Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Human Trafficking, Natalee Holloway, and a Reminder

Whether you call it trafficking in persons, human trafficking, or slavery, buying and selling people isn't nice. And, in quite a few countries, it's illegal.

Natalee Holloway: High-Profile Case in Point

I'm focusing on what may have happened to one young woman a few years ago, on Aruba. Natalee Holloway isn't the 'typical' victim of human trafficking, and Aruba isn't a particularly dangerous place for attractive and unattached young women. But, I think it's helpful to put a face on a problem, and Natalee Holloway's disappearance has generated quite a bit of interest around the world.

There's a list of resources toward the end of this post, with more information than I care to discuss.

Joran Van Der Sloot (Back) in the News: 'I sold Natalee Holloway'

Another kink in the Natalee Holloway story reminded me of slavery in the Information Age. She's the young woman who disappeared in Aruba, during spring break a few years back. After fingering a couple of black guys, who (happily) had airtight alibis, Aruban police got interested in the last people seen with the young American. And, eventually, in the son of a local bigwig.

With excruciating deliberation, Aruban and Dutch authorities have investigated some of the facts of the case, and so far have decided that the official's son can't be charged.

Joran van der Sloot, the young man who attracted so much attention, has had several versions of what happened the night Natalee Holloway disappeared. The latest is that he sold her to a Venezuelan. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
  • Interviewer:
    "What did Natalee say?"
    "She said nothing, nothing until she was on the boat. And then she was, like, Hey, you know, what's going on? You're not coming with me, or -- I don't know. She wasn't -- wasn't panicking or anything. And then (INAUDIBLE) on the boat and the boat went away, I still heard, like, you know, What's going on? I think she was pretty drunk. That's what the main thing was."
  • Interviewer:
    "But she didn't struggle with this guy to go to the boat?"
  • Interviewer:
    "Didn't you think that was odd?"
    "No because I said we were going to go on a boat."
  • Interviewer:
    "You told her that."
    "VAN DER SLOOT: Uh-huh. That's my story to go to the beach, that we were going to go on a boat."
  • Interviewer:
    "What did the guy give you?"
    "They gave me a bag of money."
  • Interviewer:
    "Ten thousand dollars?"
    "Wasn't even $10,000. It was less (INAUDIBLE)"
  • Interviewer:
    "How much short?"
    "Oh, a couple hundred short. Probably took it for himself. I don't know."
I found the interview almost painful on several levels.

First, there was the very real possibility that this young man had sold a young woman. Tolerance of the values of other cultures is fine, but I draw the line at tolerance of slavery.

Then, there's the matter of familial loyalty. According to the younger Mr. Van Der Sloot, his father paid two Aruban police officials a handsome sum to forget what they'd learned:
    "They [the police officers] -- I think they got onto - they found out that she was taken to Venezuela.
  • Interviewer:
    "Who paid them?"
    "My father.
  • Interviewer:
    "Do you know how much he paid them?"
    "Not exactly, no."
  • Interviewer:
    "What do you understand was the range that he paid them?
Joran Van Der Sloot told an international audience that his father had forked over more money than I've ever made in a year to silence a couple of cops. If it's true, Joran chose a peculiar way to show his gratitude.

Don't misunderstand me: I don't approve of bribing law enforcement. But, if what Van Der Sloot the younger said was true, the cops on the take were comparatively honest. Like the 'honest politician' in the old gag, when they were bought, they stayed bought.

Finally, this young fellow, after claiming to have sold someone, says that he was shorted by a few hundred dollars - and doesn't even know the exact amount. I don't know what the going rate is for attractive-but-drunk young blonds, but even if the price was right: admitting to getting short-changed is not what I'd expect a savvy young man to do.

It makes him look like something less than a winner.

One Dutch news service seemed impressed that the outfit that did the interview has been known to pay interviewees. Without researching whether or not (1) that's true, and (2) it's an unusual practice among news networks, one thing does strike me as significant about that bit of innuendo.

Even assuming that Joran Van Der Sloot was paid for that interview: Joran Van Der Sloot chose to tell the world that his father had bribed cops, and that he had sold a young woman.

If he was lying, why didn't he make up something that made him look a bit less like the sort of criminal low-life you see skulking around the edges of sensational detective stories?
Joran Van Der Sloot's Latest Version of the True Story
I don't know whether this latest story of Joran Van Der Sloot's is true or not.

I'm a little more inclined to believe it has some truth to it, because he makes himself look like a pathetic and rather inept criminal. I know that there are exceptions, but I find think many people don't want to be seen as pathetic and incompetent.

Again, an excerpt from that interview:
  • Interviewer:
    "What we agreed on is that I would license the chip. The problem is the chip came with issues with it. And so now I am in the position where I've got to try to tell my company that this is a possibility that this happened. And they're going to say, well, if he won't even corroborate, then this is all just basically (expletive deleted).
    "And I don't know, what do I tell them?"
    "I guess you can tell them whatever you want, but I'm not going to go say all that."
  • Interviewer:
    "I want the truth only."
    "I understand."
  • Interviewer:
    "Why won't you tell us the truth?"
    "Because the truth hurts."

If Natalee Holloway Has Been Sold, She's Got Company

About 800,000 people get sold across national borders each year. Roughly eight of every ten are women or children. The customers buy them for use as prostitutes, by and large.

Disgusting? No question about it.

Real? I don't see any reason to assume that human trafficking isn't happening.

Is there something to be done? I doubt that anyone reading this can say 'bibbidi bobbidi boo,' and change the world.

On the other hand, if you live in a country that holds elections: you can stay informed, and add human trafficking to the list of things you consider when choosing candidates or voting on issues.

About Human Trafficking / Trafficking in Persons / Slavery: Natalee Holloway disappearance in the news:
1 That sounded crazy, didn't it? Interesting, how a strictly factual disclaimer can be turned into a criticism.

For the record, I don't fault ABC news for giving good coverage of that earthquake in the San Francisco area. Quite the contrary. That's what news networks are supposed to do.

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory