Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Critics Abound

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done."

As we get ready to head back into the jungle I felt compelled to let you know just what is happening. The whole story can’t be illuminated in my words but suffice to say that capturing some of it is more important than just turning a blind eye. I called home the other day – a call I have made with less and less frequency. They will never understand the “why” of this work nor the great sense of satisfaction that comes from helping those that could never defend themselves…and at the end of the day looking in the mirror and knowing that your actions did indeed help those in need. As quoted from President Roosevelt above…it’s not about the critic but all about the doer…that is what matters most.
"Don't feel sorry for me...feel sorry for the children, for they are most at risk" BH 
Indeed, child rape is spreading like a wildfire in Southeast Asia. Burma’s child sex slave industry is globally famous. Inside Burma it is estimated that over 3,500 child rape cases have languished in a defunct court system in just this past year alone. Across the border, Thai officials have released figures showing that in some regions of its nation, between half and 90 percent of sexual crimes and abuse occur against minors.
Throughout Southeast Asia, it is estimated that some 300,000 women and children are involved in the sex trade. They work in border towns between Burma and China, or even on the streets of Bangkok. Some are ethnic Chinese nationals seeking a better life in Southeast Asia. They have no money and many have lost their families – or have been sold off by them. They march through malaria-infested jungles in Laos and Burma and then ride in cramped vans into Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, pimps and other more nefarious types begin to bargain for their ownership and services ($2,000-$4,000) while expecting nothing less than full and total allegiance from these victims. Some of the women will be traded as much as seven to 10 times between pimps and criminal gangs.
Some of these women are just outright kidnapped by the same marauders and military personnel that bought me to this hell in the first place…and still others are sold by their parents and relatives as a means of survival for the village and/or the family. Many that I see are orphans…but all will wind up in the sex trade. As you read this today…make no mistake…this is human slavery…and those that orchestrate it are the true animals that our society has fostered. As it unfolds in front of me I see that it is run with a kind of military precision that requires that same in return in order to stamp it out…and that is what we do!
And now we go across…back to the jungle; the danger; and the reality that is human trafficking…and my reality…which is now fighting it. Be well and be safe and know that as you read this we are making a difference…where others would not.
I miss you… 


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saving Women and Children

"It is long past time for the international community to realize that women and children in many parts of the world are being sold on the international market like any other justification whatsoever exists for presuming the consent of the victims to such treatment or for failing to hold their abusers accountable"

It has been an emotional day across the globe but one that still requires focus on what we are doing. The “human trade industry” here in Burma is huge and although we make some strides the reality is our efforts are but a ripple in the ocean. We target the individuals that target those who can’t help themselves…the women and the children who are the victims in this perverse world. I can’t tell you how many victims there are but I can tell you that our initial efforts have not only raised awareness but also reunited those held hostage in an industry that never sees a measure of success for those oppressed.
How it happens…The trafficking of Burmese women and girls into Thailand is appalling in its efficiency and ruthlessness. Driven by the desire to maximize profit and by the fear of HIV/AIDS, agents acting on behalf of brothel owners infiltrate ever more remote areas of Burma seeking unsuspecting recruits. Virgin girls are particularly sought after because they bring a higher price and pose less of a threat of exposure to sexually transmitted disease. The agents promise the women and girls jobs as waitresses or dishwashers, with good pay and new clothes. Family members or friends typically accompany the women and girls to the Thai border, where they receive a payment ranging from 10,000 baht ($400) to 20,000 baht ($800) from someone associated with the brothel. This payment becomes the debt, usually doubled with interest, which the women and girls must work to pay off, not by waitressing or dishwashing, but through sexual servitude.
Daily life…The women and girls face a wide range of abuse, including debt bondage; illegal confinement; forced labor; rape; physical abuse; exposure to HIV/AIDS; and in some cases, murder. Initially, young girls like are kept in what is known as the "the room to unveil virgins." Later they are moved to the "selection" room, where they are displayed in windowed enclosures wearing numbers. The sex occurs in small cubicles where the women and girls also live and where the bed is often little more than a concrete bunk. Working conditions are inhumane. The women and girls work ten to eighteen hours a day, about twenty-five days a month. They average between five and fifteen clients a day. Health care and birth control education are minimal. In some instances, pregnant women are forced either to abort illegally or to continue to service clients well into their pregnancies. Many of the girls and women are brought to Thailand as virgins; most return to Burma with HIV.
What we are doing…The international community must step up pressure not only on the Thai government, to meet its international obligations, but the Burmese government as well. Just as the Thai police raid the same brothels they patronize and arrest women as illegal immigrants whom they may have hired the night before, Burmese officials arrest deported women and girls for illegal departure whose recruitment to Thailand they may have facilitated by taking bribes from brothel agents. It is incumbent on the Burmese government to investigate and prosecute those involved in trafficking on the Burmese side of the border. Just as important for the safety and well-being of the women and girls, however, is pressure on SLORC to allow regular access to Burmese villages and detention centers by international human rights and humanitarian organizations.
None of the measures needed to stop trafficking and related abuses will take place without concerted international pressure as well as tactical applications like LOPC…but like everything else that is illegal…there is too much money to be made from the practice.
We continue the fight from the jungle…hitting hard and hitting often…keeping those that prey on women and children on the defense. In over 60 years of this type of activity there have been very few successes…until now!
More to follow...from the jungle

A New Era...9/11/2011

We still live in a very dangerous world 10 years after the devastating attacks on our country…and yet more and more of us are actually far safer then we have ever been before. The reason for this is not singularly one program; our military or even the knowledge that there are those out there who wish us ill will. It is the collective national intellect that understands that those that those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11 can now also be targeted and held at the same manner that others have held us hostage for years. Our own intellect and the overarching human will to survive is no match for those cowards who started this war many years ago…and it’s that spirit that will keep us free and always…on the hunt!

More to follow…