Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Dead Girl Syndrome

The Dead Girl is a must-watch movie for those interested in the plight of the American woman. Unfortunately, given the facts below, the film doesn't go far enough.

In the well-researched paper, SEX TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES, we find that the sex trade is sponsored by 'lawyers and judges'.

"U.S. military bases, especially in the South replicate the sexual rest and recreation (R&R) areas that proliferate near military bases abroad. This infrastructure of sex clubs, brothels and massage parlors has been recreated here, with inordinate numbers of Asian women especially trafficked and exploited in the sex industries surrounding the bases.

"Controllers and operators of the sex industry vary. Some sex businesses are family owned and others may be owned or backed by prominent local community members, including judges and lawyers. Others are controlled or financed by organized crime groups. The majority of law enforcement agents reported that 76-100 percent of the sex enterprises in the Northeast, Metro New York, the Southeast, and Metro San Francisco are controlled, financed, or backed by organized crime groups. In some cases, trafficking rings supply women to sex establishments. "

Brave US soldiers and their officers are involved in the sex trade and know very well where the prostitutes are coming from - if they are not bringing them themselves.

"U.S. servicemen have also been involved in recruiting Asian women, especially from Korea, Vietnam and Japan into the sex industry in the United States. Often the servicemen marry prostituted women around military bases abroad, bring them to the United States and pressure them into prostitution. A large number of foreign military wives become victims of domestic violence, displaced or homeless, and end up in prostitution around U.S. military bases."

It seems that NCOs finally get to have sex with the Major's (ex-)wife.

"The role of U.S. servicemen in the trafficking and pimping of women was noted by a significant number of international and U.S. women, law enforcement officials and social service providers. Often, U.S. military personnel promise marriage or wed women formerly in sex industries around U.S. military bases in Korea, the Philippines and Okinawa. One battered women’s advocate reported that over half the women seeking refuge at her shelter near a military base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, were abused wives of U.S. military personnel. From speaking with her clients at the shelter, she heard accounts of Okinawan women, married to U.S. Marines, who were pressured into the sex industry in the United States by their military husbands. Thus prostitution added another layer to the violence and control of the battering situation.

"Like the Korean fianc├ęs and brides who had been in the sex industry around the military bases in Korea, many Japanese women had formerly been in sex industries around the military bases in Okinawa. Lacking English language and job skills and displaced in a foreign culture, many are at the mercy of their husband/abuser/pimp’s demands and are recruited or coerced in massage parlors around military bases in the United States. "

One wonders how many Iraqi and Afghan women have been 'liberated' by US servicemen in the host countries as well as in the invading nation.

"The military demand for prostitution in the towns and cities surrounding U.S. military bases abroad continues to be responsible for the exploitation, rape and prostitution of impoverished local populations in these areas. This infrastructure and culture are recreated here in the United States, with inordinate numbers of Asian women especially, trafficked and exploited in U.S. massage parlors, strip clubs, bars and brothels surrounding U.S. military bases."

Needless to add, the record of policemen is not that portrayed on prime-time TV.

"One social service provider near a marine base, who had identified military personnel as frequent consumers of commercial sex, reported that officially, prostitution establishments were off limits to U.S. Marines. The regulation is never enforced, however, and the prostitution establishments are 71 filled with military men. The interviewee’s husband, who is a taxi driver, often picks the men up in full dress uniform and takes them to outcall venues or massage parlors.

"Several U.S. women reported that police officers or undercover cops had asked for sex in exchange for dropping charges against them.

Police officers – they were abusive. The undercover cops asked me to have sex with them – straight and oral – in order to drop the charges.

Police are frequent customers, though, and they walk in like they own the place. In fact one of the cops ran his own house somewhere in Brooklyn and was always trying to get me to be part of his posse. They’d come in and be on a power trip and treat us like we were nothing.

Another U.S. woman commented that her first “trick” was a policeman. She was not arrested, because he let her off(italics original)."

The theme of husbands-as-pimps is a recurring one in the study: which makes you wonder just how much women are respected by their partners in the USA, or even by society for that matter. The movie, The Dead Girl, makes it clear that women have a very low position in American society.

"Twenty percent of the international and 28 percent of the U.S. women had intimate relationships with the men who pimped them. They and other victims described classic dynamics of battering that evolved into pimping. Emotional and physical coercion were used to break the women’s resistance to entering prostitution. Pornography was used as an “educational tool” with many (50%) of the international women. For some, stripping was the entrance point into the sex industry, after which they were constantly pressured into prostitution."

"All of these partner-pimps were violent and physically, sexually and emotionally abusive to the women. One international woman reported: “His goal was to hold me and the other women prisoner and impregnate all of us and abuse us at his will. He thought he was doing us all a favor by rescuing us from our poverty.” Another stated, “…my husband tortured me every week. …[He] would beat me for everything or just to relieve his stress…” Other women reported that their pimps included family members and drug dealers."

"Violence was initially used to season women into prostitution. One U.S. woman talked about her husband, who sold her to his friends, and forcibly initiated her into having anal sex with him when she refused to comply with his friends’ demands. Another reported:

He used to physically abuse me when we were driving and push me out of the car and drive off. Then drive back and get me saying he’s only doing this for my own good and provide me affection. Looking back I don’t know what made me so blind to him. He must have been preparing me for the eventuality of prostituting for him (italics original)."

"Others mentioned domestic violence/prostitution situations in which movements were controlled by abusive partner/pimps. "

Often, there is a thin line between domestic violence and pimping:

"A number of the respondents in this study have described similarities between prostitution and domestic violence in the ways in which women are abused, whether traffickers and pimps were partners or husbands, or whether they were women’s daily agents of control."

"Friends should have all things in common - at a price" seems to be a common dictum.

" international woman did not report she was a victim of sexual assault, but said that her husband/pimp sold her to his friends. When the buyers asked her for anal sex, she refused to comply. She said, “I refused. Then my husband tortured me a week. He decided to train me himself. It was horrible. A lot of things happened.”"

Here follows a litany of what husband-pimps routinely do.

"One international woman whose husband/pimp physically and sexually abused her said, “He always told me that I am nothing without him.”"

Drugs and alcohol are used to control women.

"Another international woman whose husband/pimp repeatedly physically and sexually abused her said that, “I was sober until I met him. But he made me drink, especially after a fight.""

Pornography is a constant.

"One international woman spoke of her husband/pimp threatening her with exposure. “… my husband… shot [pornographic films of] me and promised to send the tape to my parents.” "

"One international woman summed up her health consequences and her present needs:

I need a lot of help, medically and I need therapy to deal with all the trauma I’ve suffered. I need plastic surgery and dental reconstructive surgery (from when pimp/husband knocked my teeth out). It’s hard because at the drug program, they won’t allow me to get on any assistance until I complete the program. My self-esteem is so low and I have a complex about speaking with people. I’m going to start writing (italics original). "

"One international woman whose pimp was her husband reported that, “In the morning, as all wives, I cleaned the apartment, cooked, went shopping…Then at approximately 8:00 p.m, he took me to the disco. I had two to three clients there and then went home.”"

Here's a vivid description of group sex by a male client.

"When women were brought into bachelor parties or conventions, they might have to engage in sex with up to 20 men. In the men’s writings, one man describes a party with over 20 men and one or two women. He writes about it as great fun, but the reality for the woman was most likely quite different.

In the LR [living room] was about 15 guys in towels … In the room to the left a group of about seven guys surrounded a slender attractive young looking latino girl. She was lying on her back getting fucked. … I stood over the crowd and watched her … I tried to get down and copa [sic] feel, but I really couldn’t get close. … She sucks me for about 10 minutes while 4-5 guys watch in the dimly lit room. I plow her for about 12 minutes… She kept her eyes closed while I fucked her and didn’t say much. Later, I go into the back room and some black guy is giving this girl another plowing … Most everyone has left. So me and another guy lay her down. I bang her … finally I slam her hard a few times … I look in the BR and she’s laying there with one leg splayed out and the other bent at the knee. Her head is turned to the side and her hair is everywhere. She looks like she’s been fucked (italics original)."

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Mis)Reporting Events

"Hundreds of Somalis may have been killed for being Christian since the Shabab arose in 2005." What a shocker! Until, of course, you notice the modal auxiliary and the present perfect: 'may have been'. It may not have been, too. Yellow journalism? No: the line is part of an Economist report on Christians in Somalia (24th October 2009).

Surely there must be some evidence offered? Yes, but it is not the Economist's own (foreign journalists could hardly get into Somalia). The report adduces second-hand evidence: "According to Somali sources and Christian groups monitoring Somalia from abroad, at least 13 members of underground churches have been killed in the past few months".

I have always been intrigued by the accuracy of reports on unreachable, obscure places. A real gem was an Independent report on honour killing by Robert Fisk.

"A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for "honor"...."

Yet the article does not cite a single case of a man being killed for honour: all the victims are women. This makes the attentive reader immediately suspicious. But there's worse to come.

"Many women's groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations' latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year."

"But lest these acts - and the names of the victims, when we are able to discover them - be forgotten, here are the sufferings of a mere handful of women over the past decade, selected at random, country by country, crime after crime."

"British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner Aso Kamal, of the Doaa Network Against Violence, believes that between 1991 and 2007, 12,500 women were murdered for reasons of "honor" in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq alone - 350 of them in the first seven months of 2007, for which there were only five convictions". Well, she might believe that, but why should the reader? What's her evidence? What are her sources? After all, almost by definition, these crimes are well-concealed.

"In Jordan, women's organizations say that per capita, the Christian minority in this country of just over five million people are involved in more "honor" killings than Muslims - often because Christian women want to marry Muslim men. But the Christian community is loath to discuss its crimes and the majority of known cases of murder are committed by Muslims. Their stories are wearily and sickeningly familiar."

Since the Christians are 'loath' to discuss their honour crimes, and the Muslims presumably very happy to do so, we get not a single report on Christian honour killings - a curious omission, since Jordanian women's organisations make a very accurate claim.

"According to police figures between 2000 and 2006, a reported 480 women - 20 per cent of them between the ages of 19 and 25 - were killed in "honor" crimes and feuds. " Feuds? Where did that come from? Feuds are a totally different matter from honour crimes. In feuds, men are as often killed, surely? And feuds are a sign of tribal society, not male oppression.

But this line takes the biscuit:

"But the contagion of "honor" crimes has spread across the globe...."

First, it's a contagion -presumably from Muslim countries to erstwhile innocent Christians and Hindus (two Hindu cases are mentioned). Second, it has 'spread' - presumably from those nasty Middle Eastern societies.

Third, it has even spread to Bangladesh (a Muslim country). And are parents and brothers in Bangladesh killing their daughters and sisters for having strange phone numbers in their cell phones? No, it's taken a different turn:

"But the contagion of "honor" crimes has spread across the globe, including acid attacks on women in Bangladesh for refusing marriages."

The (western) reader would tend to think that the acid attack is made by parents and brothers when a girl refuses to marry the man of their choice.

Robert Fisk clearly knows almost nothing about Bangladesh. Acid attacks in Bangladesh are not authored by the family, but by criminal youths (they were almost unknown before our democratic transition of 1990). And the reason is only sometimes frustrated romance - land disputes have played a significant part, and men are also victims.

The subject surely deserved to be treated with respect, considering its seriousness.

On a less serious note, a report in the same issue of the Economist recounts how Arab men have been divorcing their wives for falling in love with a Turkish television personality:

"Yet the marital bliss portrayed in “Noor” is said to have prompted a rash of divorces in the Arab world, as female viewers compare their own husbands to the hero, Muhannad, who washes up the dishes. In Jordan a man is said to have dumped his wife after he caught her with Muhannad’s picture on her mobile phone. In Syria another did the same when his wife apparently said, “I want to sleep with Muhannad for just one night and then die.”"

It seems that Western journalists are said to have high standards of reportage. But don't believe everything you hear - or read.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

From whence the hereafter?

One of the first things to strike a reader of the Old Testament is the total absence of the hereafter - there's no life after death. When Moses dies, he just dies; he isn't resurrected somewhere else. That's the end for him. Finito.

To the recalcitrant, God (or, rather, Yahweh) never says "If you don't do what I say, I'll send you to Hell!"; nor, to the obedient, does he proclaim, "Since you have done my bidding, I shall send you to Heaven!" There simply is no Heaven or Hell.

Instead, to the recalcitrant, Yahweh says, "Listen to me or else I'm going to make your life a living Hell"; and to the obedient, He says, "I'm happy with you, so you shall have good food and nice clothes and lots of land, etc. etc." This is all the more surprising since the Egyptians believed in a posthumous existence, and the Jews were said to have spent a great deal of time in Egypt. But, of course, Egyptian polytheism would have been abhorrent to them.

Now, Christianity is supposed to be an epilogue to the Mosaic story: but the question must surely bother one - where one earth (or elsewhere) did the notions of Heaven, Hell, resurrection, the Devil and so on and so forth come from? They couldn't have come from Judaism. From Christianity, the ideas penetrated Islam.

One explanation that's been offered is that the dualities - good God, evil Satan, nice Heaven, awful Hell - came from Zoroastrianism, that is, they are Iranian influences. Zoroastrianism posits a struggle between Evil and Good as personifications. Good and Evil battle each other, but the former is assured of triumph. God's omnipotence is thus only temporarily limited.

There is resurrection as well, and a crossing of the Bridge of the Requiter: it takes the good to paradise, but the evil fall into Hell. After death, the soul meets its own religion (daena) in the form of a beautiful girl; but the wicked soul encounters a hag.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Mind of a Zionist

Louis Brandeis has been described as "A Robin Hood of the law" (The Economist, 26th September, 2009). And well might he be called that, for one of his cases has gone down in history as a fight for the little man, or, rather, the little woman.

Curt Muller, a laundry owner, was charged in 1905 with permitting a supervisor to require Mrs. E. Gotcher to work more than 10 hours and was fined $10.An Oregon law passed in 1903 prohibited women from working more than 10 hours in one day. The case went to the Supreme Court, where Muller's lawyer argued that the statute violated Mrs. Gotcher's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by preventing her from freely contracting with her employer.

Brandeis produced data to establish that women needed to work fewer hours than men: the court agreed, stating that a woman “is properly placed in a class by herself, and legislation designed for her protection may be sustained, even when like legislation is not necessary for men, and could not be sustained.”

Again, in 1905, to remedy abuses by life-insurance firms, Brandeis devised a system, used in Massachusetts (from 1907), New York, and Connecticut, whereby life insurance was offered over the counter by savings banks at rates within the means of the average working man.

He became known as the people's attorney.

He was the first Jew to sit on the US Supreme Court (1916 - 1939). He must have been a remarkably sensitive as well as intelligent person. Although never a practicing Jew, he dedicated himself to supporting the Zionist cause of setting up a Jewish state in Palestine.

A man of his sensitivity must have lamented the lot of the American Indians as well as that of the Arabs who were to be displaced. It seems not.

He wrote: "As against the Bedouins, our pioneers are in a position not unlike the American settlers against the Indians."

He had an atom of pity for neither the Native Americans nor the Arabs: truly, a people's attorney, a veritable Robin Hood of the Law.