Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Definition

Another track off my forthcoming album, Beat Down Human Trafficking.

Artist: J Nice
Album: Beat Down Human Trafficking
Genre: Hip Hop
Subject: Human Trafficking
Due Date: October 2007
Format: CD & downloadable
*Available through the official Human Trafficking Project website coming in October!

Song Title: The Definition
Vocals: J Nice (USA), Artstrong (Philippines)
Production: James Brown (USA)
Engineer: Artstrong (Philippines)

Download Here

Kangaroo Courts, Trafficking & Corruption

Leandro Despouy, the special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, seen here in 2006, expressed concern about the trial and sentencing in Bangladesh of a fellow UN expert on corruption charges.

UN investigator of human trafficking hit with corruption charges

From the Agence France-Presse:

Sigma Huda, who served as the UN special rapporteur on human trafficking, was sentenced to three years in jail by a Bangladeshi anti-graft court on corruption charges, along with her husband who was a former minister.

Leandro Despouy, the special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said in a statement that he had "received information indicating that the right to legal representation and the independence of the (Bangladeshi) court were severely affected" during Huda's trial.

"The atmosphere during the trial was reportedly intimidating, with military and police presence both outside and inside the courtroom," Despouy added.

Read the full article

Young Entrepreneurs for Sustainability

From the Inquirer:

Entrepreneurs typically measure performance in terms of financial profits, but a new breed called social entrepreneurs apparently care more about the impact of their enterprise on society and the community.

DHL Express Philippines, the local presence of the Deutsche Post subsidiary, recently selected its top social entrepreneur through the DHL Young Entrepreneurs for Sustainability (DHL YES) Awards.

The award seeks to recognize and support young community leaders as part of its thrust for social responsibility. DHL defined the social entrepreneur as an individual who conceptualizes, innovates and implements programs to help improve the lives of his or her countrymen in line with the millennium development goals.

Read the full article

More on Illac Diaz, a social entrepreneur who has created several successful ventures in the Philippines including temporary housing facilities for seafarers, a peanut sheller, and a device that grows coral at four times the normal rate.

Read about Mr. Diaz here

Immigration Clamps Down on Trafficking

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Source: Corbis)

From the Inquirer:

MANILA, Philippines -- Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has ordered his officers and agents in different airports and sub-ports to intensify the campaign against human trafficking.

"This is a very serious problem and we in the Immigration bureau, being the country's chief gatekeeper, should do our part in stopping this human trafficking menace from victimizing more of our countrymen," Libanan said after the United Nations reported that one in four of humans trafficked across the globe were Filipinos.

Read the full article

Get Up, Stand Up

Source: Washington Post

From the Washington Post:

They'll change the diapers, wash the clothes and cook the dinner. But nannies want a little respect.

They don't need "Nanny Diaries" luxuries. But a contract would do. So would minimum wage, paid vacation, sick leave and overtime pay. And notice before firing. That's the message a group of nannies in the Washington region wants working parents, companies and local governments to hear.

"We don't mind the work -- we just want to be paid for it," said Janet Osorio, who became so fed up with the long hours and low pay working as a nanny that she now works for a cleaning company. "And the opportunity to have a life."

Read the full article

Friday, September 14, 2007

Why I Work

A trafficking survivor in the Philippines hides behind her doll at a halfway house run by the Visayan Forum Foundation, Photo by Kat Palasi

The Issue
According to the U.S. State Department, 800 thousand people are trafficked around the world each year for the purpose of prostitution, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation. This does not include trafficking within a country’s borders. An estimated 17,000 victims are trafficked into the United States each year. The International Organization for Migration estimates there are 250,000 women and children trafficked every year in Asia.

Human trafficking is connected to poverty, corruption, unemployment, and migration. It evokes strong emotions. It can be overwhelming.

Creating a Connection

Because of the massive scope of the issue, it can be difficult to think about and connect with the actual people who are victimized. It can be hard to imagine the real people who are enslaved and forced into prostitution or forced to work in a factory. Although the issue itself raises eyebrows, if people cannot connect with actual victims it makes it easier for them to forget, to move on, to change the channel and live another day ignorant of the reality of modern day slavery.

It is important that people connect not only to the issue, but also to the people it victimizes. Only then will the need to create change fully present itself. Then we will no longer be able to turn our backs because the issue has been personalized.

In human rights work, building this personal connection between the victims and the public is crucial to creating long-lasting change. Without it, someone might still be motivated to give money, but without a personal tie to the issue the support will fade over time.

Lasting Change
We need the public to wake up to the truth behind trafficking. We need to recognize the misery and suffering and acknowledge the lives that hang in the balance while we live in our comfortable, air-conditioned bubbles. Only then will we be motivated to create long-lasting change. Only then will we take serious action to end modern day slavery.

Money plays an integral role, but we also need life-long advocates and supporters who understand what’s at stake, who understand the degree of evil and injustice at work.

The Organization

The Human Trafficking Project will forge this personal connection between victims and the public by creating trafficking-related art that presents the massive issue of trafficking through the eyes of the very people it affects. Think music, film, photography, clothes, blogs, and more- this is the Human Trafficking Project.

The art projects will be merchandised and sold to the public to raise awareness. All profit will go towards anti-slavery work.

Specifically, profits will be used to:
  • Develop further trafficking-related art projects to raise awareness
  • Fund educational scholarships for trafficking survivors
  • Operate the Human Trafficking Project

Guest relation officers, or hostesses and sometimes prostitutes, are typical in bars across the Philippines. The commodification of women contributes to an environment where trafficking flourishes, Photo by Veejay Villafranca

The time to act is now.

Help stop modern day slavery! Help defeat human trafficking!

To get involved e-mail

This Week in Trafficking

Trafficking and migration related articles from around the web

Source: Corbis

Senator says the annual quota of Filipina nurses to Japan is not enough

Taking up the cudgels for thousands of health practitioners, Senator Loren Legarda on Friday questioned the "highly restrictive" quota-based deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers to "the land of the rising sun" under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). "We definitely would have preferred the market demand-driven deployment of Filipino nurses and caregivers, instead of a prohibitive quota system," said Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs. "There is a huge pent-up demand for foreign healthcare workers in Japan due to its rapidly aging population. The (Philippine) government is duty-bound to secure for Filipino professionals the greatest opportunity to cover this demand," Legarda stressed. According to a study by Nomura Capital Management Inc., Japan’s population is aging faster than that of any other country. The study said Japan would soon have only two able-bodied workers for every retiree.

New Jersey women fined $78,000 for enslaving nanny

Attorney General Anne Milgram and Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced that a Filipino woman residing in West Windsor , N.J. pleaded guilty Thursday to forcing a young Filipino woman who came to the U.S. as a nanny to instead care for her ailing husband and do her housekeeping for two years. The young woman's passport and visa were taken away, and she was told not to leave the house without family members because she would be arrested. She was paid only a small fraction of what she was supposed to receive for coming to work in the U.S.

Proposed mandatory social security for migrants draws criticism from migrant NGO
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s endorsement for mandatory Social Security System coverage of overseas Filipino workers is just "another extortion scheme" aimed at OFWs, a Hong Kong-based Filipino group said Thursday. “The unbelievable greed of the Arroyo administration for the money of OFWs is again shown by its effort to corner our earnings through the SSS coverage," said Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante-HK) in a press statement. The newly-imposed deployment guidelines exact from OFWs additional fees for retraining and other requirements. There is the membership fee for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Add to these the rising value of the peso that continues to erode dollar remittances, Balladares cited. According to the group, the expanded SSS coverage proposal is another item on the list of moneymaking schemes of the administration.

Shelter in Israel rehabilitates survivors of trafficking

Foreign women who are victims of trafficking can now get support at the Maagan shelter in Tel Aviv. In 2002 the Israeli government, in an attempt to encourage these women to testify against the people who bought and sold them, decided to offer them work visas in return for sworn statements detailing their tribulations. The visas run until one year after the end of their trials. About 250 of these women have been through the Maagan shelter in the last few years. According to estimates, several thousand victims have been trafficked into and within Israel since the 1990s. Those who cooperate become eligible for rehabilitation through the shelter, which is funded by the Israeli Ministry of Welfare.

Three charged in New Jersey trafficking ring

Thursday, September 6th- Federal agents today arrested two men and a woman from Togo who they say smuggled at least 20 girls and young women from the West African nation and forced them into indentured servitude, working without pay at hair braiding salons in Newark and East Orange. "This is a case of modern-day slavery," said Tom Manifase, deputy special agent in charge of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Newark, the lead agency in the investigation. "These women were promised a better life in the U.S. but instead ended up becoming victims of human trafficking."

Immigration intensifies anti-human trafficking campaign in the Philippines

Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has ordered his officers and agents in different airports and sub-ports to intensify the campaign against human trafficking. "This is a very serious problem and we in the Immigration bureau, being the country's chief gatekeeper, should do our part in stopping this human trafficking menace from victimizing more of our countrymen," Libanan said after the United Nations reported that one in four of humans trafficked across the globe were Filipinos. Libanan admitted that he was so alarmed by the report that he immediately issued a directive to his men at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Former President Estrada Convicted of Plunder

Source: Corbis

On Wednesday, September 12th an anti-graft court found former Philippine President Joseph Estrada guilty of plunder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

From the Inquirer:

The jailing of former president Joseph Estrada for massive corruption is a warning for the nation's political elite but means precious little for the legions of poor, analysts say.

In a country riddled with corruption and dirty politics, Wednesday's guilty verdict failed to ignite any semblance of the anger that followed his removal from power in 2001, when 300,000 people rallied to his side in the streets. Then, his successor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, called in the Army to quash the demonstration, which she said was an uprising aimed at toppling her. Four people were killed and more than 100 arrested.

Enrique Esteban, a political scientist with the University of Asia and the Pacific, said that while Estrada still has popular support with the poor, they simply do not see the point of taking to the streets any more. "They see it as part of the political game no matter what side you are on. At the end of the day the poor are still poor," he told Agence France-Presse.

Read the full article

Overseas Filipino Workers to Exceed One Million in 2007

After daily lessons in singing and dancing, women at a training facility in the Philippines wait for a bus to their dormitory and a chance to work overseas as entertainers (Source: Corbis).

How did we end up as the cleaners and entertainers of the world?
-Maria Angela Villalba, Director, Unlad Kabayan

From the Inquirer:

The Department of Labor and Employment said on Wednesday that the deployment of new overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this year "is expected to reach and breach the one-million mark."

Labor Secretary Arturo D. Brion also announced that the department expects total OFW remittances to hit US$14 billion by December. Brion earlier disclosed that from January to July 2007, the deployment of OFWs in the new hire category increased in several host destinations -- including Canada, Italy, Cyprus, New Zealand, and New Caledonia.

Read the full article

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Beat Down Human Trafficking

My contribution to this jam...

I present the single to my soon-to-be-released music project:

Artist: J Nice
Album: Beat Down Human Trafficking
Genre: Hip Hop
Subject: Human Trafficking
Due Date: October 2007
Format: CD & downloadable
*Available through the official Human Trafficking Project website coming in October

The Single: Human Trafficking
Vocals: J Nice (USA), Meryl (Philippines)
Production: James Brown (USA)
Guitar: Pablo Rojas (Mexico)
Engineers: Alan Cohen (USA), Artstrong Clarion (Philippines)

Download it here

More to come...

This Week in the Philippines #6

Kickbacks, economic gains, kidnapping, Doogie Howser, and remittances...

Source: Corbis

Corruption mars broadband contract
Once again, corruption reared its ugly head under the Arroyo administration with kickbacks galore amounting to way over $100 million, divided accordingly among a high-ranking poll official. “Kickbacks” in the contro-versial broadband contract with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. practically ate up the project’s cost and ended up 300-percent higher than the original or proposed amount, with highly-placed public officials and public figures said to have pocketed the “loot” amounting to over $200 million.

Government to boast of economic gains at APEC meeting
The Philippines will show off the Arroyo government’s so-called “long-term economic achievement” during this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Sydney, Australia, despite a poor investor index rating by the Apec. In his departure statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo yesterday commented, “our performance has shown the resiliency and robustness of our economy. Our fiscal and economic reforms have taken root and are showing concrete results. We have had consecutive quarterly growths since 2001.”

Kidnapping cases decrease in the Philippines

Director General Oscar C. Calderon, chief of the Philippine National Police, reported yesterday a 45 percent decline in the number of kidnap-for-ransom cases recorded in the country from July 2006 to June 2007 as compared to July 2005 to June 2006. Calderon said there were 27 kidnap-for-ransom cases from July 2006 to June 2007 as compared to the 49 recorded from July 2005 to June 2006.

Youngest doctor in the Philippines ready for work
At 22, Adrian Paul Rabe is the youngest member of Class 2007 of the University of the Philippines' seven-year Integrated Liberal Arts-Medicine (Intarmed) program. He passed the medical licensure examinations this month. When he was young, his family lived in Kuwait. His father, Pete, an engineer, was a contract worker while his mother, Zenaida, also an engineer, took care of him and his four siblings. He was six years old when the Gulf War broke out in August 1990 and the family decided to return to the Philippines.

Cheaper remittance system developed for migrants

A nationwide federation of cooperatives launched on Tuesday a one-dollar remittance scheme for overseas Filipinos. Dubbed as National Cash Card program, or simply N-Cash, the new remittance system offers overseas Filipinos a much cheaper option in sending money to their loved ones in the Philippines. It is a project of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (Natcco) in coordination with the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines. Natcco executive officer Cresente Paez commented, “Filipinos in all areas of our island nation will now be able to conduct many financial transactions without having to go to their nearest urban center which is often many kilometers and many hours away."

Human Trafficking in the News

Passports of Filipina migrants (Source: Corbis)

From the Inquirer:

Leaving home to work elsewhere is a dream many Filipinos nurture. It is their answer to poverty and joblessness. Yet, there have been too many stories of migrants heading for faraway places, only to find themselves in the worst kinds of employment: as prostitutes or slaves, doing bonded labor for which they are sometimes not paid at all.

Trafficking in persons has grown to be a worldwide problem because of, among others, the ease of domestic and international travel and because there are simply too many willing victims. Weak law enforcement has also aggravated the problem.

Read the full article

Launching of New Human Trafficking Website

Source: Corbis

Philippine news publication Newsbreak, in conjunction with USAID, recently unveiled its new website on human trafficking: Human Trafficking in Asia.

Take a look and find information on trafficking, articles, figures, and videos.

Looks like a promising resource.

The Do-gooder's MBA

Source: Corbis

Social enterprise is an emerging field that has great potential to fight global issues like poverty and human trafficking through generating financial and social capital.

From Business 2.0:

Several organizations, including for-profits, give B-school graduates real-world experience in the trendy and growing field of social entrepreneurship. The pay is lousy, but the benefits to the host countries and the graduates are worth a fortune.

For MBAs with global ambitions and a willingness to get their hands dirty, working in a developing country does more than feed the spirit. Graduates aren't just examining case studies; they're creating new ones, jump-starting real businesses, and bringing the gospel of entrepreneurship to places where it's never been preached. It could take years for a young person to get that kind of power in the developed world.

Read the full article here.