Women trafficked to Afghanistan to meet ‘demand’ from Westerners

// 23 June 2008

Kabul sunsetAccording to AP (via Womensphere), Chinese women are being trafficked into Kabul to meet demand for prostitutes from European and US men working on ‘reconstruction’ and ‘security’ in the city:

Paradise is a brothel in an unmarked residential compound in an upscale Kabul neighborhood where prostitutes from China cater to Western men. Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, thousands of Westerners working for security firms, companies and aid groups have poured into Afghanistan. Not long after came Chinese prostitutes, in some cases trafficked into the country.

This is bad on every count – according to AP, women are being trafficked into the country, forced into prostitution, and then if discovered treated with little sympathy by the police. Meanwhile, other Asian women are being targetting and harassed:

The International Organization for Migration helped 96 Chinese women who were deported in 2006. They told IOM they were deceived by a travel agency in China and promised employment in a restaurant for $300 a month. But when they arrived, they said, the Chinese restaurant owner denied them salary and forced them to provide sexual services by night.

An IOM staffer said one Chinese woman thought she was going to work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and had no idea she had instead landed in Kabul.

Afghan officials deny these claims.

“They come here of their own will. They want to do business here. Police caught them red-handed,” said Gen. Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of Kabul’s criminal investigations.

In recent years, Afghan authorities have carried out a campaign against moral corruption, raiding brothels fronting as restaurants and deporting the Chinese prostitutes in front of TV cameras. Last year in Kabul, 180 female prostitutes were arrested — 154 “foreigners” and 26 Afghans, Paktiawal said. He would not give the nationalities of the foreign prostitutes, but many raids in recent years have been at Chinese restaurants.

Many Afghans blame prostitution on immoral Chinese women and Western men and say it is un-Islamic. The highly publicized crackdown on Chinese prostitutes has led to rampant harassment of women of East Asian origin. Police often single out Asian women in spot checks on Kabul’s streets.

Also see how Western-led efforts to crack down on poppy farming in Afghanistan have driven farmers in the mountains near Jalalabad to extremes – one farmer interviewed by the BBC was forced to sell his six-year-old daughter to be “married” in order to pay off a loan.

Photo by jorr81, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

shanon // Posted 10 July 2008 at 7:26 pm

you dont know what you are talking about. these women have a choice..they can accept the men that they want to be with or reject. they can go home anytime they want to…..where do you get your information? did you just assume what you are writing is correct?

Jess McCabe // Posted 10 July 2008 at 9:52 pm

shanon – I don’t have first-hand knowledge about this, no. I can only go off the report in the Associated Press, which appears to be based on evidence from the International Organization for Migration, which has experience helping women who have been trafficked return home safely all over the world. The definition of trafficking, from the UN:

Trafficking of persons shall mean:

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat, use of force or other means of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the receiving or giving of payment… to a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

(Article 3 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime)

In order to ‘count’ as trafficking, some use of force is implied. In the AP story, there is evidence from IOM which says it has helped return 96 women to China – see the quote from the story; the women specifically reported being forced into prostitution.

What special evidence are you privy to, that this is not the case?

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