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News > Commentary > Commentary - Fighting human trafficking - the Songtan Protest and its aftermath
Fighting human trafficking - the Songtan Protest and its aftermath

Posted 7/10/2013   Updated 7/10/2013 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas
7th Air Force commander

7/10/2013 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- The protest outside the main gate at Osan Air Base is over, having lasted almost three weeks, and I'd like to express my thanks and appreciation to all the members of our community, including the overwhelming majority of merchants in the Songtan Entertainment District, for your patience throughout this period. As many of you know, the protest was led by a small number of Songtan bar owners whose establishments were placed off-limits for supporting the human trafficking and exploitation of women, primarily from the Philippines. Our evidence indicated that these women were contracted from human traffickers, then forced to sell exorbitantly priced drinks and sexual favors to American servicemen.

Human trafficking and prostitution are illegal, and supporting either activity is inconsistent with our values and the standards we expect from Airmen. Seventh Air Force, and the Department of Defense, will make every effort to eliminate these activities in our communities. As we combat sexual assault and harassment on base, we cannot turn a blind eye to those who degrade and abuse women off base. As such, the leadership of the 51st Fighter Wing took a determined stand against Songtan establishments that employ trafficked women, commonly known as "juicy girls," and placed them off limits through the Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Board. After three weeks of protesting, the off limit bar owners agreed to cease employing trafficked women, and in return, the wing agreed to remove their establishments from the off limits list. At the same time, many other bar owners recognized the need for change and stopped contracting women from human traffickers.

This is a victory for the 51st Fighter Wing, the Songtan community, and most importantly, the women who are exploited by modern-day flesh peddlers. But it is only a small step in a much larger battle, and will need constant vigilance to ensure that off base establishments don't revert to human trafficking. We will use various means to ensure their compliance, and will not hesitate to place them off limits again if they conduct any activities that are contrary to the safety, health, and wellbeing of our Airmen. We also need your help in reporting any exploitation of women or human trafficking you observe off base; if you detect this activity we strongly encourage you to contact the USFK Prostitution and Human Trafficking Hotline at DSN 736-9333 or 05033-36-9333. Take a stand for "Zero-Toleration," and against human trafficking and the exploitation of women in our community. Thanks again for all you do for our Airpower Team!

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