By Michael Petrou - Friday, February 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
The government is already rounding up ‘dissidents’—an early warning sign to the opposition
Iran’s disputed 2009 election, which returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency, led to mass protests and a brutal crackdown that saw dozens killed and thousands arrested. This time, the government is taking early steps to silence potentially disruptive voices. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast last week warned that Iran’s “enemies” are planning to foment unrest as part of an “all-out war” against the Islamic Republic, pre-emptively defining protesters as anti-Iranian. Elections aren’t until June.
Late last month, 16 journalists were arrested and taken to Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, where they are reportedly being held in wing 209—the same cellblock where Canadian Zahra Kazemi was murdered in 2003. (In an ironic twist, Saeed Mortazavi, the former prosecutor who sent her to prison, was arrested this week—possibly as a result of a power struggle within Iran’s political elite—and is now in Evin himself.) Arash Azizi, an Iranian journalist living in Canada says the arrests have shocked journalists in Iran, in part because several of those arrested were not obvious targets, even for Tehran’s thin-skinned government. “We are used to these kind of attacks, but this was unexpected. This was an attempt to bring an atmosphere of intimidation before the election.” It is not just journalists who are being subjected to increased state pressure. Coffee-shop owners have been ordered to install video cameras and provide the recordings to authorities. Cafés are popular with Iranian youth and intellectuals who enjoy the chance to drink, smoke, talk and listen to live music. Dozens were raided last summer, ostensibly for offences such as allowing women to smoke hookah water pipes. Continue…
By Tom Henheffer - Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 10 Comments
The country’s sex workers generate 1.6 per cent of total GDP
In 2004, the South Korean government enacted new laws designed to crack down on the country’s sex trade, which by some estimates accounted for a whopping 4.1 per cent of GDP. To some extent, those regulations were successful: according to the Korean Women’s Development Institute, a think tank dedicated to researching women’s issues in South Korea, the sex trade now generates approximately 1.6 per cent of GDP, or about $14 billion annually (by comparison, South Korea’s agriculture industry accounts for roughly three per cent of GDP).
But Sealing Cheng, an anthropologist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts who specializes in sexuality, prostitution and human rights in South Korea, argues the government’s efforts don’t always work as intended. While the sex trade laws target pimps and brothel owners, and offer financial and vocational assistance for victims of prostitution, they also establish fines and jail terms for the approximately 269,000 sex workers in the country. “It makes life difficult for a lot of women who, for some reason, remain in the trade. If there isn’t adequate assistance for them, they won’t leave.”
The crackdown is also forcing prostitution further underground. When illicit massage parlours are raided, they often reopen as “hostess bars,” where women are paid for their company but don’t specifically have to sleep with clients, although they often do. “They’re moving too quickly for the government to shut them down,” says Whasoon Byun, a researcher with the Korean Women’s Development Institute.