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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Korean "comfort women" in landmark protest against Japan
Korean women seized by Japanese military during World War II, then forced into sexual slavery, staged their 1,000th successive weekly protest outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. "I want President Lee [Myung Bak] to urge Japan to apologize for the past sins and make compensation. The Japanese ambassador should make a formal apology as quickly as possible before we all die," said Kim Bok-dong, 88, one of five former "comfort women" in attendance, and one of only 63 still alive today from among the more than 200,000 girls taken to military brothels.

Bensouda to take on gender violence at ICC
Holding perpetrators of gender-based crimes accountable for their actions will receive increased focus moving forward, newly elected International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says. Bensouda, who is the first woman to hold the ICC's top prosecution position, believes the court's efforts can help end the impunity that surrounds sexual assault and gender-based crime in many parts of the world.

Photojournalist exposes secret world of child brides
In an interview, photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair -- who shot the feature "Too Young To Wed" for National Geographic magazine -- discusses nearly a decade of work investigating child marriage throughout the world. Despite international agreements that outlaw the practice in many countries, millions of young girls, some as young as five, are forced into marriage annually.

Five girls who resisted child marriage hailed as ‘icons' by President
Economic progress is not the only indicator of a country's development, a nation requires its people to show courage against social pressures and overcome social evils, said President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday after meeting five teenagers from West Bengal who fought social and family pressure and resisted child marriage. The girls, with little education and almost no support, turned down marriage proposals and faced the anger of their families and the community. They earned praise from the President, who described them as “icons” and asked them to share their stories and encourage girls to say no to under-age marriages.

Human trafficking for flesh trade on the rise in Mindanao, say two groups
Both Bernardo Mondragon, executive director of the group Child Alert, and Jeanette Ampog, executive director of Talikala, said most of the documented cases of human trafficking in the region this year had minors as victims, who were lured into the growing but clandestine world of “sex entertainment” because of poverty. Ampog said as the poverty situation worsened, more women and children were trafficked into prostitution. “But although most of the victims of human trafficking are women, some boys are also being lured into the cybersex dens in Davao City because of the promises of big money,” said Mondragon. He said Child Alert has documented cases of minors, as young as 14 years old, lured into Davao’s cybersex dens, so mobile and probably backed up by a powerful syndicate, they continued to elude apprehending authorities this year. Mondragon said the cybersex dens have been mostly in private homes, aided only by “spotlight,” laptops and a camera.

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