Silicon Valley has a well-known history of sexism, but emails found by Newsweek reveal yet another sordid detail about the tech industry’s misogynistic treatment of women — this time from Seattle.
Apparently, tech giants like Amazon, Microsoft, among many other firms, are patrons of sex trafficking victims.
Newsweek obtained a slew of squalid emails sent to prostitution houses and pimps between 2014 and 2016 that documented the Seattle tech industry’s middle and upper echelon’s purchase of services from sex trafficking victims.
The cache shared by the publication included 67 emails sent by Microsoft employees, 63 sent by Amazon workers and dozens more from other tech giants like Oracle, T-Mobile and Boeing.
The emails from the employees are all quite similar and many of them are disguised as responses to wrong email addresses.
“I think you might have the wrong email address,” wrote one man with an Amazon work address.
“Think you might have the wrong guy,” wrote another to a pimp from his Microsoft account.
These are just two from among hundreds of emails sent by tech workers at major companies in hopes of hooking up with trafficked Asian women. The emails were sent on work accounts because Seattle pimps normally ask first time buyers to prove they are not cops by sending an employee badge or email.
Law enforcement authorities have been seizing these records from the computers of brothels and sex massage parlor over the past few years. Some emails were also obtained in connection with a 2015 crackdown that targeted sex worker review boards and netted 18 high-ranking individuals, including directors from Microsoft and Amazon, who opted for a trial.
These review boards were registered by 18,000 men (who reportedly called themselves The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and also met with each other in public to exchange notes), who rated and discussed sex traffic victims, including their sexual prowess, working in brothels like 7HeavenofAsia and AsianCandy777. The site reportedly had 1.2 million hits in a month in 2009.
The trafficked women performed sexual favors for hundreds of men each day and are not well versed in English, thus resorting to communicating with “patrons” through phone translation apps. To retain customers, the women are forced to advertise erotic, degrading experiences. Many of these women are in debt bondages and are forced to work the sex trade over the safety of their families.
When the Seattle authorities broke up the review boards in 2015, these women were not arrested and many of them have vanished from the Seattle area. The arrests angered supporters of the sex trade who showed their contempt for women by claiming they sell their bodies by choice and that online review boards helped them keep safe by warning about dangerous men. However, Alisa Bernard, who was forced into prostitution herself and is now an activist, said she was raped many times and held against her will by men who all participated in review boards.
A Department of Justice study found Seattle has the fastest growing sex industry in the United States and its boom is directly proportional to the growth in the tech industry. City authorities believe some men spend as much as $50,000 each year on sex workers and brothels advertise their proximity to tech giants.
The nonchalant attitude of the tech industry towards sexual victimization is utterly horrifying. Not only have tech giants employed a large number of people who fund sexual trafficking by paying for sex but it has also enabled traffickers to easily access its customer base and hide their trade from law enforcement authorities by going online.
In fact, a study conducted by Polaris found more than 700 Asian brothels operating in Silicon Valley. That’s believed to be 20 percent of the total number of brothels in California, despite the fact the area’s population equals just 10 percent of the state.
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