Dear CSUN Administrators,
This letter serves as a statement calling for an institutional response to the external activities of our colleague, Kenneth Ng, Associate Professor of Economics. During the week of April 18, 2010, numerous media sources reported of Ng’s involvement in the “Thailand girl scene,” particularly entrepreneurial activities promoting advice to American tourists interested in meeting young Thai women.
Although Ng argues that his personal website is a tool meant to provide travel insight for American tourists in Thailand, his project perpetuates the cultural prostitution of women in Thailand and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of people in Thailand are subject to human rights violations through the sex tourism industry, which often promotes prostitution, human trafficking, and abuse, namely against young women and children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly 1 million people are victims of trafficking and sex tourism. Ng inaccurately characterizes Thai involvement in sex tourism as common cultural practice. Acknowledging the disparate social, political, and economic conditions that foster such an industry, he advocates for the exploitation of those disparities.
As CSUN faculty, we are dismayed that our students and colleagues are primarily learning of this issue through mainstream media sources that are condemning Ng’s off-campus endeavors. As a result of one professor’s lack of good judgment, there has been a public backlash against CSUN; characterizing our institution as one that condones problematic faculty involvement in cultural prostitution. As faculty who are charged with being representatives of CSUN, we are disheartened to learn that there has been no institutional statement made against Ng’s activities and we question why our administration has not taken a more proactive stand against his actions.
Although the administration has refused to professionally intervene in Ng’s endeavor, citing the auspices of free speech, we call on the administration to condemn Ng’s activities as those that violate the values and principles of the university. We believe that it is important that CSUN’s identity does not become defined by the sensational aspect of this one story. So many CSUN faculty and students are working hard to defend the rights of those who have been exploited. As a campus that prides itself on the ethnic and racial diversity of our students, faculty, and staff, it is unacceptable that we do not make a stronger statement against activities that marginalize many members of the CSUN community, including faculty, students, and staff of Thai descent; Asian Americans; and men and women in general.
CSUN Asian American Studies Department
CSUN Gender and Women's Studies Department
From: Stanley, Sandra L
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 3:33 PM
To: 'susan abram'
Subject: RE: L.A. Daily News Request for Interview
We heard that Professor Ng took down his website. Many in the CSUN community were not only outraged by this site, but also provided thoughtful critiques of the underlying issues raised by this scandal. Professor Ng’s website was only a symptom of larger problems related to the exploitation and trafficking of women and children in the sex tourism trade. We need to continue this discussion concerning the oppressive realities of sexual slavery that many women in the brothels of Thailand and elsewhere suffer. We urge people to support organizations such as www.castla.org, which works to end present-day slavery, and to express their outrage about all forms of human abuse, including the sexual trafficking of women across borders, the mistreatment of young women and children as sexual objects, and the exploitation of impoverished peoples.
Sheena Malhotra, Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies
Sandra Stanley, Chair of Asian American Studies
Here are some useful sites and statistics on the subject (much borrowed from GWS website).
- Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking: http://www.castla.org/
- Crisis Aid: http://www.crisisaid.org/traffickstats.html
- End Human Trafficking: http://www.endhumantrafficking.org/
To contribute toward furthering education on the subject, AAS and CSUN Housing hosted The S.E.C.R.E.T Project on April 30th, 2010
"The S.E.C.R.E.T Project" (Student. Empowering. Community's. Rights. Ending. Trafficking of Sex and Labor)
The event, S.E.C.R.E.T. Project, deals directly with the issues of trafficking of sex and labor.
Date Friday on April 30th 2010
Location: Multi Purpose room in campus Housing
The event is free and open to the public
AAS, GWS, the Office of the Provost, and other departments, programs and groups on campus also hosted the Forum on Human Trafficking on October 6, 2010, 4 to 7 PM, Northridge Center, USU.
How to involve yourself:
Please donate money or your time to organizations working to end sexual trafficking and promoting human rights.
Thai Community Development Center: http://www.thaicdc.org/cms /victory-for-human-rights/
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking: http://www.castla.org/
Not For Sale Campaign: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/
A quick short list of academic and media sources on the subject
- Bertone, Andrea Marie. 2000. “Sexual Trafficking in Women: International Political Economy and the Politics of Sex.” Gender Issues. (Winter) 4-22.
- Davidson, Julia O’Connell. 2001. “The Sex Tourist, The Expatriate, His Ex-Wife and Her ‘Other’: The Politics of Loss, Difference, and Desire.” Sexualities 4 (5): 5-24.
- Farr, Kathryn. 2005. Sex Trafficking: The Global Market in Women and Children. NY: Worth Publishers.
- King, Gilbert. 2004. Woman, Child for Sale: The New Slave Trade in the 21st Century. New York: Chamberlain Bros.
- Nagel, Joane. 2003. Race, ethnicity, and sexuality: intimate intersections, forbidden frontiers. (See Chapter 7: "Sex and Tourism: Travel and Romance in Ethnosexual Locations"). Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Cargo: Innocence Lost. (directed by Michael Cory). http://www.cargoinnocencelost.com/
- The Day My God Died. Andrew Levine Productions. http://www.thedaymygoddied.com/