Danger, Will Robinson – It’s the TIP Silly Season

BE ON YOUR GUARD!  As I write this it is spring 2014! That means it is the TIP Silly Season! Everyone in the world should be on guard for extra attention from local traffick police. Yes traffick police. Every spring normal police turn into sex trafficking police and the labor trafficking police.  So what is the TIP Silly Season, you ask. 

Many countries have year round sex police, but each spring they are looking for you. And I did not say they are looking out for you because, while they might be looking out for you most of the year, in the spring you are in their sights for sex crimes.

They go nuts, but not you!   

The United States annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report comes out in June and for the first four months of the year some countries seem to go nuts over showing America they are serious about trafficking. Sometimes their “show” is so over the top that it ignores justice and principles of democracy.  You can be sure laws are bent and justice speeded up and even ignored when countries go over board to prove to America that they are tough on trafficking, usually sex trafficking crimes.

Example: In the spring of 2009 two Swedish computer techs were installing equipment in the Philippines used in a new kind of sex work called cybersex. That is like a paid video conference with a Filipino woman. Men can call the woman, pay her on line, and she will take off her clothes or whatever else they can do in a video conference call. As far as I know no actual sex act has ever been completed digitally.

The two computer techs did not own or operate this business, or at least no news coverage ever said that. The cybersex business became illegal in the Philippines in 2012 but in 2009 the two Swedish men were arrested and convicted of something. It is not clear what but in initial press reports it was clear that lawyers were sure this was done to make an example for no other reason than to please the United States TIP program.

These two men were sentenced was  LIFE in prison. In 2013 they lost their last appeal and that’s it.  For many many years they will be the Philippines scape goat to show off to America every Spring!

While I may have coined the phrase TIP Silly Season, there is very little humor in it for these men. Their names are Bo Stefan Sederholm (31) and Emil Andreas Solemo (35) The entire focus of thailandwebbthis story is the incredible sentence meted out. Read more details about this story here.  The original article I saw called the men political prisoners who were scapegoats to help the Philippine government please the requirements to get tough under the United States Trafficking in persons program.  I agree.

Example: In 2010 the Philippines must have, again, felt the need to make a strong example to satisfy America. This time they arrested one elderly Australian, Terrence Smith, who was manager of an Angeles City bar. Again it is not clear what he did but maybe there were sex workers in that bar who were under 18 years old but there is no reason to think that form the article.

The article said, “Other foreigners were arrested after they were found having sex with women.”  That last sentence is laughable for anyone familiar with Angeles City where there are maybe 50 bars within several blocks and all of them have open prostitution where mamasons sit with you and recommend their “girls.”  Hotels have excellent security to make sure no women under 18 years of age come in.

Surprise, the news report did not mention any Filipinos involved in any prosecutions. But Mr Smith also received a LIFE sentence.  Can you believe that?  Crazy!  Who owned that bar, I wonder?  A June 30th, 2011 news report concluded by saying, “The raids were linked to a US decision to remove the Philippines from a watch list of countries deemed not to be doing enough to combat human trafficking.”  Over 100 women were “rescued.” or, put another way, they lost their jobs.

Here in Thailand there are more stories in the spring about the Thai sex industries then at any other time of year.  Prosecutions are seasonal here too.

If you get international newparers as I do you may have noticed that China has been on a rampage over sex work in their country for the last few months. Just today (4/24/14) my Bangkok Post featured a story from China headlined “Senior cops probed after brothel bust.”

Are you safe to travel in the Spring to the obvious places where sex tourism takes place? Yes, but be sure you behave as you should behave all year round for your own protection.

Consider my rules of honorable sex tourist behavior:

(1) Always stay away from any one under 18 years of age – regardless of the age-of-consent you may know, no one under 18 is of legal age now internationally per a UN Protocol.

(2) Be a gentleman – sex workers are your friend. Conduct yourself as if the goal is ­mutually enjoyable sex, as it should be.  And that means some crazy thing you saw in a porno movie is not okay without prior permission.

(3) Don’t be cheap – know the going rate. You are receiving a very personal service so don’t negotiate as if you are buying a pirated DVD. Tip if you’re happy.

(4) Pick a partner with a smile, eyes and body language that tell you she is interested in you.  Why pick the unhappy one?

(5) For your protection watch for scams. If pimps, mamsons, or hotel staff start making anything complicated, be prepared to walk away. Police may be on your side at times, but do not assume anything during the TIP Silly Season!

The United States government has never found the numbers of victims of trafficking in America or internationally that they want in order to justify their project and to make Congress happy!  For this reason other countries feel pressure from America to find trafficking victims, even if the trafficker they accuse is you.


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