Thursday, November 6, 2008

Craigslist Agrees to Curb Sex Ads

Published: November 6, 2008
The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — The online classifieds company Craigslist said Thursday that it had reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys general and agreed to tame its notoriously unruly “erotic services” listings.

Prostitutes and sex-oriented businesses have long used that section of Craigslist to advertise their services. Along with their ads, they often include pornographic photos.

Early this year, the attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, representing 40 states, sent a letter to Craigslist demanding that it purge the site of such material and better enforce its own rules against illegal activity, including prostitution. The two sides began a series of conversations about what Craigslist could do to prevent such ads from appearing.

“They identified ads that were crossing the line,” said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of Craigslist. “We looked at those ads, we saw their point, and we resolved to see what we could do to get that stuff off the site.”

Click HERE to read more!

San Francisco Defeats Proposition K!

Helps to Ensure Victims of Human Trafficking are not Overlooked!

We at Not For Sale would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of San Francisco for taking an analytical look at Proposition K and realizing the dangerous implications it contained for victims of trafficking.

As an organization Not for Sale, along with the “No On K” Coalition, actively worked to defeat this Proposition and on November 4th San Franciscans came out and voiced their opposition to K. Proponents to K attempted to hide the dangerous implications of K by downplaying the significant role human trafficking plays within the industry in San Francisco and characterizing the efforts of Not for Sale and other organizations as “racial profiling”.

Upon first glance Proposition K, a proposition to decriminalize prostitution, might seem like a ballot measure that would increase the rights of individuals working within the sex industry. In reality this proposition, masquerading as a progressive measure, would have greatly undermined the efforts of local law enforcement to prevent and combat human trafficking. This initiative would have essentially tied the hands of San Francisco law enforcement when attempting to combat human trafficking. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris voiced her opposition for Proposition K stating it “would expressly bar the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes… Many people in the commercial sex trade have been trafficked and forced to participate in commercial sex. This measure would attempt to provide safe harbor to their traffickers.”

The dark secret about Proposition K, discovered by many San Francisco voters, is that Prop K would have created a legal loophole emboldening human traffickers within San Francisco by providing them with virtually free reign. Not for Sale and many others worked tirelessly to ensure that victims of human trafficking were not further marginalized by the passage of Proposition K.

Lets continue to work together to ensure the victims of human trafficking have the rights and services they desperately need and deserve.

Thank you San Francisco for your support!

Kilian Moote
Program Director

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting NO on San Francisco's Prop K

Tomorrow the citizens of San Francisco will be voting on Proposition K. Popularly known as a measure aimed at legalizing prostitution, the horrible truth behind Prop K is that it will make the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking cases nearly impossible.

Supporters of Prop K use a familiar refrain for supporting the legalization of prostitution: legalization will actually help cutout the exploitation of women by allowing for proper oversight of a mainstreamed economic industry. This line of thought was employed in Amsterdam, Germany and other places where legalization was the chosen route. (NOTE: only one country appears to have a proven model for protecting women and children: Sweden. Instead of going after prostitutes, Sweden vigorously prosecutes the men that exploit and drive demand.)

For many San Franciscans it's easy to take the knee jerk perspective that we should employ whatever is deemed progressive. Unfortunately Prop K misses the point badly... especially for a so-called 'progressive model'.

Let's peel back the onion just a touch. Instead of making a call for more thorough oversight Prop K actually calls for exactly the opposite. Prop K is worded in a way that makes oversight more difficult, if not impossible. The language in Prop K would make it illegal for police and law enforcement to garner state and federal funding to investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking by falsely deeming it 'racial profiling'. Read the Prop for yourself (make sure to get to the first paragraph of "The Proposal").

According to Kamala Harris, San Francisco's District Attorney:

[Proposition K] would expressly bar the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking crimes. Human trafficking is a serious problem in San Francisco. Many people in the commercial sex trade have been trafficked and forced to participate in commercial sex. This measure would attempt to provide safe harbor to their traffickers.

Prop K is written from a prospective that all individuals that sell their bodies do so because they have the free will to make the choice. This might be fine if it were true. The (unthinkable) reality is that many women (and children) are being forced and coerced into the sex industry -- many times to pay off a 'debt'. Just because we as a society have yet to realize this truth, it doesn't make the reality any less true for the victims. Women, children and, yes, men are forced into (sexual) labor under duress and fear. Cases continue to pile up in our country.

If Prop K wanted to be taken seriously as an argument for legalization it should go out of the way to protect potential victims... not strip the city of its ability to hold traffickers accountable for their crimes. But Prop K explicitly forbids oversight, by taking money away from law enforcement while also directing police to ignore California laws aimed at stopping the exploitation of women and children.

Prop K is simply and utterly broken. If you are a citizen of San Francisco I would ask you to join me in voting NO on Prop K.

Mark Wexler

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The rule of law helps to protect all citizens of a country, but if culturally there is no respect for a minority group, people will find unlimited ways to marginalize them. 

I met with Centro Bonó in the Dominican Republic and they are working very closely with refugees and undocumented immigrants from Haiti. They are alarmed by the increase of immigrants that are trapped into forced labor. 

A few important things to understand:
  1. The fight to end slavery in the DR is becoming more challenging. It used to be focused on the sugar plantations, but currently they are finding many cases of forced labor in the construction of homes. The most common methodology to take advantage of the workers is similar to what happens in many countries, including in the United States: After months of work, when they are supposed to get their pay check, the contractors call immigration officers and the workers get deported without receiving any pay.
  2. The children of Haitian immigrants born in the DR sometimes do not even get recognized as DR citizens - even though the law requires it - so they are constantly vulnerable because the government does not want to take care of them. 
  3. Workers from Bonó Center are also discriminated against. The DR has discriminated against Haitians for a very long time, and the hate is so engrained into the culture that human rights workers may encounter discrimination from their own families if their abolitionist work support Haitians. 
The law in the DR does not accept slavery, it does require that every person born in their soil be considered a DR citizen, and does recognize the dignity of all human beings. However, the marginalizing status quo creates conditions of slavery. These structures will be impossible to change unless people on the frontlines are respected and protected. 

I find it extremely important to re-vindicate all abolitionists in the DR. All leaders of the country (educational, governmental, spiritual, legal, athletes, artists, and so on) need to get together and say to the masses that slavery is not ok, and praise the people working to re-abolish slavery. In the mean time, Centro Bonó has a spiritual advisor helping their staff to deal with marginalization from their own community. 

Kique Bazan