Articles on Modern Day Enslavement - Zola M Dube

Archive for the ‘Research Topics’ Category

Initiation and ritual abuse applied to human trafficking

In Research Topics on June 24, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Ritual abuse can be defined as organized sexual, physical, and psychological abuse, which can be systematic and sustained over a long period of time. It involves the use of rituals, with or without a belief system. It usually involves more than one person as abusers. Ritual abuse usually starts in early childhood and involves using patterns of learning and development to sustain the abuse and silence the abused(1).

Ritual Abuse Definition, Healing Our Past Experiences (HOPE)

When people think about ritual abuse the mind may conjure images of activity taking place in dark rooms, performed by satanic cults and secret societies. Ritual abuse is also practiced by individuals and groups, namely people who sexually abuse children and are known by their victim(2). Human trafficking is another arena where ritual abuse is exercised. Within cults, sex abuse groups, and sex trafficking rings the purpose of ritual abuse is the same:  Condition the victim.

Ritualized abuse functions to destroy the identity of victims, create a sense of powerlessness and perpetual intimidation. As explained by Pauline Carruthers, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, abusers use repetition, routine and ritual to force [victims] into the patterns of behavior they require, to instill fear and ensure silence, thus protecting themselves(3).

Gangs and organized crime syndicates have built the foundation of today’s commercial sex industry on deliberate, methodical and brutal initiation and ritual abuse systems. Among the frequently used tactics are rape, gang rape; isolation, confinement, beatings; and branding and tattoos. This articles provides three examples of ritual abuse practices in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and United States.

Beatings, isolation and confinement

Bacha Bazi meaning “Boy Play” is a form of sexually slavery in Afghanistan involving male-child victims exclusively. It is an industry supported by wealthy and powerful businessmen and former warlords. Boys as young as 10 years old are sold by poor families under the guise of promises of a better life. In northern Afghanistan there are an estimated 60,000 street kids; providing an easy source of prey for pedophiles and pimps.

Wearing women’s clothing and make up, the boys are trained to dance and perform for groups of men. After a performance the boys “master” may choose to sell the boy for a night to the highest bidder. The children are frequently the victims of ritual abuse in the form of beatings, isolation, and confinement for attempting to escape or “disobedience” towards their master or client. It is not uncommon for boys seeking escape to be tracked and killed(4).

Branding and tattoos

In an article published in 2009, Susan Abram identifies a correlation between the commercial hip-hop industry and the glamorization of prostitution and pimping that informs sex trafficking to the disadvantage of victims(5). Pop culture and media fixation on illicit sex may partially explain what Bradley Myles of Polaris Project has identified as a similar prostitution business model across the nation(6). Typically, the initial’s or street names of pimps are branded on the body of traffic victims to serve as a reminder to that he/she is “property” under ownership of the pimp. Symbols of material wealth and possession, such as dollar signs and the tag “Daddy”, are also commonly applied. In 2009 Professor Donna M. Hughes collected photographic evidence of the practice of tattooing underage sex trafficking victims(7), demonstrating that tattooing is a national practice.

Repeated rape and gang rape

Since the fall of communism, sex trafficking has become the fastest growing form of organized crime in Eastern Europe. In February 2006, PBS Frontline published the documentary “Sex Slavery”(8). The story documents the journey of Viorel to find his wife; abducted from her homeland and sold into modern day sex slavery. “Sex Slavery” provides a disturbing account of the initiation into modern day slavery, marked by repeated gang rape to suppress resistance and instill compliance and fear.

Loss of identity

The types of ritual abuse explored in this article represent the potential for the effect of severe trauma…, [as a consequence of] usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse or, what mental health professionals term Dissociative Identity Disorder(9). As with exposure to ritual abuse, it stands to reason that conditioning the behavior of a sex trafficking victim leads to the display of multiple distinct identities according to environment. The victims identity before a pimp, client, and co-victim may differ drastically. As human rights advocates explore ways to take care of sexual enslavement victims, ritual abuse appears to be a viable area for gathering information on post-traumatic stress disorder treatment. To this end, through the work of Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, the United Nations has taken a decisive lead in making the connection between ritual abuse and human trafficking(10).

– Zola Dube

1, 3. Healing Our Past Experiences. About Ritual Abuse

2. Munro, Kali. Report of the ritual abuse task force. Los Angles county commission for women. March 1991. Retrieved 2010-06-23

4. The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan. Producer, Najibullah Quraishi. PBS Frontline. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-20

5. Abram, Susan. Daily News Los Angeles. Showing prostitutes a way off the streets. 27 July 2009

6. Kristof, Nicholas D. New York Times. The Pimps’ Slaves. 16 March 2008

7. Rowe, Claudia. Seattle Post Intelligencer. No way out: Teen girls sell bodies in Seattle. 30 June 2008

8. Sex Slaves. Producers, Ric Esther Bienstock, Felix Golubev, Simcha Jacobovici. PBS Frontline. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-22

9. Dryden-Edwards, Dr. Roxanne. Mental Health: Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) Retrieved 2010-06-22

10. Sarson, J. & MacDonald, L. Ritual abuse-torture. The most unspoken face of human trafficking. 48th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. United Nations Headquarters, New York City. March 2004


The Virgin Myth: A global and historical perspective

In Research Topics on June 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM

Perhaps, the most notorious case of the Virgin Myth to shock the international community took place in 2001. A nine months old child from Kimberley in the Northern Cape was left in the care of a friend by her underage mother. Six men between the ages of twenty-two and sixty-six were accused of gang raping the infant. A crime that left the child severely injured. (1)

For many people around the world, current awareness about the “Virgin Myth”, also know as the “Virgin Cure”, stem from its presence in South Africa. The health care system and political leadership have been at a loss to respond effectively to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Filling the gap, the “wisdom” of traditional healers has triggered the belief that sex with virgins cures deadly diseases and an assortment of other sexually transmitted diseases.

According to a 2009 article in the Guardian, Zimbabwe’s economic collapse has undermined the family unit and crippled the war against the spread HIV/AIDS, leaving many children vulnerable to the Virgin Myth. Betty Makoni, founder of the Girl Child Network (GCN) has identified the rape of a day-old child in Zimbabwe as the youngest known victim.(2)

Social and cultural institution that purport the Virgin Myth is a global phenomena. The practice is prevalent in Asia, most notably India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Besides the Virgin Myth, the region is also plagued by the “Virgin Rejuvenation Myth”, that has given rise to the term “Trafficking in Virgins” within the commercial sex industry. This myth promotes the idea that sleeping with a young virgin enhances virility, promotes youthfulness, and slows down the aging process. Children as young as 5 are bought and sold to grown men.(3)

What is most disturbing is that even wealthy Chinese businessmen are not immune to the myth; debunking the idea that it is a practice of the impoverished and uneducated. Dr. Martin Brass, an international lawyer, wrote an article about his own experience. He recounts an invitation from a Chinese law firm for a gentlemens night out that ended with each lawyer selecting an elegantly dressed Chinese girl, among the many who floated around the entire evening, to spend the night with.(4)

Western tourist are not removed from sex with virgins in foreign countries, though the motivation is unlikely a cure for disease. NGO End Child Prostitution compiled data for 160 foreign males arrest for sexual exploitation of minors in Asia.

40 abusers from the U.S.A., 28 from Germany, 22 from Australia, 19 from the U.K., 10 from France; Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa were also on the list.(5)

Foreign tourists who have sex with virgins fulfill their pedophilic desires with the added advantage of unprotected sex with less chance of contracting AIDS or STDs (for the pedophile). In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of offenders go unpunished, undetected, and return freely and unblemished to their home country and professions.

The oldest historical records of the Virgin Myth are from Europe. Referred to as the “Virgin Cure” it is first recorded in 16th century in response to syphilis and gonorrhea (today’s HIV/AIDS equivalent). Indigenous peoples were often the victims of early European explorers who raped children as a life-saving measure. The raping of children was also rampant in Europe.

In 2007 Hanne Blank published the book, Virgin: The Untouched History. “In 18th-century London, one in every five capital rape cases involved children under the age of 10, and the rapists commonly cited the virgin-cure myth in their defense.”(6).  In a disturbing twist to the myth, there is the case of Countess Ersebet Bethory who ruled Hungary in the 16th-century. 600 virgins were slaughtered for their blood. The countess bathed in their fluid in order to preserve her beauty.(7)

It is interesting to note that readily available historical information about the Virgin Myth appears to leap from 16th-century Europe to the present. Yet, an extended examination of the history of syphilis reveals a historical omission in contemporary dialogue on the subject of the Virgin Myth.

Between 1918 and 1929 Western Europe was in shambles. Over 10 million people died in the Great War and those who survived represented the many more left wounded. Germany and Italy were ruled by fascism. Austria-Hungary and Germany’s governments collapsed. Western Europe was not equipped to respond effectively to the social and health crisis that continued to be presented by syphilis.

Western Europe’s global market dominance fell and yielded to America and Japan. By most accounts, America also pioneered and provided leadership in managing the global syphilis crisis and searching for a cure. In the 1920 publication Syphilis by Dr. Thompson Loyd, a prominent American doctor, the author provides extensive information about the global social challenges brought to bare by the syphilis pandemic. At the time, its host location was commonly identified in terms of “[harboring] syphilitics in immerse numbers”, or densely populated cities such as London, New York, Paris, and Berlin.(8)

Consider that the scientific, social health, economic, educational, and political challenges of syphilis of the time are similar to what the developing world is facing with HIV/AIDS(9). What is particularly fascinating is that there has also been a similar concerted effort to find a cure for AIDS as there was for syphilis. Countries engaged in rigorous international knowledge sharing conferences, namely the Transactions of the Fifteen International Congress of Hygiene and Demography hosted by the United States took place in the nation’s capital. (10)

In the 16th-century the rapid spread of syphilis lead to the accusation of women engaging in witchcraft (another parallel to contemporary developing world). In Dr. Loyd’s time, females and prostitutes were believed to cause and spread deadly and debilitating diseases. This may explain why the cases studies sighted by Loyd are predominantly male-child victims. Using data collected from various doctors during international conference and correspondence, Loyd revealed the following information.

Wolbarst reports a caschre of the lower abdominal wall in a boy aged two years, while syphilis insontium is far from unknown in the very old. Syphilis contracted during sexual intercourse has been observed at the extremes of life.

Wolbast saw a genital chancre in a boy, aged five years.

That young children sometimes are exposed to syphilitic infection of genitals is due to the superstition still prevalent among certain cases that intercourse with a virgin will cure venereal disease.

It was probably on account of this superstition that the case reported by Haines contracted by syphilis and gonorrhea. In this case a child of sixteen months was found to have a typical chancre of the sulcus, just to the right of the midline, as well as a profuse purulent, meatal discharge which showed gonococci.(11)

As to how a five years old child, let alone sixteen months old develops a caschre on his genitals through the act of Virgin Myth rape leaves a little bit too much for the mind to wrap around.

It was not until 1947 that penicillin had been validated as an effective cure for syphilis. If treated within early stages, one dose of penicillin will prevent painful, chronic physical illness and eventual death brought on by the advancement of syphilis.(12)

Along with eradicating the Virgin Myth, a critical piece to protecting children from sexual slavery and Trafficking in Virgins is effective prosecution of offenders, including those in government and law enforcement. There is a litany of global evidence that shows government and law enforcement corruption deeply undermine efforts to eradicate child trafficking due to its link to criminal syndicates and internal cast of perverse character. Lock Wan Jun, an Advisor at the National University of Singapore, presented an outstanding study in 2008 entitled Supply Side of Child Trafficking: Economic Analysis using Utility Models focused on Southeast Asia. In the paper, four utility models of traffickers are discussed to explain why criminals are inclined to continue to trafficking despite prosecution followed by recommendations to curb activity, decreasing the economic incentive, and empower children to protect themselves. (13)

Given a global and historical overview of the Virgin Myth, the implications of the myth make it difficult to measure whether the greatest calamity is the presence of a globally prevalent and relentless incurable virus itself (with all of its inherit tragic loss of human life, pain and suffering) or the emergence of opportunistic, diabolical human behavior during a historical era of an incurable virus, in the midst of ill equipped and unintelligent social, cultural, traditional and political leadership and institutions.

In the absence of logic and scientific explanation, institutional assumptions that support the Virgin Myth inform abominable and antisocial human responses; proven problematic throughout history and geography. From the Virgin Myths recorded origins in 16th-century Europe, to early 20th-to mid-century North America and Europe, up to Africa and Asia today, humans under the same constraints have reacted the same until otherwise prosecuted, educated and nationally stabilized.

– Zola Dube

(1) CNN. South Africa facing child rape crisis. 26 November 2001

(2) Smith, David. Guardian. Child Rape Epidemic in Zimbabwe. 9 November 2009

(3) Mam, Somaly. The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2009. Page59.

(4, 5) Brass, Dr. Martin. Soldiers of Fortune Magazine. The Modern Scourge of Sex Slavery. 2004

(6) Kuczynski, Alex. New York Times. Sweet Chastity. 25 March 2007

(7) Blank, Hanne. Virgin: The Untouched History. Bloomsbury. 2007

(8,11) Thompson, Loyd. Syphilis. Lea & Febiger. 1920

(9) Andreski, Stanislav. The Syphilitic Shock. pp. 370 – 393  Ritual and Belief: Readings in the Anthropology of Religion, 2nd. ed, Hicks, ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

(10) (Transactions of the Fifteen International Congress on Hygiene and Demography. Washington, DC. September 23-28, 1912

(12) Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (05-2004). STD Facts-Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control.

(13) Jun, L. W. (2008). Supply Side of Child Trafficking: Economic Analysis using Utility Models, The Journal of Young Investigators, 18 (4)

Leaving Boys Behind? Discrepancies in Male Child Sex Abuse & Trafficking Representation & Advocacy

In Research Topics on June 4, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Adzon, started in 1991, provides assistance almost exclusively to boys, who make up 95 per cent of its clients. It is situated in the area of Brussels where boy prostitutes operate and reports that a large number of these boys are from eastern Europe, particularly the former Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania. (1)

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1998

In this blog the words “child prostitution” and “child prostitutes” are held in quotations. Research, case studies, child advocacy activists and recent legislative measures (e.g., New York’s Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Act) on the subject render the title misleading and accessory to the criminalizing girls and boys or underage Human Trafficking victims. The question of whether or not a child mindfully and willfully decides to be a prostitute has been hotly debated. It is argued that a child is prostituted, through an abusive process of initiation, into prostitution by a dominant character(s).  Adults clients foster the sexual trafficking of children by taking advantage, turning a blind eye, or failing to acknowledge traumatized, neglected, thrown away, desperate, and misguided children.

Statistics on “child prostitution” are absolutely staggering and heart wrenching. The world wide pioneering work and sustained movement by countless know and unknown individuals, organizations, NGOs, government bodies, and religious groups, etc. to free women and girls from bondage is without question worthy of utmost respect and continuous rigorous support. It is equally imperative to raise awareness of the unknown scale of global male child sex trafficking and exploitation.

Since its inception, 13 has embarked on a quest to become abreast of people and organizations dedicated to the anti-human trafficking and anti-child sex trafficking crusade. 13 research has lead to the understanding that data on commercial sex trafficking and exploitation often subsumes girls under “women”, thereby misrepresented the number of girl victims. It has also found that there is a lack of research on boys in comparison to that of girls. In this instance, boys are subsumed under “child prostitutes” and “child sex trafficking and exploitation”. Focus, research, case studies, and resources are disproportionately dedicated to sexual trafficking of girls.

There are organizations, including major foundations and government bodies, that do not mention boys and state their mission to saving women and girls from sexual slavery. As of June 3, 2010 the Wikipedia page on Human Trafficking, including information on the sexual trafficking of women and children, refers almost exclusively to women and girls and does not mention “boys” at all. In terms of age groups, the term “male prostitutes” is typically used in the sphere of sex workers and sex tourism, further obscuring clarity on whether subjects are boys or men. As sighted in the study by Dr. Maia Rusakova, discussed later in this article, the “retirement” age of male prostitutes is significantly younger than females; an indication of preference for young males. But, exactly how young is not known. Meanwhile, on the eve of the upcoming 2010 World Cup, Cape Town has been dubbed the pedophile capital of the world, where children as young as six and seven are abducted and sold into sex slavery to meet the demand of visiting tourists has already taken root.

Although much of the available research is dated, it remains fair to say countries around the world demonstrate similar attitudes and behaviors of minimizing male victimization that in turn inform and impact sex stereotyping, social denial, and the unlikelihood of boys reporting abuse or receiving the appropriate support if they do(2). With a 13 strategy based on using international games to raise awareness about Child Sex Trafficking under conditions of absence of timely and accurate research, it is important to at least attempt to identify contemporary studies that may provide leads to new approaches to developing focused data and analysis along gender and age lines.

The Sexual Abuse of Boys in Organized Male Sports written by British Sociologist Mike Hartil in 2009 provides a persuasive argument about the existence of “a social space that facilitates the sexual abuse of boys” in the context of male sports(3). In the article, Hartil sights barriers to accurate data similar to those noted by Watkins and Bentovim in 1992. As explained by Hartil, the “male perpetrator—female victim” paradigm dominates; hence, the perspective of the sexually abused boy is rarely investigated. Indeed, the aforementioned paradigm is so pervasive, it has a life of its own beyond research discipline; directly affecting the self-perception-as-victim and sense of assurance in the consciousness of boys to be acknowledged for their abuse. To present another example, in 1997, “To explore the current state of girls’ health”, the Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls extended its questionnaire to include boys. Of sexually abused children in grades five through twelve, 48% of the boys and 29% of the girls reported the abuse to no one (4).

Studies on the prostitution of boys and the “male perpetrator-female victim” paradigm are invaluable starting points for gaining a focus on male child sex trafficking and exploitation. Numeric gaps present yet another concern in data analysis. In a 1988 study on pornography and prostitution in North America, Diane Schetsky estimated that 500,000 to 1.2 million children are involved in child prostitution and at least 300,000 male prostitutes under age 16(6). 91% of prostitutes sexually abused as children never spoke to anyone about it. Only 1% received counseling for the effects of the abuse(7).

Finally, a 2006 report by Russian Sociologist and (NGO) Stellit Director, Dr. Maia Rusakova, deals directly with the subject of the commercial sexual exploitation of boys in North-West Russia. In this corner of the world, statistics on the sexual exploitation of boys are significantly greater than girls. Among the challenges sighted by Rusakova in collecting accurate data: all prevention work is mostly geared towards girls, preventative work for boys requires customization and is expensive, the male personality makes it less likely for boys to speak out (see Watkins, Bentovim, and Hartil), sexual exploitation of boys is more lucrative for boys than girls making alternative means of living less attractive and rehabilitation more difficult, court cases involving the conviction of sexual exploiters of boys is rare compared to that of girls, the work span of a male “child prostitute” is shorter than that of girls(5). Rusakova’s work provides potential transferable insights into developing a new body of variables to study male child sex trafficking and exploitation and reference guide to begin to identify and deconstruct barriers to research and analysis.

In the search for content for this article, the connection between childhood sexual abuse, untreated childhood trauma, and future trends in sexual exploitation in the life of childhood victims, not excluding safety, security, and criminal implications for entire nations, becomes transparent. At what point does the “adult” person over the age of 16-18 become the victim of his/her own making and circumstances? To this end, 13 also advocates for the appropriation of funds for more diligent, dynamic, timely, and focused research on the trafficking of children, both girls and boys.

It appears the methodologies, paradigms, and research processes applied to child sex trafficking or commercial sex trafficking are inherently flawed. As the world moves forward in supporting more rigorous and precise data and analysis on Child Sex Trafficking we may also agree that any further absence of such research is globally immoral in that it perpetuates the negligence of innocent boys. Where there are at least 127 nations engaged in Human Trafficking, there are equally 127 nations, in some unknown measure, engaged in specialized exclusive sexual trafficking of boys. As they caution society about the current challenges of conducting accurate research and presenting established research as “truth”, if studies by respected mental health experts, sociologists, and dedicated NGO leaders are fair and accurate in their assessment, there is a premise to conclude a significant contemporary, globally misguided and gross under-representation of sexually enslaved boys.

– Zola Dube

1. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Rights of the Children. Report on the mission of the Special Rapporteur to Belgium and the Netherlands on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Geneva, Switzerland. November 30-4 December 4, 1998

2. Watkins, B. & Bentovim, A. (1992). The sexual abuse of male children and adolescents: a review of current research. Journal of Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry, 33(10), 197-248. Department of Psychological Medicine, Hospitals for Sick Children, London, U.K.

3. Hartil, Mike (2009). The Sexual Abuse of Boys in Organized Male Sports. SAGE Journal. Men and Masculinities, Vol. 12, No. 2, 225-249

4. The Commonwealth Fund (1997) Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls .Cathy Schoen, Karen Davis, Karen Scott Collins et al.

5. Rusakova, Maia. (2006). The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys in North-West Russia. NGO “Stellit”

6. Schetky, Diane H. Child Pornography and Prostitution Child Sexual Abuse. Brunner/Mazel, 1988.

7. Finkelhor, David & Browne, Angela (1985). The Traumatic Impact of Child Sexual Abuse. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 55(4).