Archive for the ‘Trafficking’ Category
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi unveiled measures targeting immigrants and prostitutes last week, drawing derision from the Italian opposition who want him to resign in a scandal involving teenage girls at his villa.
A decree passed by his cabinet allows authorities to deport citizens of other EU states after 90 days if they do not meet conditions such as having a suitable income and an address.
The move will extend a crackdown on Roma people, which has been criticised by rights groups as discriminatory, and follows similar moves in France earlier this year when dozens of Roma were put on flights to Romania.
The new measures will also allow police to expel any immigrant working as a prostitute on the street but not affect prostitutes working indoors.
Berlusconi is at the centre of a scandal involving an 18-year-old Moroccan runaway named Ruby. Ruby has said she was paid 7,000 euros ($9,900) after she attended a party at Berlusconi’s private villa near Milan when she was 17 years old.
Ruby has denied having sex with Berlusconi and said she had told him she was 24 years old.
His wife filed for divorce last year, accusing him of associating with minors.
The prime minister has shrugged off the storm of criticism which has come his way over the incident, even stoking the outrage with his trademark brand of provocation by remarking “it’s better to like beautiful girls than to be gay”.
Part of a longer article at http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE6A413A20101105
See earlier postings: http://womensphere.wordpress.com/?s=Italy%2Bsexism
The European Union (EU) is committed to strengthening anti-trafficking legislation, and delivering more residence permits to human trafficking victims, European Commission said in Brussels.
On the occasion of the European anti-trafficking day, the European Commission expressed its strong will to combat human trafficking and strengthen the related legislation.
“It is clear to all of us that trafficking in human beings is a crime that cannot be tolerated in any form in Europe, or anywhere else,” said Cecilia Malmstrom, Commissioner for Home Affairs, adding that “trafficking in human beings is the human slavery of our time.”
On 29 March 2010, the commission adopted a new proposal for a directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting the victims. The directive, which is currently under negotiation with the European Parliament and the European Council, will provide a common legal framework for the fight against trafficking in human beings.
As human trafficking is almost always a cross-border crime and victims are often recruited in countries outside the EU, the commission suggested cooperation over the borders should be enhanced and human trafficking should be an integral part of Europe’s external relations.
The commission also said it will continue to give financial support to cross-border projects aiming at improving prosecution, prevention, and victim protection, both inside the EU and around the world in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.
In addition to selecting the first EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, the commission is expected to adopt an Integrated Strategy on the fight against trafficking next year, which will define all important anti-trafficking actions that cannot be addressed through legislation.
The EU is also considering issuing more residence permits to victims to enhance their protections and help them cooperate with authorities in dismantling trafficking networks. An anti- trafficking website will also be launched very soon to display European anti-trafficking policies and legislation, in order to help all those involved in fighting trafficking in human beings.
The fight against human trafficking in Latin America is ineffective and has led to the emergence of intra-regional markets for the trade, according to experts and activists meeting in the Mexican city Puebla.
450 academics and activists took part in the Second Latin American Conference on Smuggling and Trafficking of Human Beings, under the theme “Migrations, Gender and Human Rights”, Sept. 21-24 in Puebla, 129 kilometres south of Mexico City.
In Mexico some 20,000 people a year fall victim to the modern-day slave trade, according to the Centre for Studies and Research on Social Development and Assistance (CEIDAS), which monitors the issue.
The total number of victims in Latin America amounts to 250,000 a year, yielding a profit of 1.35 billion dollars for the traffickers, according to statistics from the Mexican Ministry of Public Security. But the data vary widely. Whatever the case, the United Nations warns that human trafficking has steadily grown over the past decade.
Organisations like the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) estimate that over five million girls and women have been trapped by these criminal networks in the region, and another 10 million are in danger of falling into their hands.
The United Nations today defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
Smuggling of persons, again according to the U.N., is limited to “the procurement of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.”
Latin America is a source and destination region for human trafficking, a crime that especially affects the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.
The conference host, David Fernández Dávalos, president of the Ibero-American University of Puebla (UIA-Puebla), said in his inaugural speech that human trafficking is a modern and particularly malignant version of slavery, only under better cover and disguises.
On Aug. 31, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to implement a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, because it is “among the worst human rights violations,” constituting “slavery in the modern age,” and preying mostly on “women and children.”
The congress coincides with the International Day Against the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children on Thursday, instituted in 1999 by the World Conference of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).
Government authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Mexico concur that criminal mafias in this country have been proved to combine trafficking in persons with drug trafficking, along both the northern and southern land borders (with the United States and with Guatemala, respectively).
Most Latin American countries have established laws against human trafficking, and have ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, in force since Sept. 29, 2003.
In Mexico, a federal Law to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons has been on the books since 2007, but the government has yet to create a national programme to implement it, although this is stipulated in the law itself.
The Puebla Congress, which follows the first such conference held in Buenos Aires in 2008, is meeting one month after the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which exemplified the connection between drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, and drew International attention to the dangers faced by migrants in Mexico.
IOM investigations and research have found that Nicaraguan women are trafficked into Guatemala and Costa Rica, and Honduran women are trafficked into Guatemala and Mexico.
Women from Colombia and Peru have been forced into prostitution in the southern Ecuadorean province of El Oro, according to a two-year investigation by Martha Ruiz, a consultant responsible for updating and redrafting Ecuador’s National Plan against Human Trafficking.
Out of the 32 Mexican states, eight make no reference to human trafficking in their state laws. Mario Fuentes, head of CEIDAS, wrote this week in the newspaper Excélsior that the country is labouring under “severe backwardness and challenges in this field, because it lacks a national programme to deal with the problem, as well as a system of statistics.”
Part of a longer article at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=52940
The authors of a new book, Half the Sky, say the slavery and abuse of women is the greatest moral outrage of our century
In it, they argue that the world is in the grip of a massive moral outrage no less egregious in scale or in the intensity of despair than the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries or the genocides of the 20th. They believe this outrage is a key factor behind many of the most pressing economic and political issues today, from famine in Africa to Islamist terrorism and climate change. Yet they say the phenomenon is largely hidden, invisible to most of us and passing relatively unreported. At worst it is actively tolerated; at best it is ignored.
The fodder of this latterday trade in human suffering is not African people, but women. Which is why they call it “gendercide”. If the supreme moral challenge of the 19th century was slavery, and of the 20th century the fight against totalitarianism, then, they write, “in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world”.
The contention is as startling as the idea of a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist buying up prostitutes. I put it to them that, to some people, the claim will seem overblown. After all, you don’t go lightly comparing the plight of women in developing countries today with slavery or, by implication, the Holocaust.
“This idea is a couple of decades in gestation,” Kristof says. “Over those years, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that this really is the greatest moral challenge of this century.”
“When you hear that 60 to 100 million females are missing in the current population, we thought that number compares in the scope and size. And then you compare the slave trade at its peek in the 1780s, when there were 80,000 slaves transported from Africa to the New World, and you see there are now 10 times that amount of women trafficked across international borders, so you start to think you are talking about comparable weight.”
Yet this huge injustice was going on under their noses, largely unreported, dismissed as “women’s issues” by the mainstream media. “We’ve thought a lot about the failure to see this,” says WuDunn. “Partly, it’s because the news is defined by what happens on a particular day, and a lot of the most important things in the world don’t happen on a particular day . . .”
“And it’s partly that our definition of what constitutes news is a legacy of the perspective of middle-aged men,” adds Kristof. “It may well be that one major reason why high-school girls drop out of school around the world is that they have trouble managing menstruation, and probably one reason nobody has cottoned on to this is that people who run aid organisations and write about it have never menstruated.”
At the end of the book, in similar vein, they give a list of action points that readers can take within 10 minutes to make a difference. And they set us a personal challenge: will we join a historical movement to eradicate sex slavery, honour killings and acid attacks, or are we content to remain detached bystanders? It is the 21st-century equivalent of that ultimately probing 20th-century question: “What did you do in the war, Daddy?”
Part of a longer article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/aug/19/women-slavery-half-the-sky
Although we have not met, we are certain you would not want what happened to us or to thousands of girls like us to ever happen again.
Craig, I am AK. In 2009, I met a man twice my age who pretended to be my boyfriend, and my life as an average girl— looking forward to college, doing my chores, and hanging out with my friends—ended. This “boyfriend” soon revealed he was a pimp. He put my picture on Craigslist, and I was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night. This became my life. Men answered the Craigslist advertisements and paid to rape me. The $30,000 he pocketed each month was facilitated by Craigslist 300 times. I personally know over 20 girls who were trafficked through Craigslist. Like me, they were taken from city to city, each time sold on a different Craigslist site —Philadelphia, Dallas, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. My phone would ring, and soon men would line up in the parking lot. One Craigslist caller viciously brutalized me, threatening to dump my body in a river. Miraculously, I survived.
Craig, I am MC. I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28 year-old man. I am not an exception. The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age, his house was called “Daddy Day Care.” All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock —and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car.
I am 17 now, and my childhood memories aren’t of my family, going to middle school, or dancing at the prom. They are making my own arrangements on Craigslist to be sold for sex, and answering as many ads as possible for fear of beatings and ice water baths. Craig, we write this letter so you will know from our personal experiences how Craigslist makes horrific acts like this so easy to carry out, and the men who carry out, and men who arrange them very rich. Craig, we know you oppose trafficking and exploitation. But right now, Craigslist is the choice of traffickers because it’s so well known and there are rarely consequences to using it for these illegal acts. We’ve heard that the Adult Services section of Craigslist brings in $36 million a year by charging for these ads. These profits are made at the expense of girls like us, who are lured, kidnapped, and forced to feed the increasing demand for child rape. New traffickers are putting up ads every day, because they know it’s less risky and more profitable to sell girls on Craigslist than to deal drugs.
Please, Craig, close down the Adult Services section. Saving even one child is worth it. It could have been us.
AK & MC
Survivors of Craigslist Sex Trafficking
Craigslist is hub for child prostitution, allege trafficked women
The online classified advertising site, Craigslist, is facing accusations that it has become a hub for underage prostitution after two young women placed an advertisement in the Washington Post saying they were repeatedly sold through the site to men who “paid to rape” them.
The allegations came as a federal judge threw out an attempt by Craigslist – named after its owner, Craig Newmark – to stop a criminal investigation over its “adult services” section which is alleged to carry thousands of prostitution ads daily.
In an open letter to Newmark placed in the Washington Post, the two women appealed for him to shut Craigslist’s adult services section.
The ad was partly paid for by Fair Fund, a group working with young women who have been sold for sex. It described Craigslist as “the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking”. Fair Fund said it had checked the women’s accounts and could vouch for them. It said AK had met the US attorney general, Eric Holder.
Craigslist’s chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, said it worked tirelessly with law enforcement agencies to identify ads that exploited children, manually reviewed every adult service ad before posting and required phone verification by the person placing it.
Two years ago, under the threat of legal action by about 40 US states, Craigslist began charging $10 (£6.25) per posting for adult services ads, whereas most of the site is free. Some of the revenue goes to charity. That did not reassure groups working with children forced into the sex trade.
Thousands of ads continue to be placed each day that list charges for encounters. Many include words that the Fair Fund says are flags for underage prostitution such as “fresh” and “inexperienced”.
Last month, dozens of anti-prostitution groups led protests outside Craigslist’s San Francisco HQ to demand an end to sex trade ads.
Last week, Newmark was confronted in the street by a CNN reporter with ads from Craigslist that appeared to offer girls for sex, and the case of a 12-year-old girl forced into prostitution and sold on the site until she was freed in a police raid north of Washington in June. A 42-year-old man was charged with human trafficking. Newmark declined to respond.
The website is under criminal investigation in South Carolina, where the attorney general, Henry McMaster, described Craigslist’s alleged promotion of prostitution as a “very serious matter”. On Friday, a federal judge threw out an attempt by Craigslist to block the investigation. The same day, the attorney general of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, called for Craigslist to scrap sex adverts.
Buckmaster has accused McMaster and other law enforcement officials of “grandstanding” and attempting to impose an outdated sexual moral code.
Part of a longer article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/aug/08/craigslist-underage-prostitution-allegations
Lax government enforcement of human anti-trafficking laws has led to an increase in the trafficking of young Nepalese women and girls, mainly for exploitation in Indian brothels, local activists say.
Nepal’s 2008 Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act stipulates punishment for traffickers of up to 20 years in prison and US$2,600 in fines, and provides for the compensation of victims. But it seems the new law has done nothing to reduce the phenomenon.
“The crucial problem is weak implementation of anti-trafficking laws allowing the traffickers to operate easily,” said Shyam Kumar Pokharel, managing director of Samrakshak Samuha Nepal (SASANE), an NGO supporting trafficked victims. “Although thousands of traffickers have been arrested, only a few hundred have been convicted.”
“These traffickers are all from local criminal gangs and have strong links with brothel owners in the Indian cities,” said Pokharel, who did research on imprisoned traffickers. He found that the traffickers sourced the girls and young women mostly from villages close to their own, before enticing them to Kathmandu with false promises of jobs and marriage.
In the early 1990s, the government estimated that at least 5,000-7,000 girls and women were trafficked annually to brothels in India, but NGOs say this number has gone up significantly. In the past year, Maiti Nepal, [http://www.maitinepal.org/] the first local NGO to attempt to combat human trafficking, has stopped over 17,000 young women crossing the border with traffickers. The NGO has a 36-member border surveillance team, all whom are victims of human trafficking and trained to identify vulnerable girls.
Local NGOs reckon that more than three quarters of the women and girls being trafficked end up in Indian brothels with most of the rest ending up in similar establishments in the Middle East.
“Unfortunately, there is a lack of official data because no studies have been done to get an accurate estimate, but the situation has worsened,” Januka Bhattarai, project coordinator of Shakti Samuha, [http://www.shaktisamuha.org.np/] an NGO that helps to rehabilitate trafficked victims rescued from Indian brothels, told IRIN.
Until the 1990s traffickers targeted a handful of districts, namely Sindupalchowk and Nuwakot (some 50km south of the capital). These districts, inhabited mostly by ethnic Tamang, were among the poorest in the country and yet readily accessible from Kathmandu.
These days, with a somewhat better road system, traffickers have been able to penetrate the whole country, according to Maiti Nepal.
Monitoring the traffickers is not easy given the 1,800km-long border with India and the fact that over 100,000 female migrant workers go to India every year. They do not need travel documents or work visas. The government has not been intervening in this migration process or attempting to identify traffickers or trafficked people.
“It is often the NGOs who are involved in checking the borders, investigating the crimes, protecting the witnesses and following up cases in court,” Biswo Khadga, director of Maiti Nepal, said.
Many cases go unreported: The legal system has registered only 123 cases so far in 2010 – a tiny fraction of the real number of trafficked women and girls, according to SASANE.
Government officials who preferred anonymity said they had been hobbled by political instability and weak governance.
The Trafficking Act requires the government to set up rehabilitation centres, but so far only three are operational – all run by NGOs.
“We’re getting tired of seeking financial aid from the government. It remains very negligent on this issue,” said Bhattarai from Shakti Samuha, which runs a rehabilitation centre in Sindupalchok District.
The government’s lack of progress on this issue has drawn criticism from the US State Department: Its annual trafficking report [http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/index.htm] released in June called the “complicity” of the Nepalese government a “serious problem” and suggested strengthening the National Human-Trafficking Task Force, as well as establishing more effective ways to monitor trafficking cases.
Target: President Zuma of South Africa
Sponsored by: Embrace Dignity Campaign
2010 World Cup
Large sporting events are known to increase levels of sex trafficking of women and girls and, from research conducted with our partners, we believe this year’s World Cup will have similar results. The United Nations estimates that some 80% of persons are trafficked for sexual exploitation and that the majority are women and children. South Africa is a destination for trafficking. One trafficked woman or child is one too many. South Africa’s constitution promotes human rights, human dignity, gender equality, women’s rights and children’s rights. Yet social, economic, racial and gender inequality persists. High levels of poverty among women exist in South Africa and neighbouring countries, making them vulnerable to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The Embrace Dignity Campaign is a South African-based project of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – South Africa led by Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, Loveday Penn-Kekana and administered by Mediatrice Barengayabo. Our mission is to advocate for legislation to end sexual violence and trafficking in women and children.
Embrace Dignity Signature Campaign
We have drawn up a petition to raise public awareness and invite all South Africans and our visitors to sign this petition and return it to us. We will hand the petitions to Parliament for action during the World Cup and when they consider the bills on trafficking and adult prostitution.
Embrace Dignity Petition
Sex trafficking and prostitution are ruining the lives of millions of women and girls around the world and in South Africa today. According to the United Nations, 80 percent of trafficked persons are trafficked for sexual exploitation. The vast majority of them are women and girls. This predatory business disrespects women’s right to human dignity, as enshrined in South Africa’s constitution, and preys on economic, sex and racial inequality to subject its victims to violence and health risks. It needs to stop. Do not buy women or children for sex and don’t support those who do!
Sign the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/embrace-dignity-campaign
Let’s welcome the world but keep out human traffickers, says Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge in this edited version of an open letter to President Jacob Zuma
As we prepare to host the world’s biggest sporting event , large numbers of visitors have begun to arrive in South Africa.
You have appealed to South Africans to welcome our visitors and to make this World Cup the best ever. We agree.
However, large sporting events are known to increase levels of sex trafficking. From research conducted with our partners, we believe this World Cup will be no different.
The United Nations estimates that some 80% of persons trafficked are trafficked for sexual exploitation and that the majority are women and children. South Africa is a prime destination for trafficking. One trafficked woman or child is one too many.
Our constitution promotes human rights, human dignity, gender equality, women’s rights and children’s rights.
Women joined the liberation movement so that we too could enjoy the fruits of freedom. We sacrificed, were imprisoned, exiled and some killed.
We kept the home fires burning. We built South Africa with our sweat and blood. We scrubbed floors, ironed, cooked and nursed small children – some not our own.
Yet social, economic, racial and gender inequality persists in our country, making us vulnerable to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation.
I wish to appeal to you as president to do your best to ensure that women and children will be safe during this period and beyond. You have the power to command the police to implement the laws we have passed to safeguard women and children.
South Africa is party to the UN conventions on the rights of women and children.
We have signed the Convention Against All forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which supplements the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.
We have adopted the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. We have passed the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, which criminalises buyers of women for sexual exploitation. Yet large numbers of women abusers, pimps, brothel and strip-club owners go unpunished.
They are powerful men with money. They buy women’s bodies and bribe police.
Some government officials and researchers have said that the police must be left to fight real crime during the World Cup. Are crimes against women and children not real? Would you condone the breaking of some of our laws because the police are over-stretched?
Some have said the World Cup brings economic opportunities for women. At what cost, Mr President? Are women’s lives so cheap that they can be bought and sold?
The world should hang its head in shame that it has allowed women’s bodies to be commercialised and objectified.
Some have argued that there is a distinction between human trafficking and prostitution. If there were no prostitution, there would be no sex trafficking. This separation is made on the grounds that prostitution is ordinary work and that trafficking is only a problem if women are forced into this work. Ordinary?
The international trade in women for prostitution has greatly increased. It is a hidden trade, so estimates vary, but research puts the number of women being transported for prostitution around the world yearly at between 700000 and two million.
Wherever women and girls are impoverished or displaced they are at risk of traffickers.
Some human rights organisations and UN agencies have imbibed the language of choice and agency. Mr President, how much choice and agency does a woman or girl have who has no food to put on the table, or has been socialised to think that her body is for a man’s pleasure?
There are a number of common patterns for luring victims into situations of sex trafficking, including:
A promise of a good job in another country;
A false marriage proposal turned into a bondage situation;
Being sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands, boyfriends; and
Being kidnapped by traffickers.
Sex traffickers frequently subject their victims to debt-bondage – they tell them that they owe money, often relating to the victims’ living expenses and transport into the country – and that they must pledge their services to repay the debt.
They use a variety of methods to “condition” their victims, including starvation, confinement, beatings, physical abuse, rape, gang rape, threats of violence to them and their families, forced drug use and the threat of shaming the women by revealing their activities to families and friends.
Victims also face numerous health risks, including drug and alcohol addiction; physical injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, sterility, miscarriages, menstrual problems and forced abortions.
Victims are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder – acute anxiety, depression, insomnia, and self-loathing.
Trafficking in women is not new. Slavery often involved trafficking and prostitution. Prostitution is the world’s oldest form of oppression.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Jewish women fleeing pogroms in eastern Europe were transported to Buenos Aires for prostitution.
In the ’20s Russian women were trafficked into China as a result of the poverty and famine of the post-revolutionary period. Russian women are again being trafficked following the fall of communism.
The 1949 UN Convention of the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others required the outlawing of brothels and resulted in their closure in many countries in the ’50s. The convention recognised that prostitution was not just the destination of trafficked women, but the reason that trafficking occurred.
There was an understanding that prostitution was incompatible with the dignity of women and must be ended if trafficking was to be ended.
The demand for prostitution determines supply. A strong call by men not to buy sex would eliminate demand and therefore supply. Mr President, South Africa must not become a pimp state.
Madlala-Routledge is head of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – South Africa and its Embrace Dignity Campaign
An increasingly sexualized consumer society and inadequate funding for social services are major reasons why more young girls are being pressed into sexual slavery, a human-trafficking expert told a Fort Worth audience last week.
Fishnet-clad dolls, “porn star” T-shirts, Juicy brand jeans and the mainstreaming of the word “pimp” all are signs of “demonic forces” at work in American culture, said Alesia Adams, the Salvation Army’s Atlanta-based human trafficking coordinator. Adams spoke at a forum on the subject at the Salvation Army’s Fort Worth offices.
“I don’t want my granddaughter playing with a doll with hooker heels,” she said.
Adams also criticized what she called a shortage of social services to help desperate young people who might be lured into a life of sex.
“There are more services for animals than for child victims of abuse,” she said.
Texas is a hub for human sex trafficking, said Kathleen Murray, the Fort Worth Police Department’s trafficking coordinator. She estimated that 20 percent of all human trafficking in the United States comes through Texas at some point.
“These cases are within our reach,” she said. “That’s a huge responsibility for Texas.”
The State Department estimates that 300,000 children, mostly runaways, are exploited in the United States each year, Murray said.
Experts at the forum said that no reliable estimates for the amount of local sex trafficking exist.
But they said that The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than from any other state, and 15 percent of those are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
FBI Special Agent Don Freese said forced labor trafficking is harder to detect because it typically involves immigrants bringing in others from their home country to work in private homes.
“Sex trafficking is easier to find,” he said, because it requires interaction with customers, which can open the door for detection by law enforcement.
Deena Graves, executive director of Traffic911, a local nonprofit group that rescues child slavery victims, said human trafficking is a $32 billion industry, second only to drugs in global crime exploits.
Sex trafficking may eventually eclipse drugs, she said.
“You can sell a drug only one time,” she said. “You can sell a person over and over and over. Demand drives the machine.”
A child is sold in the world every two minutes, Graves said, and a third of children who run away from home are forced into prostitution within 48 hours.
“These perpetrators know how to spot a distressed child at malls, bus stations,” she said. “Once they are forced into it, their average life expectancy is seven years” because of disease and violence.
Pornography is the No. 1 driver of child sex exploitation, she said. Often, children are forced to act out scenes in hard-core movies for paying customers, Graves said.
She agreed with Adams that pop culture desensitizes kids and adults to exploitation. She highlighted the song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” which won the best original song Oscar from the movie Hustle & Flow and the online game PimpWar.com as examples of glamorizing prostitution and sex slavery.
“You will become a master at the art of pimping your hoes, commanding your thugs and battling your enemies to protect what you have and to help your empire grow,” PimpWar’s online intro boasts.
Graves showed the audience a cropped image of the face of young girl from a pornographic movie.
“This could be your daughter,” she said.
The United Nations has launched a major campaign for universal adoption of treaty protocols that outlaw the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict, with UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.
“The sad truth is that too many children in today’s world suffer appalling abuse,” Ban told a ceremony at the headquarters of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the two optional protocols strengthening the Convention on the Rights of the Child by providing a moral and legal shield for youngsters vulnerable to prostitution and pornography or caught up in armed conflict.
“Two-thirds of all Member States have endorsed these instruments. On this tenth anniversary of their adoption, I urge all countries to ratify them within the next two years,” he said.
Ban cited recent advances: the release three months ago by the Maoist army in Nepal, under UN supervision, of more than 2,000 soldiers who had been recruited as children; the UN-assisted freeing of children from the ranks of armed groups In Cote d’ Ivoire; the prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga for war crimes against children.
He noted, too, that fewer and fewer States now permit children to join the armed forces, and reiterated his previous calls to the Security Council to consider tough measures on those States and insurgent groups that still recruit children.
More countries are also reforming legislation and criminalizing the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, with international cooperation helping to dismantle pedophile networks, remove child pornography from the Internet, and protect children from sexual exploitation by tourists.
“Nonetheless, much remains to be done,” he said. “In too many places, children are seen as commodities, in too many instances they are treated as criminals instead of being protected as victims, and there are too many conflicts where children are used as soldiers, spies or human shields.”
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said the Optional Protocols “represent a promise made to the world’s most vulnerable children — children born into extreme poverty and despair, children in countries torn apart by conflict and children forced into unimaginable servitude by adults who regard them as commodities.”
The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict has been ratified by 132 States; 25 States have signed but not ratified it and 36 States have neither signed nor ratified it. “We know from the situation on the ground that much remains to be done. Violence against children in all its forms remains a challenge for societies in the world,” Ban’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said.
“There are a multitude of conflicts where children are used as soldiers, spies, human shields or for sexual purposes. Every additional ratification of the Optional Protocol would therefore bring us closer to a world in which no child is participating in hostilities and forced to serve the national military or irregular armies,” she said.
The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography has been ratified by 137 States; 27 have signed but not ratified and 29 have neither signed nor ratified it.
“The Optional Protocol is an important tool for tearing through the mantle of invisibility surrounding the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation, to mobilize societies and to translate political commitment into effective protection of children from all forms of violence,” Ban’s Special Representative on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais said, citing significant law reforms to criminalize such crimes.
Having assisted more than 12,000 sex slaves, MAITI Nepal rescues girls from being sold into brothels and helps heal the physiological and physical wounds of those who have served in them.
Nominated as one of CNN Hero, Anuradha Koirala founded MAITI Nepal, an NGO that rescues Nepalese girls from brothels in India. She survived an abusive relationship of her own and when she was able to leave the relationship, Koirala opened up a small store, hiring victims of sex trafficking.
The call to make an even bigger difference in these women’s lives drove her to start MAITI Nepal, which roughly translates to “mother’s home.” Though there is no direct translation, it alludes to a woman’s place when she no longer belongs to her family, but to an outsider, usually her husband.
Working members of MAITI Nepal raid brothels and trafficking cartels in Nepal and India. Once the girls and women are found, they’re housed and provided with resources to help nurture them back to a healthy state.
“The hardest part for me is to see a girl dying or coming back with different diseases at an [age] when she should be out frolicking,” Koirala told CNN. “That’s what fuels me to work harder.”
More than 400 displaced women are housed by MAITI Nepal, where they are given therapy, legal advice and health care. The organization staffs teachers, counselors, social workers and medical personnel, many of whom are rescued sex slaves to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation process. The girls are also provided with job training since Koirala’s goal is to enable them to become economically self-sufficient, helping them to assimilate back into society.
In addition to the rescued, MAITI Nepal also takes in victims of domestic abuse, rape and displaced children.
“I cannot say no to anybody. Everybody comes to Maiti Nepal,” Koirala said.
To see a video on Koirala’s work, view the other nominees, or submit a nominee of your own, visit CNN Heroes http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/index.html.
A concerted global war on a new multi-million dollar business in human trafficking is heating up and African countries are mapping out strategies to ensure success of their effort.
In recent decades, Africa suffered and even today, continues to suffer from the socio-economic problem variously referred to as brain drain. But a disturbing phenomenon has since grown also within the drain fire: The dehumanisation and sale (sex trade) of human bodies mostly in Europe but with its origin in Nigeria plus many other countries in the south of the hemisphere.
So experts from the African Union (AU) as well as those from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted far-reaching measures they believe will curb the growing menace of human trafficking across the regions of the continent.
At the end of a three-day convergence that ushered in the launch of AU Commission’s initiative against Trafficking in Persons (AU.COMMIT) campaign with the rest of the continent’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Abuja, the experts agreed to set up a reporting mechanism on the implementation of the Action Oriented Paper (AOP) and generate a true status continental report on the state of trafficking in Africa.
No fewer than 43 of the 53 countries in Africa including 13 of the 15 nations in West Africa have ratified the Palermo protocol yet it was widely reported that organ trafficking has now been added to the hydra-headed nature of the scourge while impunity has become a major obstacle in the fight against migratory abuse and what has often been referred to as modern slavery.
The statistics are also frightening: The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that about 29,000 young men and women from sub-Saharan Africa are illegally transported to Europe and the Americas yearly with Nigeria contributing a sizeable proportion of that number.
The United States (U.S.) Department of State estimates that of the 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80 per cent are women and girls.
United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reports that across the world, there are over one million children entering the sex trade yearly and that approximately 30 million children have lost their childhood through sexual exploitation over the past 30 years.
Mind bungling as the statistics reveal, the business dimension is even more dreadful because it constitutes the oil in its furnace. Human trafficking, according to the UN’s figures for 2008-2009, has now created a $32 billion global business.
Besides the translation of the Ouagadougou Action Plan into measures for preventing trafficking, prosecuting traffickers and providing assistance to victims of trafficking, the Abuja technical meeting had also sought to merge the AU.COMMIT with the AFRICA-UNITE campaign on violence against women, which was launched in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2010.
The Ouagadougou action plan against trafficking of especially women and children was adopted in 2006 and by January 2007, the AU further adopted the Executive Council decision (EX.CL/Dec.324x), which endorsed it while the IOM was enjoined to assist member states with the development and implementation of sound migration policies aimed at addressing trafficking in human beings.
When the experts rounded up, there emerged a report which said the institutional cooperation would now involve the setting up of a strategic partnership and cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination in Africa, the Arab world and other regions through the AU-LAS dialogue, European Union (EU)-Africa strategic partnership and others of similar hue. They also revealed that machinery has been set in motion to work out a common set of standards to arrest the scourge.
The report said further that countries have now been empowered to set up anti-human trafficking national taskforces anchored in a well resourced and relevant institutions responsible for coordinating and implementing activities of the taskforces. The experts urged governments on the continent to develop legislative frameworks in line with existing protocols and instruments in combating trafficking in human beings.
The new president of the ECOWAS commission and Ghanaian Victor Gbeho noted that human trafficking is also a serious challenge to the security and welfare of women and children all over the world as it “affects virtually every country and region and involves the deprivation of its victims of their basic dignity and rights as human beings. It has become a worldwide criminal business enterprise, perhaps second only to trafficking in drugs and weapons in its profitability. It also involves the exploitation of the most vulnerable, mostly women and children usually in the contexts of poverty, weak or transition economies, insecurity and political instability”.
There were broad observations by the league of Arab states as origin, transit and destination region, also by the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), which had considered the free movement of regional citizens and its impact on anti-human trafficking efforts.
So too were the submissions by the ILO, UNICEF, UNPF for Women (UNIFEM), UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Iceland is fast becoming a world-leader in feminism. A country with a tiny population of 320,000, it is on the brink of achieving what many considered to be impossible: closing down its sex industry.
While activists in Britain battle on in an attempt to regulate lapdance clubs – the number of which has been growing at an alarming rate during the last decade – Iceland has passed a law that will result in every strip club in the country being shut down. And forget hiring a topless waitress in an attempt to get around the bar: the law, which was passed with no votes against and only two abstentions, will make it illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees.
Even more impressive: the Nordic state is the first country in the world to ban stripping and lapdancing for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: “It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold. The law is a result of the feminist groups putting pressure on parliamentarians. These women work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their campaigns and it eventually filters down to all of society.”
The news is a real boost to feminists around the world, showing us that when an entire country unites behind an idea anything can happen.
According to Icelandic police, 100 foreign women travel to the country annually to work in strip clubs. It is unclear whether the women are trafficked, but feminists say it is telling that as the stripping industry has grown, the number of Icelandic women wishing to work in it has not. Supporters of the bill say that some of the clubs are a front for prostitution – and that many of the women work there because of drug abuse and poverty rather than free choice.
So how has Iceland managed it? To start with, it has a strong women’s movement and a high number of female politicans. Almost half the parliamentarians are female and it was ranked fourth out of 130 countries on the international gender gap index (behind Norway, Finland and Sweden). All four of these Scandinavian countries have, to some degree, criminalised the purchase of sex (legislation that the UK will adopt on 1 April).
Johanna Sigurðardottir is Iceland’s first female and the world’s first openly lesbian head of state. Guðrún Jónsdóttir of Stígamót, an organisation based in Reykjavik that campaigns against sexual violence, says she has enjoyed the support of Sigurðardottir for their campaigns against rape and domestic violence: “Johanna is a great feminist in that she challenges the men in her party and refuses to let them oppress her.”
Then there is the fact that feminists in Iceland appear to be entirely united in opposition to prostitution. There is also public support: the ban on commercial sexual activity is not only supported by feminists but also much of the population. A 2007 poll found that 82% of women and 57% of men support the criminalisation of paying for sex – either in brothels or lapdance clubs – and fewer than 10% of Icelanders were opposed.
Jónsdóttir says the ban could mean the death of the sex industry. “Last year we passed a law against the purchase of sex, recently introduced an action plan on trafficking of women, and now we have shut down the strip clubs. The Nordic countries are leading the way on women’s equality, recognising women as equal citizens rather than commodities for sale.”
Janice Raymond, a director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, believes the new law will pave the way for governments in other countries to follow suit. “What a victory, not only for the Icelanders but for everyone worldwide who repudiates the sexual exploitation of women,” she says.
Jónsdóttir is confident that the law will create a change in attitudes towards women. “I guess the men of Iceland will just have to get used to the idea that women are not for sale.”
Part of a longer comment piece at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/25/iceland-most-feminist-country
Caritas Internationalis is calling on governments and the international community to protect migrants who work in people’s homes as maids, nannies and carers from exploitation. These workers are mostly women.
Domestic workers are frequently trafficked and exploited. They rarely benefit from any form of legal protection. Abuse can be difficult to detect because the workplace is in private homes.
Caritas asks that domestic workers have the same legal protection in the workplace as others workers do.
‘Apart from the risk of abuse, domestic workers may have no social security protection, can be overworked and underpaid. Many fear their employers’ reprisals if they complain to the authorities and thus continue to live as modern day slaves,’ says Martina Liebsch, Director of Policy for Caritas Internationalis.
The International Labour Organziation is the UN body responsible for international employment standards.The ILO will consider a draft convention to protect the rights of domestic workers in June 2010. Caritas is asking for specific provisions for migrant domestic workers that includes that their work or residence permit is not tied to one employer.
Caritas is calling for the creation of a complaints mechanism and a compensation scheme for migrant domestic workers that is independent of their legal status.
Domestic work should be regulated through the creation of employment agencies which act as intermediaries between employers and migrant workers. Agencies should ensure compliance with labour standards and the quality of the work performed.
Caritas recognises an increasing demand for domestic workers and home care providers, yet legal migratory channels don’t existent in many countries. Caritas calls on governments to create channels for legal labour migration for people wishing to leave their own countries.
As UNHCR offices around the world marked International Women’s Day, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said it was vital that all people of concern to the agency, male and female, are given equal opportunities and are able to realize their individual rights on an equal basis.
Guterres, in a special message to staff, added that this year’s theme, Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All, was “a principle UNHCR has already committed to implementing through, for example, its strategy for Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming.”
The High Commissioner, noting that nearly half of all people uprooted by conflict are female, said inequality between women and men, and discrimination on the basis of sex occurs during all stages of the displacement cycle. “Moreover, difficulties accessing and enjoying rights are likely to be worsened during displacement leading to even greater gender inequality,” he added.
Guterres stressed that UNHCR was also dedicated to ensuring women’s equality within the organization. He said UNHCR’s three-year-old policy on gender equity reflected the organization’s determination to achieve gender parity in staffing.
UNHCR staff in offices and refugee camps around the world have arranged various programmes for today and the rest of the week to commemorate International Women’s Day. In the agency’s Geneva headquarters, female staff were selling handicrafts made by Iraqi refugees in Damascus for programmes aimed at the prevention and response to sexual violence.
Later in the week, Ugandan refugee Kate Ofwono from Kakuma camp in north-west Kenya is due to take part with Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller in a panel discussion in Geneva entitled, “Listen to Women for Change.” Ofwono will also show a film she made, with UNHCR’s support, about her life and challenges in Kakuma and how she has made use of the opportunities available for skills development and employment.
Luisa Cremonese, a senior UNHCR gender specialist who is helping organize the events in Geneva, said forced displacement often led to many human rights violations against women, both during flight and in camps. She added that in some cases abuse occured “even when they return home and the rights they have gained as refugees are no longer respected.”
Meanwhile, in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad UNHCR and a local partner, Struggle for Change (SACH), convened a special International Women’s Day meeting on Monday of local and refugee women to discuss the day’s theme of equal rights and equal opportunities.
A 48-year-old Somali woman, Hadja, told the gathering that she had been abducted and held by a militia group for four years in her homeland before managing to escape. “I was subjected to a lot of physical and mental violence and the numerous scars on various part of my body are a reminder of the pain and hurt I had to endure,” said Hadja, who has been living in Islamabad for the past three years.
Her husband, a former UN driver, was killed by militiamen in Somalia along with her father and eldest son. She said that she had been warned that she would be killed if she returned to Somalia because Hadja had refused to marry her brother-in-law. She lives in Pakistan with one of her daughters, but her three other children remain in Africa.
Hadja survives largely on an allowance of 4,500 Pakistani rupees (US$52) a month from SACH. She has a refugee card from UNHCR, but no right to work or permanent residence. Despite this, Hadja’s strength has made her a leader among the Somali women in Islamabad.
Sharing her story at Monday’s event, she said that “in spite of the traumatic experience and violence inflicted on me, I still have a will to live and hope for the future.” She added that her “passion is to assist the weak, the needy and the voiceless.”
Humaira, a 21-year-old refugee from neighbouring Afghanistan, told the meeting she had come to Pakistan when she was only four years old. “I feel Pakistan is my home country. I speak Urdu very well,” said the maths teacher. “As a woman, I feel I can strive harder toward a better future,” she said.
In Bogota, UNHCR marked the day by launching a video, “Sin Nombre (Nameless),” which tells the story of displaced Colombian women. The groups Mesa Mujer and Armed Conflict, meanwhile, presented their ninth annual report on socio-political violence against females in Colombia, which shows forcibly displaced women to be particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
In Venezuela, UNHCR was taking part in an International Women’ Day fair at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. The UNHCR office in Zulia was scheduled to make a presentation on international law at a conference on women’s rights, with the focus on indigenous communities in the region.
Women displaced by war should be given a greater voice in decisions directly affecting their future, especially those taken by humanitarian organizations and others helping internally displaced people (IDPs), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said.
In the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, the ICRC drew attention to the extraordinary strength and resilience of millions of women displaced by armed conflicts worldwide.
In situations of war and displacement, women’s voices often go unheard and their specific needs are overlooked.
“The stereotype of women as passive beneficiaries can result in their being excluded from decisions that affect them directly,” explained Nadine Puechguirbal, the ICRC’s adviser on issues relating to women and war.
“Failure to consult women about their needs and how best to address them diminishes the quality and efficiency of the aid provided.” The ICRC has been increasingly involving women in planning, implementing and evaluating aid programmes.
For example, since women are often responsible for their families’ food supplies, the ICRC consults them before deciding what type and quantity of food aid to distribute and to ensure that locations for food distributions are safe and accessible.
Women displaced by armed conflict – often living alone with their children – are frequently exposed to sexual violence, discrimination and intimidation.
Many face poverty and social exclusion as well.
International humanitarian law therefore includes specific provisions protecting women, for example when they are pregnant or as mothers of young children.
Iraq, where an estimated 2.8 million people have had to flee their homes in recent years (1), is a case in point.
Deprived of traditional sources of income, many displaced women are forced to defy social expectations, and adopt a new role as the family breadwinner, in order to earn money and put food on the table – through whatever means possible, including manual labour.
The situation is especially serious in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where displaced women such as Marie (2), a 22-year-old rape victim, fight to overcome hardship and despair.
In addition to the trauma she suffered, Marie was rejected by her community.
Nevertheless, with help from the ICRC, she managed to start her own small business and take care of her three children independently.
“Far too often, women are victims of horrific violence and cruelty in times of war,” said Ms Puechguirbal.
“But this is not the whole story.
Many women also show remarkable grit and determination in coping with their problems, and build new lives for themselves and their families.”
- (1) According to the 2009 report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (http://www.internal-displacement.org).
(2) Not her real name.
The displacement of populations is one of the gravest consequences of today’s armed conflicts. It affects women in a host of ways. But far from being helpless victims, women are resourceful, resilient and courageous in the face of hardship. Nadine Puechguirbal, the ICRC adviser on women and war explains.
Nearly 48 per cent of women sold for commercial sex exploitation in Tamil Nadu were ensnared when they were children, a recent study conducted among over 1,500 victims of trafficking, has showed. While 3.6 per cent of them were sold when they were less than five years, 12.9 per cent of them were between 6 and 10 years. Further 25.6 per cent of the respondents reported being sold to brothels between 11 and 18 years. The majority of them said they were inducted into it by their own family, spouse, lovers and friends.
The study was conducted over 10 months in 2009, by a team led by R. Thilagaraj, head of the department of Criminology, Madras University, and funded by the UNDP through the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society. Sharing with The Hindu the results of the first such comprehensive study on trafficking done in the State, Prof. Thilagaraj said the sample included 12 per cent of victims who were children at the time of the interview.
“These women and girls come from the lower socio-economic group where poverty and unemployment are rampant. It is this vulnerability that the traffickers exploit. In most of the instances, they were sold by their parents to middlemen who promised to find them jobs as domestic help in cities or roles in Tamil films,” he said.
Malini, an orphan and 15 years of age, was sold as a commercial sex worker in Madurai. She was gang raped and was found with cigarette burns all over the body.
“This is typical in many of the cases. Fifty per cent of our respondents confessed that they were subjected to sexual abuse during childhood,” Prof. Thilagaraj said. In many instances, they are addicted to alcohol and drugs and the habit continues to make them vulnerable to further exploitation, he added. About 20 per cent of the victims had tested positive for HIV. The study also included responses of 149 traffickers, most of who had themselves been trafficked earlier or had stints as commercial sex workers.
The study used GIS mapping systems to plot the areas from where the women and children were trafficked and the places (within the state and outside of it) to which they were taken.
Chennai turned out to be a supply and transit zone, from where girls are sent to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Goa.
A 17-member national steering committee that will oversee the implementation of the national intervention data base project for combating human trafficking in Ghana has been inaugurated in Accra. The initiative which seeks to demonstrate Ghana’s commitment to fighting the menace comes in the wake of the release of the ninth annual Trafficking in Persons report (TIP) published in 2009 by the US Department of State and which sheds light on the faces on modern-day slavery and on new facets of this global problem.
The report named Ghana as a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.
Mrs. Sylvia Hinson-Ekong, Executive Director of Rescue Foundation Ghana (RSG) told journalists in Accra that, the outputs of the project will include capacity building, generation of a first national report on human trafficking in Ghana and dissemination of the report among others. “The database will serve as a source of information on human trafficking for planning and implementation of projects in the sector. It should encourage more players to work in the sector and attract more donors to the sector. I hope this partnership example between government and civil society will be replicated in other sectors to accelerate national development.”
Outgoing minister for MOWAC, Ms Akua Sena Dansua noted that the lack of a national database affects effective planning and programming for making interventions in trafficking in persons in Ghana. She was hopeful the project will also promote effective advocacy, decision making, planning, programming as well as adopting innovative mechanisms in combating human trafficking in Ghana.
The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Trans-national Organized Crime (2000) states that, “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, engaging others in prostitution or forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking persons”.
Reports say trafficking in persons is a global phenomenon and that the trend is going upward. Last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said global human trafficking yielded between 7 and 12 billion US dollars, the third most profitable form of trafficking after arms and narcotics. Yet, whereas those who deal in drugs and guns can expect stiff penalties, if caught, penalties for traffickers in many countries seem less severe.
Ghana passed the Human Trafficking Act, Act 694 in 2005, to help deal effectively with the issue.
The TIP report stated that trafficking within the country is more prevalent than transnational trafficking and the majority of victims are children. Both boys and girls are trafficked within Ghana for forced labor in agriculture and the fishing industry, for street hawking, forced begging by religious instructors, as porters, and possibly for forced kente weaving.
Over 30,000 children are believed to be working as porters, or Kayayei, in Accra alone. Annually, the IOM reports numerous deaths of boys trafficked for forced labor in the Lake Volta fishing communities. Girls are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
The TIP stated that trans-nationally, children are trafficked between Ghana and other West African countries, primarily Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Gabon for the same purposes listed above. Girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation from Ghana to Western Europe, from Nigeria through Ghana to Western Europe, and from Burkina Faso through Ghana to Cote d’Ivoire.
Last year, Chinese women were trafficked to Ghana for sexual exploitation and a Ghanaian woman was also trafficked to Kuwait for forced labour. According to the report, Ghana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking although it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. During the year, Ghanaian police intercepted a greater number of trafficking victims than the preceding year.
Despite these achievements, the government demonstrated weak efforts in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders or ensuring that victims received adequate care; therefore, Ghana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.
The TIP report recommends that Ghana increases efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, including those who subject children to forced labour in the Lake Volta fishing industry and those who force Ghanaian children and foreign women into prostitution. It further recommends to Ghana to establish additional victim shelters, particularly for sex trafficking victims; continue to apply Trafficking Victim Fund monies to victim care; and train officials to identify trafficking victims among women in prostitution and to respect victims’ rights.
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MOWAC) has the mandate to coordinate activities on human trafficking. Trafficking units are established in both the Police and the Ghana Immigration Service while several NGOs and stakeholders have projects to combat human trafficking. However, all these are scattered and uncoordinated.
It is for this reason that MOWAC is collaborating with Rescue Foundation Ghana (RFG) with support from the British High Commission to develop a national database on stakeholders and interventions being undertaken to combat trafficking of persons in Ghana.
First Secretary, Migration Policy (West Africa) of the British High Commission, Mr. Andrew Fleming, bemoaned that most victims of human trafficking often come from the poorest and most vulnerable sections and that the duty of all and sundry should be to help them spiritually and ethically.
“Help is not just about preventing trafficking and the rescue of victims. It is equally critical that cross sector partnerships work together to rehabilitate these victims.”
He commended Ghana for her attempts to ensure good practice on rehabilitation but said more victims need to benefit from this.
The possibility of child trafficking in Haiti following that country’s devastating earthquake has become a top concern for the United Nations organization that oversees the welfare of children.
Many children have been separated from their parents or caregivers because of the Jan. 12 earthquake, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, making them potential victims of trafficking or sexual exploitation.
“In this type of emergency, children are unfortunately the most vulnerable, especially those who have been abandoned,” UNICEF spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told a news briefing.
UNICEF acknowledged it had received reports of violence against children in Haiti since the quake but would not provide details.
The reports have made it difficult for one Canadian pastor who cares for orphans in Gonaives, located about 150 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince.
Pastor Noel Ismonin has been scouring camps of Haitians left homeless by the quake for orphans to bring back to Gonaives with him, but has found his offers sometimes rejected outright.
“They’re going to be abused,” cried one Haitian man at one tent city, to Ismonin’s dismay.
Later, a man offered to sell Ismonin a young boy in his care for $50. Ismonin refused.
“We’re not trying to take these kids away from their families,” Ismonin told CBC News. “I want to help those who have no mother or father or support for the future.”
UNICEF has partnered with the Haitian government, Red Cross and Save the Children, a non-profit organization, also to identify and register unaccompanied children wandering the chaotic streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, and to re-unite them with their families when possible.
“UNICEF’s position has always been that whatever the humanitarian situation, family reunification must be favoured,” said Taveau.
“If parents are dead or unaccounted for, efforts should be made to reunite a child with his or her extended family, including grandparents,” she said.
Many countries, including Canada, the United States and the Netherlands, have amended their adoption policies to make it easier for citizens to adopt children from Haiti.
Canada has said it would step up processing of immigration applications from Haitians who have Canadian relatives. Haitians temporarily in Canada would be allowed to extend their stay and priority consideration would be given to pending adoption cases.
The United States will temporarily allow entry to orphaned children from Haiti to receive care, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Monday.
Its “humanitarian parole policy” will be applied to children legally confirmed as orphans who are eligible for adoption in another country by the Haitian government and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.
The governor of Värmland, western Sweden, has called for action to track the marital lives of men that habitually wed foreign women after it is revealed the region has the highest number of so-called wife importers in the country.
“We are asking for a specific commission from the government to find measures to reduce the number of these wife importers,” said county governor Eva Eriksson to news agency TT.
The present problem is the lack of accessible knowledge about the men who repeatedly tie the knot with women from abroad.
It is believed the men are abusing a Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) rule, which states that a foreign wife can be deported if the marriage ends within two years.
The National Organisation for Women’s and Girls’ Shelters in Sweden (Roks) has surveyed how many women coming to Sweden to marry end up seeking help through their women’s centres.
In 2008, 38 out of 515 women who needed assistance were living in Värmland where the situation is significantly worse than in Sweden’s big cities.
By way of comparison, there is one case per 7,000 inhabitants in Värmland and one case per 19,000 residents in Stockholm.
“We could obtain information about which men are exploiting the system from the migration authorities but at present those records are confidential and protected by law,” said Angela Beausang, chairwoman of Roks.
“In order to help the women from winding up in the clutches of these men, we would like the element of confidentiality to be removed,” she added.