Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner

A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner is the first non-fiction account of human trafficking that I have read. The book was so rich in details and first-hand accounts of slaves around the world. Since most of my research has been on sex-trafficking, I have not focused on other forms of slavery, such as debt bondage, forced labor and domestic servitude. There are many passages in the book that are extremely useful to my research. The whole chapter 10 is a very important chapter, which tells the story of the forced labor and rape of a young Haitian girl in Miami, Willianthe Narcisse; it is too long to copy but you can read it here. I am going to copy them down here, as a way to record them.

Sex Trafficking (General)

“Annually, traffickers now take more slaves into the United States than seventeenth century slave traders transported to pre-independence America.” (Page 265)
Sex trafficking is a hydra. Close one big brothel, and two smaller ones open elsewhere. Close those two, and traffickers start an escort service. Arrest or kill slave traders along one route, and they pour over another one where officials are more corrupt. Clean up the border police, and traffickers shift to the hundreds of miles of tattered, unguarded green borders that crisscross Europe. Smash a mafia-run network, and thirty neighborhood-level operations take its place. “ (Page 150)
“where men rent their bodies” (page 149)
“Immigrants , the lifeblood of America, usually come into the country only if they have the means to pay for the journey. Now, some human smugglers offer the chance to immigrate with little or no money down. The offer always comes with strings attached, however. And sometimes it comes with chains.” (Page 267)


“There are more than 10,000 street kids, mostly boys as young as six; some selling unprotected sex for $1.75. Haiti has the highest prevalence of HIV infection outside of sub-Saharan Africa, and Haitians who believe sex with virgins protects against or even cures, AIDS have driven up the price of such intercourse to $5.00. Haiti has also become a magnet for sex tourists and pedophiles. One left a review of the children on an online chat room: “The younger ones are even more kinkier than the older women….park on the street and tell them to go at it!! If anyone sees you they just ignore you. No police but the multi-national military force is still here.”  (Page 4)


According to online sex tourist forums, most Turkish travel agencies have a Kerem on hand. Kerem was the guy for the guys. He helped his clients engage in what John Miller sarcastically called “just some harmless recreational activities.” Recently, when two women hereabouts refused to provide that recreation, their pimp had mangled their genitals with boiling oil.” (Page 170)
“Realistically, I knew that I had little to fear from Turkish authorities, who routinely winked at the thousands of sex tourists who arrive here at Ataturk Airport every year. So I decided to be brazen in the search for one of the hidden, illegal brothels that dominate Turkish sex market and make it the top destination for Moldovan salves.”  (Page 169)


“The Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp $250,000 per year.”  (page 144)
“Shortly before my second visit to the Netherlands, Michael Horowitz, registered his opinion of the Dutch approach to sex slavery with the U.S. House International Relations Committee. ‘Now, that country, which shall remain nameless, whos name- whose major city is Amsterdam,’ he said in May 2006, ‘has been a kind of symbol for this evil.
This previous fall, I had asked John Miller which country had the most slaves. ‘It’s hard to say which is the worst country’ he said. ‘I think on a per capita basis the Netherlands is pretty bad.’ Millers effort to downgrade the Netherlands to Tier Two had been consistently rebuffed by his superiors at State. But his disclaim for the Dutch model was undiminished. Miller likened Dutch legalizers to Wilberforce’s regulations opponents, who argued ‘for getting better mattresses in slave ships.’ (Page 184)
“Authorities found around 400 trafficking victims within Dutch borders every year. A top police told John Miller that 40% of the country’s 30,000 prostitutes were slaves.”


….”Serbia, a country that the Canadian journalist Victor Malarek called “the breaking grounds” for trafficked women. (Page 143)”

UN Peacekeepers

Locals say that the main contribution of the peacekeepers to Haiti’s economy comes via brothels. Opposite a UN camp on an otherwise desolate road of Port-au-Prince, Le Perfection nightclub does blooming business.” (Page 5)
“At the time, the mongers (self-chosen name for sex tourists) fellow Pentagon contractors were being investigated for keeping Eastern European sex slaves in their residences in the Bosnian capital. Their comrades-in-arms, UN Peacekeepers, had a particularly nasty reputation that was not limited to Sarajevo. Blue helmets pressed girls into slavery in the Congo, purchased sex slaves outright in Cambodia and Eritrea, and became-known ‘less for peace than for rape,’ as John Miller said. “The UN Peacekeepers are the worst military in the world,” Miller told me. “ I demand you quote me on that.” (Page 176)

Ending Slavery

“If you want to end enslavement of those debt bondages in the brick factories in India, the best thing you can do is put all of the sex traffickers in jail, and just drive a stake right through the heart of the system. The connection is these ripples effects, where you succeed in taking out some people, you send a message to everyone else, saying ‘you are next.’” Horowitz to Skinner (Page 53-54)
“Miller himself often cited instances where trafficking victims were not the poorest of the poor and argued that his office ‘can’t just be a general poverty fund.’ But he came to view organizations that focused on prevention and rehabilitation, as well as emancipation, as the vanguard. Several international studies showed the increasing prosecutions did little to affect the aggregate levels of trafficking, while poverty alleviation tended to keep the vulnerable from becoming victims.” (Page 200)

“But such enforcement should not come at the cost of humanity of the women involved. John Miller finally understood this. After meeting with hundreds of sex slaves, he supported vigorous penalties for pimps, traffickers, and clients; quietly, he believed that a just and compassionate would not punish the prostitutes themselves.” (Page 290)

“Here I am also reminded that a mass movement against slavery will only work if every single supporter performs simple acts of preventative abolition.” (Page 293)

Social Ventures

“Atalantas, an organization that reached trafficked women by placing stickers on bathroom mirrors of brothels, slipping then contact information in lipstick containers, lettings slaves know that they were not alone.” (Page 117)


“Beginning in the 1990s, human trafficking metastasized faster than any other form of slave-trading in history. As many as 2 million people left their homes and entered bondage every year. Human beings surpassed guns as the second most lucrative commodity for crime syndications of all sizes, netting around 10 billion dollars annually.” (Page 132)

Sex-Trafficking and Art

“In 1907, Pablo Picasso gave Paris a masterpiece of discomfort: Les Demoiseeles d’ Avignon portrayed five nude prostitutes, all staring down the viewer. Picasso painted each with different styles, including his forway into Cubanism, and imbued each with a different personality. Two stood, arms raised, confident and inviting. Two inhabited the shadows, their eyes darkened, their silhouettes uncomfortable as they pulled back the curtains. One prostitute sat with her back to the viewer, her head turned 180 degrees. Her face, the most striking feature of the painting was an oblique African mask, foreign and tortured.”

(Lack of) Aftercare for Moldova’s Victims

“Five thousand miles away from Washington, a single floor of an ugly Soviet-era Chisinau tenement served as Moldova’s only functional shelter for former sex slaves. It was always full. In its first five years of operation, nearly 2,000 victims, many with severe physical injuries from their enslavement, attempted to heal here. The massive assaults on their humanity were more indelible.” (Page 158)

Condoleezza Rice

A speech she gave once about slavery: “If not for America, then who would rally a great coalition and work to end the horrific international crime of human trafficking? Slavery did not end in nineteenth century. It remains a traffic reality for thousands of people, mostly women and young girls, who are stolen and beaten and bought and sold like freight. Under President Bush’s leadership, the United States has launched a new abolitionist movement to end the illicit trade in human beings. We are rooting out the perpetrators and helping to care for their victims. We are calling to account any nation that turns a blind eye to human trafficking. And we have made this promise to every person still held captive. So long as America has any-thing to say about it, slavery will have no place in the modern world.” (Page 257)

Debt Bondage

“Also like Gonoo, their debts dated back generations. One man told Miller that he was paying off a debt that his grandfather incurred fifty years earlier when he took a loan for less than a dollar.”

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