Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sex trafficking in Israel

This is from a recent BBC article on the problem of trafficking in women to Israel:

During the height of the phenomenon, from the beginning of the 1990s to the early years of 2000, an estimated 3,000 women a year were brought to Israel on the false promise of jobs and a better way of life.

Last year, the United Nations named Israel as one of the main destinations in the world for trafficked women; it has also consistently appeared as an offender in the annual US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (Tip) report. [Tier Two Watchlist- the same as Ukraine]

In all cases, the traffickers - as many as 20 in the chain from recruitment to sale - take away the women's passports before selling them on to pimps. Sometimes the women are subjected to degrading human auctions, where they are stripped, examined and sold for $8,000-$10,000.

Rinat Davidovych, the director of the Maagan Shelter in Tel-Aviv, is someone who travels the world in the effort to fight human traffiking. She was interviewed for this BBC article:

For years, Israel treated trafficked women as criminals"When they come here they are in a bad condition," said Rinat Davidovich, the shelter's director.

"Most have sexual diseases and some have hepatitis and even tuberculosis. They also have problems going to sleep because they remember what used to happen to them at night," she said. "It's very hard and it's a long procedure to start to help and treat them."

I was lucky enough to have her as a guest in my family's home last year in Buffalo. This year, I bumped into her at a conference in Kyiv where she presented a host of information about trafficking in Israel. Rinat broke down the statistics of origin for Israel's sex trafficking victims- Ukraine 21.45%, Moldova 11.24%, Russia 9.2%, and Uzbekistan 5.11%, and now recently, victims are coming from China as well. She also did a thorough review of Israel's anti-trafficking laws. Up until 2006, the law only included women sex victims and protection was only offered to victims if they agreed to testify against their traffickers and pimps. Now, following the threat of sanctions against Israel by the United States, Israel has stepped up their efforts and has included a broader range of trafficking victims under national law. Rinat says that soon, the same protection given to victims of sex trafficking will be provided for those of labor trafficking.

The shelter she directs is a state shelter, and at the moment, only provides assistance to female victims of sex trafficking. Victims must be brought to the shelter by police, or if an ngo refers a victim, they must do so through the police. The shelter provides additional rights to the victim including full medical services, weekly allowances, temporary residence visas, and work placement. Rinat was overloaded with questions about why the state response was so weak, some of which seemed like they were more questions about why she works for the state shelter as opposed to the ngos. Rinat seemed more hopeful though that through her position, she is able to keep in contact with both ngos and the government, and that she is able to facilitate communication between both.

One of the things she mentioned has changed though, is that because of the crackdown on sex trafficking in Israel, more of the prostitution and, by extent, the trafficking victims have been moved underground. Now, instead of a place quite obviously being a brothel, it is hidden either as a massage parlor or sauna, forcing ngos to find more creative ways of reaching victims.

For more information on human trafficking in Israel, click here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scotland Provides Support to Trafficking Victims to Encourage Pursuit of Legal Cases

Source: Corbis

A month ago I wrote a post on Australia's anti-trafficking law and the lack of support it provides to victims. I'm glad to see Scotland taking the opposite approach and offering temporary residence, stipends, etc to victims if they cooperate with the police on their investigations. The law is beneficial for both parties: victims receive the counseling, housing and support they deserve and law enforcement gets assistance putting traffickers behind bars.


Four human trafficking victims who were forced to work as "sex slaves" in Edinburgh have vanished before their tormentors could be caught and prosecuted.

The women all disappeared within days of being freed from their ordeals. The move is a blow to police efforts to bring the criminal gangs behind the trade to justice. But steps have now been taken to encourage future victims to stay in Edinburgh and give evidence against the human trafficking gangs.

The victims, usually poverty-stricken immigrants forced to work as prostitutes, are to be offered free housing and other benefits in return for helping the authorities with their investigations. They will be offered basic living expenses of £50-a-week, legal advice, psychological counselling and health care, as well as accommodation, for up to a year.

Previously, if they were illegal immigrants, they faced the threat of immediate deportation.

Last year, Lothian and Borders Police was involved in a national initiative - Operation Pentameter - to tackle human trafficking. More than 70 potential victims in towns and cities across the UK were rescued in the three-month operation. The true extent of the problem in Edinburgh is unknown, but police chiefs have previously stated their belief that people-smuggling gangs are active in the city.

Read the full article

Human Trafficking Conference in India Reveals a Work in Progress

India's bonded child laborers (Source: Corbis)

From the Telegraph:

“Trafficking is about completely reducing accidents,” the smug, paunchy constable on the screen was saying, causing much amusement among the audience. Only seven per cent of Indian police personnel are known to have received any training in the subject

Anti-human trafficking efforts have netted only three convictions so far in India. Three is also the number of states — Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Goa — where anti-human trafficking units have been formed within the police force.

It will be unfair to say, however, that any of the three states mentioned has a weak officer handling human trafficking, and the success of decoy-based raid-cum-rescue operations proves that law-enforcement agencies are waking up to the seriousness of the crime. But the problem here is that the anti-human trafficking units are located in the police headquarters in the state capitals, while the thanas in the districts and villages — from where most trafficked persons are sourced — are still largely oblivious to the threat.

More important, in the balance of power, the beneficiaries of trafficking — from the local dalals to the higher criminals who have the money both to buy human beings and to hush up investigations — have far too much advantage over those they buy, sell or exploit. In south Asian countries, where corruption is endemic to the system, how realistic is it to expect that the victims — raped, battered and psychologically wrecked — will be able to fight the unequal battle?

Rehabilitation and repatriation continue to be a sticky area in the discourse on trafficking in developing countries. For the State is unable to offer viable livelihoods to the rescued individuals, who often go back to sex work simply to ensure a steady income. If the State and the NGOs were better equipped with an infrastructure of shelter homes and self-employment schemes, most stories of trafficking could have had happy endings.

The Union minister for women and child development was heard promising changes in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, so that trafficked girls are not doubly victimized by being charged with soliciting customers for sexual services. Bureaucrats and ministers from the labour and home affairs ministries seemed equally committed, but the NGO workers seemed to know better. They preferred taking a break for tea while the ministers waxed eloquent on the many challenges ahead.

Read the full article

From reading the article, here is the sense I get of what India needs to address to improve its anti-trafficking efforts:
  • Lack of coordinated government efforts and resources
  • Lack of police training to understand and recognize trafficking
  • Low public awareness of trafficking
  • Corruption in the government, law enforcement and criminal justice system
  • Lack of collaboration between non-governmental organizations and the government to provide livelihood opportunities for trafficking survivors
  • Cultural values
  • Widespread poverty
If only to identify problem areas; however, this conference is a good first step towards shoring up the main weaknesses amongst the efforts of anti-trafficking stakeholders.

Let's see if their findings translate to meaningful action.

Stay tuned...

USAID-backed Trafficking Awareness Program in Jamiaca Makes an Impact

Awareness: a key element in combating trafficking. As I've mentioned before, there is no one method that will single-handedly eliminate trafficking; a holistic approach is needed.

Other integral elements include:
  • A government that provides resources for anti-trafficking efforts as well as national and state level coordination
  • Legislation that protects victims and prosecutes traffickers and those who use the services provided by victims (i.e. prostitution, forced labor, domestic slavery)
  • Law enforcement that is trained to recognize and report trafficking situations
  • An efficient criminal justice system that is not hampered by corruption
  • An active civil sector that can assist with rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficking survivors
From the Jamaica Observer:

Testimonies from young participants in the recent Anti-Trafficking in Persons Project in Kingston were a poignant reminder of the value of education in Jamaica's fight against human trafficking. "It was an eye-opening adventure," said Shana-Kay Campbell, 14, a student at Children First. "Personally, I have been able to make informed choices, and understand the dangers of trafficking in persons."

The project, the second of its kind, was implemented by People's Action for Community Transformation, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development. The first was implemented in 2004, and ran for one year.

The initiative was geared at educating people identified as the most vulnerable in the society to recognize the various elements of trafficking, and to mobilize strategies to counteract the phenomenon. The project also sought to mobilize at-risk youths to identify alternative careers and lifestyles by providing them with the necessary education and skills to pursue their future goals.

Jamaica received a tier two ranking in June, which was an improvement over the country's earlier ranking, which put it on the tier two watch list. The island, the permanent secretary said, is now working towards a tier one ranking. "As we work towards tier one, the focus is on effective investigation and prosecution," she said, adding that ongoing education campaigns, a data collection system, and the training of state agents were also key.

Read the full article

We have moved past the age of public service announcements. Although still informative, nowadays there are more innovative ways to get people to connect to and learn about modern day slavery. Emerging technologies like Youtube and Facebook present interesting possibilities.

Do you know of successful trafficking awareness programs around the world? If so please share: the more creative, effective modes of raising awareness we can discover the better! Ending trafficking starts with awareness.

What else are people doing?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Council of Europe Convention to enter into force February 2008

The Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings of the Council of Europe, a pan-European organization with 47 member states (and 1 applicant country, Belarus), is set to come into force on February 1, 2008. The Convention was actually opened for signature in 2005 by the Committee of Ministers and has been signed by 37 member countries. Only ten countries, however, have ratified the document. Ukraine is not one of them. Yet.

According to Darina Malko of the Ministry of Justice during a conference last week in Kyiv entitled "New challenges in providing social assistance to trafficked persons in the countries of origin, transit, and destination," there is a hold-up within the Ministry of Transportation regarding the articles and subsections related to the obligation of commercial carriers to check travel documents:
Article 7, subsection 3: Where appropriate, and without prejudice to
applicable international conventions, such measures shall include establishing
the obligation of commercial carriers, including any transportation company or
the owner or operator of any means of transport, to ascertain that all
passengers are in possession of the travel documents required for entry into the
receiving State.
Of course, a representative of a relevant Rada committee also complained the text is quite complicated, and they want to ensure correct translation of the document as well as understand the potential consequences of ratifying it. This individual claimed that some parts of the Convention actually overlap or contradict the Palermo Protocol (which Ukraine has ratified), making The CoE Convention difficult to ratify. Actually, the Palermo Protocol has the exact same clause related to carrier obligations. In fact, one of the final chapters of the CoE Convention is about its "Relationship with other international instruments" and the first article deals with Palermo. It states that the Convention shall not affect the rights and obligations of member states to the Palermo Protocol, but is in fact "intended to enhance the protection afforded by it and develop the standards contained therein."

The CoE basically states that the difference between this convention and other existing international protocol and framework is that it is more specific in regards to the protection of victims.

The Council of Europe considered that it was necessary to draft a legally binding instrument which goes beyond recommendations or specific actions.
While other international instruments already exist in this field , the Council of Europe Convention (Warsaw, 16 May 2005) is a comprehensive treaty mainly focussed on protection of victims of trafficking and the safeguard of their rights. It also aims at preventing trafficking as well prosecuting traffickers. In addition, the Convention provides for the setting up of an effective and independent monitoring mechanism capable of controlling the implementation of the obligations contained in the Convention.

The enhanced protection of victims' rights is one of the more important contributions of the CoE Convention as it provides for victims' rights during the identification process (so that one will not be removed before the identification process is complete). It also requires (destination) States to provide for a "Recovery and Reflection Period" at a minimum of 30 days so the victim may contemplate whether to stay and testify, and requires provisions to be taken during the repatriation process so that the programmes avoid re-victimisation.

The Convention is especially protective of children's rights and calls for measures to be taken to provide child victims with appropriate housing, education, counseling, and legal representation, and also requires that child victims shall not be returned to their state of origin if it is determined by a risk and security assessment that the return would put the child in a dangerous situation.

Other unique features of the Convention provide for measures to discourage the demand for TIP, as well as the punishment and sanctioning of traffickers, witness protection, and a monitoring mechanism that has specific protocol to observe the implementation of the Convention (known as GRETA). The articles provide for everything from the creation of the group to the steps that will be taken in order for GRETA to complete it's monitoring program efficiently and transparently.

You can view the State-by-State signature and ratification process and involvement here. Even if a state, such as Ukraine, signed it now, the Convention requires three months in between the submission of the ratification instrument and its entry into force within the state so the earliest it would start would be March. Nonetheless, a country bound to this document is committing to a major leap forward in the protection of the human rights of TIP victims. It has been said that Ukraine will jump on board by early next year so we will have to wait and see.

Short Introduction

Well this is my first post as a contributor to The Human Trafficking Project. Originally from Buffalo, New York, I am currently living in Kyiv, Ukraine where I am completing research for a Fulbright grant on the response to human trafficking in Ukraine. I began by wanting to study the governmental response to human trafficking and looking at how the government works with domestic and international organizations to formulate its response. However, I have shifted more towards looking at how international organizations and pressure, as well as the proliferation of domestic anti-trafficking NGOs, have influenced the Ukrainian government's decisions and actions regarding TIP.

At present, I mainly work with two organizations- the International Organization for Migration's Mission to Ukraine, an intergovernmental organization, and La Strada-Ukraine, part of the larger La Strada NGO network based in the Netherlands, but all domestically operated. Part of my research will include site visits and case studies of about ten domestic organizations involved in prevention, reintegration, and prosecution activities. I'm also quite interested in the response by the religious community in Ukraine. I still plan on doing research about the government response itself, but due to high turnover and due to the extremely complex network of government ministries and committees that are involved in process, and because Urkaine is still undergoing a change in Parliament from the September 30th elections, this part of the research will have to come later.

So, most of my posts will probably have a Ukrainian/Eastern European angle to them, as well as news from the organizations that Urkaine works with on the issue of TIP, such as the European Union and the United Nations. So here we go!

Monday, November 12, 2007

U.N. Says Tackle Human Trafficking with Economics

From Reuters UK:

The industry would continue to thrive as long as criminals benefit from high profit margins and relentless demand.

Human trafficking affects virtually every region of the world and U.N. estimates say the trade could be worth some $32 billion if both "sales" of individuals and the value of their exploited labor is taken into account. The traffic sees the young and vulnerable, particularly in developing regions such as Africa, sold into sexual servitude, child soldiers are drugged and forced into combat, and women enslaved as indentured labor.

Avina said UNODC wanted to secure $100 million (49 million pounds) from private sector donors and philanthropists to help fund a global drive against human trafficking. "The recognition is that there is insufficient resources to deal with this problem," said Avina.

Read the full article

Ireland Human Trafficking Bill Falls Short

From the Irish Times:

Amnesty International has welcomed new legislation aimed at tackling human trafficking but said it falls short in the protection and support of victims. The Criminal Law Human Trafficking Bill, unveiled earlier today by the Minister for Justice, gives expanded powers to gardaĆ­ to investigate cases of human trafficking. However, the new legislation does not contain detailed provisions to support and protect victims, apart from guaranteeing the right to anonymity for those who testify in court against the trafficker.

Questioned as to whether victims of the crime would automatically be considered immune from prosecution for other misdemeanors, such as entering the country illegally, Mr Lenihan said it would not be possible to guarantee immunity and that such matters would be at the discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Amnesty said it welcomed the anonymity provision of the legislation and the proposal to exclude members of the public from proceedings where publicity might place trafficking victims or their families at risk.

Read the full article

It's good that they have a bill against trafficking, but honestly how many victims do they expect to come forward and file cases if there is a chance they can get prosecuted for other misdemeanors including entering the country illegally? It shows a lack of perspective on part of the Irish government- it is to their benefit to support the victims and ensure their non-criminal status because in doing so, they not only give the victims the services and support they need and deserve but also, by offering services which can encourage victims to pursue cases, improve the chances of traffickers being convicted thus increasing the risk/cost of operating in Ireland . Even the chance that victims can be prosecuted drastically decreases the likelihood that they will file a case against the traffickers. As a result, traffickers will not be convicted, legal repercussions for their crimes will continue to be negligible and business will continue as usual.

Instituting an anti-trafficking law is a good first step, but equally important is drafting a law that fully supports victims and maximizes the likelihood of putting traffickers behind bars.
Currently, Ireland's Criminal Law Human Trafficking Bill does neither.

A Tale of Two Filipinas in Singapore

Source: Corbis

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Lalaine, 19, was a saleslady for a popular department store when she was lured by a “friend of a friend” to work “for better pay” as a waitress in Singapore only to find that her workplace was a nightclub where she was forced to do a strip-tease and encouraged to have customers fondle her.

Kristine, a recent widow at 23 with two children (her husband died December 2006), was also told of the tremendous earning opportunities (“malaki raw ang kita”) in Singapore by an acquaintance -- a neighbor who was also their barangay (village) chairman. She agreed to a “hostessing” job there, but ended up being a call girl, having sex with different men in different hotels as arranged by her employer.

Lalaine and Kristine are just two of a growing number of young Filipino women being trafficked to Singapore for sexual exploitation, drawn in by the adventure of work abroad on the false promise of a high-paying decent job.

Read the full article

Doing Well By Doing Good

Source: Corbis


In June 2006, Bill Gates announced he was stepping down from his full-time role at Microsoft and shifting his focus to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When the world's richest entrepreneur decides to take a step in the nonprofit direction, he may be onto something.

In the last decade, a generation of social entrepreneurs has become increasingly visible by creating self-sustaining businesses. Social entrepreneurs are similar to regular entrepreneurs with one main difference--their gains aren't measured in financial profit, but by the impact they have on society. Many entrepreneurs have started social enterprises, breaking nonprofit tradition by blending mission with money, referred to as "double bottom line" businesses.

Read the full article

Unlad Kabayan (Unlad) is a non-governmental organization in the Philippines that spurs local development by creating savings groups of migrant workers abroad to invest in community businesses. For example, Unlad helped establish a successful coco coir plant that processes coconut husks for their fiber, which is used for a variety of purposes including creating anti-erosion nets and filling mattresses to be sent to China. Social enterprise is one potentially effective way to combat trafficking, which exists in large part because of poverty and unemployment. Quality of life and monetary stability can increase by creating businesses that generate both financial and social profit, thus decreasing vulnerability to trafficking.

Ending trafficking requires a holistic approach including coordinated efforts between governments, law enforcement and the civil sector. At the end of the day, however, trafficking is an issue created by poor economies and the resulting financial desperation; out of a lack of options, men, women and children are forced to place their faith in recruiters who could be, and not uncommonly are, trying to exploit them.

Social enterprise provides an out to this desperation: if it can create jobs and do good at the same time, then all the better. The bottom line is a job= money = livelihood = stability = decreased vulnerability to trafficking.

This Week in Trafficking

Source: USA Today

Interpol unmasks man in photos with little boys
The image on the left was taken from a series of 200 photos that show a man with 12 young boys in Southeast Asia, according to Interpol. The human trafficking unit says the image on the right was reverse-engineered by experts who found a way to remove the digital manipulations that hid the man's face. They re-created the photograph for the global law-enforcement agency to distribute to its members and, when that didn't produce any viable leads, among the news media. Interpol won't say how it unmasked the man's face. "Techniques are always developing. What is impossible today is possible tomorrow," Anders Persson, a Swedish police officer who oversees Interpol's database of images of child abuse, tells the Associated Press.

Child prostitutes available at $100 a night: the human cost of junta's repression
This is a side of life the Burmese military junta might prefer you did not see: girls who appear to be 13 and 14 years old paraded in front of customers at a nightclub where a beauty contest thinly veils child prostitution. Tottering in stiletto heels and miniskirts, young teenage girls criss-crossed the dance-floor as part of a nightly "modeling" show at the Asia Entertainment City nightclub on a recent evening in Rangoon.

Dubai's promised land of luxury lures women into sexual slavery

Fei Fei, a 22-year-old from China's Guangdong province, has a souvenir of her eight months in Dubai: burns on her back and arms from cigarette butts crushed against her skin when she refused to work as a prostitute. She eventually submitted when a criminal gang threatened to send nude photos of her to family members. That indignity, she said, would have been worse than selling her body.

U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose's crackdown on trafficking starts with Minneapolis man
A 36-year-old Minneapolis man on Monday became the first in what the U.S. attorney in Minnesota promises will be a long line of human traffickers to be sentenced to lengthy prison terms.Daniel McNeal, who has a history of sex trafficking and violent crimes, was charged in December 2006 with recruiting a 16-year-old Rogers girl into a life of prostitution and stripping jobs. On Monday, U.S. District Judge David Doty ordered McNeal to spend more than 24 years in federal prison, to be followed by a lifetime on supervised release.

India needs to bolster its anti-trafficking efforts
Even as India continues to be the most favored origin and destination for human trafficking in South Asia, most states in the country are still not combating the crime as a priority. Despite claims of consolidated steps being taken by the union government to combat the menace, only three states in the country, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and West Bengal, have set up Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) till date. Conviction rate in human trafficking cases remain low with states not prioritizing the issue of trafficking, despite India being a signatory of the UN Protocol on Human Trafficking.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

MTV Streaker Ad

The following commercial was used to raise awareness of trafficking during the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It is a good example of how media can be a powerful tool to catch the public's attention and effectively convey trafficking.

Click here to view the video
*WARNING: The video contains some nudity and disturbing content

We live in a world where information can be distributed to the masses quickly, cheaply and effectively. Within the context of human rights issues like trafficking, this ability to utilize technology empowers those wanting to make a difference by giving them access to a massive audience and offering a number of possibilities from which to convey an idea.

The Internet. Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Socially conscious networking sites like Idealist and Razoo. Youtube. We live in an age where it has never been cheaper or easier to connect to a massive audience.

The opportunity to spread awareness of an issue, collect resources to address it and at the end of the day, make an impact and create positive social change is greater today than ever before thanks to Web 2.0 technology. With creativity, flare and a honed message a 30-second video can shoot around the world and be viewed a million times on the Internet in a week. This is not to say it is easy to achieve this level of popularity. Competition for attention on the Internet is as competitive as in the real world , or even more so since videos and media vying for the public's attention on the Internet encompass a global arena. Also transforming interest into action is another topic entirely.

Vying for eyeballs on the Internet means activists and change makers need to adapt to the rules of the environment. For example, an issue like trafficking is powerful on its own. It is tragic, vile and evil but it can be lost amidst the sea of media that exists today. It is an assumption that many people will automatically be interested in doing something to combat trafficking simply because of the horror and magnitude of the exploitation or because of the fact that slavery still exists today. But this is only an assumption and getting the masses involved is a longtime challenge that I would think activists have been dealing with since the very beginning.

People are busy. They have their own problems to deal with. Some would rather watch Seinfeld or Family Guy or pursue other hobbies than deal with the emotionally heavy issues involved in trafficking. And this is completely understandable. At the same time that technology allows us to do more, the increased levels of productivity can also shrink our free time and make us cling all the more strongly to those things that we truly enjoy doing. For example, I enjoy blogging about trafficking and creating innovative means from which to spread awareness about the issue. I do not expect everyone, or even most people to be the same way. People have their own interests and their individual lives to lead.

Which is why, in order to create that Youtube trafficking video that WILL travel around the world, in order to create that trafficking website that WILL catch the attention of the masses, in order to write that trafficking song that WILL inspire people from different levels of society to get involved and do something, we need to present the issue in different, unexpected forms that will get people to look, listen and learn. We need to have production values on par with what else is out there. Style IS important when dealing with the public. Presentation IS important. Of course you will always be able to attract a motivated, core group with PSA and other traditional means of raising awareness, but the goal is to get the masses involved as well, the people who previously have no connection to the issue or did not know about it.

This is the goal of the Human Trafficking Project: to create art and present the issue of trafficking in various forms, from photography to film to hip-hop, to raise awareness, collect funds and use them to help victims and survivors and the non-governmental organizations that work to support them.

Do you know of other media that portrays trafficking in a meaningful, effective manner? If so send links and I will compile them for a future post.

Filipinas trafficked as sex slaves for Saudi Arabian prince

Source: Corbis


Two young women, aged 19 and 20, recently came out today to speak of their tragic experience in the hands of an Arab royalty. Having been harassed with suits of libel and estafa by their own perpetrators, the two women decided to disclose to the public the sexual abuse they suffered in a press conference organized by the Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP). Anna and Lina were recruited to work as “chambermaids” in Saudi Arabia in January, 2005.

When they arrived at the airport, officials noticed the inconsistency in their documents as their passport indicated that they will work as janitress, their employment contract cited ‘chambermaid’, and their POEA papers indicated ‘nurse’. A man, known to the local recruiter assisted them and facilitated their exit, towards Saudi Arabia. Arriving in Dammam in April 2005, they were fetched and brought to an enormous house. They were not made to work for a week. When they asked the ‘caretaker’ inside the house as to what their work will be, Lina was told that they will be sex slaves.

Anna and Lina were very scared and wanted to go home to the Philippines immediately but they could not leave the villa. The following day, a man referred to as the Prince or Chairman by the caretaker arrived and the women were ordered to enter his room and immediately take their clothes off. The two were shaken and begged the Prince to allow them to go home, as they cannot do what is being asked of them to do. They stated that they don’t like that kind of job, but the Prince was enraged and raped Anna first. Lina, who was sobbing uncontrollably and had difficulty breathing, was made to leave the room.

The next day, the Prince came back to use Lina this time. He also used Anna. The two were then forced to perform sexual acts, before money was thrown to their faces. When the Filipino recruiter called, the two young women narrated what were done to them but the recruiter allegedly did not believe them. They were called liars.

Read the full article

Monday, November 05, 2007

Child Soldiers in Burma


From Human Rights Watch:

By the time he was 16, Maung Zaw Oo had been forcibly recruited into Burma’s national army not once, but twice. First recruited at age 14 in 2004, he escaped, only to be recruited again the following year. He learned that the corporal who recruited him had received 20,000 kyat,1 a sack of rice, and a big tin of cooking oil in exchange for the new recruit. “The corporal sold me,” he said. The battalion that “bought” him then delivered him to a recruitment center for an even higher sum—50,000 kyat.

In Burma, boys like Maung Zaw Oo have become a commodity, literally bought and sold by military recruiters who are desperate to meet recruitment quotas imposed by their superiors. Declining morale in the army, high desertion rates, and a shortage of willing volunteers have created such high demand for new recruits that many boys, some as young as ten, are targeted in massive recruitment drives and forced to become soldiers in Burma’s national army, the Tatmadaw Kyi.

For over a decade, consistent reports from the United Nations (UN) and independent sources have documented widespread recruitment and use of children as soldiers in Burma.3 At the beginning of 2004 the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), responded to international criticism of its child recruitment practices by establishing a high-level Committee for Prevention of Military Recruitment of Underage Children. However, close scrutiny reveals that the Committee has taken no significant action to redress the issue. Instead, the Committee’s primary role appears to be to denounce accounts of child recruitment as false.

The UN secretary-general has identified Burma’s armed forces as a consistent violator of international standards prohibiting the recruitment and use of child soldiers, listing the Tatmadaw Kyi in four consecutive reports since 2003. Several armed opposition groups have also been listed for recruiting and using child soldiers. The UN Security Council has stated repeatedly that it will consider targeted sanctions, including embargoes of arms and other military assistance, against parties on the secretary-general’s list that refuse to end their use of children as soldiers, but so far has taken no action in the case of Burma. Given the abysmal record of the SPDC and some non-state armed groups in this regard, such action is clearly warranted.

Read the full article

Survivors of trafficking shelter the exploited

From the Seattle Times:

As a 7-year-old girl in southern India in 1978, she was taken from her parents and sold into slavery. At the same time, a 9-year-old boy in Southeast Asia was surviving alone in a cave, after the fishing boat on which he was fleeing Vietnam became shipwrecked. Rani and Trong Hong would eventually be rescued from their separate childhood nightmares and brought to safety in Washington state. They would meet as adults on a blind date, fall in love and marry. Now, motivated by the pain of their early years to help others, they are renovating a home exclusively for victims of human trafficking — people recruited, transported and harbored for sexual exploitation or slave labor.

Read the full article here

Sunday, November 04, 2007

This Week in Trafficking

GAP used slave labor to manufacture clothes for children
Child workers, some as young as 10, have been found working in a textile factory in conditions close to slavery to produce clothes that appear destined for GAP Kids, one of the most successful arms of the high street giant. Speaking to The Observer, the children described long hours of unwaged work, as well as threats and beatings. GAP said it was unaware that clothing intended for the Christmas market had been improperly subcontracted to a sweatshop using child labor. It announced it had withdrawn the garments involved while it investigated breaches of the ethical code imposed by it three years ago.

Recent report shows lack of preparedness in Kosovo to deal with trafficking

The monitoring of trafficking cases by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2006 and 2007 reveals a concerning lack of preparedness by the Kosovo authorities to handle these cases. In particular, the OSCE has noted a consistent failure of the relevant authorities to place the human rights of trafficked persons “at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking and to protect, assist and provide redress to victims.” In cases monitored by the OSCE, victims did not receive the basic guarantees provided by law, and frequently faced prosecution or the threat of prosecution.

Mark P. Lagon, Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons discusses trafficking in China
Although Chinese law prohibits forced and compulsory labor, including by children, serious problems of forced labor exist. For this reason, the People's Republic of China (PRC), a source, transit and destination country, has sustained a Tier 2 Watch List ranking for three consecutive years. Though Chinese men and women are trafficked abroad for forced labor and sexual exploitation, the majority of trafficking in China is internal. Early this summer reports emerged of over one thousand farmers, teenagers and children, including some who were mentally handicapped, forced to work for little or no pay in scorching brick kilns, enduring beatings and confinement in worse than prison-like conditions. This was a form of modern day slavery that shocked not only the international community, but prompted an outcry among Chinese citizens and a forceful reaction from the authorities.

Colorado law enforcement reports prostitution and human trafficking at massage parlors

In a hidden camera investigation News First uncovers a problem that most people seem to either ignore or deny -- human trafficking and prostitution in Southern Colorado.
Metro Vice also thinks some of the women are human trafficking victims forced into what human rights groups call "modern day slavery." When asked if there are sex slaves in El Paso County Lieutenant Harman answered, "Yes there are. We have had a couple women come forward and tell us that they were forced to perform prostitution in several massage parlors." According to Metro Vice, the Colorado Springs area is on a human trafficking circuit that includes Denver, Chicago and Seattle.

Warning issued about human trafficking and sex trade at 2010 Olympics

A report by an organization that combats human trafficking is warning that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver could be exploited by those trying to profit from prostitution.The Future Group recommends the federal and B.C. governments increase efforts to deter human traffickers and potential sex-trade customers."There is a real risk that traffickers will seek to profit from the 2010 Olympics," said Sabrina Sullivan, managing director of the non-partisan, non-governmental organization."This event could create an increased demand for prostitution, and also give an easy cover story for victims to be presented as 'visitors' by traffickers."As he's only just taken on his job, the head of security for the 2010 Olympics said earlier this week that the issue of human trafficking during the Games hasn't hit his radar."For me, not, not yet," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bud Mercer said in an interview Monday with The Canadian Press."I've never seen anything that's come across my desk, but keep in mind it's day two."