India’s daughters of the brothel

Young prostitutes wait for customers in Mumbai...

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India’s daughters of the brothel a personal story, as Told by Naseema! A story of young girl, who has turned her life around and is now fighting the very evil that entrapped her from birth.

One in particular that stood out. Jugnu is a 32-page monthly magazine that has been written and published by the sex workers of the Chaturbhujsthan brothel in Bihar, near the border with Nepal, for the past 10 years.

Home to about 10,000 women and children, the whole area – named after the Chaturbhuj-sthan temple, which is located inside – is essentially one large brothel. Historians believe it was first established during the Moghul era. Prostitution has become a family tradition there – passed down from generation to generation.

Intrigued, I contacted the magazine and as more details emerged about this extraordinary publication and the women behind it, I realised that this story was much bigger than a blog.

The magazine had been set up by a group of sex workers led by one girl – Naseema. Born into Chaturbhuj-sthan, Naseema was abandoned by her mother and raised by a woman she calls her ‘grandmother’. Although not actually related to her, this woman used the money she earned as a prostitute to raise Naseema and send her to school. Naseema became the first girl in the brothel’s 300-or-so-year history to receive an education.

When she returned to Chaturbhuj-sthan it was not to sell her body. With the help of local banks, Naseema established small industries inside the brothel – making candles, matchsticks, bindis and incense – offering many prostitutes an alternative form of employment. And she set about persuading the sex workers to send their children to school. Now almost every child in Chaturbhuj-sthan is in full-time education.

More than 50 former prostitutes now work with Naseema, who taught them how to read and write. As well as running the magazine – which is sold across India and also sent to subscribers elsewhere – Naseema and the other women work to prevent others being trafficked, mainly from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh, into prostitution. In the last year alone, they have been able to send at least 20 new girls safely back home.

But their work has brought them many enemies; the most feared being Rani Begum. As chief of the brothel, Begum’s finances have suffered a blow as a result of Naseema’s activities. Her thugs have publicly harassed and beaten Naseema and the other women who work with her. Naseema has also had to fight pimps, as well as some police officers and clerics who were unhappy about her work.

With a clearly identifiable hero, a suitably sinister villain and plenty of action guaranteed as they face off against one another, I felt I had come across a story worthy of a novel. I was hopeful that we could produce a perfect film, but shooting inside a brothel was never going to be easy. I deliberately chose a very small crew of just three people so that we might stay as invisible as possible. We used a Canon 7d camera. Its small size and light weight meant that we were able to move quickly from one place to the next – something that was to prove useful when Begum’s thugs were sent to threaten us.

Before starting the shoot, I met Begum, hoping that this would reduce the likelihood of any problems arising at a later point. About 65 years old, she lives in a huge mansion inside Chaturbhuj-sthan. Polite and courteous, she sought to portray herself as somebody running a kind of welfare institute for destitute girls and referred to her brothel as a ‘social heritage’. A former dancer herself, she stressed that every girl in the brothel is taught classical music and dance.

Begum grew less friendly when I started questioning her about Naseema and her work, but nevertheless promised not to trouble us as long as we filmed indoors. One day, however, while eating lunch, some men came to tell me that Rani Begum wanted us to leave. We eventually had to call the local police to enable us to complete our shoot.

For me, the most emotional scene in the film is when we meet Roma. A 19-year-old Bangladeshi girl, Roma thought she was coming to India to marry a friend of her brother-in-law. She was rescued from the brothel by Naseema and taken to live in a government shelter. But her family still refuses to allow her to return home for fear that she will give them a bad name. We were able to watch the heartfelt telephone conversation between Roma and her family as she pleaded with them to take her back.

And then  the story of Boha Tola – a red light area in the neighbouring Sitamarhi district that was burnt down when local government officials conspired with villagers to eradicate it. Unofficial sources say that at least 100 women, men and children went missing as a result of the fire. As they were never officially registered by the government, no effort was made to find out what had happened to them.

Naseema and some of the other women recorded the incident on their mobile phones and gave me the footage to use exclusively in the film. They told horrifying tales of gang-rape, children being thrown onto fires and police brutality. Some of the women from Chaturbhuj-sthan went on hunger strike to show their solidarity with the people of Boha Tola, but the hunger strikers and their supporters were all put in prison.

Now 32 years old, Naseema is an amazing character who is proud to call herself “a daughter of the brothel”.

 

Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking

There are serious concerns about the cartels‘ movement into illegal immigrant smuggling. “It is really a four-part trade, and it has caused crime throughout the United States.”

Arizona has become the gateway not only for drugs, but also illegal immigrants. Fights over the valuable commodity have triggered a spate of shootings, kidnappings and killings. In Arizona, the cartels grossed an estimated $2 billion last year on smuggling humans. Senior officials from various federal law enforcement agencies confirmed that they were extremely concerned about the cartels’ human smuggling network.

In recent years, the U.S. government has taken significant steps to go after illegal immigrant smugglers on a global scale, setting up task forces, launching public awareness campaigns and creating a Human Smuggling and Trafficking Center to fuse intelligence from various agencies. U.S. efforts to stop the cartels have been stymied by a shortage of funds and the failure of federal law enforcement agencies to collaborate effectively with one another, their local and state counterparts and the Mexican government, officials say.

U.S. authorities have long focused their efforts on the cartels’ trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines, which has left a trail of violence and corruption. Many of those officials now say that the toll from smuggling illegal immigrants is often far worse.

The cartels often further exploit the illegal immigrants by forcing them into economic bondage or prostitution, U.S. officials say. In recent years, illegal immigrants have been forced to pay even more exorbitant fees for being smuggled into the U.S. by the cartel’s well-coordinated networks of transportation, communications, logistics and financial operatives, according to officials. Many more illegal immigrants are raped, killed or physically and emotionally scarred along the way, authorities say. Organized smuggling groups are stealing entire safe houses from rivals and trucks full of “chickens” — their term for their human cargo — to resell them or exploit them further, according to these officials and documents.

 Greed and opportunity had prompted the cartels to move into illegal immigrant smuggling. Drugs are only sold once.  But people, can be sold over and over. And they use these people over and over until they are too broken to be used anymore.” The cartels began moving into human smuggling in the late 1990s, initially by taxing the coyotes as they led bands of a few dozen people across cartel-controlled turf near the border.

After U.S. officials stepped up border enforcement after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the price of passage increased and the cartels got more directly involved, using the routes they have long used for smuggling drugs north and cash and weapons south, authorities said. Sometimes they loaded up their human cargo with backpacks full of marijuana. In many cases, they smuggled illegal immigrants between the two marijuana-growing seasons.

That is the case even as the Obama administration and Congress increasingly focus their attention on Mexico, fearing that its government is losing ground in a battle against the cartels that has resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 people since the beginning of 2008. 

IranHuman Trafficking

The Face of Iran!

Iran is a source, transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Women from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, China, Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are brought in to work as prostitutes. Women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, the Persian Gulf, and Europe for sexual exploitation, while boys from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are trafficked through Iran en route to Persian Gulf states where they are forced to work as camel jockeys, beggars, or laborers. Internal trafficking is also present, as both women and children are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Iran is a transit, source and destination country for human trafficking. Women suffer the most from human trafficking in Iran; women are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Internally, women are trafficked for the purposes of settling debts (through forced marriages) and forced prostitution. Women from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Eastern Europe, China, Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey are brought in to work as prostitutes. Iranian women and girls are also trafficked to Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom for commercial sexual exploitation.

Children are also victims of human trafficking in Iran. Iranian children are trafficked internally and Afghani children are trafficked into Iran for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude as beggars or laborers.

Iran grows almost none of its own opium, according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, but it has one of the world’s highest rates of opiate addiction and it is getting worse. The organization’s 2007 World Drug Report classified Iran as having one of the world’s largest increases in opiate addiction, and the government estimates there are 1.2 million drug abusers, which is 2.8 percent of people ages 15 to 64.

Many attribute the large number of drug abusers to an unusually young population and a large degree of unemployment, estimated at more than 11 percent by the International Monetary Fund. Trafficking has been a particular problem for the government in Tehran. About 53 percent of the opium that left Afghanistan in 2008 traveled through Iran. In fact, about 68 percent of the opium seized in the world in 2007 was taken in Iran, according to the United Nations, just under the average for the previous 20 years.

While many dispute the reliability of Iran’s seizure statistics, most agree that a great deal of these drugs come from Afghanistan through Pakistan, and into southeastern Iran, a region with a long history of volatility. Many of the traffickers travel in armed convoys, and the routes are largely controlled by local warlords, which has proved deadly for Iranian security forces, according to a report by the UNODC. Overall, between 1979 and 2010 about 4,600 Iranian police officers were killed in Iran’s war on drugs. “They try to make a living however they can, and it often ends up in criminal activities,” he said.

However hard Tehran fights drugs smuggled in from Afghanistan, it is still facing a growing population of drug abusers at home. “It is not just the opiates — opium, heroin and morphine — that originate in Afghanistan that are problems in Iran. Synthetic drugs, things like methamphetamines, ecstasy, LSD and amphetamines, those things too are becoming more and more commonplace in Iran.” When these synthetics first entered the country around 2003, the government simply denied the problem. But as it got worse, Tehran began to blame the problem on imports from Europe. And today……………………………

Chaos!!! is building for the Iranian President!

In response to the arrest of several of his associates, Iranian President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that arresting government ministers would cross a red
line. The arrests came against the backdrop of the rift between Ahmadinejad and  Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad added that he would not respond to the moves against him due to his desire to preserve Iran’s unity

Has Obama been Crowned “King OBAMA?”

Now, the American President is being called “King Obama,” have I missed something? Has the USA become a Monarchy in the last month or two? Has he raised himself to the position of KING, without the approval of the Nation or  Congress. Yet, everything is conceivable in the USA, when Americans place themselves at the pinnacle of Human Power.

As the ICC puts out a warrant for one world leader — Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi — some US lawmakers are beginning to feel like President Barack Obama is becoming a bit of a monarch himself and less of the voice of the people that elected him. When a man becomes delusional with self appointment, he needs to pay a  visit to the psychiatric ward at Bellevue, Located on First Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, the facility’s name is well-known to people elsewhere from the many literary, film and television references, where “Bellevue” almost always refers to the hospital’s psychiatric facilities.

Bellevue

In front of Congress this week, James E. Risch (R-ID) recalled then-Senator Barack Obama discussing the lack of power the president has to go to war without Congressional approval. “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” he quoted Obama. To White House officials, Risch asked, “Can you give me a simple answer, is that still his position?” With the White House saying that the Libyan mission is not in fact a war, they argue that President Obama is not in violation with the War Powers Resolution that would prohibit him from mobilizing military forces near Gaddafi’s regime.

Vijay Prashad, director of International Studies at Trinity College, says this isn’t okay at all. The idea that the White House is calling this a “limited engagement is absurd,” he says, and not only is the president violating the War Powers Resolution, but he has disregarded terms established by the UN as well. “None of this is actually making sense,” says Prashad.

While he disagrees with the White House’s stance, Prashad says this isn’t “an Obama problem,” and notes that presidents have acted similarly for decades now. “If the US had properly gone to war in Afghanistan, than it may not have been so unclear about the legalities of killing Osama bin Laden,” he says. Prashad claims that the US has improperly gone to war several times over the last 20 years, with commanders in chief leading troops into battle without Congressional approval ever since the Korean conflict.

“This is where you say 20/20 hindsight is actually something we should have at our benefit,” says Prashad. He argues that we should learn something from the Bush administration. After all, he says, “ if  it didn’t work out so well in Iraq,” why would it work now? “Look at history and say this is a reason not to do it again,” he says.

 

 

Qaddafi issued warrant! Is this for Real?

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Image via Wikipedia

If he is hiding in a Bunker in the middle of his country, who can arrest him?

Muammar el-Qaddafi issued warrant for war crimes Muammar el-Qaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and his chief of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi were issued warrants today by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The charges were crimes against humanity, including murder and persecution.

“Today ICC judges decided after evaluating the evidence that Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and Abdulla Al-Senussi are responsible for crimes allegedly committed in Libya,” the prosecutor’s office said in a written statement. “To prevent them covering up ongoing crimes and committing new crimes, they should be arrested. This is the only way to protect civilians in Libya.”
Background:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan leader is suspected of crimes against humanity. Two other persons wanted by the tribunal are his son Seif al-Islam, who commands one of the Libyan Army’s divisions, and Abdullah al-Sanousi, head of the country’s intelligence.

Gaddafi and his associates are suspected of crimes against Libyan civilians, committed as the government was trying to quell the uprising in the country’s east in February 2011.

The request for the order was sent to the ICC on May 16.

Libyan authorities have already said that they do not recognize the decision of the ICC, claiming they have not signed the Rome Treaty that set up the court. On Sunday, the Libyan Foreign Ministry announced that the issuing of the arrest warrant is not under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and that the ICC is set against African countries.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, explained why the ICC arrest warrant cannot be applied to the Libyan leader. ”The decision of the International Criminal Court is not legally binding for Libya, for a simple reason – Libya is not a member state of the court, and as long as Mr. Gaddafi  stays on Libya’s territory, this decision cannot be fulfilled.”

The ICC, however, says the Libyan authorities have to comply with their sanctions because the request for an arrest warrant was forwarded to the ICC by the UN Security Council, and Libya has to obey the UN Security Council resolutions. The International Criminal Court was established to prosecute officials who have committed crimes against humanity or genocide, if their own country cannot do so.

In the meantime, the bombing of the Libyan capital by NATO forces continues. There were reports of an extremely heavy artillery fire on Monday morning. The bombs allegedly fell near Gaddafi’s compound and not too far from the hotel where the international journalists are staying.

In March, the UN Security Council imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and allowed attacks against Libyan troops in order to protect civilians.The mandate has been abused by the NATO-led coalition, some activists and officials say, resulting in a bombing campaign aimed at ousting Gaddafi from power or killing him. The NATO operation in Libya is met with increasing criticism from military and political observers who say the bombings bear no fruit, as Gaddafi remains defiant and there is no evident progress. The world is now watching to see whether the ICC decision to issue an arrest warrant for Gaddafi will have any significant effort on the situation in Libya.