Trading sex for travel

China, October 12, 2016 – Globaltimes

Experts discuss the risks for Chinese women who use their bodies to go on lavish trips on someone else’s dime

Trading sex for travel sparks heated discussion on the Chinese Web. Photo: IC

Poppy Yang (pseudonym), 25, smiled as she checked the box beside “traveling to Kunming” in her notebook three weeks ago. Since October 2015, without spending a penny, she has traveled to around 20 places in China.

According to her, she loves traveling to different places, but she cannot afford the way she travels.

“When I travel, I would like to eat fancy food, stay in very nice hotels, not look at the price tag and buy whatever I like,” she said.

“I earn less than 3,000 yuan ($448) a month, and there is no way I can pay for the travel I like on my own.”

Yang thought she would never realize her dream, but an article she read online in August 2015 gave her new hope.

In the article, a 20-something-year-old woman talked about how she would find a temporary boyfriend online who was based in each of the places she wanted to visit and get them to take her around and pay for everything, from her airfare and hotel bills to meals and shopping sprees, in exchange for sex at night.

“I was inspired; if a man is willing to pay for my travel, I would also be willing to sleep with him at night,” she said.

Determined to copy the woman in the article, Yang left dozens of messages on online social networking and dating platforms. They included her requirements for her temporary boyfriend: her preferred height, age range, looks, and a stipulation that he must be willing to pay for her trip.

After three days, someone took her up on her offer. He accompanied her on a two-week trip to Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region. During the day, they went sightseeing, and the man paid for everything. At night, they slept together.

Nowadays, it appears that more young women are interested in sex-for-travel. A radio program on The Himalayan, an audio sharing platform in China, talked about the topic on September 20. The broadcast was listened to around 660,000 times up to press time.

Trading sex for travel is highly controversial. The topic has spurred heated discussion among Chinese Net users. Some see it as an understandable lifestyle, while others believe it is unethical and express serious concerns about safety issues.

According to experts, although sex-for-travel does not break Chinese law, it is not protected by it either. For some, the practice raises issues about the safety of the women. Others worry about how it might affect social perceptions of sex and sexual morality.

Neither illegal nor protected by law, sex-for-travel poses serious safety risks and undercuts progress made in addressing social perceptions of sex and morality, experts say. Photos: IC

Bewitched by the thrill

After her first experience, Yang could not stop. It is now her primary mode of travel.

“I became so addicted to sex-for-travel,” said Yang. “Each trip is exciting because every temporary boyfriend, basically a complete stranger, brought me the thrill of unexpectedness as I met and got to know him.”

She took her trip to Sichuan Province in May as an example. One week before her planned departure date, she got a boyfriend based in Chengdu online, and he said he would pick her up at the airport.

During the three-hour flight from Beijing to Chengdu, she was very excited.

“Although my temporary boyfriend had sent me his photos, I kept thinking whether he looks the same in real life, whether it would be awkward when we first meet at the airport, what kind of person he is and what would happen during the following days. Everything was unknown and unexpected for me,” she said.

When she arrived at the exit, Yang saw a man holding a bunch of roses in one hand and a piece of cardboard with her name on it in the other.

“It was very romantic for a first meeting,” she said.

In the following days, her temporary boyfriend drove her to many scenic spots and happily paid for everything, including the souvenirs she purchased.
As they chatted more, she got to know him better and felt more relaxed when she slept with him at night.

For her, the trip to Sichuan turned out to be a very pleasant experience. But at the same time that she was enjoying the lifestyle brought by sex-for-travel, she knew people were gossiping.

“They said I was trading my body for money and called me a woman without virtues,” she said.

Legal, but risky

According to Zhu Xiaoding, a lawyer from the Beijing Cailiang Law Firm, sex-for-travel does not break the law as it does not do great harm to the society or violate criminal law.

He said in sex-for-travel arrangements, most people have sex as couples and very few of them take sex as their profession or rely on it to make a living. Therefore, sex-for-travel is different from prostitution or buying sex, both of which are illegal in China.

But although sex-for-travel is not illegal, Zhu said it does have a range of risks and is likely to trigger other criminal behaviors, such as robbery, as it gives strangers the opportunity to prey on the participants.

“There exists a great gap between the virtual world and the real one,” he said. “The person found online may turn out completely different in reality, and therefore, would probably pose a danger.”

Zhu also mentioned other dangers to personal safety, such as abduction, trafficking, and homicide.

“It is also not out of the question that a woman gets photographed in the nude and is threatened to be involved in prostitution or join pyramid schemes to make money for her blackmailers,” Zhu added.

He also said that if girls under the age of 14 engage in sex-for-travel, their temporary boyfriend could be charged with rape.

A person who engages in this practice also has no legal recourse if the other breaks the agreement. Zhu said that the agreement reached, either spoken or written, between the man and the woman, has no legal force, so if one breaks the agreement, the other cannot fight for him or herself through legal channels.

Tina Lin (pseudonym), a 27-year-old salesperson based in Beijing, could not agree more. She went on a sex-for-travel trip to Xiamen, Fujian Province, around six months ago, and after she had slept with her temporary boyfriend on the first night, he stopped paying for the tickets to scenic spots, refused to pay for the lunch they had the second day and then disappeared.

Sad and angry, she thought of calling the police but hesitated because she was afraid that more people would know she had traded her body for travel and would be judged. In the end, she decided not to call the police.

“I felt so regretful, but at the same time, I felt lucky that he didn’t do anything worse, like shooting nude photos of me and using them to threaten me,” she said.

Zhu suggested that given the potential risks, instead of giving in to thrill-seeking impulses, young girls should consider the possible negative consequences before they go on a sex-for-travel trip.

Pushing sexual boundaries?

According to Wang Qianni, an anthropologist based in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, in a way, sex-for-travel is used by some women as a weapon to fight against the traditional social boundaries which delineate sex as something that is shameful.

She said publicizing their sex-for-travel experiences on social networking platforms shows that the participants do not consider trading their body for travel shameful.

“To some extent, it does reflect the changes in sexual morality,” Wang said. “In other words, through experiencing and publicizing sex-for-travel, some youngsters move the boundaries that associate sex with shame.”

Although she recognizes that if a woman trades her body for travel, it is her personal choice, Wang believes the phenomenon has a negative effect on society because it encourages gender inequality.

The Global Times did not find any statistics on the number of men and women who trade sex for travel, but through research, it found that the majority of the people who trade their body for travel are women.

According to Wang, female participation in sex-for-travel illustrates that the development of gender equality has regressed.

“Only when women feel they are at a disadvantage during sex would they think of being compensated with money,” she said. “Women are placing themselves in a lower position in the power structure.”

Wang said that some people find sex-for-travel attractive because travel offers a space where they can escape from their presupposed and relatively fixed social roles in daily life, where they can do things that challenge morality and daily norms.

The reason sex-for-travel is happening now and not at any other time, according to Wang, is that it is accordant with the current society where values are rapidly changing, and feelings, as well as the body, are greatly commercialized, which makes it easy for people to put a price on them.

Yang conceded that she considers her body as something she can use in whatever way she likes and enjoys the feeling of escaping from daily life and doing something unusual. But she was alarmed at the underlying risks behind sex-for-travel.

“I never expected that sex-for-travel could entail so many dangers; I will give it a second thought,” she said.

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Migrants lured by sex into Egypt’s backstreet kidney trade, says report

Egypt, March 9, 2016 – Egypt Independent

Brokers in Egypt’s underground trade in human body parts use prostitutes to tempt migrants to sell their kidneys as hospitals turn a blind eye to illicit dealing in donated organs for transplants, a report says.

Undocumented African migrants arriving in Cairo, desperate for cash, told the British Journal of Criminology that sex workers were offered as a “sweetener” before or after removal of their organs.

“[One pimp] used the services of sex workers as leverage when negotiating fees with both sellers and buyers,” the report said. “A night with a sex worker was offered as an extra inducement to sell.”

Organ purchase is banned in Egypt, though the country is a common destination for transplant tourism, along with India, Pakistan and Russia, according to separate research by Erasmus MC University Hospital Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

In April, images published on social media showed the badly scarred bodies of Somali migrants on an Egyptian beach, suggesting they had had organs removed.

In July, a British newspaper reported that African migrants were being killed for their organs in Egypt – a common transit country for migrants – if they could not afford to pay off their people smugglers.

“The Egyptians come equipped to remove the organ and transport it in insulated bags,” people smuggler Nouredin Atta was quoted by Britain’s Times newspaper as telling investigators after his arrest.

The picture of organ trading in Egypt extends beyond the criminal underworld, with mainstream hospitals conducting transplants using kidneys procured through backstreet deals, according to Sean Columb, the report’s author.

Columb, a law lecturer at Liverpool University in Britain, spent weeks in the Egyptian capital interviewing brokers and donors, mostly from Sudan.

Nobody from Egypt’s Health Ministry was immediately available to comment on his findings.

While the buying of kidneys is banned in Egypt, it is not illegal to pay for a transplant procedure, Columb’s report said, with some recipients paying up to US$100,000 for a new organ.

Little data is available on the amount donors receive in Cairo, but one of the 13 sellers Columb spoke to said he was paid 40,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,500) for his kidney.

Deals were usually struck in a public place, such as a cafe, in the company of a broker and representative of a registered transplant laboratory, the report said.

Egypt, at a crossroads between the Middle East, north Africa and the Mediterranean, has become a major transit hub for thousands of migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe.

Around one in 10 – or some 10,000 – migrants and refugees arriving in Italy from the north African coast have sailed from Egypt since the start of the year, the International Organisation for Migration said, with the remainder traveling from Libya.

Blurred lines between the illegal purchase of kidneys and legal transplant operations means organ removal is rarely reported to the authorities, Columb said.

“Should a transplant professional (surgeon) suspect that an organ has been donated illegally there is no legal duty to report this to the relevant authorities,” the article said.

Surgeons turn a blind eye to the fact that some migrants give up body parts against their will, the report said, while some brokers threaten donors with big fines if they don’t go ahead with removal.

“The doctors don’t want to know anything. They take the money without question,” one broker told Columb.

“It is possible the brokers connected to the laboratories could have been part of a more traditional organised crime structure with links overseas,” Columb told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The report cites the case of one donor who said security guards imprisoned her in an operating theatre while her kidney was removed.

The operation left her with persistent abdominal pain, meaning she has little choice but to work as a prostitute, the report said.

Another would-be donor decided not to go ahead with the operation despite receiving threats from brokers.

“She informed the [Egyptian and Sudanese] brokers of her decision not to go ahead with the operation, but they insisted that it was too late for her to reconsider, as the health checks and surgery had already been paid for,” the report said.

he woman said she continued to receive threats from the organ traffickers, who told her they would come and take her kidney, that nobody would care and she would get nothing, according to the article.

Global data on illicit organ removal is scant.

According to the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), only 12 countries reported cases of trafficking for organ removal between 2010 and 2012.

Victims of this type of exploitation represent just 0.2 percent of trafficked people, UNODC said.

($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)

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Can sex with wife below 18 yrs attract POCSO: SC asks Centre

India, April 17, 2017 – Deccan Herald

Can sex with wife, who is above 15 and below 18 years of age, be termed as sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act in the event of glaring inconsistency with IPC which does not hold it as rape, the Supreme Court today posed this question to the Centre.

Section 375 (rape) of IPC has an exception clause which says “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

Section 5 (n) of POCSO says that sexual intercourse with a child below 18 years is an “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” inviting penal consequences.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar considered the inconsistency highlighted by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi through his NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan and asked the Centre to consider their representation and file its response in four months.

The bench also comprising Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development to consider the representation of the NGO, examine it and file the detailed report on the issue.

“If you are still unhappy with the response, you are at liberty to approach the court,” the bench said.

Section 6 of POCSO Act provides punishment of rigorous imprisonment not less than 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a child below 18 years of age.

The PIL filed by advocates Bhuwan Ribhu and Jagjit Singh Chabra said that court should pass order declaring that the provisions of POCSO shall be mandatorily enforced and applied in all cases of sexual assault upon children, below the age of 18, regardless of their marital status.

The petition has said that “in a large number of cases that despite being a child by definition (under the age of 18), provisions of POCSO are not being applied and the benefit of a special act is not being afforded to those children, who by definition fall under POCSO, but who are in a married relationship”.

Satyarthi’s NGO said that the provisions makes it clear that where a child is below the age of 18, even if she is a wife and is subjected to sexual intercourse by her husband, the provisions of POCSO will apply, and the same will constitute aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

“In a large number of cases, the petitioner has observed that despite being a child by definition (under the age of 18), provisions of POCSO are not being applied and the benefit of a special act is not being afforded to children where they are in married relationship but over the age of fifteen.

“Therefore, a child’s status as a child till she attains the age of 18, otherwise guaranteed by the state, is denied to her once she is forcefully or otherwise wed,” the plea said.

The NGO also sought rehabilitation of under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act whose marriage has been declared void/voidable under the provisions of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act.

It also sought a direction to the Centre to formulate a national action plan with detailed roles, responsibilities and accountability of the various government departments to ensure the protection of the girl child from the menace of child marriage.

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Cable: UN peacekeepers traded food for sex

Morocco, September 1, 2011 – Morocco World News

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 1, 2011 (AP)

United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation to exchange sex for food, according to a United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.

The cable written in January 2010 focuses on the behavior of Beninese peacekeepers stationed in the western town of Toulepleu, an area that has been at the crosshairs of the nation’s 10-year-long conflict.

A random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. “Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging,” the diplomat wrote in the cable, citing information shared with the embassy by a protection officer.

On Tuesday, United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed that in April, 16 Beninese peacekeepers were repatriated to Benin and are barred from serving in the U.N. following a yearlong investigation.

“We see it as a command and control problem,” said Bonnardeaux who spoke by telephone from New York. Of the 16, 10 were commanders and the rest were soldiers.

The commanders, he said, “failed to maintain an environment that prevents sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Sexual misconduct by U.N. troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti _ as well as in an earlier incident involving Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.

In 2007, a 730-strong battalion of peacekeepers from Morocco was asked to suspend its activities in the northern Ivorian city of Bouake after the U.N. received allegations of sexual misconduct involving local girls.

A report published a year later by Save the Children U.K. identified Ivory Coast as one of the places where sexual barter between peacekeepers and girls was occurring. The peacekeepers traded food as well as mobile phones for sex, the report said.

The recently released cable identifies for the first time the Benin peacekeeping contingent.

It also makes clear that the sexual exploitation continued through at least the last month of 2009, quoting a protection officer with Save the Children who spoke to the embassy in January 2010. The officer said that the “sexual exploitation and abuse problem among (United Nations) personnel is more extensive than is recognized.”

Parents were encouraging their daughters to sleep with the peacekeepers so they would provide for them, according to the cable.

Bonnardeaux said that 42 allegations of sexual abuse by U.N. staff in Ivory Coast have been reported since 2007. Sixteen involved minors. None have been reported yet this year, according to U.N. records.

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Sex workers in Kibwezi want to quit

Kenya, October 18, 2010 – The East African

On a normal day, at this hour, they would be preparing to venture into the night for the day’s business.

But on this Saturday evening, as they have been doing for the past couple of months, 43 women, members of the Kyamitaa women’s group are huddled together under a tree shade discussing their future.

The meeting takes place outside a pub in Kibwezi town, some 300 km from Nairobi on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway.

But Kyamitaa, which means “street women” in local lingo is not your regular “chama.” Its members are commercial sex workers drawn together by a desire to quit the trade.

Clad in red T-shirts and matching trousers, today they are hosting two visiting donors from Spain — Beatriz Alvarez and Patricia Falcon — who have pledged to mobilise funds to support their bid to find alternative sources of income.

Like in other towns and trading centres along this highway, prostitution in Kibwezi is high and the HIV/Aids prevalence rates are shocking.

World Vision HIV/Aids advocacy adviser Simon Duffy says one in every three adults in these towns is HIV positive. He says truck drivers and conductors are high risk groups who meet commercial sex workers — another high risk group — in these towns.

Founded in December 2009, Kyamitaa women’s group operates by the slogan: “Tubadilike, tubadilishe, tujiwezeshe wenyewe. (Swahili for “Let us change, and change others to empower ourselves.”)

Under their Most at Risk Population (Marps) programme, Africa Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) have offered to assist the Kyamitaa women’s group.

“We realised that most of the women were willing to quit the trade if they had an alternative source of income.

Looking into their health risks and supporting their bid to quit this risky occupation, would offer a lasting solution to the HIV/Aids menace,” says Emmanuel Akatch, the Amref project manager.

National Aids and STDs Control Programme director Nicholas Muraguri says the prevalence rates among prostitutes in the area stands at about 34 per cent, almost five times the national average of 7.1 per cent.

“The increasing number of young prostitutes undermines gains made in the fight against Aids,” said Dr Muraguri.

Poverty — where about 75 per cent live below the poverty line — has been cited as the main reason for the increasing number of sex workers along the highway.

The land that the highway cuts through is semi arid and unproductive. For a long time, charcoal burning has been the only economic activity in the region.But the dwindling tree cover has forced the residents to look for other sources of livelihood.