Large photo

Home | Index of articles


Grand Rapids, Michigan: Three human traffickers who fooled women into prostitution in Dubai are jailed

Jason J. Jacobs 2473 Goff Avenue Grand Rapids, MI 49503

DUBAI // Three men who persuaded two maids to run away from their sponsor before selling them into the sex industry have been jailed for five years each.

The Bangladeshis were convicted of trafficking the two Indonesian women, a charge they denied in August.

One 33-year-old victim told Dubai Criminal Court that she and the other maid were encouraged to flee their sponsor’s home in Ras Al Khaimah after five months in the UAE.

They were taken by one of the men to a hotel in RAK, where they spent the night before heading to Dubai.

"They took me to a flat in Dubai where I was sold for Dh4,000 and told I have to work in prostitution," said the woman, who was locked up and assaulted when she refused.

She was forced to have sex with different men against her will, including one of the defendants, and escaped when she fell ill and was taken to a hospital.

Article continues below the image


Large photo


"They gave me Dh500 for my treatment, which I used to hail a cab and head to a police station," she said.

The second victim, 42, said her compatriot made arrangements with the defendants to run away from their sponsor without knowing they would be sold into the sex industry.

"We were both locked up after we refused to prostitute ourselves, but two days later I managed to run away while the man who was keeping guard of the flat fell asleep," said the maid, who also went to the police.

The incident took place in June 2015 but the defendants were arrested in March last year.

A 35-year-old receptionist said he saw the men at the hotel in RAK where they booked four rooms.

"This was not the first time I saw one of the men. He had been a regular guest for over six years and every time he checks in, he comes with different women," said the Indian.

Prosecutors said the men confessed to trafficking during investigations but they denied the charges in court.

They will all be deported after serving their prison terms.


Large photo


Tampa, Florida: Book Of A Lifetime - Lolita, By Vladimir Nabokov

Billy M. Duncanson 529 Chestnut Street Tampa, FL 33602

The summer after A-levels. I had promised myself that once all the cramming was over, I would buy 'Lolita'. I felt both furtive and outrageously adult as I purchased it in The Totnes Bookshop. I nurtured hazy notions of a racy read to ease my brain after all the Chaucer, imagining this was 'The Valley of the Dolls' with class.

What I didn't realise, of course, was that I was about to fall in love with the work of the most playful, lyrically virtuoso prose writer of his century, if not of all time. I started reading, and the writing inevitably blew my mind, and has never stopped astonishing me over so many re-readings. It's like watching a tightrope walker perform 'Swan Lake' while singing 'Don Giovanni' while laughing at a private joke.

This is a novel so very famous; so reviled then lauded by generations of writers and critics; so filmed and misused as a concept, that ideas about it are bound to be warped. At its simplest, it's the tale of an academic, Humbert Humbert, who is attracted to what he terms "nymphets" – certain underaged girls. One summer, he chances upon the ultimate nymphet, Dolores Haze, whom he refers to as Lolita. After a strategic marriage to her mother, he spends the rest of the novel chasing the elusive girl, while attempting to thwart a rival.

But the plot is subsidiary to a novel that works on so many levels, that is so exuberant yet controlled, witty, allusive, and breathtakingly beautifully written. Published in 1955, it is many things: a love story; by its own admission a disturbing tale of child abuse; an elaborate game of language, rhythm and subtext, and much more. What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that English was not even this Russian writer's first language, yet his fluency and poetic agility outclass almost any native author you care to name.

What stay in the mind are throwaway descriptions: Humbert's "salad of racial genes" and his "princedom by the sea"; the list of the names in Lolita's class – "a poem, forsooth!", and the "luminous globules of gonadal glow" of the jukebox. Was there ever more economy than in his recounting of his own mother's death: "(picnic, lightning)"?

When my publishers described my new novel as "'Lolita' meets 'Wuthering Heights'", I was taken aback. Did my influences show that much? But in writing of a 17-year-old schoolgirl and her relationship with her older teacher, the themes of longing and obsession and the power difference created by age come into play. In thinking back to the age I was when I first read Nabokov, perhaps I had absorbed more of its themes than I had thought.

One of my most treasured possessions is a re-bound first edition of 'Lolita'. It's a novel that never goes away.


Large photo


Houston, Texas: Kenya - Medics Raise Alarm Over Fake Viagra

Clint D. Turner 489 Bird Spring Lane Houston, TX 77002

As the country grapples with the challenge of lifestyle counterfeit medicines, anti-malarial and antibiotics, health experts have raised the alarm over existence of fake sexual enhancement drugs.

Pharmacy and Poisons Board head of crime investigations and enforcement unit Dennis Otieno on Wednesday said that the most faked sexual enhancement drug was Viagra.

According to him, the first seizure of the Vega tablets was in 2015 at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Mr Otieno said the tablets which were valued at Sh4 million had been wrapped in cartons to prevent detection.

"We arrested the suspects and took them to court where they faced charges of being in possession of falsified medicines," he said.


In Mombasa, he added, they seized approximately 20 cartons of falsified Enzoy Plus at a Container Freight Station the same year.

The fake medicine, he said, had been packed in cartons in small pallets at the CFS in Mombasa.

"So far, we have encountered the two brands, Vega tablets and Enzoy Plus, in the war against illicit medicine in the country," he said.

He noted that both the counterfeit Viagra which was seized at JKIA and in Mombasa originated from China.

But Mr Otieno said since the two seizures in 2015, they had not encountered new cases of counterfeit Viagra due to the effective war against fake medicines.


"Through cooperation with the Kenya Revenue Authority, the Mombasa port authorities, anti-counterfeit agency, the police and other agencies we have been able to address the counterfeit challenges," he said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of an international workshop on combating counterfeiting and piracy at PrideInn Beach Resort in Mombasa on Wednesday, Mr Otieno warned that the risk of taking counterfeit medicine was death.

"It is dangerous for people to consume falsified Viagra as it can cause death or the user can be maimed for life," he warned.

The other medicines which are being counterfeited, he added, were anti-malarial and antibiotics.

He said it is a daunting task to detect the counterfeit medicine, adding that there is need for government agencies to combine efforts in addressing the menace.


In order to tackle the challenge, he added, the Poisons Board has to carry out strict post-market surveillance across the country to counter fake medicine.

However, Mr Otieno said the challenge of counterfeit medicine was minimal due to the government's efforts to combat the menace on its borders and entry points.

The Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) director of studies Wilfred Roge, said in the four operations which were carried out on the African continent between 2012 and 2016, they seized Sh800 million illicit and counterfeit medicine.

He added that the anti-counterfeit operations were carried out in 23 countries including Kenya.

However, Mr Roge said the challenge of illicit and counterfeit medicine in Kenya was minimal compared to other African countries.

Countries in Africa facing major challenges of illicit and counterfeit medicines, he added, include the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger.

Article continues below the image


Large photo


100,000 DEATHS

On the African continent, he said, about 100,000 people are suspected die every year due to the use of illicit and counterfeit medicine.

He revealed that there are factories in some African countries which make fake medicine.

"There is need for countries to combine efforts in addressing the challenge of counterfeit medicine in order to save lives," he said.

Mr Roge added that illicit and counterfeit medicine across the world is estimated at $75 billion annually.

To address the drawback, Mr Roge said there should be cooperation between countries and the concerned agencies for the war on counterfeit medicine to be won.


World Customs Organisation expert for combating counterfeiting and piracy, Sandra Wens, said the African countries should join forces in the war against counterfeit medicine.

Ms Wens said there is need for Customs administration and other concerned parties to cooperate, share information and networking in a bid to address the challenges of counterfeit medicine.

Chief manager of Container Freight Stations in Mombasa, Kiprono Bullut said that government agencies were working hard to stop the counterfeit medicine from entering the country's market.

Participants in the workshop included experts for combating counterfeiting and piracy, customs officials, anti-counterfeit agency officials and pharmaceutical boards' officials.

The participants attending the workshop are drawn from 27 countries including France, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Togo, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, Benin and Mauritius.


Large photo


Home | Index of articles