Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A New Approach – The John School

From CNN World News

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) — The accused came from all walks of life: Retirees, dads and twentysomethings. An engineer, a business owner and an auto worker. A man in a wheelchair. Men in need of Spanish or Farsi translators.

Brett Beasley, with Nashville’s Health Department, educates men arrested for trying to buy sex about STDs.

About 40 men somberly entered a classroom on a recent Saturday morning. About half of them wore shiny wedding bands.

All had tried to buy a prostitute’s services and were caught by police. It was their first offense, and a county court referred them to a one-day program called the John School. It’s a program run by volunteers and city officials in conjunction with Magdalene House, a nonprofit that works to get prostitutes off the streets.

“Prostitution doesn’t discriminate,” said Kenny Baker, a cognitive behavioral therapist who is the program’s director. “Most of these men don’t have a prior criminal history, so our goal is to help these folks understand why they put themselves in a bad position, to prevent it from happening again.”

Set in a church in Nashville, Tennessee, the John School is led by former prostitutes, health experts, psychologists and law enforcement officers who talk to — and at times berate — the men about the risks of hiring a prostitute.

Prostitution is based on the law of supply and demand. The thinking is: Women won’t stop selling sex until men stop buying.

So Nashville and a growing number of cities are shifting their focus from locking up suppliers to educating buyers. Across the country, about 50 communities are using John Schools. Atlanta, Georgia, and Baltimore, Maryland, are among dozens more cities that plan to launch similar programs by the end of the year. See where the John Schools are »

“It will make them [offenders] see that this is not a victimless crime, and they are contributing to the exploitation of women,” said Stephanie Davis, policy adviser on women’s issues at the mayor’s office in Atlanta. “It’s hurting them, the man, and it’s hurting their families and its hurting the community.”

No comprehensive effort has been made to track the numbers, but experts estimate 1 million to 2 million prostitutes work in the United States. The FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report lists about 78,000 arrests for prostitution and commercialized vice, but experts say those numbers are extremely conservative because many sex workers and johns aren’t caught.

Experts add that easy accessibility to prostitutes and pornography on the Internet are feeding the problem.

In most communities, prostitution has been a one-sided battle focused on the women who offer sex. Their customers, when they are arrested, are usually cited for a misdemeanor and fined.

By comparison, prostitutes are often charged with more severe sentences and jailed for months, depending on the offense.

But in Nashville, the johns’ faces are shown on a police Web site.

For decades, Nashville battled prostitution by arresting women on the streets and through stings. Still, the problem persisted, irritating business owners and residents.

In the early 1990s, Nashville’s mayor helped launch the John School with the help of the Magdalene House, public defenders, prosecutors and police officers. Nashville became one of the first major cities in the U.S. to focus on the customers, predominantly men.

Only first-time offenders who solicit an adult are eligible for John School. Johns who pick up minors are not eligible and face much tougher sentences.

“If you get caught again and you get me, I will guarantee to put you in jail,” warned Antoinette Welch, a local prosecutor, in speaking to the men in the class. “I’ve had men cry to me that they will lose their jobs or their wives, but you’re all grown up and you make your own decisions.”

The men listened carefully as Welch talked about their records; many had not yet told their wives or significant others about their arrest.

If the john pleads guilty, pays a $250 fee and completes the course without re-offending, the charge can be dismissed after a year. The money paid by the john goes to Magdalene House; the program doesn’t cost taxpayers any money. John School models in other communities may differ.

A woman who called herself Alexis, a 35-year-old former prostitute with dark hair and bright blue eyes, spoke to the men as the class came to an end. Four years ago, she left the streets and now works at a factory.

By the age of 10, Alexis had learned to barter with sex with her stepfather. In her 20s, she found herself hooked on drugs and selling her body. She was arrested more than 80 times. She was hospitalized after someone shot her on the job.

As she told her story, the men were silent. A few blushed, while others stared at the floor.

“These gentlemen are no different than I was on the streets,” she said. “I think everyone has to look at the void they are trying to fill.”

One john, a father of two with salt-and-pepper hair, found himself near tears after Alexis spoke. In July, he tried to pick up a prostitute through Craigslist. He said he was depressed and having problems with his wife.

“I’m so embarrassed,” he said. “These girls are somebody’s daughters. I have a daughter.”

Some evidence suggests that John Schools are working. A 2008 government study looked at the John School program in San Francisco, California. It’s one of the largest programs in the country; more than 7,000 johns have attended since 1995.

According to the study, the re-arrest rate fell sharply after the school was launched, and stayed more than 30 percent lower for 10 years afterward.

But critics call John School a slap on the wrist. On Saturday, one john abandoned the classroom.

Carol Leigh, who founded the Sex Workers Outreach Project, a group that promotes legalizing prostitution in California, said she doesn’t believe the program is an effective deterrent. Last year, she helped advocate on behalf of a law known as Proposition K that would legalize prostitution in San Fransisco. The proposal was rejected by the city.

“John School doesn’t do that much,” said Leigh, who has worked as a prostitute. “The reality is they aren’t spending that much time on the johns and they will just go and re-offend at other venues. This also doesn’t target the violent offenders who are the real problem.”

Melissa Farley, head of the nonprofit group Prostitution Research and Education in San Fransisco, believes johns deserve stronger punishment like longer prison sentences.

A recent study she conducted among johns in Chicago, Illinois, found that 41 percent of them said John School would deter them from buying sex, compared with 92 percent who said being placed on a sex offender registry would scare them from re-offending.

Nashville officials said they haven’t tracked recidivism rates in their city, but the school’s program director said it’s probably deterring a third of the offenders in each class.

At least one college educated, 47-year-old john’s attitude appeared to change on a recent Saturday.

After class he wrote, “There is no good part. I would rather be with my wife. This was quick but it wasn’t worth it.”

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Community, Crime, Customer Service, Entertainment, Family Issues, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Safety, Women's Issues | 9 Comments

Taqueria Guayamas

I have to admit it, I am repeating myself. When I find a really good place, I go back again and again. How can you miss, when you know a place is really really great?

I had to back to the Taqueria Guayamas, but this time I was determined NOT to order the same things I always order, but to make myself try something new.

Oh no! There were no customers in front of me, so as I am looking at the menu, trying to make myself not order the same things I have had before and the man is asking what I want and I don’t know, so I order the (something) verde, and he asks if I want the plate or the burrito so I say the burrito.

When the burrito comes, it is totally delicious:

(I think part of the green in the green sauce is avocado!)

One of the things I dream about while living in Kuwait or Qatar is the selection of home made salsas – I choose a fiery pepper sauce, and a smokey fiery pepper sauce:

These salsas are both out of this world. If you are not a fiery salsa fan, not to worry, they have about eight to choose from, and some are very mild.

This is one side of the Taqueria Guayamas menu:

I really, really, REALLY need a Taqueria Guayamas in Doha!

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Experiment, Food, Living Conditions | 2 Comments

Not Happy Ever After

Things are not happy for this brave little girl who took a taxi across town to sit in the judge’s chambers so that – at 10 years old – she could ask for a divorce.

I can imagine her family is NOT happy – she got her divorce, but her proverty-striken family had to compensate her aged husband $200 – a fortune for a poor family.


From CNN World News

Yemen (CNN) — It is midday and girls are flooding out of school, but Nujood Ali is not among them.

We find her at the family’s two-room house in an impoverished suburb of the city where Nujood is angry, combative and yelling. Tension surrounds the home like a noose.

After much arguing with family members, Nujood finally grabs her veil and agrees to sit down with CNN. Her presence is grudging, although CNN had got permission in advance to see how the girl who rocked a nation by demanding a divorce was shaping up.

Nujood is very different from the girl we first met nearly two years ago. Then, there was no doubt the 10-year-old was every inch a child. She was the very portrait of innocence: A shy smile, a playful nature and a whimsical giggle.

That picture was very much at odds with the brutal story of abuse she endured as a child bride who fought for a divorce and is now still fighting. Watch as Nujood remains defiant.

Nujood says she remains relieved and gratified that her act of defiance — which led to appearances at awards shows and on TV — had paid off.

The story was supposed to end with the divorce and an innocent but determined girl allowed to fully embrace the childhood she fought so hard to keep.

Instead, there has been no fairytale ending for Nujood.

There was, though, a stunning transformation. Nujood went from being a victim and child bride to a portrait of courage and triumph. Her inspirational story was told and re-told around the world, but at home all was not well.

In the fall of 2008 Nujood was recognized as Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year, alongside some of the world’s most impressive women. She even attended the ceremony in New York and was applauded by women from Hillary Clinton to Nicole Kidman.

There is a tell-all book which is to be published in more than 20 languages, and the author says Nujood will receive a good portion of the royalties.

Nujood’s strength was celebrated by complete strangers. But what did all the fame do for the one person it was meant to transform?

“There is no change at all since going on television. I hoped there was someone to help us, but we didn’t find anyone to help us. It hasn’t changed a thing. They said they were going to help me and no one has helped me. I wish I had never spoken to the media,” Nujood says bitterly.

There was never going to be a fortune. Generous people have donated thousands so Nujood could go to a private school, but she refuses to attend, according to Shada Nasser, the human rights lawyer who took on the child’s divorce case.

“I know Nujood was absent from the school. I spoke with her father and her family. And I ask them to control her and ask her to go every day to school. But they said, ‘You know we don’t have the money for the transportation. Don’t have the money for the food,’ ” says Nasser.

She believes Nujood is being victimized by her own family because they believe Nujood’s fame should bring them fortune.

Nujood’s parents say they’ve received nothing, and in the meantime Nujood stews wondering out loud how everything turned out this way.

“I was happy I got divorced but I’m sad about the way it turned out after I went on television,” she said adding that she feels like an outcast even among her family and friends.

Nujood was pulled out of school in early 2008 and married off by her own parents to a man she says was old and ugly. And yet, as a wife, Nujood was spared nothing.

“I didn’t want to sleep with him but he forced me to, he hit me, insulted me” said Nujood. She said being married and living as a wife at such a young age was sheer torture.

Nujood described how she was beaten and raped and how, after just a few weeks of marriage, she turned to her family to try to escape the arrangement. But her parents told her they could not protect her, that she belonged to her husband now and had to accept her fate.

CNN tried to obtain comment from Nujood’s husband and his family but they declined.

Nujood’s parents, like many others in Yemen, struck a social bargain. More than half of all young Yemeni girls are married off before the age of 18, many times to older men, some with more than one wife.

It means the girls are no longer a financial or moral burden to their parents. But Nujood’s parents say they did not expect Nujood’s new husband to demand sex from his child bride.

To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi — for the first time in her life — to get across town to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.

After several hours, a judge finally went to see her. “And he asked me, ‘what do you want’ and I said ‘I want a divorce’ and he said ‘you’re married?’ And I said ‘yes.'” says Nujood.

Nujood’s father and husband were arrested until the divorce hearing, and Nujood was put in the care of Nasser.

Indeed, it seems the judge had heard enough of the abuse to agree with Nujood that she should get her divorce.

But based on the principles of Shariah law, her husband was compensated, not prosecuted. Nujood was ordered to pay him more than $200 — a huge amount in a country where the United Nations Development Programme says 15.7 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

Khadije Al Salame is working to help Nujood get her life back. Now a Yemeni diplomat, 30 years ago she too was a child bride. But when she left her husband, she did not have to endure the publicity that now haunts Nujood.

She said: “It’s good to talk about Nujood and to have her story come out, but the problem is it’s too much pressure on her.

“She doesn’t understand what’s going on. She’s a little girl and we have to understand as a media people that we should leave her alone now. If we really love Nujood then we should just let her go to school and continue with her life, because education is the most important thing for her.”

To get her divorce, Nujood showed a character and strength not easily expressed by women in Yemen, let alone a 10-year-old child bride. But she will need to muster all that strength and more if she’s to finally reclaim her life.

Nujood told us she thought the divorce would be the end of her struggle and she’s still angry that it turned out to be just the beginning.

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Education, Family Issues, Marriage, Women's Issues | , | 5 Comments

Here There and Anywhere

It’s not like “Here, There and Everywhere” is something I made up and trademarked. No. It was an old Beatles song I liked a lot:

And when I started blogging, I couldn’t think of one area I wanted to specialize in, like news commenting, or recipes, and my life isn’t so fascinating that I can just spin tales and keep you dazzled, so Here There and Everywhere just sort of expressed the serendipity that I wanted, and gave me the space that I needed to tackle lots of subjects – and, more important, to me anyway, to get feedback and input from others who might know a whole lot more than I do about things. I was always ready for things to take a wild jag, and, to my utter delight, they sometimes do. 🙂

It’s worked for me. It keeps life interesting.

But I have to admit I sometimes get a twinge of proprietary feeling about the name. One time BitJockey sent me a reference to a blog – a Kuwait blog! and the author had a name so similar that if it was a coincidence, it was a very eerie coincidence. It sort of totally annoyed me, but I didn’t want to give the blog any attention or thought at all, and actually, so far ignoring it has pretty much worked for me, too.

But today, in my very own home town, I saw this big orange van:


“Oh!” I said! “Oh, Look at that van! It says ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ on it!” and my Mom said “Oh, that’s the Here and There and Anywhere Grill” and we order things from them all the time. They are only here on Wednesdays. After two or three weeks,” she added, “I get a little tired of the food and then stop for a while and start again later. They have really good food.”

I love it that Mom is stepping out, taking college seminars, ordering from the Here and There and Anywhere Grill, doing her physical therapy, keeping active.

“How can I help you, Mom?” I asked, and she had a good list ready. At the end was “Buy a new chair” so today we went searching for the perfect chair. In one store, we were the only customers so the saleslady suggested we push Mom around the huge, cavernous store in a dining room chair with wheels. Only problem is Mom has to hold her feet up off the floor, it’s not like a wheelchair with a base you can rest your feet on, but she was a really good sport, except for the one time maybe I was moving too fast and I hit an edge of carpet and almost dumped her by stopping too abruptly.

She found a totally great chair, one I don’t think my Dad would have approved of at all. I love it that she made the decision herself, and bought the chair and it is going to be delivered tomorrow – a gorgeous cherry RED leather chair. Wooo HOOOO on you, Mom! 😀

(You are going to have to imagine the cherry red part; the only photo I could find online is black.)

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Community, ExPat Life, Experiment, Family Issues, Humor, Living Conditions, Relationships, Seattle, Shopping | 2 Comments

Dubai, then Doha Most Expensive

Doha second most expensive city in Mideast
Web posted at: 8/27/2009 2:45:52
Source ::: The Peninsula/ By HUDA N V

DOHA: Doha is the second most expensive city in the Arab world, according to a latest study. The USB, one of the world’s leading financial firms, recently released the 14th edition of its ‘Prices and Earnings’ review which has included Doha for the first time in the list of 73 international cities.

Placed in the 39th position in global ratings, Doha is the second most expensive city in the Middle East after Dubai and before Manama. The rating is based on 122 common goods and services. The study looks at the prices of goods and services, and wages and working hours for 14 professionals in 73 cities round the world.

The study reveals that Dubai has surpassed New York and London which were the biggest financial cities in the world. The finical crisis had lead to fluctuation in the rankings of many cities. London which was the second most expensive in the 2006 review plummeted nearly 20 places, landing in the middle of the Western European rankings. Doha is the most expensive city in the world when it comes to a low-class furnished four bedroom flat. With a monthly rent of $4,210, even posh cities like New York ($4,110) and Dubai ($3,950) come after Doha.

However, in high-class four-bedroom apartments, Dubai is one of the most expensive following New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. In Dubai, such apartments cost $7,090, whereas in Doha they cost $5,580 and $ 3,400 in Manama.

The average rent in most local houses in Qatar is $1,650, $2,160 in Dubai and $890in Manama. With this Doha and Dubai rank among the top 10 most expensive cities in terms of average rents.

Expenditure on some of the 122 goods and services in Doha came to $2,006, while in Dubai it was $2,522 and in Manama $1,773.

One of the common features of ‘Prices and Earnings’ is the ‘Big Mac index’, which has been a trusty indicator of how long an average wage-earner has to work in order to afford that universal meal in each city. This type of comparison is ideal for products that can be purchased around the world in the same quality — products such as an iPod.

People in Doha had to work more as per this index. To earn a Big Mac, people here had to work 34 minutes, whereas in Dubai people could earn the snack with 18 minutes of work and in Manama with 25 minutes of work. To buy an 8 GB iPod nano, Doha residents would have to labour for 35 minutes, compared to 20 minutes and 23 minutes for those in Dubai and Manama, respectively.

While Zurich in Switzerland paid its employees the most (more than $22 an hour), Dubai paid an average of just $10.10, Doha $5.40 and Manama $6.30. The lowest pay was in Mumbai, where workers received an average of just $1.20 an hour.

Food prices are the highest in Japan, at $710, and Geneva ($660) based on 39 standard western food items. In Doha, food cost $379, in Dubai $426 and in Manama $341. Mumbai had the cheapest foods, costing $153.

Taxi prices were the cheapest in Doha at $3.69 for a five-kilometre ride. In Dubai, the same ride cost $4.27 and in Manama $10.61.

Meanwhile, an evening three-course-meal in a good restaurant in Doha cost $59, ranking it the fourth most expensive place, close behind Dubai where such a meal cost $60.

Also, for a short break, which includes an overnight stay in a first-class hotel and various other services, the city could be the second most expensive after Tokyo. A break in Doha and in London cost $1,000 each, following Tokyo, where it can cost $1,130.

The ultra-liberal economic policies of Qatar and Dubai have created an extremely favourable environment for foreign companies and workers here. However, employees in Middle East work more than their counterparts in other countries. Workers in Doha, Dubai and Manama racked up longer hours, averaging 2,210 per year, 308 more than the global average.

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Doha, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Middle East | | 3 Comments