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 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.


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.

Photo Credit: (Hockenos, Paul)

Filipina Maid Shows a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By: Sara Kim

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

hk domestic

Xyza Cruz Bacani has been working as a maid in Hong Kong for over a decade in order to provide for her younger siblings’ education. Domestic service is not uncommon in this city, as it houses around 330,000 workers in the field. Most of these maids are foreigners coming from poorer countries, such as the Philippines or Indonesia, in hopes of earning enough money to support their families back home.

However, what makes Bacani noteworthy are her photographs, which publicize what she calls “modern slavery” in the domestic sector of Hong Kong. Bacani mentions that she was lucky enough to work under a nice boss, who even helped to enter her photographs into the Magnum Program. Through the program, Bacani was able to earn a scholarship to study at New York University. Bacani’s black and white photographs speak of the abuse experienced by foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, who receive very little pay for terrible working conditions. Many maids in Hong Kong are expected to work up to 19 hours a day, while not receiving proper care. Many others are even beaten and/or neglected when hurt.

By publicizing the abuse through her photographs, Bacani hopes to empower other victims and bring attention to their situation. Because many victims dread the chance of deportation or becoming fired, they are hesitant to expose the exploitations they experience. Even the Chinese government’s policies, which outline the minimum wage and accommodations migrant workers should receive, are not effective, as many domestic employers do not abide by them. However, Bacani’s efforts to help the victims have been successful in stirring up awareness about the situation that has oftentimes been ignored. Bacani describes her future aims by saying that she hopes her work can “change people’s perspective on domestic workers and help end this modern slavery.”

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

Reference: Batha, Emma. “Filipina maid photographs “modern slavery” in Hong Kong”.

Daily Mail. May 25, 2015. URL: Date accessed 5/27/15.

Photo Credit: Xyza Cruz Bacani


Cancer Survivors Belly Dancing Together

By: Kristine Alarcon

belly dancinc

In Charlottesville, Virginia, women cancer survivors are belly dancing together at the My Body Raqs class. The belly dancing class was created specifically for cancer survivors to help them cope with movement through gentle dance. Any cancer survivor is welcome after treatment and diagnosis as no dance experience is required and the class is free.

Jenner LaFleur is the program director and a two-time breast cancer survivor. During her recovery from her surgery after chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy, she hoped to combine her experience with cancer and her passion for dance. LaFleur hoped to restore confidence and strength in survivors and ultimately help them feel more like themselves again.

The first series of the My Body Raqs class is from May 7-June 25. There other sessions planned from September-October and January-February.

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.


“Cancer Survivor Helping Other Survivors Recover with Dance.” NBC 29. Retrieved on May 9, 2015.

Photo Credit: (NBC29)

Earthquakes in Nepal Exacerbate Child Marriage

By: Sara Kim
Edited By: Sharon E. Chin


According to the United Nations, 1 out of every 3 girls in developing countries are married off before they turn the age of 18. Girls are typically forced into matrimony because their families cannot afford to care for them, or because the groom’s family receives financial gain from the bride’s dowry. Because the amount of dowry increases as the girls get older, many poor families try to wed their daughters as early as they can.

Nepal exemplifies the child-bride culture, where 10% of Nepalese girls are given over to marriage before they reach the age of adulthood. Although some may argue that child-brides are part of certain cultures and should be left alone, opponents to child marriage contend that this custom increases the likelihood of complications during birth as well as exposure to sexual and domestic abuse. Many times, becoming a child bride robs a girl of their chance to fully appreciate their childhood and finish their education.

Nepal had undertaken a strategy to combat child marriage, but recent earthquakes in the country have undermined such efforts. Not only did it bring a halt to the strategy, but experts predict that the earthquakes triggered increased rates of child marriage and sex trafficking. Because many children lost their parents in the disaster, there are more vulnerable children for sex traffickers to prey upon.

Anand Tamang, the director of a Nepalese campaign to combat child marriage (CREHPA), reported that many girls have been raped in refugee sites and/or kidnapped to be sold into sex trafficking. In order to protect their daughters, parents have increased their efforts to immediately marry them off. Even the government cannot intervene at this point since their current priority lies in rebuilding the country from the catastrophe. Such conditions make a perfect environment for defenseless girls to fall victim to abuses amidst what some consider the deadliest natural disaster known to the Himalayas.

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

Reference: Batha, Emma. “Child marriages, trafficking will soar after Nepal quake.” F. World. May 20, 2015. URL: Date accessed 5/20/15.

Photo Credit: AFP/ Getty Images/ P. Mathema.

Abusing Vulnerability: Catastrophes Escalate Human Trafficking Levels

By: Luis Gay

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin


In regions devastated by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal, which killed more than 7,000 people, hundreds of thousands people living in rural communities are now homeless and left without possessions. Human traffickers are taking advantage of the vulnerability that young women are facing and abducting them by force for sex labor.

In an estimate by the UN and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 12,000 to 15,000 girls are trafficked from Nepal each year. Sunita Danuwar, the director of an NGO in Kathmandu called “Shakti Samuha”, stated that people reported of incidences of individuals pretending to look for and rescue people. The reality is that traffickers are looking for their next trafficking victims in the wake of tragedy.

Many girls are taken to South Korea or even South Africa, although a majority of them end up in Indian brothels, faced to worked in inhumane conditions. Western aid officials expressed that these types of catastrophes are prime opportunities to traffic women. Sita, 20, told her trafficking story to The Guardian. She was taken from her village in Sindhupalchok by her uncle and was sent to Siliguri, a town near the border of India. There she was sold to a brothel owner where she was “repeatedly beaten, systematically raped by hundreds of men and infected with HIV.” Her parents, who are both illiterate and subsistence farmers, believed that she would have a good job; her “job” of sex enslavement resulted in unprotected sex with 20-30 men, seven days a week. When police discovered these events, she was rescued and sent to an NGO. Sita worries that due to desperate measures, other girls might be coaxed into taking a job that would trap them into slavery. In her home village of Sindhupalchok, more than 3,000 people were killed and thousands became homeless.

The U.S. State Department has noted that Nepal does not abide with the minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking, although Nepalese government is currently making efforts to address this problem. As for Sita, she currently lives in a shelter run by Shakti Samuha. Her parents do not know what has happened to her and her brothers have disowned her. Sex trafficking victims are often ostracized. When she called one of her brothers, he said he had no sister and that she called the wrong number. Hopefully, with awareness of the dangers to women after natural disasters, stories like Sita can be avoided. Nepal is an extremely impoverished country, being the center of smuggling networks including trades involving tiger skins, narcotics, and of course, people. While most of the networks are in India, “gang representatives and agents” are taking advantage of Nepal’s turn of events and scouting for “suitable women” in rural areas. Decisive actions that lure women into accepting these jobs include a promise to marriage with wealthy foreigners. Locally, hundreds of bars and massage parlors in places such as Kathmandu recruit women who are forced to work in poor conditions and often prompted to perform sex on their clients. Because of the quake, these businesses will have an easier time to find employees.

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.


Burke, Jason. 2015May5. “Nepal quake survivors face threat from human traffickers supplying sex trade”. The Guardian. [Accessed 15 May 2015].

Photo Credit:

This image was found in an article entitled “Sex trade human traffickers swarm to Nepal to target tens of thousands of women and girls left homeless by the country’s giant earthquake” at [Accessed May 15, 2015]