Friday, November 28, 2008


Prostitution realities are unlike glamor myth in wake of Spitzer scandal

March 18, 2008, AP: The call girl in the Eliot Spitzer scandal appeared to be leading a glamorous life – staying in an upscale Manhattan high-rise, traveling to seduce powerful men in swanky hotel rooms, making more than $4,000 in one night.

But the reality for most prostitutes is far different.

Many come from broken homes, were homeless at some point, were abused as children and suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, says Mary Anne Layden, director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program in the Center for Cognitive Therapy at University of Pennsylvania. She says many are not making any money because of a drug habit and a pimp or madam who takes half their earnings.

“The idea of 'Pretty Woman' is a huge lie,” says Layden, referring to the hit movie about a man (Richard Gere) who hires a prostitute (Julia Roberts) and falls in love with her. “Most prostitutes spiral downward.”

Ashley Alexandra Dupre – the 22-year-old identified as “Kristen” in court documents accusing the former New York Governor of paying thousands for prostitutes' services – doesn't seem to be “Pretty Woman” either. Her MySpace page portrays her as a New Jersey native who left a broken home to pursue a music career in New York.

“I have been alone,” she wrote. “I have abused drugs. I have been broke and homeless. But, I survived, on my own.”

Prostitution takes many forms, from homeless teens who prostitute out of desperation to women and children who are trafficked from other countries and high-end escorts who drum up business online. This last group, with its seeming hint of glamour, has gotten the most media attention in the wake of the Spitzer scandal.

Former prostitute Norma Hotaling, who walked the streets and worked for an escort service, says it felt glamorous at first.

“I felt an incredible sense of power,” she said. “'Here's a way I can make money. I can work any hours that I want to work. I can call my own shots. I don't have to take the dates I don't want. It's like, 'I have my own business. Isn't this amazing?'”

But those feelings didn't last long. She was addicted to heroin; she was homeless at times; she was beaten and raped. She began to be horrified that her livelihood depended on sex with strangers on a regular basis.

“It makes it so appealing to think that it's an easy life, and it's not,” says Hotaling. “You don't find a whole lot of women speaking out about how glamorous it was.”

Melissa Farley, a research psychologist who has been studying prostitution for the last 14 years, estimates that 80 percent of prostitution is done indoors, including massage parlors, champagne rooms in strip clubs, health clubs and hotel rooms. She has interviewed 900 prostitutes in 10 countries. She says about 90 percent say they want to get out.

University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, of “Freakonomics” fame, recently studied street-level prostitution in Chicago, and estimated there were about 4,400 prostitutes active there in an average week. They made an average of about $25 an hour, a far cry from the thousands of dollars charged by the Emperor's Club VIP.

The Chicago prostitutes were also more likely to have sex with a police officer than to be arrested by one, and used condoms only a quarter of the time, Levitt found.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sudhir Venkatesh, a Columbia sociologist who collaborated with Levitt, says it is not uncommon to find prostitutes charging $10,000 per session. Still, he says those women report getting abused twice a year. (Street prostitutes report three times that amount of abuse.)

Some current and former sex workers who push for legalizing prostitution say most of the data on the subject is flawed because it is based on interviews with street hookers who are arrested, in battered women's shelters, or enrolled in drug treatment programs.

Former sex worker Veronica Monet says she was working in the business world when she decided to become a high-end prostitute. She has never worked on the streets or for a madam. She made as much as $15,000 a night as an escort, in addition to her own private hotel suite, spa services, dinner and entertainment.

“It's professional dating,” says Monet, a sexologist and sex educator. “It's not complicated. People do this all the time for free. We have learned to charge for it.”

Robyn Few, also a former prostitute and co-founder of SWOP-USA (Sex Workers Outreach Project) says she has met thousands of sex workers, many of whom are middle-class women who run their business on the Internet and consider themselves entrepreneurs. She advises against street prostitution.

“I can promise you we're not all drug addicts,” she says. “We're not all abused. We're all human. We have desires, wants, needs. 'Kristen' has huge desires. She wants to be a singer. She found a way to work towards those goals.”

Many prostitutes believe their life is glamorous, says Martha L. Shockey-Eckles, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Saint Louis University, whether they came from lower class or middle upper class or are using prostitution to make money while pursuing another career.

She has interviewed medical school students who said they were only prostituting to pay for school. But they abandoned those aspirations after becoming enthralled with the accouterments that came with the work – she says it's not uncommon for a high-end escort to make $3,500 to $4,000 a night.

So in essence those students say, “'You know what? I'm already successful,'” she says.
But that “success” can come at a price.

For every Veronica Monet, there are horrific stories that point to the ill effects of prostitution, says Layden. There are stories of prostitutes as young as 13, women being beaten and raped by the pimp, abused by the clients, contracting HIV, committing suicide because they don't see a way out.

“The story you're not hearing being told is the violence in the sex trade, the story of the degradation, the large amount of women who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder on par with returning veterans,” says Rachel Durschlag, founder and director of The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE).

There is no bright future in prostitution, says Hotaling, founder of the SAGE Project (Standing Against Global Exploitation), which helps women leave and recover from sex work. Besides the physical and emotional effects, and the risk of jail time, women eventually find it hard to compete with younger and trafficked women. She says they are left penniless (most weren't investing) with no education, social life (most of their friends were in the industry) or life skills (many have never even had a bank account).

Dupre has not commented about her life as a prostitute, except to tell The New York Times she does not want to be thought of as a monster.

She has become a high-profile symbol, both as a victim – a young dropout with a drug problem – and as a woman who defies stereotypes. Madeleine Dash, a sex worker and co-founder of the Sex Workers Action New York, says “Kristen” proves that not all prostitutes are forced into this line of work out of desperation.

But Farley says prostitution is a dead-end. She says homicide is the most frequent cause of death for women in prostitution. Durschlag says prostitution impacts more than the prostitute and the client.

“When you glamorize prostitution, it doesn't just affect 'Kristen,'” she says. “But it affects all these other young vulnerable individuals because it becomes normal.”
>>Read more

Thursday, November 27, 2008


GABNet cited in Women's eNews article about the mail order bride industry

Mail Order Brides Find U.S. Land of Milk, Battery
By Asjylyn Loder, WeNews correspondent

As Congress considers the need for greater regulation of international marriage brokers, a Ukrainian woman is suing the brokerage that united her with her now ex-husband who, she claims, battered her and is also abusing his latest "mail-order bride."

This summer, members of Congress are expected to introduce legislation that would give a foreign woman the chance to look at a U.S. man's criminal record before accepting a commercially brokered offer of marriage from him.

The proposed legislation would mandate disclosure of past restraining orders against the man and would require immigration services to inform the woman about domestic violence protections available to her. Washington State recently passed similar legislation.

The legislative push coincides with the case of Nataliya Fox, a so-called mail-order bride who sued Encounters International, a well-known marriage agency based in Bethesda, Md., that specializes in matching Russian and Ukrainian women with U.S. husbands. Fox sued Encounters International in the U.S. District Court of Maryland for failing to give her information about domestic violence and for fraudulently informing her that she would be deported if she left her abusive husband, James M. Fox Jr., an Encounters International client. No trial date has been set for the case filed in April 2002.

Natasha Spivack, founder and owner of Encounters International, denied the charges. "This is a major scam and she happened to push all the right buttons," Spivack said of Nataliya Fox, "If you look at her, she looks very honest, like all con-artists do." Spivack, who emigrated to the U.S. from Moscow, claims that Nataliya Fox manufactured evidence of abuse and lied on her immigration applications. Spivack started Encounters International in 1993 using a fax machine and regular mail services before shifting to Web-based services as the Internet became widely available.

"In July 2000, James Fox attacked me," Nataliya Fox wrote in her declaration to the court in June 2002. "The beating lasted approximately two hours." James Fox was arrested for Nataliya's attempted murder in July 2000. In a recent telephone interview, he denied hitting Nataliya and said that his record had been expunged.

Randall Miller, a lawyer with Arnold and Porter, the prominent D.C. law firm that took Nataliya Fox's case pro bono, said in a recent telephone interview that James Fox expunged his record by completing a batterer's class. The Tahirih Justice Center, an immigrant women's rights advocacy group based in Falls Church, Va., joined Arnold and Porter as co-counsel. Tahirih has been the leading force behind the upcoming congressional initiative that would regulate the industry.
"During the entire time of my association with Encounters International and Natasha Spivack, I was never told about my rights should I encounter domestic abuse," Nataliya Fox's declaration states. "She said that if I ever left James I would likely be deported."

James Fox obtained a Haitian divorce decree from Nataliya in January 2001. In October of that year, he married Inna Fox, a woman he met through an Internet marriage agency that has since closed down, James Fox said. According to court records in her case, Nataliya Fox believes that her ex-husband is abusing his new wife. Encounters petitioned to find out the basis for Nataliya's suspicion, but the judge ruled that the potential risk to the safety of the person who is the source of Nataliya's information overrode the defense's need to know.

Thousands of Women Applying to Become U.S. Wives

Some women who enter commercially arranged marriages hope for a prince. Others just want a ticket out of economic desperation. Whatever the reason, thousands of foreign women marry near-strangers from the U.S. each year.

While services and costs vary, it generally works like this: men purchase addresses and profiles of women from a broker and initiate correspondence with the women they like. As the relationship progresses, men can choose to pay the matchmaker to send the women flowers or gifts. This is followed by a visit (immigration law requires that U.S. citizens meet their immigrating fiancee at least once), for which the matchmaker may arrange hotels, transportation, and translators--all for a fee, of course.

Because the "mail-order bride" business is almost entirely unregulated, there are no reliable statistics about how many women enter the U.S. each year to begin marriages with men they hardly know.

Between 1998 and 2001, the number of foreign fiancees entering the United States nearly doubled, from 12,306 in 1998 to 23,634 in 2001. Although no agency tracks how many of those fiancees are coming as a result of brokered matches, an Immigration and Naturalization Service report to Congress in 1999 estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 brokered brides entered the United States in 1998.

Estimating the number of fiancees in brokered matches is something more akin to divination than hard statistics. The 1998 figures--themselves an estimate--indicate that one-third to one-half of all entering fiancees met their intended through a matchmaker. If the percentage holds true, then the number of mail-order brides that entered the U.S. in 2001 could range from approximately 8,000 to 12,000.

GABRIELA Network, a Filipina advocacy group with offices throughout the U.S., believes that the congressional figure is low. It claims that more than 5,000 Filipina brides depart for the United States every year. Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the former Soviet states all boast thriving online matchmaking industries. The 1999 Immigration report found that most brides entering the U.S. came from the Philippines or former Soviet states.

No Government Oversight Leaves Brides Vulnerable

The lack of governmental oversight of the industry, critics say, leaves foreign women vulnerable to violence and abuse. Brokered brides leave familiar support networks and rely on near-strangers for financial security and immigration status. Many do not know that they can leave an abusive mate without being deported. And, while the women undergo rigorous background checks, their future husbands do not.

A 1996 law passed by Congress required that matchmakers provide women with domestic violence information or face a $20,000 fine. Regulations have never been put in place to implement that law and it has not been enforced. Nataliya Fox is the first woman to seek redress under that law.

"The agencies have a financial incentive to ensure the satisfaction of their paying clients--the men--but there is no comparable incentive to safeguard the woman," said Layli Miller-Muro, executive director of Tahirih.

Internet marriage agencies thrived with the rapid expansion of Web-based commerce and communication. The 1999 report found that approximately 200 international marriage brokers were operating in the U.S. In a recent count, Tahirih found more than 400 Internet marriage agencies.

Larry Gucciardo, owner of the Angelika Russian Marriage Agency Network, one of the largest U.S. marriage agencies, saw his opportunity in the Internet after his own frustratingly slow international courtship via regular post, he said in a recent phone interview.

In addition to faster communication, the Internet eliminated the start-up costs involved in producing and mailing a printed catalog, and could feature a greater number of profiles than a bulky book. "We have almost 100 Web sites," Gucciardo said. "We have 155,000 clients and about 20,000 girls. We add about 100 to 200 new girls every week."

Another problem with the business, say critics, is that it fuels men and women with false expectations about the quality of the prospective marriage. "The problem is that the organizations that market these relationships, that market these women, market stereotypes, to both sides," said Leslye Orloff, an expert on battered immigrants with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in Washington, D.C. "What they're doing is setting up an atmosphere that is ripe, potentially, for abuse."

U.S. men looking for foreign wives can search for such a partner by her height, weight, age and country of origin. The Christian Singles Registry promises, "Virgin Brides from 60 Countries." Another site called eMates markets "Quality Women," while One True Love--an Angelika Network site--advises potential customers that Russian women, unlike their American counterparts, "are not spoiled or greedy."

Some foreign women, like Fox, are finding that their American dreamboats turn into nightmares after marriage. One Russian woman, Svetlana, used a pseudonym out of fear of reprisal from her ex-husband. Svetlana nervously recounted how her husband repeatedly raped, beat and choked her during their 10-month marriage. When she turned to the marriage broker for help, they told her: "'It's just a different culture,'" Svetlana claimed.

"I didn't know. Is this normal marriage? My father, he never shook the shoulders of my mom, or choked her, or hit my mother's head against the wall," she said during an interview in the unmarked, secure offices of Tahirih.

Miller-Muro of Tahirih, which arranged the interview, added: "The barbarity of her torture is so severe that I think that as Americans we should be profoundly embarrassed that there's an industry that facilitates this."

Tahirih is not the only agency reporting a recent up-tick in the number of abused brides. Lillian Bykhovsky said in a recent telephone interview from her shelter for battered immigrant women in Atlanta that the abuse of mail-order brides "is quite a trend." Bykhovsky had assisted two such brides just that week. Sophia Lutsky, a counselor in Seattle, said by phone that she was currently seeing more than 10 abused brides and that she had seen an increase in such cases over the last several years.

In Colorado, Valyeria Roussakova, who came to the United States as a result of a brokered marriage, recently spoke in a phone interview about her own experiences. She said her husband terrorized her and her 9-year-old son by a previous marriage so badly that her son had frequent nightmares. Roussakova said her husband abused her emotionally and threatened her with deportation. "He said, 'If you don't like it, you can always leave,'" Roussakova said.
After she left him, Roussakova said her husband withdrew her work permit and she lost her job. According to Roussakova, the marriage agency told her that they take no responsibility for the outcome of a marriage.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of the women you see on these sites come from very disadvantaged backgrounds," said Vivian Kutchon in a telephone interview, a victim's advocate with the GABRIELA Network in the Philippines. "It's just another level of control."

Recently, Encounters International held a social gathering in suburban Maryland for some its clients. Bill Lawson, an enthusiastic Encounters' client, disagreed that women who agree to these arranged marriages are being exploited. "We're not taking advantage of the women. We're taking advantage of an opportunity." He described Russian women as "a little more old-fashioned, as far as values go. A little more like American women in the 1950s or the 1930s."

Encounters' Web site says that the agency has facilitated almost 250 marriages, with only 25 divorces. Ken Meyers, an as-yet-unmarried client, hosted the recent social at his Germantown, Md., townhouse where Spivack's success was evident. One client, married eight years, held his 6-year-old daughter on his knee. Another, Joe, smiles at his wife of just over three months. A young Marine and his wife, married three years, humorously recount hard times on a rural base.

In the next room, however, an elegant Russian woman who sat with her manicured hands clasped tightly in her lap did not appear so well-adjusted to her new life. In 2000, she married a man--her "soul mate," as the Encounters' Web site described him, who had been an agency member for just two months.

"Potentially we could be a very good couple," she said, but her husband is isolated, moody, and frequently yells at her. He did not want her to learn to drive, hold a job or join a gym. On her birthday, he took out a pistol, one of his 17 guns, and put the barrel in his mouth and threatened to shoot himself. "He always carries a gun," she said. She did not want her name used for fear of angering her husband.

After the woman left the gathering, Spivack mocked the nervousness the woman had expressed to her about having possibly spoken too candidly with a reporter. "She says to me, 'I am worried I have said something wrong,'" Spivack said. She imitated the woman, by wringing her hands and continuing to quote her. "'I am afraid because my husband he has so many guns'" Spivack broke into her wide-toothed smile. As she laughed, several of her clients laughed with her.

Asjylyn Loder is a freelance writer in New York.

For more information:
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GABNet NYNJ 2007


In 2006, Christmas, a runaway Filipino maid in Kuwait was abducted and gang-raped by 17 men in desert camps. The woman who had escaped her employer’s house was found by four men who took her to a desert camp where they raped her. They then offered the maid to six of their friends who again raped her at a second camp before delivering her to seven others who finished the gang-raped her at a third camp. She was violated over and over again.

Meanwhile, earlier that summer the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration exposed a human-trafficking ring in Dubai that falsely recruited young Filipinas –mostly in their 20’s -- ostensibly as waitresses, salesgirls, mall or hotel employees but instead forced them into prostitution for bar owners and pimps when they arrived. Most of the victims who have sought the help of the Philippine consulate in Dubai were some of the lucky ones, able to escape from their pimps and recruiters. The victims experienced severe trauma, exploitation and abuse while in the custody of these syndicates.

5 coffins a day land at the Manila International Airport; three contain the bodies of Filipina women who died or were killed elsewhere in the world.

Battery, rape and murder are the top occupational hazards for Filipina who work overseas.

What circumstances have exposed these women to such danger and atrocities?

In today’s globalized world, where capital’s relentless and ruthless pursuit for markets and profits have been glossed over by multinational corporations, dubious international bodies and national governments, human trafficking – the Recruiting, Harboring & Transportation of a person by use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjecting them to sexual and/or labor exploitation -- has become our very own modern-day slavery.

Human Trafficking, with an annual profit of $5-7 billion is the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world today, after arms and drug dealing. As many as 2 million women are trafficked across borders annually. Women are typically recruited with promises of good jobs in other countries or provinces and lacking better options at home “agree” to migrate. An estimated 20 million women and children are in the global sex trade.

Although sex trafficking – which involves sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography, mail-order bride trafficking, and commercial sexual abuse of children -- is one of the most lucrative sectors of the trade in people, trafficking for labor exploitation is also increasing. In fact, the sex trade is the second most likely employment for Filipinas going abroad, the first is domestic work.

Reports have come in telling of Filipinas jumping from buildings to escape the abusive practices of their employers, some of whom have treated them little more than animals – feeding them scraps, locking them in a room and refusing payment for their work.

Filipina domestic workers all over the Middle East, where the majority of them work, have taken to wearing multiple underwear garments to sleep to prevent employers from raping them.

But the Philippine government – much like a pimp – continues to search the globe for countries to take its "surplus labor.” Today, Number of Filipinos Overseas: 8.1 million in 194 countries. Indeed, the government has deployed a yearly average of 900,000-one million OFW’s from 2001 to 2005. 75% of those who leave are Filipina women. In fact, the Philippines is the world’s top exporter of women, more than 64% of Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers are women. The share of OFW remittances to the gross national product has grown from nearly 8 percent in 2001 to 10 percent in 2005.

Meanwhile, The Sex industry – including child pornography and prostitution -- is now the fourth largest industry in the Philippines. The Philippine government has institutionalized sex trafficking under a host of “work” euphemisms such as “guest relations officer (GRO), cultural dancer, and cultural entertainers. The Majority of the 300,000 OFWs in Japan last year were women who worked as entertainers for the “rest and recreation” of the American troops based there. Women who are infected by STDs and AIDS are immediately deported to the Philippines. More than 47,000 Filipinas are in South Korea, many are on Entertainment visas. An estimated 25,000 Filipinas have been brought to the US to work in brothels, bars nightclubs, illegal sex farms and in vicinity of military bases. Some 20,000 do the sex farm tours in Europe. The number of Filipinas in the nightclubs and brothels of the Middle East is not available but it is sizable. Moreover, tourism – a quick way for many debtor countries to earn cash as recommended by the IMF – has only facilitated sex tourism – in which agencies offer “package” vacations which include commercial sex and a plethora of women to choose from. SE Asia earns $8 billion/year from tourism – 80% of tourists are males.

Moreover, In the United States, around 5,000 Filipino women enter as mail-order brides per year. In Australia, some 20,000 Filipino women have gone as Mail order brides. Out of the 4,000 Filipinos in Iraq today, Filipinas have been found working in the US military bases – in the massage parlors.

These numbers and facts are staggering. And they are only the tip of the iceberg.

How have Filipinas been so commodified and dehumanized, reduced to sexual slaves or domestic drudgery?

Some mainstream human rights organizations have actually touted that poverty and inequality as a cause of human trafficking is a myth. They instead claim that Trafficking is a criminal industry driven by the traffickers and their customers. In other words, supply is only offered by the pimps and demand is only coming from the johns of the world. This view, to put it simply, is blind to the bigger picture.

As women who struggle against the machinations of imperialism and neocolonialism, we know that globalization has established for trafficking a daisy-chain of economic operations:
1) At one end, it ensures an endless supply of poor women with no alternative except to sell their bodies via the sex trade or domestic labor. IMF/WB policies have entrenched and intensified artificial poverty in debtor countries by eliminating national self-sufficiency through so called liberal economic reforms via privatization of land and demolition of urban and rural communities. Peddling tourism as a quick source of cash has also opened the floodgate to prostitution. In addition, the open door policy for trade and investments to create export processing zones, the flexibilization of labor and the encouragement to rely on migrant remittances to shore up a country’s GDP are all factors which have pushed women out of the production process to the shadows of the “informal” economy -- making the doors wide open for legal and illegal recruiters preying on young and poor Filipinas ready to accept whatever jobs that will ease the poverty of their families. According to a Philippine government study, the biggest number of the poor can be found among women and children, comprising 49.6% of the populace, which in a country of 88 million people means 56.4 million women and children.

2) In the middle, meanwhile, globalization has created a market for trafficking such as the establishment of tourism spots or discriminating immigration policies which favors some nationalities over others for a source of cheap labor. Moreover, militarism – the armed wing of globalization – has also created a huge market for trafficking. After 9/11, when the US returned to the Philippines to help the Philippine military hunt down Islamic terrorists, trafficking of women and girls to the conflict zone in the south rose to 200%. In one instance, a town mayor bussed in a group of young Filipinas to the US base and told the GI’s that the Philippines welcomed them “with open arms and open legs.” In the international scene, America’s imperialist war in Iraq has led to the increased trafficking of Iraqi women and girls to neighboring countries – a story not commented upon in the media.

3) And, finally, at the end of the spectrum, globalization has constructed an elaborate pimping system which pumps up demand for the sex trade, including the exotification of women of color through the media (especially the Internet), pornography and drugs (like Viagra). As for trafficking in labor, how many of us can live full lives without the help of a nanny or housekeeper? how many of us would be able to afford our cheap groceries or Nike sneakers without labor exploitation?

Simply put, to enslave women in the sex industry or to exploit her labor means to FIRST enslave her economically. Thus for women of such impoverished countries as the Philippines, choice or the exercise of choice is not even a factor when survival is the goal. This argument for choice is what some critics have lobbed against our analysis – they claim, don’t these women choose to be domestic workers? Don’t they choose to be Prostitutes?

And our answer is an emphatic NO, for as long as entities like the IMF/WB and their global manifestations are enabled to afflict nations and peoples with continuing poverty there is no choice. As long as transnational corporations are enabled to plunder without hindrance nations and people there is no choice. As long as national governments oppress and suppress their people’s demands for liberation, there is no choice.

So, unless poor and oppressed women of the world unite to struggle against imperialist globalization and neocolonization, our and our sisters’ fates will remain as that of being “displaced commodified and modern day slaves”. We must educate, organize and mobilize ourselves. In our attempt to build this international solidarity with women and our allies all over the world, we ask you to join GABRIELA Network’s Purple Rose Campaign, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this Valentine’s Day. The PRC is a massive global campaign which seeks to end trafficking in women and children and advances the analysis that this type of exploitation is a creature formed in the nexus of imperialism.

Without your attention to this matter, without your commitment to this cause, Filipina women, along with others from similarly exploited situations, will continually be violated…over and over again.

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THANKSKILLING: GABNet Draws Attention to the Plight of Indigenous Women This Thanksgiving

^Click image to zoom

  • United States: Native American women are 25 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes. Eighty-six percent of assaults against indigenous women is by non-indigenous men who are rarely caught or charged with the crime.
  • In Mexico, indigenous women experience violence at the hands of the military funded by the U.S. government. Military personnel use rape as an instrument of repression and intimidation as exemplified in the 1997 massacre and mutilation of 32 Tzotzil women in Acteal.
  • In the Philippines, heightened militarization and state repression has killed close to 1,000 activits, including Alyce Omegnan Claver, an indigenous woman who was executed for her political activism.
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Gabnet/Mariposa Alliance proudly affirm our participation in the international feminist movement's 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign. Along with over 2,000 organizations in 154 countries who have participated in this campaign since 1991, Gabnet/Ma-Al launches our own 16 days of activism, beginning on November 25th, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, with a nationwide Speak Out Against Violence, and ending on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.

We in the U.S. are living in a time where words like progress, change and victory are flooding and infused in our collective discourse. We are supposed to believe that we have won the good fight; that there is nothing left to struggle for. We are supposed to believe that individual success is tantamount to the liberation of all.

We, in Gabnet/Mariposa Alliance, know that women around the world, from the United States to the Philippines to Haiti to Africa, still have everything to struggle for. We know that murder is the number one cause of death of pregnant women; that homicide is the number one occupational hazard for women in the US.

We know that somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her partner, every 15 seconds. At least one in three women, globally, is sexually abused in her lifetime. In the US, a woman is raped every six minutes. And in armed conflict zones around the world—in Iraq, Darfur, Columbia, South Asia—the rape of women and children is a tool of war, just the same as any gun, bomb or missile.

Over one million women and children are trafficked internationally every year, becoming victims of sexual exploitation, labor exploitation and abuse. And in the US, legislation is being passed to legalize prostitution, an institution that is responsible for the legal rape and degradation of women around the world. This violence cuts across ethnic and economic boundaries and is the result of a patriarchal and imperialist system that values power and money over human rights.

Gabnet/Mariposa Alliance stands in militant solidarity with women around the world as we affirm that women's rights are human rights. Each time a woman is attacked around the world, we hear her voice and we stand with her. We demand an end to all violence against women. --##
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