the British. We have a story of how a kind of poverty that is a product of industrialisation, capitalism, and Western global imperialism, has left many desperate for "income" or the means to purchase food and other necessities for living, like drinkable water. When you are made to pay for water, you are incredibly dependent on the seller in order to survive for even a few days. Nepal didn't use to be impoverished. India has been impaired by British colonial invasion and occupation. Western cultures, their customs, religions, and laws, pollute and poison the world just as U.S. nuclear waste pollutes and poisons many American Indian people and the land that white people have allowed them to live and die on, called reservations.

Many of these cultures used to be self-sufficient, sustainable, and free from outside invasion and abuse. This doesn't mean they were paradises. This doesn't mean there were no problems. It means that for me, as a white U.S. man, I must call out the ways that white Western society has created the problems that we now see the world over, including the atrocity of female sexual slavery, sometimes called prostitution. I live in a country where "prostitution" can be seen and experienced as separate from sexual slavery. This is one of the luxuries of living in the U.S. For this distinction is non-existent in many parts of the world that are far more poor than is the U.S.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and Corporate Capitalist Globalisation including an obscenity called "Free Trade", has created a particularly gross form of impoverishment in many regions of what is called "The Third World". The Third World, let's not forget is actually The First World, but has been relegated "third place" by white societies who are self-named "The First World". Indigenous societies existed before every single white one. Indigenous societies have existed for tens of thousands of years before "white manhood" appeared on the Earth.

White manhood and its ideology of white male supremacy, and its culture, politics, religions, and laws, is what has destroyed Indigenous societies all over the world, making them materially poor instead of sustainable. It has made the Third World populated primarily by people of color, mostly female, has been made dependent on the First World, dominated by white men.

White manhood thrives on two things primarily: possession and consumption of that which is not itself.

And here we have the source of incest, rape, battery, prostitution, sexual slavery, and ecocide. Here we have an idea, made real, that female human beings belong to one man or many, and that the Earth is to be dominated, not lived with as a friend, sibling, or parent.

I support all radical efforts to end white man's rule, possession, consumption, and destruction of female human beings of all colors, and of the Earth and all its other inhabitants, many of which white man has already made extinct. Extinction is the inevitable end point of white man's rule. There is no other possibility given white man's values and ways of organising society.

White man's massacres and manipulations of Indigenous societies globally, and his specific abuses of women and girls seen as existing for him, to do his labor and to satisfy his consumptive and destructive sexual appetite, is what I consider to be a horror that is made most horrific by being made to seem natural and inevitable, which is also to say "normal".

To any white man who believes that patriarchy ought to be normal, that prostitution in inevitable, and that poverty is natural, I say this: Your life will end one day, and the Earth will live on. Hopefully you have not left politic heirs to your atrocious ways of being human. Between now and the end of your life, do what you can to end the horror rather than support and celebrate it.

The Story of Apne Aap and The Selling of Innocents, Ruchera Gupta's film on Female Sexual Slavery/Prostitution

an initiative to end sex-trafficking
every woman free, every child in school
[image of logo and statement is from here


Why does someone have to be some man's mother" or some boy's sister to be SOMEBODY!? And why does being a prostitute and sexual slave make a girl or woman NOBODY? -- Julian

"The Selling of Innocents" (Part 1 of 6; 6 is closing credits) on Sex Trafficking by Ruchira Gupta, Executive Director
Apneaap Women Worldwide
The story behind the film:
It began like a routine assignment, triggered by a journalist's nose for news. Ruchira Gupta stumbled upon the subject while walking through the hills of Nepal in 1994.

"Many villages in the hills had no women between the ages of 15 and 45," remembers Ruchira. "It was strange and I started making inquiries. The answer was always the same: 'They have gone to work in Mumbai.'

I found that there was a system to procure girls and carry them in trucks to the Indo-Nepal border and then in trains to brothels in Mumbai’s Kamatipura. I saw procurers on the prowl, parents selling their daughters, money changing hands and tin-roofs and radios in Nepali homes with daughters in Mumbai." Ruchira knew she had a story and rang up her friends to help find someone who would be interested in it.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) sent down its team and the work began. "I had already researched for nine months," said Ruchira. "My networks in Nepal with the pro-democracy activists helped. But those who had spoken so frankly clamped up the moment they saw a camera and crew."

That was just the beginning of the many problems that awaited the crew. "Certain politicians were involved and the mafia did not want us to continue," she said. "We were stopped on the road, our helicopter was denied permission to land, and our car was stoned."

Ruchira spent months hanging around the brothels getting to know the women, building trust and slowly gaining access. "I didn't go through anyone in the power hierarchy in the area," she said. "I kept the police, politicians and NGOs out. I had to make friends with the women in prostitution, talk to them on terms of equality. I told them intimate details of my life before I got to know theirs. I promised them that they could walk off camera whenever they wanted, reveal only what they wanted to and ask me to stop filming at any time."

"I told the girls I had a job to do," said Ruchira. "Some wanted to help because they thought that their story needed to be told, for others it became a game in which they helped conceal the camera to film how the clients behaved with them."

Once the 40-day shooting schedule was over, Ruchira realized that she 'couldn't walk away'. To begin with she admitted the girl she bought in Katmandu, into a school. She then took her documentary to different forum to raise awareness on this global crime against women and girls. It was screened at the Stockholm World Congress on Sexual Exploitation of Children, UNICEF regional workshops, UNAIDS conference in Manila and UN in New York.  It was dubbed into 6 languages with the support of UNAIDS and shown in South and South-East Asian villages to put forth the horrors of brothel life.  The 47-minute film called The Selling of Innocentswas made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and she won an Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in 1997 for it.

Ruchira continued to keep in touch with the women in the red-light areas of Mumbai who had helped make the documentary. They asked Ruchira to help them change their situation and protect their daughters from falling prey to prostitution. However, Ruchira asserted that they have to help themselves and she would facilitate. And so Apne Aap was born. Apne Aap means self-help in Hindi.

Apne Aap started out as an informal group of women and girls who gave Ruchira information, advice, protection and physical and emotional support.

"Discussions over a period of time began to range from what I could give them, to what they should demand from the government and society. Most of the women had daughters and wanted to prevent their daughters from getting into prostitution."  The group started by meeting in parks and on beaches. The main concentration was on breaking the sense of isolation that the women and girls in the community suffered from. This informal group began to learn the strength of collectivizing. They realized that when they bargained together they were treated with more respect. A group dynamics emerged.

The group then needed space to institutionalize its work. It needed money for medicines and food. It needed legal support to protect itself from extortion and money. It needed sponsors for its daughters.  Apne Aap was finally registered in August, 2002 as an NGO in Mumbai, India.

Through the efforts of a board member Apne Aap was given a room in an abandoned municipal school on Falkland street- the heart of Mumbai's red-light area. These quickly become a drop in centre. This room was a safe place to meet, chat, sleep, stitch torn clothes, bathe and to get mail. It was also a place to hold meetings and classes.

Apne Aap's needs and ambitions grew. The members wanted to reach out to other sisters trapped in prostitution. It wanted to dismantle the system of prostitution itself by going after the buyers. They decided to replicate the programme in Bhiwandi and also in three other states of India-Bihar, Delhi and West Bengal. They decided to lobby in Parliament for a change in the India anti-trafficking law, ITPA to punish buyers more severely.

Apne Aap mobilizes and mentors community based groups of trafficked and vulnerable girls and women to empower each other. The Centres provide the safe space and opportunities for legal, education and livelihood training to the groups of girls and women to develop the skills and abilities to resist traffickers. This strategy has a) empowered mothers to rescue their daughters and put them into schools breaking the cycle of caste-based intergenerational prostitution and b) empowered women to rescue each other by demanding access to the right to livelihoods other than prostitution, education and safe housing in their small group structures.
Apne Aap now runs women-led self-help groups, residential and non-residential schools/classrooms and legal support cells.
It has reached 10,072 women and girls. Of these 812 girls are in regular schools, 1,200 women have formed small business cooperatives known as self-help groups, and 3,042 women have submitted a petition to Indian Parliament asking for a change in the anti-trafficking law, ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act), to punish buyers and protect women and girls.

It brings out its own newspaper, Red Light Despatch, which is written by women and girls in prostitution for their sisters who are survivors and victims’. The women of Apne Aap want a world in which it is unacceptable to buy or sell another human being and to imagine an economy in which one does not force one to sell oneself.
[source: http://www.apneaap.org/about.html]

Radical Feminist Ruchira Gupta on Ending Prostitution and Sexual Slavery

[image of feminist journalist/filmmaker Ruchira Gupta is from here]
“Our groups seek not to mitigate the circumstances of sex-trafficking but to end sex-trafficking. We seek complete transformation, not simply reform. Our members who are victims and survivors of sex-trafficking want a world in which it is unacceptable to buy or sell another human being and to imagine an economy in which one is not forced to sell oneself. We are trying to keep sex-trafficking profiteers from legalizing sex slavery in India even though more Foundation funds, especially US-based Foundations, are spent on the supposed protection of sex buyers from AIDS than the protection of women and children from sex buyers. This has created a vested interest in the preservation of brothels in some parts of India for the distribution of condoms rather than protecting the women and children even though there is no evidence that increased condom distribution in brothel districts is leading to condom usage or a decrease in AIDS.”
-- Ruchira Gupta, President and Founder of  APNE AAP WOMEN WORLDWIDE [source: here]

Here is a video in which Ruchira Gupta explains her journey towards doing this political work. TRIGGER WARNING: It includes her story of being sexually assaulted. PLEASE NOTE: THE FIRST HALF MINUTE or so of this video IS A VERY LOUD PIERCING SOUND with only a colorbar image. After that the volume may be turned back up, and the interview begins.