Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Friday, 30 May 2014

Brazil Child Sex Trade Alarm as World Cup Nears

She is a world-class swimmer who represented Brazil at three consecutive Olympic Games and is one of the country's most successful and prominent female athletes.

Joana retired from swimming after the last Olympic Games in London, partly because she felt she could no longer compete at the top level and partly because she has a new battle to fight.

As a child Joana was repeatedly sexually abused over many years in a country and, in particular, a region where the issue is rarely talked about and where offenders are rarely prosecuted.

"When a child is raped or abused here, even if there's an investigation, the way it happens is never sympathetic to the victim," says Joana at her apartment in the northern city of Recife.

Joana was abused by someone she knew and trusted but that's not always the case.
Joana Maranhao has founded the
campaign group Infancia Livre

"It's worse for poor kids in this region," Joana tells me.

"But it's not about how poor or rich you are. Here it was almost seen as normal and the police have nowhere near enough people to investigate."

Joana's "new race" - as she puts it - is her charity and campaign group, "Infancia Livre" (Free Childhood).

She's determined to help young people, many without the education and drive that she has, who are victims of abuse in a part of Brazil that has a terrible reputation and record for protecting its youth.

Recife, and the wider coastal region in the northern state of Pernambuco, is one of the fastest growing regions in Brazil.

With its long white beaches it's an increasingly popular destination and where four football World Cup games will be played his summer.
Recife football stadium
Economic growth has brought thousands of workers here from other parts of Brazil and overseas. But according to aid workers these areas are also frequented by men looking for sex, and that's often sex with children.

Just a block from the beach, as music blares from the open boot of a car, men stand around drinking and watching a group of women a few yards away.

This is the city's red light district but the difference here is that while they may dress and make themselves up like women some of these girls are only just in their teens. One in four sex workers here is thought to be a child.

Aginaide Lynch is a co-ordinator for the Happy Child charity here in Recife.

She works with street children or those caught up in the sex trade. They have a safe house and other centres in the city dedicated to trying to turn lives around but she admits that with minimal official help and facing such overwhelming challenges, it's just a drop in the ocean.

"In this region, the north-east, people come here specifically for this and it'll get worse during the cup," says Ms Lynch.

She says that for the so-called "sex tourists", it's "easy and formalised".

"Even when men arrive at the airport, taxi drivers or hotel staff help them to find girls. The police are usually absent or even compliant in the business of child abuse so we have to take care of the problem ourselves and get the kids off the streets."
A government poster campaign calls
on the public to protect Brazil's children

It's not always girls and boys from the streets, with drugs addictions and absent family structures, that fall victim to the sex tourists.

Pregnant at 16, Ana's own childhood is already lost. She's not a prostitute but has been having sex since she was 12. Ana - not her real name - says girls here go with foreigners because they are wealthy and generous.

Ana is from a working class background and, although her dad no longer lives at home, her mother clearly cares about her daughter's plight. But when, exasperated, her mum went to the police, they didn't even recognise Anna as a victim.

"I've got lots of friend who go with foreigners - gringos. They come here for the girls, you know - working girls, Ana tells me as she sits surrounded by baby clothes, six months into her pregnancy.

She's clearly too young and too vulnerable for the situation she's in but shrugs her shoulders and says: "The guys have lots of money and give the girls loads of things like a place to live or jewellery."

The laws in Brazil regarding child abuse are, on paper at least, relatively strong.

Joana Maranhao's revelations about her past and her willingness to speak out have even led to a new law, in her name, extending the time by which perpetrators of crimes against children can be prosecuted.

But it's not enough and, especially here in the north of the country, there are cultural barriers to break down as well as legal ones.

Brazilian society is often accused of sexualising children. The Novina phenomenon, where internet videos and songs portray young girls as attainable, sexual objects, is strong in this region.
Jessica Barbosa from Action Aid
Jessica Barbosa is from the British charity Action Aid, which has several projects running in the area. In these poor areas, children are particularly vulnerable to the attentions of men with money and promises.

"It's a situation that we think is going to be worse in the World Cup because we have men from outside," she says.

"We have vulnerable girls who need money and who think they'll have a better life in other countries. And we have no serious public policies to prevent this situation."

Twelve-year-old Andrea is proof of that.

She has not been abused but only thanks to her mother's vigilance. She tells me how she's unable to rely on the law to stop older men harassing or trying to lure her daughter with gifts from clothes to popcorn.

So she's had to make her a virtual prisoner in her own home.

A high-profile global campaign, called "It's a Penalty" and fronted by English and Brazilian footballers, warns World Cup visitors not to take advantage of Brazil's reputation for easy sex.

In this World Cup city, kids high on drugs sell themselves for the price of a cup of coffee.

It's an ugly business that embarrasses Brazil when the country is showing itself off to the world.

Meanwhile:

The Brazilian Health Ministry has dropped an online campaign entitled "I'm happy being a prostitute".

The message was part of a wider education programme about sexually-transmitted diseases and was aimed at reducing prejudice against sex workers.

Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said he had never endorsed the advert: "I do not think this is a message the ministry should be sending."

Critics in Brazil say the campaign glorified prostitution.

Mr Padilha said the message was being tested on the ministry's website, but it was not meant to be published.

"For as long as I remain in office, an ad like that will not be part of our campaigns," he told Agencia Estado. Another slip like that and you may not remain in office very long.

Also:

Sports giant Adidas is suspending the sale of World Cup T-shirts after Brazil's authorities complained they sexualised the country's image.

One read "Looking to score?" next to a scantily-dressed woman; another printed a heart shaped like a bikini-clad bottom with the phrase "I love Brazil".

Brazil's tourism board, Embratur, says it is vehemently against any products that link Brazil's image to sex appeal.

Adidas is one of the World Cup's main sponsors and its ball provider.

Following the controversy, the company said it was withdrawing the T-shirts - a limited edition meant for sale in the United States.

"Adidas always pays close attention to the opinion of its consumers and partners," its statement read.

"Therefore, it is announcing that these products will not be sold anymore."

Earlier on Tuesday, the country's tourism ministry had already criticised the products saying "any links between national icons and images with sex appeal" were against the country's official marketing policies.

"Such an attitude indirectly contributes to committing crimes such as sexual child and adolescent exploitation," it said.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff also reacted, tweeting that Brazil was happy to greet tourists for the World Cup. But her country was also ready to fight sexual tourism, Mrs Rousseff wrote.

In a statement, Brazil's Embratur said that "Brazil does not tolerate this type of crime on its territory."

Brazil says it has been trying to distance itself from the sexual stereotypes that marked the country for decades.

NSW Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry Finds Evidence to Charge Senior Catholic Church Official

Jason Om
This is a transcript of a broadcast from Australia's ABC
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 30/05/2014
Reporter: Jason Om

Transcript
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: An inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Hunter region of NSW has found there is enough evidence to charge a senior Catholic Church official with concealing the activities of a notorious paedophile priest.

The Special Commission into abuse allegations and their alleged cover-up in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese has delivered its final report calling the failure of clergy to report decades of abuse to police as inexcusable.

But it has also slammed the credibility of the detective chief inspector who sparked the inquiry finding him to be an unsatisfactory and at times untruthful witness.

Inspector Peter Fox had accused senior police of hindering sex abuse investigations but the commission says NSW police acted appropriately.

Jason Om reports:

JASON OM, REPORTER: For the many victims of abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, there is a sense of vindication.

PETER GOGARTY, ABUSE VICTIM: This was not just the wrongdoing of individual priests that those priests were assisted in their crimes, if you like, by virtue of the fact that other people knew about it and did nothing.

JASON OM: About 50 people provided disturbing evidence about their suffering at the hands of paedophile priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher. Both are now dead.

The inquiry headed by Margaret Cunneen SC investigated allegations of a cover-up by the church and by New South Wales police.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox blew the whistle accusing senior officers of forcing him to drop his inquiries into abuse.
Detective Peter Fox whose investigation resulted in the
commission. He's been branded a liar by it.
PETER FOX, DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR: I am sure that some hierarchy in the police force won't be wanting to put me on their Christmas card list after the letter today and after speaking here tonight. I don't care.

JASON OM: The commission has found failures and inaction in the diocese and elsewhere to report child sexual abuse to police. And a failure to protect children.

However, the diocese did cooperate when requested by police.

On the alleged police cover-up, the commission found Strike Force Lantle set up to investigate claims of abuse cover-up by the church was not a sham that was set up to fail, as claimed by Peter Fox.

Peter Fox was initially carrying out his own clandestine and later competing inquiries despite being told to drop them.

He also rejected claims of a "Catholic Mafia" within the police force. The commission says police acted lawfully and appropriately.

PETER GOGARTY: The detective that was in charge of Strike Force Lantle has done an outstanding job, I think.

JASON OM: Officials in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese knew about Denis McAlinden's abuse of children from 1954. His victims were in New South Wales, Western Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

VOICEOVER: It took more than 40 years for the diocese to report to police any aspect of McAlinden's offending history. The evidence reveals a disturbing story of repeated inaction and failure on the part of church officials.

JASON OM: Among the officials criticised, the late head of the diocese, Bishop Leo Clarke, whose inaction, the report says, was inexcusable. The inaction of the late Monsignor Patrick Cotter also inexcusable. Current priest Monsignor Allan Hart, who knew about the abuse, and should have reported it to police. His credibility as a witness was found to be unsatisfactory. 

Father Brian Lucas, who at the time was responsible for persuading accused sex abusers to quit the priesthood, his inaction the report says;

VOICEOVER: Failed to have proper regard to what should have been the overriding consideration - the protection of children.

JASON OM: Brian Lucas is now the general secretary of the Catholic Church's peak body, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

PETER GOGARTY: I think his position really is untenable.

JASON OM: And the head of the diocese from 1995-2011, Bishop Michael Malone, who, despite knowing Denis McAlinden's file was "So big you can't jump over it" did not report him to police until 1999.

The report found Bishop Malone was inconsistent in his evidence about how he dealt with another paedophile priest, James Fletcher. His response to abuse claims were inadequate and underestimated their seriousness. He was also found to have acted inappropriately by alerting James Fletcher to a police investigation.

PATRICIA FEENAN, MOTHER OF ABUSE VICTIM: I always reflected on how would it have gone if that priest didn't have all that time to character assassinate us and certainly my son.

JASON OM: The findings have been made public in three volumes but a fourth volume on Fletcher remains confidential. The inquiry says;

VOICEOVER: There is sufficient evidence warranting the prosecution of a senior church official in connection with the concealment of child sexual abuse relating to Fletcher.

PETER GOGARTY: I think we are going to have to be very patient in waiting to see what the NSW police and the Department of Public Prosecutions do with that information but I honestly believe that it will be worth the wait.

JASON OM: The commission has effectively cleared NSW police of cover-up allegations by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox. Saying he was obsessed about the Catholic Church and alleged conspiracies involving senior police. At times the report says he was untruthful, prone to exaggerate and inconsistent in his evidence.

PETER FOX, DETECTIVE CHIEF INSPECTOR: I am not backing away from any of the things I said either on the Lateline program or in my letter to the Premier. They are the two things that triggered everything and I don't think anywhere through the special commission anything that I said in those documents has been cast into any sort of doubt.

JASON OM: The commission found Peter Fox had been carrying out inquiries in secret and had acted inappropriately by disclosing police information to Newcastle journalist Joanne McCarthy.

Despite the findings, Peter Fox is defiant.

PETER FOX: I still stand by everything I said in the letter to the premier Barry O'Farrell and in the interview with Tony Jones and none of that has been disproven. It's a little difficult to think that a Detective Chief Inspector would raise a fire alarm if there was no fire, or, at least, some smoke.

JASON OM: Some of Peter Fox's evidence has been referred to the Royal Commission into abuse for assessment. The Catholic Church and the NSW police have declined to be interviewed saying they will review the report in due course.

The confidential section will be referred to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide whether charges should be laid against the church official whose name has been suppressed.

Jason Om, Lateline.

Niger's First Slavery Conviction: Man Jailed for Four Years

A man has been sentenced to four years in jail in Niger's first conviction for slavery. And, would you be surprised to learn that he is Muslim?

Elhadji Djadi Raazikou, 63, was convicted of having a "fifth wife" – a practice in which girls, usually of slave descent, are treated as property because local Islamic law permits only four wives.

Known as wahaya in the local Tamasheq language, they are seen as a sign of prestige among wealthy buyers in Niger and northern Nigeria's Hausa ethnicity. No marriage takes place, depriving the woman of legal rights, and men have several wahaya.

"They are treated solely as property and face a lifetime of regular rape, physical and psychological abuse and forced labour," said Jakub Sobik of the international pressure group Anti-Slavery International.

Raazikou allegedly bought the girl for 200,000 CFA francs (£248) ($415) and put her to work as a domestic drudge for one of his four other wives. He had been detained in the town of Birnin Konni since the local anti-slavery organisation Timidria alerted authorities in 2010.

"We hope this latest success will be a catalyst for others to start coming forward," said Abankawel Illitine, a Timidria board member.

It is the first successful such prosecution since a Nigerian woman challenged her former master in the Court of Justice of the West African regional body Ecowas six years ago.
Tuareg slave girls, wearing ankle bracelets that denote their status,
in Tillabéri, Niger. Photograph: Anti-Slavery International
The girls are often born into slavery in a rigid caste system where "noble-borns", usually lighter-skinned Moors, indirectly or directly own darker-skinned Moors or black Africans. The girls, almost always sold before they turn 15 and frequently as young as nine, sometimes change hands several times.

Up to 130,000 people are trapped in modern slavery in Niger, with women and children bearing the brunt. Some wahaya are forced to wear a heavy brass ankle ring. In neighbouring Mauritania, those old enough to cover their hair are often forced to leave their arms bare – against rural tradition – to enable them to carry heavy burdens.

Much of the abuse comes from the other wives , whose position depends on being able to remain a spouse. "A wahaya can regain their freedom if their first-born is a boy, because the husband will then either divorce another of his wives or he must liberate the mother," Illitine said. In Raazikou's case, he tried to divorce one of his other four wives to marry a fifth, the court heard.

Slavery has existed across the Sahel and Sahara since Arabic-speaking Moors raided African villages and launched the trans-Saharan slave trade centuries ago. Some proponents justify its continuation through Qur'anic texts that permitted the enslavement of women captured in jihad (holy war), although it is practised even in countries that never experience jihad.

Talak inherited her slave status from her parents, who were captured in a raid by Tuaregs against their village. "My work load was awful, unimaginable … [My master] considered me to have no soul. He would use me for pleasure while hate burned in my heart," she told rights activists after running away.

Mauritania was the world's last country to abolish slavery, in 1981, but campaigners say it is difficult to overturn a deeply engrained custom among rural communities across the several Saharan nations.

"Wahaya goes on with the consent of traditional chiefs, who are in fact the ones who own the most women," said a local chief in the northern Nigerian state of Sokoto, which borders Niger.

The chief, who asked not to be named, said nomadic Tuaregs frequently crossed the Sahara to reach the former Islamic caliphate, where the custom of buying girls was well established. "There are villages where 80% of girls came to Nigeria so young they don't know anything about where they come from, or anything about their birth families," he said.

Big Money for Niger's Child Brides

Niger has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, and is struggling to stop the practice, writes the BBC's Fergal Keane.

In the distance it appears like a tiny blur against the bright light of noon. But coming closer, gathering force, the wind creates a moving cloud of sand.

By the time it reaches the Tuareg nomads in the desert north of Agadez it is whipping into faces, stinging every piece of exposed skin. They hunker down and turn their backs to the wind and wait for the storm to pass.
Women in Niger

Every choice in this landscape is defined by the imperative of survival.

For the Tuareg of Niger, life is a constant struggle against the accumulating challenges of hunger and poverty.

They live in a country which ranks lowest on the United Nations human development index - 187 out of 187 - and which has the world's highest birth rate.

Niger also has one of the world's highest rates of child marriage.

About 24% of girls will be married by the time they are 15. That rises to nearly 80% by the age of 18. It is a social phenomenon that affects all significant ethnic groups in Niger, including the majority Hausa community.

The main reason is economic.

Hard-pressed families receive a "bride price" in return for their daughter's hand in marriage. A girl married off is also one less mouth to feed.

And there is a deep-rooted fear of unmarried teenaged girls falling pregnant, or as one mother put it: "They can easily become delinquents."

The story of child marriage in Niger is rooted in poverty and the overall position of women in society.

In the northern city of Agadez, we were told of marriages of Tuareg girls to wealthy men from neighbouring Nigeria where thousands of dollars were paid - the price varying according to the girl's beauty.

One mother, Amina, who asked that her full name not be used, has a 15-year-old daughter.

She is unemployed and separated from her husband, and described Niger as a place where "there is no room for women to dream dreams".
Tuareg man getting water from a well for cattle, Niger
Marriage was her daughter's choice but she herself would welcome a wealthy suitor, she said.

"Many families have no choice… When a wealthy Nigerian comes offering millions [in local currency], they will let them marry, even if they are young," Amina added.

Aysha
For some the consequences of such marriage can be catastrophic.

Aysha, which is not her real name, was married at 13 to a businessman from the northern Nigerian city of Kano.

"I didn't think it was about marrying someone I would be happy with," she said, "but I was very young and I didn't have anybody to whom I could go for advice."

Far from her family, Aysha found herself imprisoned in her new husband's home.

"He was always trying to make it clear that it was as if he had bought me, that it was not because I wanted him but because he had bought me," she told the BBC.

Aysha recalled that after about 10 days, he came and locked her in the bedroom.

"He mistreated me at home… One day he locked me in the bedroom… It is as if he raped me," she said.

The teenager later managed to escape with the help of her brother - and is now 21 and studying to be a nurse.

There are also significant health issues for young girls who become pregnant.

At the Dimol Clinic in Niger's capital, Niamey, there were girls who had been married as young as 12.
Girls at a Koranic school in Agadez, Niger
Dimol means "dignity" in the Hausa language and the clinic treats girls and woman for fistula - a gynaecological condition often occurring in girls giving birth before they are physically mature. It can lead to severe infection and incontinence.

The clinic director is Salamatou Traore, a straight-talking symbol of African dynamism, who blames poverty and the lack of education for much of the problem.

Sheikh Abbas Yahaya at a Koranic school in Agadez, Niger, "In Islamic religion even at age nine years, if the girl is in the right condition she can be able to get married”

Sheikh Abbas Yahaya
"Getting change is very difficult and it is very costly - it is not easy, because most of the population is illiterate," she said.

"They don't go to school and they don't allow the girls to go school. Change is difficult."

While the marriage of young girls is a social norm here, it is also given explicit backing by religious leaders.

When the government tried to introduce laws to give more protection to girls, it faced strong opposition from prominent clerics in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.

At a Koranic school in Agadez, Sheikh Abbas Yahaya told the BBC that marriage should depend on the physical maturity of the couple.

"It depends on the body of the girl and the man's body," he said.

"If the two are mature the marriage can be OK also, because in Islamic religion even at age nine years, if the girl is in the right condition she can be able to get married."

Map of Niger
Niger is completely land-locked. And while it is the largest country in West Africa, it is 80% covered by the Sahara Desert.

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has been campaigning for change. It carries out awareness programmes in towns and villages.

Its chief child protection officer in Niger, Brigitte Sonnois, says child marriage must be tackled on a wide front.

Creating food security for families is essential as well as education and, critically, changing the status of women in society. Good luck with that in Islam.

"People do not really see the value of education for girls as they mostly expected to be wives and mothers and raise children," she told the BBC.

Changing such attitudes, and tackling the poverty that helps create them, is a daunting task.

To most girls living in poverty the prospect of having a choice about their lives is remote.

The issue of child brides is one of the pillars of my 3:15 PM prayer (see above). Please consider praying it, or something like it, daily or weekly.

Mother of Teen Rape Victim Badly Beaten for Refusing to Withdraw Complaint

Police in northern India have arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint, an official said Friday, as investigators sought clues in a gang rape elsewhere in the state that left two teenage cousins dead.

There are pictures  floating around of the girls hanging from the tree, but I am not going to post them here. They do, however, remind me of the 1950s and 60s in southern USA. The difference here is that it is not white supremacists murdering blacks, it's Indian men murdering Indian women. Otherwise, there is little difference.

The attack of the mother this week in the town of Etawah in Uttar Pradesh state followed the May 11 rape of her teenage daughter. A local man was arrested after the woman filed a complaint with authorities.

Two teenage cousins were gang-raped, killed and hung from a mango tree in Katra village in India's Uttar Pradesh state. Two of the four men arrested so far are police officers.

Angry villagers, furious because they said police had done nothing to search for the girls when they were reported missing Tuesday evening, silently protested the alleged inaction by refusing to allow the bodies to be cut down from the tree once they were discovered.

The villagers allowed authorities to take down the corpses after the first arrests were made on Wednesday. Police arrested two police officers and two men from the village, and were searching for three more suspects.

The girls, 14 and 15 years old, were attacked as they went into nearby fields to relieve themselves, since there is no toilet in their home.

Rape victims cannot be named under Indian law, even if they are dead.

In the incident in Etawah, five men — including the father, a brother and a cousin of the man accused in the rape — followed the victim's mother away from her house and beat her relentlessly on Monday, demanding she drop the accusation, said Dinesh Kumar, the town's police superintendent. The mother was in critical condition in a local hospital, with numerous broken bones and internal injuries.

Police arrested three men on Thursday and were looking for two others in connection with that attack.

Indian authorities have become increasingly aggressive about rape accusations since 2012, when a 23-year-old woman was fatally gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, sparking widespread protests.

Please pray for the woman's complete recovery, for her family who must be living in fear, and for the families of the two teens who were raped and murdered. Pray that all the perpetrators will get what they deserve.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Girl Pleads with Police 5 Times for Help Before She was Murdered by Family

'If anything happens to me, it's them': Chilling previously unseen video of young honour killing victim warning police her life is in danger


This sounds like a story from Pakistan or Iraq, but, in fact, it is from Britain. It is heart-breaking. 'Honour killing is not restricted to Muslim countries. It happens in many western countries, even Canada, where one of the worst honour killings ever took place as Hamed Shafia and one of his 2 wives murdered Shafia's other wife and all three of his daughters. 


Too often we don't ever find out  about some of these murders because the family never reports her as missing - she just ceases to be.


The tragic story of a young woman who was killed by her family after walking out on an arranged marriage and finding love with another man has been brought into the spotlight once again in a new documentary.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, went missing shortly after visiting a police station and telling officers that she believed her family intended to murder her.

The film, Banaz: A Love Story, which is to be premiered at the Raindance film festival in London this month, includes never-before-seen recordings made by the Kurdish woman herself, as well as videotapes of the five visits she made to police to ask for help.
In fear of her life: Banaz Mahmod is seen telling officers that she believes
her family intend to murder her during a police interview.
She was killed in January, 2006
‘People are following me, still they are following me. At any time, if anything happens to me, it's them,’ Banaz says in a haunting video recorded during one of her police visits. ‘Now I have given my statement, what can you do for me?’


Sadly the police weren’t able to offer her much assistance and Banaz was murdered at her home in Mitcham, Surrey on 24 January 2006. Not even a visit to her family to warn them? Surely the police could have done something.



She was strangled with a bootlace and her body stuffed in a suitcase and buried six feet down in the garden of a house belonging to an associate in Birmingham.


Banaz's father Mahmod Mahmod and uncle Ari Mahmod were convicted of her murder in June 2007, two other men involved fled to Iraq and were extradited back before being jailed for life in 2010.

Banaz's father escorted from court
The harrowing documentary examining her untimely death was made by former pop star and now music producer and film-maker Deeyah, who is of Punjabi and Pashtun heritage.

Deeyah, who quit touring after being subjected to constant death threats, said that she was extremely touched by Banaz’s story.

‘We tried to find anyone who would have known her, no one came forward,’ Deeyah told The Observer.

‘Then I came across the videotape with Banaz herself, telling us what her suffocating reality was like.

Watching this tape for the first time was among the most difficult things I have ever experienced.

‘I had spent three-and-a-half years working on this film, learning everything I could about this young woman's life and her death, we were in the final editing process and suddenly here she was, when no one else would come forward to speak about her.

'I found it excruciatingly sad to see her and at the same time I felt so glad to finally get a chance to see her and hear her. No one listened to her in her life. ‘

Banaz’s nightmare began when she agreed to an arranged-marriage when she was 17 to a Kurdish man, then aged 28, who she told police was ‘very strict. Like it was 50 years ago.’

She had met her husband-to-be only three times before her wedding day,and according to Banaz, who was 10 when she first arrived in England, after fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, with parents Mahmod and Behya, her husband regularly abused her physically and also subjected her to sexual assaults.

‘When he raped me it was like I was his shoe that he could wear whenever he wanted to,’ she explained. ‘I didn't know if this was normal in my culture, or here. I was 17.’

The terrified young woman left her husband after two-and-a-half years, a decision that angered her family deeply.
Banaz

Banaz's father
After returning to her family home, she met and fell in love with Rahmat Sulemani, a family friend.

Rahmat would later give evidence at the trial revealing that he and Banaz had been threatened with death if they carried on seeing each other.

The mobile phone footage he took of Banaz when she was lying covered in blood in a hospital bed, in an apparent earlier attempt to murder her, was shown at the trial.

The lovers pretended they had parted after the shocking incident, but they continued to meet in secret. They were spotted together in Brixton on January 21 and the Mahmods were informed.

Rahmat was kidnapped by four men who told him he would be killed later.

When he phoned Banaz to warn her, she went to the police and said she would co-operate in bringing charges against her family and other members of the community.

The policewoman who saw Banaz tried to persuade her to go into a hostel or safe house but she apparently thought she would be safe at home because her mother was there.

She returned to the family home and was murdered just days later.

Banaz’s older sister Bekhal also gave evidence at the trial, putting her own life at risk by testifying against her family in court.
Bekhal hiding in the burka

She was a very calm and quiet person,’ Bekhal says of her sibling. ‘She loved to see people happy and didn't like arguments, she didn't like people raising their voices, she hated it.

‘She just wanted a happy life, she just wanted a family.’

Bekhal is still living in hiding five years after her uncle and father were convicted and says she 'watches her back 24/7’.

Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode was instrumental in in getting justice for Banaz and won a Queen's Award for her efforts.

‘I do think that we are only scratching the surface of this. One of the difficulties is that these things aren't often reported,’ she told reporters in 2007.

‘In Banaz's case, if her boyfriend hadn't reported it, we would never have known that she was missing.’


‘Despite the horror, what emerges is a story of love,’ Deeyah adds. ‘What has upset me greatly from the very beginning of this project is how absent Banaz was from her own story.


‘Whenever you see a film about someone who has passed you will always have family, friends, people who knew the person, sharing their love, their memories and thoughts about the person who has died; they have home videos, photos.

‘That was just not the case here at all. The only person speaking for Banaz who had known her alive was her sister. Other than that, everyone else in the film came to know Banaz after she had died.

The documentary won an Emmy in 2013 for Best International Current Affairs Documentary. You can find it here. It is 1hr 8min long but doesn't feel like it.


At the end of the video Deeyah tells us that it is not just an Islamic problem but such attitudes exist in all social groups. That is right, of course, but the list of dozens of victims of honour killing that scrolls at the end of the documentary is almost entirely Islamic.


14 and 16 Year Old Girls Found Hanging from a Tree After Being Gang-Raped

Two teenage girls found hanging from a tree in a village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh had been gang raped, police say.

A man has been held over the murders of the girls, who police said were 14 and 16.

Three policemen have been removed from duty for not registering cases when the girls were reported missing.

Violence and discrimination against women in India remains deeply entrenched.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.

The government tightened laws on sexual violence last year after widespread protests following that attack.

Senior police official Atul Saxena told the BBC the two girls, who were cousins, went missing on Tuesday night. Their bodies were found in Katra Shahadatganj village in Badaun district on Wednesday morning.

Mr Saxena said the police were looking for two more men in connection with the crime.

A post-mortem examination has confirmed rape and death due to hanging, police say.

"We are still investigating how the girls went missing and were raped and hung from a tree," Mr Saxena said.

Earlier this year, a 20-year-old tribal woman was gang raped in eastern West Bengal state - allegedly on the orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mainstream Islam Sanctions Female “Circumcision”/Genital Mutilation

Caution: The naming of body parts in this piece is graphic. Some people may find it offensive.

Mainstream Islam Sanctions Female “Circumcision”/Genital Mutilation of Muslim Women To Reduce Their “Concupiscence”

Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: “Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.”

[Sunan Abu Dawud, Chapter 1888, “Circumcision of Girls”, Number 5251, from Sunan Abu Dawud, one of the six canonical hadith collections, English translation with Explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan, 2007, Volume III, p. 1451]
The late Jad al-Haq, Sunni equivalent to Pope
Prof Hasan’s note adds the following observations:

“Some Shafii scholars hold that circumcision of girls is obligatory, but others think that it is recommended. Ahmad b. Hanbal and some Maliki jurists hold that it is obligatory. Abu Hanifah maintains that it is recommended and not obligatory. Mali holds that it is recommended and not obligatory.”

The great Muslim polymath al-Jahiz (d, 869) noted that female circumcision was specifically employed as a means to reduce female “concupiscence,” unbridled lust—or mere sexual pleasure, derived from a fully intact clitoris:

[Al-Jahiz, Kitab al-hayawan, Vol. 7, pp. 27-29] A woman with a clitoris has more pleasure than a woman without a clitoris. The pleasure depends on the quantity which was cut from the clitoris. Muhammad said, “If you cut, cut the slightest part and do not exaggerate because it makes the face more beautiful and it is more pleasing for the husband.” 

It seems Muhammad wanted to reduce the concupiscence of the women to moderate it. If concupiscence is reduced, the pleasure is also reduced…The love of the husband is an impediment against debauchery. Judge Janab Al-Khaskhash contends that he counted in one village the number of women who were circumcised and those who were not, and he found that the circumcised were chaste and the majority of the debauched were uncircumcised

I would like to see a more scientific study to confirm those findings - one man, one village, potential for bias - I don't give his findings much credibility. But even if it were true it is blasphemous to God. It is telling God that He erred when He made women -  He should have made them more chaste.

As the Prophet said - the less cutting the more beautiful the woman's face. It would seem that perhaps God got it right after all. Maybe the problem is elsewhere. Maybe it has to do with living in the 'flesh' or 'under the law' as Muslims do. 

The Old Testament proved that we cannot be all that God wants us to be while living under the law. That's why He sent His Son, to pay the price for our sins and to free us from the law - or rather - to write His laws in our hearts, which He has done to those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

That means our women (genuine Christian women) are not (generally) promiscuous because they have no desire to be. In their heart is the desire to please their God, and their husband if they have one.

Indian, Byzantine, and Persian women often commit adultery and run after men because their concupiscence towards men is greater. For this reason, India created brothels. This happened because of the massive presence of their clitorises and their hoods. Or did it happen because of the rampant child sex abuse that has been going on in those regions for many centuries.

This argument is repeatedly invoked by classical Muslim jurists, and remains at present the most commonly cited rationale for circumcision of Muslim women. For example, here are two opinions from respected Al-Azhar clerics/”Professors,” Al Azhar University and its mosque representing the pinnacle of Sunni Islamic religious education, the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. The first observation was by the late Jad al-Haq (d. 1996) who served as Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and as such was a Sunni Muslim Papal equivalent:

[Jad al-Haq, 1983, Khitan al-banat, in: Al-fatawi al-islamiyyah min dar al-ifta al-masriyyah, Vol. 9, p. 3124] Al-Haq insisted the present era makes female circumcision requisite, “because of mixing of the sexes at public gatherings. If the girl is not circumcised, she subjects herself to multiple causes of excitation leading her to vice and perdition.”

[Abd al-Rahman Al-Adawi, al-Azhar Professor, 1989, from Al-khitan, ra’y al-din wal-‘ilm fi khitan al-awlad wal-banat, pp 81-2] Noting that Female circumcision is makrumah—a meritorious action, al-Adawi claims it helps the woman, “remain shy and virtuous. In the Orient, where the climate is hot, a girl gets easily aroused if she is not circumcised. It makes her shameless and prey to her sexual instincts except those to whom Allah shows compassion.”

Today's Heroes Helped 3000 People Recover from Domestic Torture

Two Nova Scotia registered nurses who run a human rights advocacy group are speaking out about domestic "torture" cases with the help of a woman victim who first sparked the issue for them more than 20 years ago.

"We tried to find people to help her and no one really wanted to. About three sessions into her work, we realized she was a torture survivor because her story went way beyond abuse, so we stayed with her and we helped her heal," said Linda MacDonald.

MacDonald and fellow registered nurse Jeanne Sarson are the founders of Persons Against NST (Non-State Torture). These two women are my heroes for today.
Jeanne Sarson, left, and Linda MacDonald, both RNs and founders of
Persons Against NST (Non-State Torture)
They say their first foray into looking at domestic torture began in 1993 when Sarson took a call from a woman in her late 20s who goes by the name Sara. 

"That night, I said, 'I know I can't live with this anymore.' I had it all planned out for suicide, and I said I'll call this number in the pamphlet and if nobody answers, I know it's right," Sara told CBC News.

Sara, who is now 50 years old and uses a pseudonym to protect her identity, alleges she was starved, drugged, confined, beaten and raped by her own parents from the time she was a young child.

"I remember so often being rented out and I remember the statement, 'Bring her back when you're done.' And I remember feeling like a thing," Sara says.

"But also the whole time is so confusing, because you don't understand. I was so young and ... you think it's normal."

Sara says the violence went on for years, even while she was working and living in her own apartment.

She never went to police because she says she was afraid her family would hurt her more.

"They would torture you over, and over and over again. They wouldn't just tell you — they'd do it. And they could come up with torture you can't even think of," said Sara.

Sarson and MacDonald say the violence suffered by Sara amounts to torture. They say being unable to find "torture-informed support" for Sara led them to start Persons Against NST. 

Over the years, Sarson and MacDonald say they've helped more than 3,000 victims of NST around the globe, including about a dozen or so cases in Nova Scotia.  

MacDonald says counselling can continue for two to three years. In some cases, they work with victims for over a decade. 

Canada does not recognize "torture" under the law, unlike Michigan, California, France and Queensland, Australia, which do.

Sarson recalls Sara's call to a Truro help line late at night in 1993.

"I picked it up and the voice on the other end was a woman who I did not know. I had no way to contact her," Sarson says.

Need help? Go to Persons Against Non-State Torture

Sara talked that night, and called again. Some days, she called dozens of times. Her story spilled out over the next decade. Sarson and MacDonald, helped Sara on the phone and in person.

Though she never went to police, Sara eventually was able to break away from her family and the abuse she alleges took place for much of her young life. She said the violence troubles her to this day and memories often leave her exhausted.

"I have so much grief, and so much loss and so much just taken from me," she says.

"I'm working as hard as I can to rise above these damn people to be the best person I can be, and hopefully, if I can't bring an end to it, I can slow it down big time."

'I'm lucky to be alive'

Because she was too afraid of the potential repercussions of reporting the alleged abuse, Sara's parents were never investigated by police. 

The RCMP don't track "torture" against children, so can't say how many people suffer Sara's fate.

Sara says she owes her life to Sarson and MacDonald.

"I want to live on most days. I still have trouble, but most days I want to live. It's challenging and difficult, but I know I'm lucky to be alive. And I'm only alive because Jeanne answered the phone."

Sarson and MacDonald say their goal is to have NST recognized as a "specific and distinct human rights violation."

"I just had to start believing that's another reality of violence that I'd never really known about, and I just went back to my knowledge about the Holocaust and knowing how brutal people can be," said MacDonald.

"There are brutal people all over the world. It isn't just in the past, it's present day. So I just had to reframe my worldview of what human beings are capable of."
She says torture goes far beyond assault.

"Torture is daily. You're tortured so much, with so many techniques — verbally, physically, sexually, methodically and it becomes part of your skin. After a while it ... well it hurts, but you think it doesn't hurt."

Sarson and MacDonald say they won't give up until police and politicians recognize that more resources are needed to help victims of torture.

Rolf Harris - Good at Disguising His Dark Side, Court Hears

Rolf Harris has admitted he is good at disguising a "dark side" of his character as he gave evidence for a second day at his sex abuse trial.

The 84-year-old TV entertainer said his wife and daughter had not known of his relationship with an alleged victim.

Prosecuting lawyer Sasha Wass QC said the court would need to fathom "how dark that dark side actually is".

Mr Harris, of Bray, in Berkshire, denies 12 indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986.

He told Southwark Crown Court he had had a consensual relationship with one woman - a childhood friend of his daughter - who is the subject of seven of the charges Mr Harris faces, when she was an adult, but that nothing had happened while she was a child.

When he said friends and family had not known about the relationship, Ms Wass asked: "You are pretty good at disguising that dark side of your character aren't you?"

"Yes," Mr Harris replied.

Sasha Wass QC and Rolf Harris - court sketch
"It's not a talent show!"

That's how Sasha Wass QC calmly and politely steered proceedings at Southwark Crown Court today back to the serious business of the charges in hand.

Yesterday may have seen a show of theatricality from Rolf Harris, but today his arguments are under intense scrutiny.

Visibly quieter and less animated, he is facing tough cross examination in the witness box.

Quite often, he answers with affirmations, such as "I wasn't there", "it didn't happen", and "I don't know".

Mr Harris denied assaulting the woman during a holiday, when she was a child, telling the court: "It never happened."

But he accepted that he had told the woman - then aged 13 - that she "looked lovely in her bikini" and when asked if he was telling her "you have got a great body", replied: "I suppose so."

When Ms Wass said: "By saying that to a 13-year-old, that's a sexual remark isn't it?"

"In hindsight I suppose it is," he replied.

Referring to his behaviour on the trip, when it has been alleged that he indecently assaulted her several times, Ms Wass suggested Mr Harris "played with her like she was a toy".

He said: "I would never do that."

Harris and wife and daughter Bindi
And he disputed an account from the woman's mother that he had visited her family home without his daughter, Bindi, being there.

"Didn't happen," he said.

Ms Wass said Mr Harris had been "above suspicion", and had taken advantage of being "a well-loved children's entertainer".

He said that had not happened.

Asked about a claim he indecently assaulted the girl while his daughter was asleep in the same room, Mr Harris told the court: "She's said all sorts of things that if it wasn't so serious would have been laughable."

Ms Wass said the abuse had been "part of the thrill" for Mr Harris, and listed the names of each alleged victims.

After each one, he said: "Nothing happened".

Ms Wass told the court Mr Harris had said in his statement he had only had two "incidents of intimacy" with the alleged victim, and asked why he did not "tell the truth".

He said: "We had two very attractive young ladies on the lawyers chamber and I was too embarrassed to say what had happened with them present."

Mr Harris told the court he had a "huge row" with his daughter when she learned of his relationship with the woman, who was her friend.

"She'd smashed a couple of paintings of mine," he said, saying he could not remember when this had happened.

Asked about his relationship with the alleged victim, Mr Harris said it had been based on a "mutual feeling of warmth and affection" and had not been an "affair".

He was again shown the letter he wrote to his alleged victim's father in which he confessed to a sexual relationship when she was over 18, and said it had been "extraordinarily difficult to write".

The court also heard evidence from pantomime producer Paul Elliott, who described Mr Harris as "warm, fun, cuddly, jolly, a good friend to have".

Asked whether he had ever been concerned about Mr Harris's behaviour with "young children and adults", he replied: "Absolutely not".

Northern Ireland Folk Musician's Trial for 'Statutory Rape' Begins

Folk musician Francis McPeake has gone on trial in Belfast accused of 12 charges of child sex abuse.

It follows alleged offences with a girl who was under the age of consent.

The 72-year-old, formerly of Eliza Street Close in Belfast, was aged around 67 at the time of the alleged offences.

He has denied the teenager's claims and told police the girl was "attempting to destroy" his life.

Opening the case, a Crown prosecutor said the issue in this case was not one of consent, but one of an adult engaging in sexual activity with a child. Used to be called 'statutory rape' in some countries.

He also urged the jury to undertake a "cool, calm and careful assessment of the evidence".

Mr McPeake and the schoolgirl initially met around 2008 at a music event. In the summer of 2009, they both attended a music festival in the Republic of Ireland, during which she claims he kissed her and touched her sexually.

When they returned from the trip, the girl claims she and Mr McPeake began meeting regularly.

The court was told that she makes the case that when they had sex for the first time, McPeake expressed concerns about someone finding out as he had a lot to lose, but he loved her.

The prosecutor said it was the Crown's case that other sexual activity between McPeake and the schoolgirl occurred in his car, and on one occasion while her friend was also in the vehicle, with McPeake telling her to put her earphones in.

The girl's friend subsequently told another girl about what she had seen, and in a short space of time the teenager's mother heard about the allegations regarding her daughter and Mr McPeake.

When the girl's family confronted him, the girl said the allegations were lies, defended Mr McPeake and said he had done nothing wrong.

The prosecutor said that following the allegations and confrontation, it "wasn't as easy" for McPeake to have sex with the girl and that on one occasion when they went to Bangor, they thought they have been spotted by a relative of the girl's, which prompted Mr McPeake to ask his son to lie for him.

The court heard that in 2010, things came to an end as her family were suspicious, she said she was sick of sneaking around and lying.

The girl went to the police in December 2012, and Mr McPeake voluntary attended for interview in the spring of 2013.

Mr McPeake's solicitor read out a statement on behalf of his client, which said: "I have never done anything with this child."

He branded her allegations as "false, malicious and without foundation" and claimed he and his family had suffered due to a "campaign of harassment" from her and her relatives

"She is attempting to destroy my life," he added.

He then replied 'no comment' to questions that were put to him during interviews.

The case was later adjourned, after the jury was dismissed because of a legal technicality.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Horrible State of Child Trafficking and Child Prostitution in Central America

Child Prostitution: A Growing Scourge

By W. E. Gutman

Article 34 of the 1989 Convention on Children's Rights urges governments to devote their resources to preventing the sexual exploitation of minors through prostitution or other sexual practices, and put an end to the use of children in pornographic spectacles and materials.

Article 35 requires signatories to stop the kidnapping, sale or commerce of children for any purpose and in any form. Ratifying nations are further encouraged to adapt their legal norms to the principles of the Convention which guarantee the rights of children to life, healthy development, education and protection from abuse. So much for international accords.

When Nicaraguan police warily opened a stray piece of luggage at Managua Airport, fear turned to indignation. What they found were photos of children and adults engaged in explicit sexual acts. A Nicaraguan woman was arrested when she returned to claim her bag. Shot in Nicaragua, developed and copied in Miami, the photos were destined for a select clientele of pedophiles throughout Central America.

Interpol has linked the spread of child pornography with the rise in child prostitution in the isthmus. Acting on a tip from Casa Alianza, the child advocacy organization that operates in Central America, Interpol agents and Honduran police patrolling the border with Nicaragua freed several underage girls who had been secreted in the cabs of large trucks.

Police later raided a “party” where four Honduran girls –- the youngest 13, the oldest 15 -– were being sexually exploited. Videos shot with minicams were confiscated. Nearby, in El Triunfo, three juveniles were taken in protective custody. Two women suspected of pimping the girls were arrested -- then released.

In Tegucigalpa, 30 young girls were plucked from various legitimate businesses, among them a pool hall, a tavern and a snack bar, all of which operated back-room brothels. The sexual abuse of children by adults is a global problem and a growing horde of “sex tourists” travel from country to country in pursuit of easy prey. While southeast Asia remains the hub of world sex tourism, Central America, racked by poverty and stunted by diminishing opportunities, is rapidly gaining in popularity.


Belize.

Data about child prostitution in Belize is sketchy but sex tourism is being blamed for a sharp increase in HIV/AIDS cases among minors and adults. Ambiguous statutes, slipshod investigations and short prison terms are turning Belize, which balks at signing the U.N. Protocol against the trafficking of children, into a burgeoning haven for pornography and child prostitution.


Costa Rica.

Flagged by Interpol as a prime destination and transit center for the importation of young girls from as far as Africa, China, eastern Europe and the Middle East, Costa Rica is fast rising as the hemispheric capital of sex tourism.

Costa Rica, where possession of child pornography for personal use is not considered a crime, is also credited with having the region’s largest child prostitution problem. According to Casa Alianza, more than 3,000 girls and young women work in San José’s 300 brothels. Commercial sexual exploitation of minors in Costa Rica is said to draw as many as 5,000 tourists a year. Most children who succumb to prostitution do so before they turn 12.

Casa Alianza has filed over 400 criminal complaints with the office of the special prosecutor. Owing to the apathy and inefficiency of the judicial system, which is being blamed for hindering efforts to put an end to child prostitution, most of these cases have not been prosecuted.


El Salvador.

Tiny and densely populated El Salvador is a country of origin and destination for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Sex tourism is becoming ever more lucrative. Interpol has discovered a network that shuttles children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and forces them into prostitution in bars along the El-Salvador-Guatemala border. Agents have rescued at least 50 girls in the past two years. Police recently raided the house of a former congressman and found a large stash of child pornography. The man, a candidate for a seat on the Supreme Court, was arrested. He was later released on a "technicality."


Guatemala.

Known as the Land of Eternal Spring, Guatemala is a country of destination for children trafficked for sexual exploitation. This has not prevented scores of Guatemalan minors from being sold to Europe and the US. 

At least 5,000 minors live in the streets and many have turned to prostitution to survive. Attributed in part to Guatemala’s dismal economy, this phenomenon is also blamed on an alarming rise in the use of crack cocaine among homeless youth, a practice that further prejudices them in the eyes of trigger-happy police. Guatemalan brothels have been identified as a supply source of infants destined, through illegal schemes, for adoption into the US.


Honduras.

Notorious for its sex industry and exploitation of street children, Honduras has not ratified Article 182 of the ILO Convention, which aims at eliminating the worst forms of child labor. Promised jobs and scholarships, Honduran girls, some as young as 13, are routinely being trafficked by crime syndicates and sold to brothels in Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

As many as 200 Honduran minors have been smuggled overland to Canada by a professional drug ring and forced to work as indentured couriers. Most of the street girls rescued by Casa Alianza are victims of prostitution. All who engaged in “survival sex” in exchange for basic necessities, were first sexually abused at home. Most were diagnosed with at least one sexually transmitted disease.

Honduran laws often tolerate sex abuse. “If the victim is older than 12,” said a judge on condition of anonymity, “if he or she refuses to file a complaint and if the parents clearly profit from their child’s commerce, we tend to look the other way. ‘Private crimes’ are very rarely, if ever, prosecuted.”

Based on warrants issued by Casa Alianza, Interpol has effected a number of rare if spectacular arrests. Several pedophiles, all foreigners, some with dozens of outstanding charges of child pornography and molestation, were imprisoned. All face extradition and prosecution in their countries of origin.


Mexico.

According to former Casa Alianza-Mexico director, Manuel Capellin -- now director of Casa Alianza-Honduras -- “the weakness of legal controls and chronic poverty have turned Mexico into a ‘paradise’ of prostitution and child pornography.

More than 16,000 children are sexually exploited through networks involving foreigners and military, police, government and business officials. In Juarez alone, nearly 1,000 children are being sexually exploited, and in Guadalajara, officials report 750 cases of child prostitution.”

The US-Mexican border is one of the main centers for child sex tourism. Thousands of Americans cross into Mexico daily looking for cheap sex with underage prostitutes. Mexican authorities, who admit that about 18,000 minors were used to produce child pornography, have taken little if any action.

More than 2,000 girls and young women have been sold to Japanese brothels. Traffickers belong to criminal syndicates operating along the US border and associated with Japanese “yakuza” gangs.

Organized Mexican cartels smuggle girls as young as 14 into the US. The Cadena network has smuggled many young Mexican girls to south Florida. Despite the arrest of a number of key players by US authorities, the head of the Cadena hydra remains at large. US investigators have also apprehended several employees of the California-based Chamblee Employment Agency for trafficking laborers into the US, some of whom were forced into prostitution and debt-bondage.


Nicaragua.

While little information is available on the trafficking of children in Nicaragua, sex tourism is a growing and lucrative enterprise for criminal networks operating in Central America’s largest and poorest nation.

According to Casa Alianza, between 1,200 and 1,500 girls and young women work the brothels of Managua. Almost half are under the age of 18. Every night, hundreds of teenage girls line the Masaya Highway commercial corridor on the capital’s south side.

A study of 300 street children by the Nicaragua Ministry of Family reveals that more than 80 percent admitted to engaging in prostitution to support their drug habits.


Panama.

Little is known about the sexual exploitation of minors in Panama. Massage parlors are said to be employing underage girls, mostly from Colombia and the Dominican Republic. According to Interpol, 10 percent of the 300 illegal migrants intercepted recently in Panama were minors.

******************************************************************

Honduras Security Minister Oscar Álvarez, who oversees his country’s law enforcement apparatus, acknowledges that child prostitution is out of control. He attributes his agency’s mediocre successes to “acute” understaffing.

“We are stretched to the limit. Our entire crime fighting effort –- from the theft of chickens to murder -- is in the hands of 300 investigators and 8,500 police officers. We just can't be everywhere at the same time.”

Congresswoman Rosa Adelinda Pavón has a more holistic view of the problem. She blames “poverty, foreshortened opportunities, growing national discontent and a culture of indifference” for Honduras moral decay. “We are all contaminated -– lawmakers, the judiciary, law enforcement, religious institutions, the media. We enact laws that are unenforceable. We punish but do not rehabilitate. We preach and threaten and castigate but we fail to motivate, educate and inspire.”

“We still have a long way to go," says Manuel Capellin. "It is time for Congress to enact laws that shield children from exploitation. Studies by Casa Alianza show that most children who are being sold for sex, were sexually abused in their own homes at a very young age. We must work on prevention and bring about a more secure legal climate that champions children’s rights.”

The next day, shortly before dawn, 15 minors were rescued in a raid on Tegucigalpa bars, discotheques and nightclubs doubling as houses of prostitution. Fines were levied but no one was arrested.

(Note: W. E. Gutman is a veteran journalist. From 1994 to 2006 he covered politics, the military and human rights in Central America. He was a frequent contributor to Honduras This Week. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of Honduras Weekly)

A Founding Member of Bachman-Turner-Overdrive Charged with CSA Again

Timothy Gregg Bachman, a founding member of the Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive, faces new sex charges that include sexual interference, say police in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

This gets a little personal as I live in Abbotsford and I have actually dropped people off at Tim Bachman's house on a couple of occasions.

The 62-year-old has been charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching, the Abbotsford Police Department announced late Tuesday.
Tim Bachman

He was charged on Monday following an extensive investigation looking into incidents that allegedly happened in the 1990s, according to police.

A court-ordered publication ban has been imposed to protect the identity of the alleged victim.

Police said Bachman has been released on conditions that he avoid contact with anyone under the age of 16 and stay away from any public park, schoolground, daycare, swimming pool or any other facility where minors under 16 may be present.

Last year, Bachman was found not guilty of similar sex charges stemming from a complaint from a woman who alleged that she was groped while she was a foster child living in his home in the Fraser Valley.

Bachman and his brothers, Randy and Robbie, were founding members of the Winnipeg-based Bachman-Turner Overdrive, also known at BTO. Randy is the more famous of the three brothers having also starred with the very popular Guess Who.

The band's second album, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, was released in December 1973 and became a huge hit in the U.S. and Canada, with hit singles Let it Ride and Takin' Care of Business.

In 1974, Tim Bachman left BTO, but rejoined the band in the 1980s for several reunion tours. He has been working as a real estate agent in Abbotsford since the early 1990s.

How the McCanns Got Taken for a Half Million Dollars

"This is the extraordinary story of one man’s audacious claims, and how he fooled the intelligence community," Emma Westcott, of Channel 5.

The documentary, due to be screened next week, reads like the plot of a spy movie.

Kevin Halligen will break his silence in an exclusive Channel 5 interview for a documentary, The McCanns And The Conman.

The 53-year-old set up Operation Omega after being commissioned by parents Kate and Gerry McCann to find Maddy, who vanished at the age of three while on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.
 Halligan, a Surrey-based Irishman, promised to use his MI5, MI6 and CIA “contacts” to try to track down the girl.
Kevin Halligen - man without a conscience
The security consultant signed a six-figure contract – but questions were later raised over exactly how the money was spent. Some reports have it at more than a half million dollars.

Now Halligen, who also claimed to have FBI and White House connections, has agreed to tell his side of the story.
Kate and Gerry - viciously kicked while down
It is an extraordinary tale of covert surveillance, sting operations and the bugging of a key witness through the twists and turns of the hunt for a man who was then a prime suspect, code-named “George”.

Halligen’s final report is said to contain significant leads that now form part of the current Scotland Yard investigation, including the crucial e-fits based on the so-called “Smith sighting”, which was aired on Crimewatch last October.

But it transpired that Halligen was an audacious conman, who led people into believing he was a spy.

He was arrested in 2009 and jailed in the US for defrauding an unrelated client on a previous kidnap and ransom case.

He has recently been released from prison. 

As if the McCanns weren't in enough pain - this creep comes along, gives them false hope and takes a half million dollars - basically, financial rape. Please pray for Kate and Gerry - for them to find peace and, hopefully, closure soon.

• The McCanns And The Conman, Channel 5, June 4, 9 pm in the UK.