Germany is the “Bordello of Europe”

By: Kristine Alarcon

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

German sex workers

Germany is known for its beautiful castles, delicious cheeses and sausages, and classical composers including Beethoven and Bach, but now this country is being labeled as the “Bordello of Europe.”

The decriminalization of prostitution in 2002 seems to be causing human trafficking and the sex trade industry to become more aggressive and organized in Germany. The decriminalization law was initially enacted to lower the violence in sex trade, making it less exploitative and safer as well as reducing the stigma associated with it. However, the policy has resulted with an unexpected effect. In December 2014, a petition – signed by German psychologists and victims with related traumatic experiences – is seeking to eliminate the decriminalization law in order to stop the violent and traumatic sexual acts.

Dr. Ingeborg Kraus initiated the petition to repeal the current law on prostitution. As a psychologist, she knows that rape not only deeply traumatizes a woman, but it also destroys the foundation and social structure of a community. The women can be rejected from society and even their family as they are viewed as if are dishonoring their community.Prostitution is viewed as a typical job where the women are called “sex workers” under German law. However, roughly 90% of the prostituted women in Germany are not native born. Many cannot speak the language and are not aware of their rights; many come from countries like Romania and Bulgaria, which are among the poorest in Europe. As a result, they can experience traumatic and horrific actions that can result in emotional pain. For example, a “brothel menu” can cause trauma to these women, as there are no limitations on the harm they may experience during the sexual acts. Acts on the menu can include items listed as “blood sports,” which involves cutting the woman, “sandwich,” involving one woman and two men, or other much more risky acts. Some brothels even include nudist floors where the only item of clothing prostituted women wear are a pair of stilettos or “gang-bang” floors where a customer can bring his friends.

In her work with sex trade victims, Dr. Kraus finds that violent experiences stay after prostitution, even after the women leave the industry; the psychological effects of the violent sexual acts still linger in the minds of victims. It can be even more difficult for these women because many of them entering the sex trade industry have sacrificed their lives to earn money for their families and are usually 18-19 years old. Sometimes they cannot continue living in a brothel in Germany because it is too traumatic for them. Additionally, the choice to return to their home country is often unavailable to them because society and their families reject them. Germany typically does not want to keep these individuals in residence. Other effects of these distressing experiences can include drug addictions, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, suicidal ideation, and much more.

Dr. Kraus is working towards the end of legalized prostitution. She has managed to enact the Nordic Model, which combines free market capitalism and social benefits, and fights the demand for prostitution by recruiting leading German trauma experts. She is also talking with Danish and French psychotraumatologists to help join the cause. Dr. Kraus has even sent a letter with signatures from 100 organizations worldwide to Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to repeal the decriminalization law. She and her colleagues have started a Change.org petition for the public.

Kristine Alarcon graduated at the University of San Francisco with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is working towards certification in Sterile Processing and Distribution. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

References:

Bien-Aime, Taina. “Germany Wins the Title of ‘Bordello of Europe’: Why Doesn’t Angela Merkel Care?” The Huffington Post. Retrieved on May 29, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taina-bienaime/germany-wins-the-title-of_b_7446636.html

Photo Credit: (Hockenos, Paul) http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Germany-is-now-the-bordello-of-Europe-30224262.html

Things to Consider Before Receiving Your Next Nail Care

By: Sara Kim

Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

nails

Research results by the Department of Toxic Substances Control for the California Environmental Protection Agency have revealed several significant health hazards caused by chemicals used in nail and beauty products. Nail salon workers have the highest risk, as they are exposed to fumes from nail polish lacquer for long periods of time; their exposure to acrylics and other strong chemicals make them notorious for their susceptibility to respiratory and skin problems. These workers commonly show asthma-like symptoms and experience pain when touching cold or hot objects. Also common ailments shared among female nail salon workers include a tendency to have miscarriages or give birth to children with physical and/or cognitive impairments. Some studies even suggest that there are carcinogens in nail products.

Unfortunately, research in the field of nail care products is vague, as not enough studies have been conducted with the accuracy needed to draw firm conclusions. Hence, it is difficult to confidently declare the exact degree to which chemicals in nail products threaten the health of salon workers. Even the federal law that regulates cosmetics safety, written in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, is outdated and based on standards appropriated 75 years ago. On top of that, efforts to review these standards have been continuously dismantled by the Personal Care Products Council lobbying the review panel. Although many workplace safety officials agree about the dire situation for nail salon workers, not much action has been taken to actually improve the work environment. In fact, because many of these workers are immigrants who are either unaware of their rights or too scared to stand up for themselves, it makes it easier for employers to engage in unfair labor practices and abuse the workers for their labor.

The question you may ask at this point is: how, then, can I receive nail care ethnically? In “How to get an ethical manicure: a guide to spotting worker exploitation,” Dara Lind lists some things to consider before walking into a nail salon. First, it is important to understand the difference between exploitation and trafficking. Exploitation occurs when the workers are unfairly treated, whether through hazardous working environments or low pay. On the other hand, labor trafficking is defined by workers who are forced into jobs without their consent and do not receive compensation for their work. When such situations are spotted, report for help accordingly, either to your state’s Department of Labor for worker exploitation or to the National Human Trafficking Hotline for trafficking. Lind also suggests straightforwardly asking store owners how they distribute their money, as the owners would gladly share the information if they are not guilty. Lind also suggests understanding that there may be language barriers before making any judgments and promoting businesses you know frequent.

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: Nir, Sarah Maslin. “Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers.”  New York Times. May 8, 2015. URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/nyregion/nail-salon-workers-in-nyc-face-hazardous-chemicals.html?_r=0. Date accessed 5/24/15.

Lind, Dara. “How to get an ethical manicure: a guide to spotting worker exploitation.”  Vox Health Care. May 8, 2015. URL: http://www.vox.com/2015/5/8/8573425/manicure-worker-pay. Date accessed 5/24/15.

Photo Credit: Nicole Bengiveno/ The New York Times.

[http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/nyregion/sarah-maslin-nir-times-journalist-answers-readers-questions-on-nail-salons.html]

North Korea: Profit through Citizen Sales

By: Luis Gay

Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

1026455093_06a6487783_o The North Korean government is conducting state-sponsored trafficking of its citizens and claiming that it is a way to “generate new income.” Citizens are forced to do manual labor in other countries while the North Korean government appropriates most, if not all, of their wages. According to Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, state-sponsored trafficking has become an emerging issue.

In both April and May of this year, the North Korea Economic Institute of America and House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission met in Washington D.C. to discuss this issue at hand. As a nation, North Korea has been repeatedly ranked as the world’s worst human rights abuser by luring roughly 60,000 citizens to work in laborious industries (mining, logging, restaurants) in over 40 countries including Russia, China, Mongolia, Africa, central Europe, and the Middle East. Victims enter into work with guarantees of receiving wages, whereupon the North Korean receives a profit of more than $2 billion US dollars without the workers’ consent. Robert King, special envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues at the State Department, stated that those who try to escape or complain risk retribution toward themselves and their family.

Snyder expressed that the increase in trafficking was a method used to obtain foreign exchange. North Korea has sustained itself in the past through illegal acts such as drug trafficking and counterfeit weapon sales, although revenues from those customs have declined.

Lim II, a defector, told the Lantos Human Rights Commission that he was a state employee in North Korea, but went to work in a construction company in Kuwait. There, he was forced to work 14-hour days under strict surveillance with two days off per month. He believes that he was a slave laborer. When he escaped to the South Korean embassy, he discovered that all of his wages had gone into the Office of the Worker’s Party, which regulates foreign currency. The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights reported that the money generated from export laborers overseas was delegated to Kim Jong-Un’s personal fund.

The United States and the international community are having difficulty tackling this issue. The biggest problem is that most of trafficking from North Korea occurs in China and Russia. This limits the exposure of victims to countries that would report illegal activity and challenge the North Korean Government. Officials contemplate whether or not to approach trafficking from a sanctions perspective or a human rights point of view. Snyder stressed that the international community is needed to address this problem, where “the best way of doing that would probably be to make this an issue” for countries North Korea makes transactions with.



Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.



Reference:

Lafon, Holly. 19May2015. “North Korea turning to human trafficking for foreign currency”. Marketwatch. [Accessed 19 May 2015]. ttp://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-turning-to-human-trafficking-for-foreign-currency-2015-05-18

Photo Credit:

This photo “North Korea – Pyongyang Embroidery Institute” by (stephan) was accessed on May 20th, 2015 and can be found: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1026455093. 

 

Truckers Fighting Sex Trafficking

By: Kristine Alarcon

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Sex trafficking is a serious issue in the United States. There have been 3,598 domestic sex trafficking reports to an advocacy group called The Polaris Project. Vigilante Truth, founded by Bo Quickel, hopes to help correct this problem in the truck driving population, as there is often a high demand for sex trafficking victims for truck drivers.

Vigilante Truth is a faith-based nonprofit that educates truck drivers about sex trafficking. It teaches truck drivers about how the illegal process works and helps the drivers realize that the escort they hired for the night could be a sex trafficking victim. Quickel also hopes to teach the truck drivers that the pimps that force the victims into the industry are the ones that get paid, not the escorts. It is mental manipulation, mental coercion, and physical abuse.

To help get the word out, Quickel uses Vigilante Truth to display an informational message on eight of his trucks. The trucks promote messages to stop sex trafficking by saying “stand as ONE” and provide a help hotline for the victims. Quickel believes that by seeing these messages at rest stops, entrance ramps, and exits on the highways, sex trafficking will be discouraged from stopping at the truck stops.

Another way that Quickel is spreading his message is with Vigilante Trucker, a smartphone app to allows truck drivers to spread the word and awareness. With the app, users can report sex trafficking incidents by taking a picture of an event they witnessed and then sending it to a national database that can rescue the victims and convict the pimps.

Quickel believes that the best way to prevent sex trafficking is to change the mindsets of men and helping them realize what is really happening.

Kristine Alarcon is a senior at the University of San Francisco working towards a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference:

Couch, Robbie. “Truck Drivers Can Help Fight Sex Trafficking. Here’s How.” The Huffington Post. Retrieved on May 9, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/01/sex-trafficking-truckers_n_7191436.html?cps=gravity_2659_4732233262526956100

Photo Credit: (Vigilante Truckers) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/01/sex-trafficking-truckers_n_7191436.html?cps=gravity_2659_4732233262526956100

Costly Health Care for Elderly Inmates

Wheelchair Inmate

By: Kristine Alarcon

The people confined in prison are getting sicker and older. There has been a rapid increase in prisoners 50 years and older in crowded federal correctional facilities. The rate is so fast that geriatric wards or convalescent homes are needed in prisons. As a result, American taxpayers are paying for the rising health care costs associated with the elderly inmates.

The cost to maintain the health and provide medical services for an elderly inmate is about twice as much as it is to keep a regular prisoner. Taxpayers pay almost $58,956 a year to cover the medical care for an older prisoner in comparison to $27,549 a year for a general prison member. Some health care costs include wheelchair-accessible entrances, showers that the elderly can use, prescriptions drugs, treatments, and more nurses.

One prisoner, Michael E. Hodge, was convicted of marijuana and gun possession. While he served his time, he was bedridden and could not provide care for himself as a result of his liver cancer. Hodge required assistance from nurses to get out of bed, eat, and clothe himself. He was denied compassionate release for at least four occasions and died in prison.

Nurses are not the only ones hired to care for the inmates. Physical therapists, dentists, psychologists, dietitians, and social workers are also needed to check up on the health of prisoners. With more specialists needed, the higher the costs will be. With the nature of prisons where fights could break out anytime and anywhere, many medical providers prefer to stay away making it more difficult to support the health of prisoners.

The Obama administration is working towards releasing prisoners early through clemency if they meet a certain criteria. They are also pressing prosecutors to charge serious, high level offenders with more severe drug charges because a majority of the elderly inmates are convicted for less severe drug crimes. For example, an elderly prisoner may only be imprisoned for marijuana possession or gun possession, but not for organizing a drug transport. Meanwhile, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency, reduced the sentences of tens of thousands incarcerated drug offenders. Though there are means to accelerate the process to release elderly prisoners, it is not fast enough and the government must spend more to serve the medical needs and issues of this population. It is inevitable that prisons have to provide some form of medical care for the inmates.

Kristine Alarcon is a senior at the University of San Francisco working towards a Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference:

Horwitz, Sari. “The Painful Price of Aging in Prison” The Washington Post. Retrieved on May 8, 2015.http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/05/02/the-painful-price-of-aging-in-prison/

Photo Credit: (Kahn, Nikki) http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/05/02/the-painful-price-of-aging-in-prison/