Archive for the slavery Category

Turning the Tide: Part 1

Posted in abortion, activism, child abuse, child marriage, child molestation, child pornography, child prostitution, child rape, Defining Violence, domestic violence, dowry crimes, elderly abuse, female genital mutilation, female infanticide, feminism, gender stereotypes, gender violence, HIV, honour crimes, human rights, India, intimate partner violence, mail-order brides, male perpetration, men, misogyny, molestation, pedophile, pedophiles, pedophilia, politics, porn, Pro-Feminist Men, Prostitution & Trafficking, rape, reproductive rights, sati, school violence, sex selective abortion, sex trafficking, sexual assault, sexual harassment, single mothers, slavery, social work, son preference, united nations, war, widow cleansing on December 6, 2007 by breatheinspirit

The below text is copyright, Broken Bodies – Broken Dreams: Violence against Women Exposed

The fight to end violence against women is both historic and universal. Historic, because gender inequality, which lies at the root of this violence, has been embedded in human history for centuries and the movement to end it challenges history, custom and, most critically, the status quo. Universal, because no society is an exception to the fact that violence against women is perpetrated through social and cultural norms that reinforce male-dominated power structures. The struggle is nothing less than a demand for full human rights to be unconditionally extended to all people everywhere.Those engaged in this struggle recognize that despite important advances that have laid the foundation for universal human rights, the work has only just begun. In October 2004, on the 25th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the committee monitoring international implementation stated, “In no country in the world has women’s full de jure and de facto equality been achieved.”

In most countries, in fact, the reality remains bleak. Discriminatory social norms and practices continue to impede women’s full enjoyment of their human rights. Insufficient political will, the extensive under representation of women in decision-making positions and a lack of resources to address the issue are further impediments to progress.

Asserting human rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted without dissent by the United Nations in 1948, recognizes the “equal and inalienable rights” of all people, “without distinction of any kind.” Violence against women contravenes a number of the fundamental human rights laid out in this Declaration such as the right to security of person; the right not to be held in slavery or subjected to inhuman treatment; the right to equal protection before the law; and the right to equality in marriage. Nevertheless, states sometimes deploy the argument of cultural relativism to defend practices that abuse women. According to the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, “The universal standards of human rights are often denied full operation when it comes to the rights of women.”

This book highlights through written description and visual representation many of the persistent expressions of gender-based violence. The testimonies of women and girls emphasise that there is no room for complacency or a false sense of rapid progress in the fight against inequality. To the countless women still suffering today, any positive changes that have been achieved must bear little relevance to their immediate reality. Nevertheless, remarkable developments have taken place in recent years, due in large part to the commitment of a few to change the behavior of many. In the face of formidable forces maintaining the patriarchal systems that give rise to both discrimination and violence against women, there is evidence that the tide may be turning.

All text is copyright (IRIN). Full permission is given for reproduction for non-commercial purposes.

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Sex Trafficking: Part 2

Posted in child abuse, child prostitution, feminism, gender violence, mail-order brides, Prostitution & Trafficking, rape, sex trafficking, slavery on September 18, 2006 by breatheinspirit

The below text is copyright, “Broken Bodies – Broken Dreams: Violence against Women Exposed.”:

“Health risks and consequences

As each trafficking incident unfolds, the victim experiences threats to her physical and mental health. These risks have been catalogued in detail in a multi-country study of trafficking covering Albania, Italy, the Netherlands, Thailand and the United Kingdom. From the pre-departure stage, to the travel, transit and destination stages, through to detention, deportation and integration or return and reintegration, women and girls may experience repeated physical, sexual and psychological abuse or torture, including forced or coerced use of drugs and alcohol, lack of adequate food, withholding of medical treatment, forced unprotected sex, threats or intimidation of their loved ones, denial or privacy, frequent relocation, public discrimination and social exclusion.

Acute and chronic physical and mental health problems are the frequent outcome. Beatings and/or rape initially may be used by traffickers to establish their authority, instill fear and discourage any attempts to escape. Victims’ failure to comply with traffickers’ demands may result in further violence. Physical and sexual assault also occur in encounters with clients. Because many young women and girls who are trafficked for prostitution are unlikely to be able to negotiate safer sex, they are also highly vulnerable to contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. In all forms of prostitution, the links to HIV vulnerability are high, especially when clients are violent and/or refuse to use condoms. In Nepal, HIV prevalence among prostitutes is estimated at 20 percent. In Cambodia, that figure climbs to 29 percent, and in Zambia to 31 percent. In South Africa, as many as 70 percent of prostitutes are infected with HIV.

Other potential consequences of the abuse and torture suffered by trafficked women and girls include forced and/or unsafe abortions, malnutrition, tuberculosis, hepatitis, depression, self-harm, addiction and, ultimately, death. “Neary” and “Svetlana” are among the incalculable number of women for whom trafficking proved fatal.

“Neary” grew up in Cambodia. Her parents died when she was a child, and – in an effort to give her a better life – her sister married her off when she was 17. Three months into the marriage, Neary went to a fishing village with her husband, who rented a room in what she thought was a guest house. But when she woke the next morning, her husband was gone. The owner of the house told her that she had been sold by her husband for $300 and that she was actually in a brothel. For five years, Neary was raped by five to seven men every day. In addition to brutal physical abuse, Neary was infected with HIV. The brothel owner threw her out when she became sick, and she eventually found her way to a local shelter. She died of HIV/AIDS at the age of 23.”

“Svetlana” was a young Belarusian looking for a job in Minskland when she met some Turksih men who promised her a well-paying job in Istanbul. Once Svetlana crossed the border, the men confiscated her passport, took away her money and imprisoned her. Svetlana and another foreign woman were sent to the apartment of two businessmen and forced into prostitution. In an attempt to escape, Svetlana jumped out of a window and fell six stories to the street below. According to Turkish court documents, the customers called the traffickers instead of taking her to a hospital. Svetlana died as a result of her injuries, and her body lay unclaimed in the morgue for two weeks until Turkish authorities learned her identity and sent her body to Belarus.

The supply side of the sex-trafficking equation

Some victims of sex-trafficking are simply abducted or relocated internally or transnational. Many others, however, choose to leave their homes in search of a brighter future. Deceived by traffickers’ promises of the good life, they have no idea that they will be forced into prostitution. Even the few victims who understand and accept that they will be working in the commercial sex industry cannot anticipate they extent to which they will forfeit control over their health and welfare. They may believe they are choosing the best of possible options.

The supply side of the trafficking equation is made up of the conditions that cause individual women and girls to be vulnerable to trafficking. Researchers have described a convergence of “push” and “pull” factors. Push factors for an individual woman or girl might include domestic violence, child sexual abuse, single parenthood or inducement by impoverished parents or criminal husbands. At the broader societal level, lack of education and employment opportunities, economic crises or war. HIV/AIDS is another push factor, to the extent that the pandemic is leaving an increasing number of the world’s children orphaned and vulnerable. Pull factors might include the hope of a higher standard of living, shifting and/or increased migratory flows and , for many women and girls, “the timing and apparent quality of the offer to depart.”

According to one expert, “Traffickers are extremely clever and full of a lot of common sense.” In other words, they choose their targets carefully. The particular vulnerabilities of women and girls that make them the preferred mark of traffickers are fundamentally linked to gender-based discrimination, oppression and violence. Where women have little power, rights or opportunities, they are at greater risk of being trafficked. As such, trafficking is as much a product of violence against women and girls as it is a source. In a remote village in Nepal, for example, girls traditionally are afforded very few rights within their families or society. Their disempowerment is a boon for those who control their fate:

“In Chautara, a Tamang village north of the Kathmandu Valley, Bhim Tamamang is a relatively wealthy man. His cottage is roofed with tin, and his son’s motorcycle is parked outside, next to the buffalo shed. Although he has no electricity, a television stands in the corner of the room, covered in cloth. “We will have electricity here in a few months,” he says. Bhim’s prosperity is a result of his fortune to have fathered four daughters. Three are working in the brothels in Mumbai. The fourht, age 12, will go next year. “Gurung and Magar families send their sons to the army. Their sons send money home. Why shouldn’t we send our daughters to help us?”

The demand side of the sex-trafficking equation

For many individuals operating at the local level, such as Bhim Tamang, poverty alleviation is a driving force for engaging in trafficking. In countries including India, Pakistan, Burma, Nepal and Thailand, girls may be sold into prostitution to pay off money loaned to their parents. Further along the chain of exploiters, all the way up to the organized-crime networks, commercial profit is the primary incentive in the escalation of human traffic around the world. Established routes used by drugs and weapons racketeers, especially in southeastern Europe, facilitate the illegal trade in humans. Many of these routes pass through “transition countries”. In these countries, which often are marked by war or steep economic decline, the forced sex industry is 10 times for lucrative for exploiters that other forms of forced labour.

Regardless of the elements of poverty, greed and organized crime, no trafficker would be successful without market demand. The sex industry throughout the world is the most recognized source of demand for the trafficking of women and girls. In some settings, sex tourism further feeds the incentive for trafficking.

It is not just the sex industry itself, however, that promotes sex trafficking. Racial and social discrimination within the sex industry figure prominently in the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls. According to one expert, “Research shows that historically and cross-culturally, a large percentage of clients seek prostitutes whose racial, ethnic, caste or national identities are different from their own. Thus we find that women and children in prostitution serving local demand are often migrants, and that men’s prostitute use increases when they are abroad.”

By importing and exploiting foreign prostitutes, traffickers are better able to meet demand criteria, and at reduced cost. Hence, a sign outside of a sex club in Hong Kong reads: “Young fresh Hong Kong girls, White, clean, Malaysian girls; Beijing women; Luxurious ghost girls from Russia.” Mitko, a pimp working in Bulgaria promises customers, “Ten minutes and I can get you a girl – any girl – blond, brown, black or white.”

Another perceived attraction of a trafficked woman or girl is her powerlessness. She is significantly less likely to have authority in the sex transaction than a voluntary commerical sex worker who is legally or otherwise empowered to exercise some measure of control over her working conditions. If she is young, the added promise of virginity attracts men seeking to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. Conversely, clients who already have sexually transmitted infections may believe, according to the myth of the “virgin cure”, that sex with a virgin will heal the disease. In a study conducted in 2003 by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), three-quarters of the 185 clients surveyed expressed a preference for prostitutes under the age of 25, and 22 percent preferred those 18 years of age or under. For many of these clients, this predilection is related to the fact that younger women and girls will be more docile in the sex transaction.

Yet another source of demand for trafficking is men seeking brides, domestic workers or sex slaves. While consensually arranged marriages do not fall within the trafficking rubric, the conditions in which a young bride may find herself once she has entered the marriage may amount to trafficking. The mail-order bride industry has come under scrutiny by trafficking experts for this very reason. The largely unregulated trade of mail-order brides follows traditional trafficking patterns. Brides from impoverished countries within the former Soviet Union, Asia and Latin America are sent to paying clients in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. In the most extreme scenario, according to one expert, a mail-order bride client “may go so far as to undertake serial sponsorships or immigrant women to supply new recruits for prostitution rings. In this case, he will hold the bride in debt bondage because he paid for her to immigrate to North America, and then force her to participate in slavery-like practices in order to obtain her freedom.”

All text is copyright (IRIN). Full permission is given for reproduction for non-commercial purposes.

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Sex Trafficking in Women and Girls

Posted in child abuse, child prostitution, child rape, feminism, gender violence, politics, Prostitution & Trafficking, slavery on September 13, 2006 by breatheinspirit

The below text is copyright, “Broken Bodies – Broken Dreams: Violence against Women Exposed.”: 

“Defining trafficking

In November 2000 the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, was added to the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime. The protocol offers the most universally acknowledged definition of trafficking:

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt or persons, by means of 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, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Involuntary servitude is the essential feature of human trafficking. For this reason, trafficking is often synonymously referred to as “modern-day slavery”. Men, women, boys, and girls are bought and sold – sometimes many times over – to work in brothels and strip clubs, in sweatshops, in mines, on plantations, at construction sites, as beggars, brick makers, domestic help, circus performers and even camel jockeys. Some of them are held in debt bondage and expected to pay off a balance due to win their freedom. Other have no debt, but as a result of threat or force live as virtual prisoners.

Closely linked to money laundering, drug trafficking, document forgery and human smuggling, trafficking in persons generates an estimated US $9.5 billion in annual revenue, much of which goes into the coffers of organized-crime networks. Every country in the world is implicated in this slave trade, whether as a point of origin, transit or destination.

Since 2000 the United States Department of State has issued the world’s most comprehensive annual report on trafficking. The latest edition calculates that 600,000 to 800,000 human beings are trafficked across international borders each year – and these figures do not account for those who are trafficked “internally”, from one destination to another within their own countries or communities. The report further estimates that 80 percent of transnational victims are women and girls, and most of them are trafficked into the commercial sex industry. According to the International Labour Organization, this industry “has become highly diversified and global in recent years.”

Although exact numbers are difficult to learn, available estimates give some indication of the scope of the problem. Approximately 100,000 Albanian women and girls are thought to have been sold into the sex trade in neighboring Balkan countries and Western Europe. Between 1990 and 1997, 200,000 Bangledeshi women were believed to have been trafficked. Some 200,000 Nepali girls under the age of 14 may be working as sex slaves in India. An estimated 600,000 Thai children have been sold into prostitution. Israeli police speculate that 99 percent of women working as prostitutes in Israel are victims of trafficking. In Belgium, between 10 percent and 15 percent of known foreign prostitutes are thought to have been trafficked from abroad. As many as 130,000 women enter Japan on entertainer visas every years, but only about 10 percent of them actually perform in legitimate venues. The rest – many of whom are believed to have been trafficked – are most likely working in sex clubs or as prostitutes. The Middle East, Northern and Latin America, and Africa are also points of origin, transit and/or destination. As with other forms of trafficking, no region in the world appears to be free from the trade of women and girls for sex.

The hazardous journey

Beyond the common denominator of exploitation, every women’s or girl’s trafficking experience is unique. In Albania, where 13-year-old “Alma” is living with her family in a camp for Kosovar refugees, she is convinced by her boyfriend of two weeks to run away from Italy. After they arrive, he forces her into prostitution and beats her repeatedly whenever she refuses. In Nigeria, just before “Betty” is sent to Europe, her sex trafficker has a voodoo priest convince her that her soul will be held captive until she has paid back her debt to the trafficker – possibly as high as $50,000. In Nepal, a familiar older women in the community – perhaps one who was sent to an Indian brothel years earlier and has now returned as a “matchmaker” – approaches the house of “Kamala” and convinces her parents of the good life their daughter will have in Mumbai, India. As she reassures them about how much money Kamala will send home, she is liable to forego discussing the considerable dispensations to herself, the transport organizers and escorts, and the brothel owner.

In Brazil, “Anita” is befriended by an older man and offered a promising job in a big city, far away from the remote rural community where she lives with her impoverished family. She later discovers that her would-be employer has sold her into prostitution. “Karin”, a single mother of two from Sri Lanka, is transported to Singapore by a man who agrees to find her a witnessing job. Shortly after her arrival, she is taken to an open market, where she and other women – from Indonesia, Thailand, India and China – are inspected and purchased by men from Pakistan, India, China, Indonesia and Africa.”

All text is copyright (IRIN). Full permission is given for reproduction for non-commercial purposes.

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