New/US: Woman Tells Story of Sexual Slavery

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Subject: New/US: Woman Tells Story of Sexual Slavery
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Mar 03 2000 - 07:59:34 EST


Woman Tells Story of Sexual Slavery

By PAUL SHEPARD
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - In halting tones at a Senate hearing, a Mexican
woman told how her quest for a better life turned her into a sexual
servant and made her one of the estimated 50,000 women trafficked to
the United States for illicit purposes.

``I was enslaved for several months, other women were enslaved for up
to a year,'' said ``Inez,'' a native of Veracruz who wore a disguise
because of fears her family would be harmed if traffickers identify
her.

``We worked six days a week and 12-hour days,'' she said Tuesday.
``We mostly had to serve 32 to 35 clients a day. Weekends were even
worse.''

The testimony of Inez provided a dramatic backdrop to the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee's Near Eastern and Southern Asian affairs
subcommittee.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who chaired the hearing, spoke of meeting
some women victims during recent travels to Asia and called the trade
``the greatest manifestation of slavery in the world today.''

``They are told they will be taking a job as a nanny and are given
money. ... Then they are taken across a border and held against their
will,'' he said.

With as many as 2 million women worldwide forced into sexual slavery,
the sex trade seems to have replaced narcotics as the favored illegal
trade activity, White House officials said at the hearing.

Inez said she was duped by men in Mexico who promised her work at a
restaurant but said she owed them a ``smuggling fee'' of $2,500 that
she had to pay off by selling herself to men.

Law enforcement officials raided the brothel and while some of the
traffickers have been prosecuted, some escaped capture and returned
to Mexico, she said.

``They have even threatened to bring our younger sisters to the
United States and force them to work in brothels as well,'' Inez said.

Solid numbers on the scope of the problem are hard to come by, but
best estimates show at least 50,000 women brought into the United
States annually for forced labor, officials said.

``There are weaker restraints and growing demand,'' said Harold Koh,
assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.
Koh said international criminals are moving away from ``guns and
drugs'' to marketing women.

Feeder countries for the slave trade include Ukraine, Albania, the
Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and Nigeria, according to officials.

Frank E. Loy, undersecretary of state for global affairs, said the
Clinton administration approach has focused on preventing the trade
from getting established, protection and assistance for victims and
prosecution of traffickers.

Loy said the administration has stopped short of pushing for economic
sanctions against offending nations, however, because that would
curtail efforts to build an international effort to combat the
problem.

Bills aimed at curbing trafficking have been introduced in the House
and Senate.

AP-NY-02-23-00 0220EST

 2000 The Associated Press.


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