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sex trafficking

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Paying off a debt with a daughter

Poppy field in Afghanistan

Poppy cultivation is banned but the ban is difficult to enforce

The ban on poppy farming in Afghanistan may hamper the heroin trade but it also leaves farmers in poverty.

Kate Clark meets one who has had to negotiate the betrothal of his six-year-old daughter to pay a debt.

Jalalabad, near the junction of the Kabul and Kunar rivers, is a green city, shaded by citrus and pine trees. Farmers who live nearby on the well-watered land are weathering the government ban on opium poppy. Further away in the mountainous, outlying districts, the ban is hitting home hard.

Growing poverty

Three times since 2000, a ban on poppy growing has been enforced in Nangarhar province. Cultivation has always bounced back. But each time, the poorest farmers were left poorer and less able to cope. One man, Juma Khan [not his real name] has come down from his village in the mountains on the Pakistan border. Turbaned, with a white beard and a deeply lined face, he looks old enough to be a grandfather.

Selling his daughter

But he has just agreed to hand over his six-year-old daughter to pay off a debt. She is now engaged to the creditor's son.

In a country without banks, opium is the standard way to get a loan. You borrow opium and pay back with opium.

While Juma Khan was growing poppies, he could pay off the interest on the debt, although never the capital. The ban means he is having to grow low-value wheat. This year, he will not even be able to feed his family. And because he is landless, his only asset is his female children.

He has already exchanged two daughters for debt and now the youngest has wiped off a further $2,000 worth, a huge amount of money in rural Afghanistan.

A father here gets paid by the family of the groom, so payment of money is normal at a marriage.

Heroin trade

The shame for Juma Khan is that he has been forced to marry off his daughter. Weaning Afghanistan off poppy cultivation must be good, you would think. Afghan opium, processed into heroin, causes the deaths of tens of thousands of people around the world each year. It is funding the Taleban insurgency and feeding government corruption. Afghans usually recognise that it is a haram crop, forbidden in Islam, but if your family is facing hunger, they say, even haram crops become acceptable.

Jalalabad

Low risk crop

And here, the poppy has always been regarded as wonderful. In a high risk environment, it is a low risk crop. It suits the dry climate. And even when there is war, there is always a market for opium.

And if you grow poppies, you can always get credit. The farmers range from big landowners to subsistence peasants. The really big profits, though, go to the traffickers, the corrupt officials, and in the south, to the Taleban who take a religious tax on the harvest.

'Better than aid'

Even so, there is a real trickle down of cash. Poppy is a labour intensive crop, so even landless labourers get some small share of the profits.

It is more effective than aid at reaching the poor, one development worker told me. This year in Nangarhar, growing poppies is not an option. In Juma Khan's district, farmers have been arrested for breaking the ban. It has become very tough for many families.

Tribal threats

Some men spoke about joining the Taleban to make money, they pay their fighters $140 a month, or the Afghan National Army who pay rather less.

Many farmers literally do not know how they are going to feed their families. They are feeling angry and betrayed. They said the government had promised aid to help them through the ban, but they have received nothing. Some threatened to break the ban next year.

"Our tribe is the Khogiani," said one farmer, "and we're brave like lions, a big tribe, living on the border with Pakistan." "The government should look after poor families," he said. And they should watch out. Afghan kings have been brought down by the tribes of Nangarhar.

Poppy harvest in Afghanistan

Poppy growing is labour intensive providing work for the poor

But the man whose small daughter is now engaged, looks exhausted. His fighting days are long gone. He went into debt during the jihad against the invading Soviet army, 30 years ago. Since then, he has never managed to pay back the capital.

No shame

Did he not feel any shame, I asked, about marrying off his six-year-old? No, he said, the real shame would have been to have his creditors knocking at his door, embarrassing him in front of the village.

Your daughter, I persisted, how does she feel? "Oh, she's happy to be solving her father's problems," he said.

From: BBC News

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Statistics on Pornography and Sexual Addiction

Pornography is marketed as harmless fantasy, but what happens to pornography when it breaks the confines of the "fantasy" world and unleashes itself on humanity?

Pornography Addiction and Industry Statistics

As of 2003, there were 1.3 million pornographic websites; 260 million pages (N2H2, 2003).

The total porn industry revenue for 2006: $13.3 billion in the United States; $97 billion worldwide (Internet Filter Review).

U.S. adult DVD/video rentals in 2005: almost 1 billion (Adult Video News). Hotel viewership for adult films: 55% (cbsnews.com).

Unique worldwide users visiting adult web sites monthly: 72 million (Internet Filter Review).

Number of hardcore pornography titles released in 2005 (U.S.): 13,588 (Internet Filter Review).

Adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction: 10%; 28% of those are women (internet-filter-review.com).

More than 70% of men from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month (comScore Media Metrix).

More than 20,000 images of child pornography posted online every week (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 10/8/03).

Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children (National Center for Mission & Exploited Children).

100,000 websites offer illegal child pornography (U.S. Customs Service estimate).

As of December 2005, child pornography was a $3 billion annual industry (internet-filter-review.com).

"At a 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, two thirds of the 350 divorce lawyers who attended said the Internet played a significant role in the divorces in the past year, with excessive interest in online porn contributing to more than half such cases. Pornography had an almost non-existent role in divorce just seven or eight years ago." (Divorcewizards.com)

Christians, Pastors and Church Pornography Statistics

A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.

51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, 12/2001).

Over half of evangelical pastors admits viewing pornography last year.

Roger Charman of Focus on the Family's Pastoral Ministries reports that approximately 20 percent of the calls received on their Pastoral Care Line are for help with issues such as pornography and compulsive sexual behavior.

In a 2000 Christianity Today survey, 33% of clergy admitted to having visited a sexually explicit Web site. Of those who had visited a porn site, 53% had visited such sites “a few times” in the past year, and 18% visit sexually explicit sites between a couple of times a month and more than once a week.

29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group).

57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005).

Statistics on Women with Pornography Addiction

28% those admitting to sexual addiction are women (internet-filter-review.com).

34% of female readers of Today's Christian Woman's online newsletter admitted to intentionally accessing Internet porn in a recent poll and 1 out of every 6 women, including Christians, struggles with an addiction to pornography (Today’s Christian Woman, Fall 2003).

Statistics on Pornography's Effect on Families and Marriages

47% percent of families said pornography is a problem in their home (Focus on the Family Poll, October 1, 2003).

The Internet was a significant factor in 2 out of 3 divorces (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2003 - divorcewizards.com).

Statistics on Child Pornography Use

9 out of 10 children aged between the ages of 8 and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet, in most cases unintentionally (London School of Economics January 2002).

Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old (internet-filter-review.com).

Largest consumer of Internet pornography: 12 - 17 year-old age group (various sources, as of 2007).

Adult industry says traffic is 20-30% children (NRC Report 2002, 3.3).

Youth with significant exposure to sexuality in the media were shown to be significantly more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14 to 16 (Report in Pediatrics, April, 2006).

"Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions." - U.S. Department of Justice, Post Hearing Memorandum of Points and Authorities, at l, ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824 (1996).

Statistics on Online Perpetrators

1 in 7 children who use the internet have been sexually solicated - 2005. (Internet Filter Review)

1 in 4 kids participate in Real Time Chat. (FamilyPC Survey, 2000).

1 in 5 children (10 to 17 years old) receives unwanted sexual solicitations online (Youth Internet Safety Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001).

2 in 5 abductions of children ages 15-17 are due to Internet contact (San Diego Police Dept.).

76% of victims in Net-initiated sexual exploitation cases were 13-15, 75% were girls. "Most cases progressed to sexual encounters" - 93% of the face-to-face meetings involved illegal sex (Journal of Adolescent Health, November 2004).

safefamilies.org

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“Call & Response - Concert to End Slavery.”

Yesterday I met with the producers of a film called “Call & Response - Concert to End Slavery.” It’s part concert, part documentary film that dissects the modern day slave trade. I viewed the film with them and a hand full of friends. After the viewing, it turned into a prayer meeting. We prayed for protection for the director and his wife (who was also there), the producers, and that the film would make a major impact on those who view it.

It was a very inspiring time for me. I applaud them and their efforts. My heart is 100% behind them, believing they have heard the heart beat of heaven and they are trying to do something to stop human trafficking.

The movie is intended to be a worldwide “call” to action. It hopes to raise awareness of the issue, while inspiring people to “respond,” and lend their voices to the cause. Visitors to the "Call & Response" movie's website are presented with an unsettling video of a young slave girl talking about her life.

The film will be in theaters on September 12, 2008.

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Girls for sale

New York Times regular columnist, Mr. Nicholas D. Kristof, double winner of the Pulitzer Price, had a very interesting experience with the attempts of rescuing young girls from Cambodian world of human sex trafficking. This page from New York Times offers few articles describing his efforts and the fate of the two girls, who were sold into prostitution, and bought out with cash by Mr. Kristof. Worth reading. Video (a series of videos)of this and related stories from Cambodia. Also, a video about a Pakistani woman escaping from a brothel.

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