In a series of articles John Kane writes about sex trafficking and feminist hysteria and has a great book called Lonely Sex tourist available on Amazon
As part of the international War on Sex initiated by President George W. Bush in 2000, the influence of manpower and endless availability of cash is doing its job far beyond the borders of the United States. (The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed)
Here is a shocking example in the former US colony, the Philippines. Frankly this is turning into old news as time passes, but it should not be forgotten.
Let’s not forget Stefan Sederholm and Andrew Solemo who are Swedish computer techs who were sentenced to life – yes life – in prison in the Philippines on May 10, 2011 after their original arrest in 2009. The charge against them is sex trafficking.
But was it trafficking? Does this under-defined word “trafficking” satisfy people who want to punish someone they disagree with regarding sex?
As always, certain media are quick to paint a horrible picture by emphasizing girls under 18 years old, use of the words “forced” and “deception”, and the horrible (especially presumed phycological) harm to women. I suggest, with no way to ever expect proof, that this accusation of sex trafficking is a result of anti-sex zealots who are caught in a hysteria to “rescue” girls from perceived harm.
At about the same time there was a crazy sounding tale on the internet from an anonymous writer. It claimed that Angeles City, Philippines had 150,000 sex workers which seems like a truly crazy claim. That would be more than Pattaya – wrong! Women were said to be kept in rooms the size of bathrooms and were guarded by men with shotguns. Come on! Examples used by that writer exclusively said to be 6- to 12-year-old children.
The anonymous writer referred to Angeles City as a Prostitution Death Camp. I have been to Angeles City, and that kind of talk is ridiculous. There were some nice resorts there that would have been appropriate for families. There are splashy bars in Angeles City but inside those bars were young women who conducted shows that were reminiscent of Las Vegas shows if those shows were performed by high school girls.
The girls on stage in Angeles City were NOT high school girls but they were amateurs doing what professionals do in Las Vegas. Shows in the largest bars were remarkably innocent. Sure, this location included prostitution but it was quietly conducted elsewhere. Any reasonable person would recognize crazy claims of shotguns and horrific abuse as nothing but crap. Whoever wrote surely knew better too but saying these things to people who have not been to Angeles City will do its job of striking fear into people who might be a tourist.
Okay, these people who were / are conducting the attacks on cybersex, including the court system at that time, can honestly hold strong opinions, moral opinions. In a hysteria people can believe many crazy things to be true. There are many examples.
One reasonably resent situation has much in common with attacks on sex workers and these young Swedish men. Note: In the 1980s there was a hysteria where many people went to prison because the public was led to believe owners of childen’s daycare centers were members of satanic cults. Honest. Yes, crazy but true! Satanic cults may help make a scary plot for a Hollywood movies, just as do plots with kidnapped children and abused women. But only last year after over twenty-five years and multiple appeals did the last two victims of the Satanic Panic finally get out of prison. REF: We Believe the Children: A Moral Panic in the 1980s and Michelle Remembers.
But there is no justification to keep two computer techs in prison for their lifetimes. Many countries would probably deport foreign men in this situation and not allow them to ever return. Upon their return to Sweden, Swedish courts would take proper interest and likely produce a different kind of result, maybe a few years behind bars. But it is and was obvious that the case against then was weak and contrived.
Life sentences, in this case, are no more than an emotional and hysterical reaction to false claims.
Sometimes, but not always, there is a different point-of-view, one which does not spout the extreme anti-sex talk which often seems to dominate media. Sometimes journalists actually give us real news. That was the early situation in this case.
ScandAsia, a Nordic News and Business Promotion in Asia publication on July 1, 2013 spoke less emotionally than other media which had Stefan and Andrew convicted prior to their trial.
The activities of Stefan and Andrew were about what is called cybersex, having women strip and masturbate on camera on the internet. In 2009 this was a new industry in a country where real physical prostitution is common. I have been to Angeles City, Manila, and Olongapo and some scuba dive places all with very obvious prostitution. When I have been to these several places, I have seen no sex worker who looked to be under 18 years old. Maybe, if I were a pedophile, I might know from the internet where children were to be found, but if they are not so easy to find then there can’t be as many of them as the anti-sex zealots imply. Those who conduct the media battles in the War against Sex present everything as being big, big, big and always horrible. Men are always at fault. That is why I try to explain broader points-of-view with honest complexity.
In this case, involvement of women under 18 years old is a big deal. In news articles it is implied that many cybersex workers in this under under 18 years old and the ages of 6, 7, 8, 9 are often mentioned as if they are normal. Bull shit! I have scouted around occasional cybersex vendors and never have I seen any girls that young. Girls at very young ages as anti-sex advocates claim would be very noticeable. What the forces opposing sex have said is just deliberate exaggeration using the inflammatory word “children”.
Regarding numbers of under 18 cybersex girls who were supposedly working with these Swedish men, a newscaster reported that when police conducted their raid the director of the National Director of Investigation was quoted to say “18 women were found from 18 to 20 years old”. If this is accurate and represents initial police findings on the spot, this means that all women working for were of legal age.
News coverage stated that one woman made the claim that she was “forced” to pose in front of a screen against her will. Some writers about this case have claimed that one woman might have been placed in this job so she could provide evidence with a lie that she was forced. People online, who did not wish to be identified, said this has been done before by anti-sex zealots in other circumstances. They will find an under 18 girl – who is also an advocate for their cause – who will join a brothel shortly before an anticipated police raid so she can be there at the right time for the raid.
Stefan Sederholm and Andrew Solemo were very clear that they were only installers of the equipment. They were afraid to tell who hired them and Police admitted their inability to find owners of cybersex businesses. Police reported that at the time of the police raid, Stefan and Andrew where still at the airport returning from a trip. But the inability to identify top management h resulted in using a couple of techs as their examples.
An important point is that no physical sexual contact has even been accomplished over the internet. Cybersex is a “no touch” situation. Our two Swedish techs could be said to be heroes by offering young women a high paying alternative to actual prostitution. There is no reason not to think of people on the fringe of cybersex in this way. Stefan and Andrew could easily be treated as heroes for saving poor women with no other choices from prostitution. Of course we should remember that huge numbers of sex workers are quite happy with what they are doing and do not wish any kind of rescue.
At the time of these men’s arrest cyber-sex was not illegal except for the involvement of women under 18 and if women did not work consensually. It is illegal now if it is transmitted on the internet because all internet pornography is illegal in the Philippines.
Why is this important? In times of moral hysteria many individuals are likely to be hurt.
In the 20 Centry many American black men were lynched on flimsy evidence, stigma, and fear – and vigilantes. Moral crusaders are very likely to place the goals of their moral crusade ahead of justice and the lives of others who they see as moral enemies.
So, Stefan and Andrew, seem to be victims of a hysteria about sex. They came to work in a country overly dedicated to one religion. There are official indications that none of the women were under the legal age for what they were doing. One out of 18 women claimed to have been forced to do what a cyber girl does, a decision which one of 18 might have decided to say as she heard police running up the stairs.
These kinds of extreme penalties can spread around the world. A recent news article reported that Guatemala recently has increased penalties for trafficking from 2 to 5 years and from 10 to 30 years. In this case the concern is the danger migrants face is on their trips to the USA.
No one is safe now. Because of this research I have come to know many sex workers. I gave several of those who had been the most help to me some money in the worst times of the covid19 pandemic. I gave away about $50,000 which I had saved for my retirement. Now I recreate that help but it felt good to do it. Some would contact me to say they have no money and their children have mothing to eat – and I continue to give them money again.
Yesterday one of those sex workers whom I had met in Pattaya Thailand knew I had visited Pattaya recently. She wanted me to tell her what I had seen there. That was easy because there are several bloggers who report on that all the time so it is public knowledge.
But when she said she wanted to back to work (as a prostitute) and asked me to give her enough money to make the trip from her village in Isson (a major rural area) back to Pattaya, I had to say NO! I had to be firm. If I helped her that way and people read about it here, maybe some of those zealots who condemn sex will be able to report me / accuse me. If I tell a sex worker where she should go and help her with expenses, I could easily be considered a pimp or trafficker.
I am an old, retired man and I will prefer to be identified as a researcher. At age 74 a life sentence might not be in my plans. But, in a time of manufactured hysteria, many people could be accused, and many people can be hurt.
And we shall see if this explodes in the same way people were willing to think middle age owners of child care centers were organized in satanic cults. Now that sound stupid to most of us, but in the 1980’s it didn’t sound crazy. Some of behavior about sex work and trafficking may not sound crazy at all in twenty or thirty years from now.