Human trafficking hard to prove, hard to stop

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas —

Authorities know that thousands of men, women and children are trafficked into Texas. Proving it in a court of law is another matter.

Cases involving human trafficking are hard to tease from prostitution and illegal immigration cases and are harder to prosecute unless a victim informs on the case. Investigators say victims are compelled into involuntary servitude, captivity or prostitution, according to an article in the Sunday edition of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

“They may be victims of trafficking that do not even know it,” Sean McElroy of Homeland Security Investigations told the newspaper.

McElroy handles trafficking and smuggling investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement‘s Houston office. He said many victims initially appear to be illegal immigration cases until weeks of interviews show that they entered theUnited States against their will.

A study by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott found that human trafficking is far more common than the cases authorities have been able to prosecute. But Abbott spokesman Jerry Strickland said quantifying the problem with any degree of precision is nearly impossible “by nature of the fact that it’s been in the shadows for so long. Police and other law enforcement agencies are trying to bring it out from the shadows.”

Federal court records show no cases of human trafficking in 10 South Texas counties since 2000. Corpus Christi police said they cannot recall any cases where they were able to charge a suspect with trafficking, despite suspicions.

“The unfortunate part is that we don’t have the statistics compiled for this area that maybe Houston or San Antonio have,” said Amy Storbeck, a nurse who heads a Corpus Christi anti-trafficking nonprofit called Blue Nation.

Beginning this year, state law requires newly sworn law enforcement officers to take a basic course in human trafficking. Legislation has been proposed with the aim of equipping local law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking rings that lead to or pass through Texas.

A measure proposed by state Rep. Todd Hunter would create a shared statewide database. The Corpus Christi Republican reports that the database would store information relating to human trafficking arrests and convictions and provide demographic data to allow local law enforcement to detect patterns.

The attorney general’s study said the state’s busiest trafficking artery was the 900 miles of Interstate 10 that runs from El Paso to Houston, making both cities the state’s busiest trafficking centers.

Traffickers also enter the U.S. from Mexico near Laredo and drive toward Houston, passing through Corpus Christi, McElroy said.

Corpus Christi police recall a local massage parlor staffed by a group of Asian women that some officers suspected was clearly a case of human trafficking. However, none of the women cried out to police, leaving little evidence on which to build a trafficking case. Officers ended up shutting down the business and hoping that resolved the issue.

“You don’t always get them on the real crime,” said Capt. John Houston of the Corpus Christi police vice and narcotics division. “We hear the tips. Someone is forced to work at a very low wage, working off a debt that never goes down. We know that exists here. It’s just hard to find,” he told the newspaper.

Said Hunter, “We still depend largely on kidnapping and prostitution laws to address human trafficking cases. A missing or kidnapped child whose face appears on a milk carton could actually be the victim of human trafficking.”

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Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com

 

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Remorse for the offence of stealing baby boy: Mrs Deya

Daily Nation By Nicholas Ngolyo nngolyo@ke.nationmedia.com Posted Friday, January 28 2011 at 21:00

IN SUMMARY

  • Accused tells court she is remorseful for the offence of stealing baby boy

The wife of self-proclaimed miracle worker Gilbert Deya on Friday pleaded for forgiveness as she started a three-year jail term for stealing a baby boy.

Mrs Mary Deya was sentenced to serve two more years each on two counts of giving false information. Sentences will run concurrently meaning the maximum period she can spend in jail is three years.

It will be the second time Mrs Deya will be serving time in jail.

Kibera senior principal magistrate Grace Nzioka said she was satisfied that the wife of bishop Deya stole the child and gave false information that she had given birth.

And the prosecutor, chief inspector Francis Ndiema, told the court that the accused had one conviction in which she was jailed for two years for similar offence.

The accused admitted that she served the jail term at Lang’ata Women Prisons.

In mitigation, the accused through a lawyer pleaded for leniency, saying, she had suffered psychologically due to the case.

She said she was remorseful for the offence committed.

The court heard that Mrs Deya stole the baby from Kenyatta National Hospital on September 10, 2005. She alleged she gave birth to the baby miraculously.

In her judgment, the magistrate said: “I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to sentence the accused to three years in jail for stealing the baby and additional two years each on two counts of giving false information.”

Mrs Nzioka said that she did not agree with the defence submission.

“Mary Deya is excluded as a biological mother of the Baby A and the owner the placenta. Her uterus was not active and therefore was in her menopause,” the magistrate said.

The magistrate added that the accused did not deliver the child. She said she was satisfied with the evidence of three doctors.

The magistrate did not agree with defence lawyer Mr Elisha Ongoya that a child, which the wife of UK-based evangelist is said to have given birth to, was exchanged between Nairobi and Kenyatta National hospitals.

Sexual harassment in schools rampant

Jacob Owiti | NATION A new report on sexual harassment in Kenyan primary schools reveals that half of all boys in rural primary schools believe there is no problem in beating up girls who ‘misbehave.’

Jacob Owiti | NATION A new report on sexual harassment in Kenyan primary schools reveals that half of all boys in rural primary schools believe there is no problem in beating up girls who ‘misbehave.’

Daily Nation By MUCHIRI KARANJA pmuchiri@ke.nationmedia.comPosted Friday, January

28 2011 at 21:00

IN SUMMARY

  • Half of the boys in rural primary schools believe it is all right to beat girls who ‘misbehave’

Three in every 10 teachers feel it is wrong to dismiss teachers who have sexual relationships with their pupils.

At least two in every 10 teachers believe pupils who are sexually harassed by their teacher or fellow pupil are to blame for the incidents, according to a survey on gender perceptions carried out by ActionAid in Tana River County.

The research shows that four out of every 10 teachers say it is all right for boys in their classes to beat girls who ‘misbehave”.

Inspired by an ongoing national campaign against violence targeting girls in primary schools across the country, the study paints a grim picture of schools that still perceive girls as the weaker sex.

For example, nearly half of boys in these primary schools believe it is all right to beat up girls in their class, if only to prove that they ‘love’ them.

Conducted in 17 primary schools in Wenje Division, Tana River County, the ActionAid research reveals an alarming undercurrent of violence targeting girls that still runs in the county’s primary schools, both among teachers and pupils.

The 17 schools sampled may be a tiny fraction compared to the country’s 26,000 primary schools that host almost nine million pupils.

But officials from Action Aid say the data reflects the situation facing many girls in rural primary schools in the country.

“The scenario is not any different in other poverty ravaged regions of the country,” said Ms Florence Kinyua of ActionAid.

The report says that more than half the girls interviewed said no action was taken against those who beat them, while nine per cent said no action was taken against those who violated them sexually.

Four in every 10 teachers interviewed believed girls are less intelligent than boys, the survey on gender perceptions revealed.

It shows an underlying current of bias against educating girls as opposed to boys.

One in every 10 teachers believe it is more important to educate boys than girls, while 75 per cent of teachers interviewed believe girls should do all the housework.

In maintaining discipline in schools, teachers said it was fine to whip girls more than boys. Indeed, 65 per cent of the teachers said girls should be whipped more than boys.

Overall, more girls (18 per cent) confessed to being whipped at least three times a week, than boys.

More girls than boys believe it is fine to be whipped by their teachers. While 63 per cent of boys support the use of the cane, 75 per cent of girls support their teacher’s using the cane on them.

The Children’s Act clearly outlaws all forms of corporal punishment in schools, including caning of errant pupils by their teachers.

The study offers a glimpse on a streak of violence that runs beneath the veneer of innocence in our country’s primary schools, much of it targeting girls.

Four in every 10 girls who said they have been sexually harassed said they were assaulted within the school compound. Half of them said they have been sexually assaulted within the classroom.

Fellow pupils and teachers lead in the list of main culprits.

During the survey, one parent said: “Sexual violence is rampant among the pupils themselves. At 15, girls are mature enough to have sex with their fellow male pupils.”

Girls aged between 11 and 13 told of boys touching them indecently within school compounds or on the road from school to their homes.

“Even in class, boys like touching girls. They ask girls to do bad things, if they refuse, they spread bad rumours or lies such as having had sex with the girls,” one girl said.

A common trick errant teachers use to lure girls into sexual violence involves sending them on errands, the survey says. Three in every 10 teachers believe it is alright to assign girls in their classes such errands as cleaning up staff houses and fetching water for the school’s staff members.

In one session of the survey involving girls aged between 14 and 17, one girl said: “Teachers send girls to go and perform personal errands for them in their houses and homes. They then make sexual advances on them, which sometimes end up in sexual affairs.”

Faced with veiled violence, a number of girls quietly drop out of school between class six and eight. Up to six in every 10 girls who drop out of school cited caning.

Although the number of girls is at par with that of boys in the lower classes, the ratio goes down to 44 girls for every 100 boys at class eight. Even then, more than a half of girls fail the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).

The girls in sampled primary schools have no one to confide in. A third of the schools sampled did not have a single female teacher.

Two-thirds of the teachers in the sampled schools are male. Five schools had no single female teacher. This skewed gender distribution of teachers has only served to reinforce the gender violence vice.

But even the few female teachers seem to have succumbed to the general perception that girls need more beating and work than boys.

Two in every 10 female teachers saw nothing wrong in girls in their classes getting beaten up by boys for ‘misbehaving.’ And 28 per cent of female teachers said their male colleagues accused of having sexual relationships with their pupils should not be dismissed. This report, is perhaps, bound to cause ripples in education circles once it is officially released next week.

The chairman of primary school headteachers association, Joseph Karuga, described it as ‘shocking’ when Saturday Nation sought his views on the same. “If indeed the study is correct, then such schools are not supposed to exist in this age,” he said.

Education ministry officials also expressed shock at the report, saying it meant that a number of teachers were yet to study the government’s gender policy in education, launched three years ago.

Among other things, the gender policy aimed at changing negative attitudes towards girls in schools.

“This report is shocking, it means we need to disseminate our gender policy more,” said Ms Virginia Wangari, the public communications officer at the Ministry of Education headquarters.

Uganda gay rights activist murdered

A section of the gay community in Kenya make a silent walk past the office of the Prime Minister during the World AIDS day celebrations at the KICC grounds on December, 1, 2010. A Ugandan gay rights activist who late last year was pictured and named in a homophobic tabloid has been murdered at his home outside Kampala, his lawyer told AFP Thursday.” />

FILE | NATION> A section of the gay community in Kenya make a silent walk past the office of the Prime Minister during the World AIDS day celebrations at the KICC grounds on December, 1, 2010. A Ugandan gay rights activist who late last year was pictured and named in a homophobic tabloid has been murdered at his home outside Kampala, his lawyer told AFP Thursday.

Daily Nation KAMPALA, Thursday By AFPPosted Thursday, January 27 2011 at 10:27

A Ugandan gay rights activist who late last year was pictured and named in a homophobic tabloid has been murdered at his home outside Kampala, his lawyer told AFP Thursday.

David Kato was an activist with Sexual Minorities Uganda, who was pictured and named by the anti-gay tabloid Rolling Stone in a story that called on readers to “hang” gay rights advocates.

“This happened yesterday (Wednesday) at about 13:00,” said lawyer John Francis Onyango, referring to Kato’s killing.

Onyango said initial reports indicate a man entered Kato’s home and struck him on the head before fleeing and that police were focusing on two potential suspects.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Kato died on his way to a local hospital.

The New York-based rights group called on Uganda’s police to “urgently and impartially investigate the killing.”

“The government should ensure that members of Uganda’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender community have adequate protection from violence and take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence,” HRW further said.

After being identified in the tabloid article, which accused gay rights leaders of “recruiting” Uganda’s youth into homosexuality, Kato and two others successfully sued the paper for damages and secured a high court injunction blocking all media from outing gays.

Deya’s wife gets 3-year sentence for child theft

Mrs Mary Deya, the wife of controversial preacher Gilbert Deya, before a Nairobi court. PHOTO /  FILE

Mrs Mary Deya, the wife of controversial preacher Gilbert Deya, before a Nairobi court. PHOTO / FILE

Daily Nation By NICHOLAS NGOLYOPosted Friday, January 28 2011 at 14:46

The wife of UK-based evangelist Gilbert Deya has been sentenced to three years in prison over the theft of a child at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Mary Deya will serve another two years on each of the two counts of giving false information.

However, all the sentences will run concurrently, meaning she will only serve three years in prison.

Kibera senior principal magistrate Grace Nzioka said she was satisfied that the wife of Bishop Deya stole the child and gave false information that she had given birth.

The court heard that Ms Deya stole the baby boy from Kenyatta National Hospital on September 10, 2005.

And the prosecutor, Chief Inspector Francis Ndiema told the court that the accused has one conviction in which she was jailed for two years for similar offence.

The accused admitted that she served the jail term at Lang’ata Women Prisons.

In her judgment, the magistrate said: “I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to sentence the accused to three years jail for stealing the baby and additional two years each of the two counts of giving false information.

The sentence comes barely a week after a nephew of Mr Deya, Paul Deya, was found guilty of murdering his three-old son by a London court.

Nation Newspapers Kenya Announces a Special Feature on Human Trafficking

Organized crime,particularly the phenomenon of human trafficking with women and children as the main victims, is of increasing concern and especially in Africa.

Nation Media Group in the Daily Nation of February 10,2011, will publish a most authoritative, comprehensive and eye-catching special feature on human trafficking in East Africa.

The feature will, among other related issues, highlight the following :

  • How to eliminate human trafficking;
  • Challenges faced by the international community in efforts to fight the scourge;
  • Point of origin,transit and destination ;and
  • Extent of the problems caused by human trafficking in East Africa.

As a key player in curbing this global problem,we invite you to participate in this special feature by way of showcasing your contribution on the subject.

Contact our special project coordinators Job Ochieng on cell    +254 726 388 034             or e-mail: joochieng@ke.nationmedia.com and Rispa Nyabate on cell: 0724 849 696 or email; rnyabate@ke.nationmedia.com

Kenya porn actors sail close to the wind

The US adult film industry was brought to a virtual standstill recently after an actor tested HIV-positive and all his sexual partners were tested for the virus. There are no such precautions in Kenya’s porn industry, where actors usually perform without a condom or routine HIV testing.

“I don’t know my HIV status and I can’t say I know that of the men we act with,” said Angela*, who recently made the switch from eight years of street-based sex work to acting in local porn films. “I know it is a dangerous thing I am doing, but I console myself that it is the same people all the time we act with in the videos… at times, doing it without a condom might give you extra pay.”

Kenya’s local porn industry, once limited to photography, has grown in recent years. DVD peddlers surreptitiously hawk films on street corners while some producers and distributors have created adult web sites and even clubs where audiences can watch films or witness live sex acts. More profitable than street- or bar-based sex work, acting in porn films is an attractive option for many young men and women struggling to make ends meet in the capital, Nairobi.

Producing, trafficking or performing in pornographic films is illegal in Kenya under section 181 of the penal code, and is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years.

Difficult
According to one producer and distributor who preferred anonymity, this makes it difficult to regulate health and safety in the industry.

“We encourage people to test for HIV but it’s not mandatory, and even when they do get tested, we have no way of knowing that the papers they bring are genuine,” he said. “Sometimes one participant will agree to go for a test and the other won’t; because we are working on deadlines, we often just get them to do it live [without a condom].”

He added that while he encouraged condom use, the actors were often drunk when they performed and protecting themselves against HIV was not high on their list of priorities. “Sometimes they say the styles they want to use are not condom-friendly – it’s really up to the actors if they want to use them,” he said.

Unlike the US, where porn stars can make thousands of dollars, local actors earn between $70 and $150 per film, according to the producer. For many of the girls, this means they need a second job.

Sometimes they say the styles they want to use are not condom-friendly – it’s really up to the actors if they want use themVeronica*, 19, does sex work when video work is slow. “You know videos don’t come every day so when they are not available, I continue with my work as a prostitute,” she said. “When I am working as a prostitute I use condoms all the time with my clients but you know in acting, it is not automatic… I have never thought of it as that risky, you know.”

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