Saturday, March 01, 2008
Below are the first few paragraphs from a new article by Kari Lydersen on Infoshop News.
Korean massage parlors are a common presence in most major U.S. cities – so much that those in the know refer to them with the acronym of KMPs. It is also widely known that these venues offer more than a massage – they function essentially as brothels, where South Korean women work as prostitutes controlled by a wide-reaching, shadowy and highly profitable network of traffickers and pimps.Read the rest of the article here.
Anti-trafficking, women's rights and immigrants rights advocates are increasingly focusing on this segment of trafficking and sexual exploitation in the United States. The Polaris Project has focused extensively on Korean massage parlors and trafficking of Korean women in California. In Chicago, a coalition of immigrants' rights, anti-domestic violence and ethnic groups are in the early stages of developing an outreach and advocacy structure for Korean women caught up in these situations.
Trafficking for sex work, domestic work and other types of labor is a poisonous manifestation of the increasingly global economy, where people in impoverished countries – especially women – fall prey to traffickers' false promises of a better life in another country or are even literally sold into slavery by family members or kidnappers. The U.S. government estimates that about 17,500 foreigners are trafficked into the U.S. annually, though some NGOs put the number much higher. Sex trafficking is considered to make up about 80 percent of cases, with trafficking for domestic, agricultural, food service and other types of labor making up the rest.
In general the pipeline of trafficked people flows from the most impoverished countries to wealthier ones within a region; for example from El Salvador to Mexico; or Romania to the Czech Republic; or Nepal to India. Then, either after going through those pipelines or directly from their points of origin, people are trafficked across continents to the wealthiest destinations: the U.S., Israel and parts of Western Europe.
South Korea ranks third as the point of origin for trafficking cases in the U.S., according to the National Immigrant Justice Center, behind Mexico and China and ahead of the Philippines and Thailand. Though exact numbers are impossible to come by, it is estimated at least 10,000 Korean women are doing sex work in the U.S.
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