Chong Kim, the Woman Whose Allegedly True Story Served as the Basis for Megan Griffith's Film Eden, Denounced as a Fraud

Comments

1
What I've learned from this incident is that human trafficking is mostly not sex workers, but other classes of workers -- domestic servants, hotel maids, garment workers, restaurant workers, etc. Sex workers too, but to a far lesser extent than some people would have us believe. Eye-opening.
2
Hooray, hopefully this will throw some ice-cold water over the sex-trafficker fear-mongers for a minute or two.
3
@fnarf: What you should have learned from this incident is that human trafficking is 95% hype and hysteria.

4
Fnarf, love you man, but a lotta people told you so on this one.

So between Chong Kim and Somaly Mam in the same damn month, can we maybe all now chill on the moral panic about "trafficking" and start simply agitating for better conditions for workers in all jobs, regardless of where they came from?
5
Somaly Mam has also been exposed as a fraudster. But it's effective misandry and a sweet way to get cash.

WASHINGTON POST
Lies, damned lies and sex work statistics
By Maggie McNeill
March 27, 2014

Imagine a study of the alcohol industry which interviewed not a single brewer, wine expert, liquor store owner or drinker, but instead relied solely on the statements of ATF agents, dry-county politicians and members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Or how about a report on restaurants which treated the opinions of failed hot dog stand operators as the basis for broad statements about every kind of food business from convenience stores to food trucks to McDonald’s to five-star restaurants?

You’d probably surmise that this sort of research would be biased and one-sided to the point of unreliable. And you’d be correct. But change the topic to sex work, and such methods are not only the norm, they’re accepted uncritically by the media and the majority of those who the resulting studies. In fact, many of those who represent themselves as sex work researchers don’t even try to get good data. They simply present their opinions as fact, occasionally bolstered by pseudo-studies designed to produce pre-determined results. Well-known and easily-contacted sex workers are rarely consulted . There’s no peer review. And when sex workers are consulted at all, they’re recruited from jails and substance abuse programs, resulting in a sample skewed heavily toward the desperate, the disadvantaged and the marginalized.

This sort of statistical malpractice has always been typical of prostitution research. But the incentive to produce it has dramatically increased in the past decade, thanks to a media-fueled moral panic over sex trafficking. Sex-work prohibitionists have long seen trafficking and sex slavery as a useful Trojan horse. In its 2010 “national action plan,” for example, the activist group Demand Abolition writes,“Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.”

But as sex worker rights organizations have repeatedly pointed out (as have organizations like UNAIDS, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International), those who are truly interested in decreasing exploitation in the sex industry would be better off supporting decriminalization of prostitution. New South Wales, Australia, decriminalized sex work in 1995, and a subsequent government-sponsored 2012 study found ” . . . no evidence of recent trafficking of female sex workers . . . in marked contrast to the 1990s when contacted women from Thailand were common in Sydney . . . ”

New Zealand legalized prostitution in 2003. A study by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice five years later found “no incidence of trafficking,” and sex worker advocates say the law has made it easier for sex workers to report abuse, and for law enforcement to make arrests for crimes against sex workers. Some anti-prostitution activists have tried to claim that Germany’s liberal form of legalization has encouraged sex trafficking. But they actually cite coercion among illegal sex workers (for example, those who are too young to legally work at a German brothel) and claim that their exploitation had somehow been caused by the legal framework from which those women had been excluded.

Despite plenty of evidence of the harm caused by criminalization, there’s still a tremendous amount of money in representing it as the “cure” for a situation it actually exacerbates. In an interview last May, Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute who led efforts to pass the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the anti-trafficking movement has become more about securing grants for research than protecting victims. “Now it’s just one big federal entitlement program,” he said, “and everybody is more worried about where they’re going to get their next grant.”

Most of the scary articles about sex trafficking are larded with inflated figures and phony statistics that don’t survive any serious analysis. For example, you will often read that the average sex worker enters the trade at 13, a mathematical impossibility which appears to have originated as a misrepresentation of the average age of first noncommercial sexual contact (which could include kissing, petting, etc.) reported by underage girls in one 1982 study as though it were the age they first reported selling sex. The actual average age at which they began prostitution was 16. And though the number was already dubious when applied to underage prostitutes, it became wholly ludicrous when applied to all sex workers.

Because prostitution is illegal in most of the world, the most reliable data on the proportion of sex workers that are underage will come from places where the industry is legal and it can be studied openly, like New Zealand. And there, estimates put the figure at about 3.5%.

Another common claim is that there are 100,000 to 300,000 children locked in sex slavery in the U.S. (For just a few examples, see here, here, here, here, and here. ) That number is a distortion of a figure from a 2001 study by Richard Estes and Neil Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania, which estimated that number of “children, adolescents and youth (up to 21) at risk of sexual exploitation.” (Emphasis added.) “Sex trafficking” was the least prevalent form of “exploitation” in their definition. Other forms included stripping, consensual homosexual relations, and merely viewing porn. Moreover, two of the so-called “risk factors” were access to a car and proximity to the Canadian or Mexican border. In a 2011 interview, Estes himself estimated the number of legal minors actually abducted into “sex slavery” was ” very small . . . {w}e’re talking about a few hundred people.”

Yet the myth persists. The Dallas Morning News recently took the figure to new levels of preposterousness, claiming in an editorial last November that, “In Houston alone, about 300,000 sex trafficking cases are prosecuted each year.” As defense attorney Mark Bennett pointed out on his blog, the actual figure was two. Not 200,000. Just two. The paper did print a correction, though the correction simply deleted the original 300,000 figure from the editorial. The paper still didn’t bother to mention the actual number, perhaps it didn’t support the alarmism in the rest of the editorial.

And the distortions go on.
6
Of course, Breaking Out makes the ludicrous cain that 300,000 children are traffic in the US every year, 80% for sex. oF course, they have zero data for that claim.
7
Of course, Breaking Out makes the ludicrous claim that 300,000 children are traffic in the US every year, 80% for sex. oF course, they have zero data for that claim.
8
@Doctor Memory: can we maybe all now chill on the moral panic

Good luck with that. The fact that anti-vaccine panic is alive and well even after the research was revealed to be fraudulent doesn't have me feeling especially optimistic.

Just as some people need to believe vaccines are evil, people like fnarf need to believe that humans are being "trafficked".
9
Well, that's a disappointment. It reminds a little the controversy regarding Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Rigobeta Menchu whose biography has been called into question.

@1 Fnarf, again you have a point. I agree. It isn't mostly sex workers. I've read recently of at least a few immigrant domestic workers essentially imprisoned by their immigrant employers. I can't cite particular stories but i know I've read of them.
10
I was trafficked -- its REAL. But if your talking about sex workers they are not the same as prostituted women so of course they are not being trafficked
11
This doesn't have much (or anything) to do with the reality of sex trafficking. It has to do with the venality of human beings, in this case those who lie to gain money and prominence.
12
"A Million Little Pieces of Ass".
Too soon?
13
Stop reacting so fast. One Facebook post isn't proof of anything, and a Facebook post without backing information or details is rumor at best.

Reporters, slow the fuck down and think before you type and pass on information. No, really...try independently verifying information, instead of passing around Facebook and Twitter updates as if they're full on news items.
14
@13: good advice.

Too bad it doesn't apply to Nicholas Kristof and the myriad of others who have made major bank fanning the flames of sex trafficking for the past decade or so on little more than anecdote. This has real world implications such as the ban on funding nonprofits who don't sign pledges affirming their opposition to legalized sex work. Many -- if not most -- of the front-line HIV prevention organizations in eastern Europe and Asia lost US funding due to their refusal to sign.
15
First, human trafficking does happen a lot and is a real issue.

Second, I'm SO GLAD this came out. I knew from the moment I saw that movie it was full of shit about her case. I mean, she got out of that and NEVER told the police but she did write a book and do a movie...okay, so those guys wouldn't go after her for making a movie about it? And not a single other survivor was found? No fucking way.

And Chong making a fraud out of this is going to make it that much harder to talk about real human trafficking because she's discredited it. She's a total piece of shit.
16
I haven't seen "Eden" and probably won't now. However, if one wants to view an extraordinary feature film about human sex traffiking, check out "Lilya4-EVER:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0300140/?ref…

It's a Swedish film by Luke Moodysson from 2002. I highly recommend it.
17
NYC courts have established Human Trafficking criminal parts specifically to deal with prostitutes who have been trafficked. Rather than being charged with prostitution, serving a sentence, getting out, getting beaten, and getting arrested again, the (mostly) women charged are given or led to resources to get away from their traffickers and into legal employment. Trafficking is real. To say trafficking is fake because a few idiots lie is as bad as saying rape doesn't happen because one or two psychos are willing to lie about it.
18
Not surprising, given the number of scams, be they the Susan G. Komen Foundation, that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (when the woman who capitalized on her daughter's death from a drunk driver hit the earnings ceiling with that one, she left and joined the Alochol Beveridges Association to lobby for them at a much higher salary and perks), or that Christian fellow in Sudan who keeps getting captured and used as a slave, then needs the money to buy his freedom, then after being freed is captured all over again, again and again --- this stuff is an industry today.

Doesn't mean human trafficking isn't serious, whether done by Dyncorp in Eastern Europe or KBR in Iraq, slavery should be over in this day and age, but will never die as long as the corporation form exists as it does today.

Over 80% of assets in America are owned by 2800 corporations (out of 6 million), and who owns those corporations? The banks.

And who owns those banks? (And why don't you know the answer to that?)
19
I would assume a filmmaker would do some background research before making a film about the subject. Maybe not in this case?
20
@13, agreed. One FB post and Mistress Matisse are hardly a basis for slandering Chong, Megan and the movie.
21
People should absolutely still see Eden. Incredible film.
Never claims to be any kind of documentary.
22
"People should absolutely still see Eden. Incredible film. "

Sure, just put it in the 'fantasy' section at Video Isle.
23
As a fan of the Stranger, I expect that the paper will choose to cover this topic more in-depth, so as to really set the facts straight. To not question the claims made by movies such as "Eden" is very poor journalism, and to not clarify the lies which have done so much harm to the sex worker rights movement would be extremely irresponsible.

I enjoy the Stranger greatly and dearly hope they will make good on this.

24
Savannah hit the nail on the head! The Stranger played a role in legitimizing & publicizing the "true life story" of Eden. I hope they will play a role in getting to the actual "truth" and thereby promote useful public discourse regarding basic human rights and dignity, eliminating coercive conditions and supporting individual agency for all workers. I've not known the Stranger to be afraid of the truth in the past, I hope they do not pass up this opportunity to take a closer look at one of the defining issues of our time.
25
I have found the journalism in The Stranger to be questionable, and this article is a prime example. It angers me that The Stranger doesn't take it's responsibility to the public seriously, but the impact is real, and at the present time, not a good one. Stop being the pawn in political games and creating fear among the little people.

Really, think about the big picture people! It doesn't surprise me one bit that a profession comprised primarily of women is illegal. We haven't even had a vote for 100 years yet. How can doing something for free be ok, but charging for it be a crime? Just name one other thing we do where this is the case--you can't. It is discrimination plain and simple. Honey, if sex work were a man's job, it WOULD be legal!

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Did you hear that Stranger? I am referring to you.
26
I've seen a longer response from Mistress Matisse, which came my way by e-mail. It makes some excellent points. The fact that no one seems to have fact-checked Chong raises some serious issues of journalistic integrity for the Stranger, involving phenomena such as "group think" and "confirmation bias." But those are relatively isolable concerns, in which this might be considered as an episode sui generis. For Mistress Matisse and her colleagues, however, the considerations are far more global. They are promoting the legitimization and regularization of an industry that history has shown cannot effectively be simply banned. The shrill insistence that all sex workers are somehow being involuntarily trafficked is of course nonsense, but it's nonsense that's damaging an important cause. The Stranger ought to give a platform to Mistress Matisse, SWOP, others similarly-minded. That actually would be "fair and balanced."
27
You are dead wrong. I happen to have a friend who knows her very well and believes Jody Williams has an axe to grind.
28
I'm so hurt. I met her in person because I was in foster care and my foster other had us involved in a lot of non profit organization to help promote young ladies self-esteem as well as knowledge of the "real issue's" in today's world. I remember her tell a small group of us her story, saying she was working on a book and movie, and telling us to be careful. I haven't seen the movie, but in person she told us that her boyfriend tricked her and took her to Florida where she was then transferred to a van and taken to Vegas. Chong Kim has a limp leg "well so she made it seem", and said all the years of abuse resulted in permanent physical damage for her. I was 16 when I met her and kept her word near and dear to my heart for years. I'm so disappointed to say the least.
29
I'm so hurt. I met her in person because I was in foster care and my foster other had us involved in a lot of non profit organization to help promote young ladies self-esteem as well as knowledge of the "real issue's" in today's world. I remember her tell a small group of us her story, saying she was working on a book and movie, and telling us to be careful. I haven't seen the movie, but in person she told us that her boyfriend tricked her and took her to Florida where she was then transferred to a van and taken to Vegas. Chong Kim has a limp leg "well so she made it seem", and said all the years of abuse resulted in permanent physical damage for her. I was 16 when I met her and kept her word near and dear to my heart for years. I'm so disappointed to say the least.
30
yeah, well saw that one coming. Schmader I love your writing, but.... Most of those trafficked are not for sex work... any trafficking situation is evil but lets panic less and investigate more please, because other than the Stranger is not a real newspaper there isn't much else going on here....
31
I used to live in Vegas, this stuff is real. Anyone who visits the deepweb knows how easy it is to get an underage delivery to your doorstep anywhere in the country. Anywhere. Breaking out is a BS organization probably run by the same people running the pedophile rings all over the country.
32
I cannot believe that most of the comments here are about dismissing the stories about sex trafficking as hype or fraudulent.

Just go to Washington, you would see young blonds in a company of a black pimp, look like they were drugged.

Don't dismiss this as hype just because you want to continue to believe that you are in a safe place. Girls are being kidnapped in regular folks' neighborhoods and yet you dont believe?

Google Christina Williams - a young sweet girl , daughter of a navy man who just moved to Sacramento from Japan. Sacramento Russian jews kidnapped her for sex slavery, killed when news about her being a navy man's daughter. They even have fake witnesses who claims about the abductors being of different race.

33
This was a horrible movie. I never need to see it again this was traumatic and sad. All the people that help to hurt kids sexually deserve to die.