Global News 15/12/2010

Iceland

A lot of people have pointed out that the recent publication by WikiLeaks of US Embassy cables doesn’t seem to have told us much we didn’t already know about the world. But there’s no doubting it will give rise to a few rather awkward conversations and several red faces in diplomatic circles.

It appears that the US Embassy in Iceland has been gathering information on possible human trafficking in the country. Reports compiled by the embassy suggest that there is a growing problem of Icelandic men marrying young foreign women only to subject them to forced labour and even sell them into prostitution.

Although we already knew that this kind of exploitation affects every country in the world, the leaked reports will create red faces. Why? Because the documents accuse Icelandic authorities of being in denial about the problem. Read more…

US

“When I got here … I asked her if I was going to school, and she said there was no school,” Jacqueline said, referring to her auntie, the trafficking ringleader.

Promised a comfortable life and better education, Jacqueline was one of twenty girls trafficked from West Africa to New Jersey, US. Controlled by violence, isolation and sexual abuse, the girls were forced to work at a hair-braiding salon up to 12 hours a day for over 5 years. They made a total of $4million in this time, all of which went directly to the traffickers.

The girls worked in plain sight of thousands of customers. Although some had expressed concern about the girls’ ages, they all followed their captor’s orders and said they were 18.

“I wish one of my customers … would have gone to police,” one of the other girls said. “I wish they would have helped me.”

Fortunately, the girls have now been rescued, and the traffickers brought to justice. But this story really highlights the importance of community action and awareness. Every week, hundreds of people came into contact with these girls as they worked, in biting irony, under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Equipping communities with the ability to recognize the signs of trafficking and ensure that victims are not invisible is what our ACT campaign is all about. Read more

Vietnam

Generally, $50 won’t get you very far. It might just about cover a nice case for your iPod, or some cheap trainers, or maybe a second-hand Playstation game. $50 was also the price paid by a Singapore brothel for each of these ten Vietnamese victims of human trafficking.

The women were promised jobs in restaurants, but upon arrival in Singapore were forced into lives of sexual exploitation.

Obviously the amount of money that changes hands when a person is bought or sold is largely irrelevant – merely the fact that it happens is appalling enough. But the fact that such a derisory amount was put on the head of each of these women just seems even more contemptible. Read more…

UK

Investigations taking place in the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic have culminated in prominent members of a human trafficking gang being sentenced to jail.

The gang preyed on young, Czech women, who were persuaded to take part in sham marriages in the Republic of Ireland. The women were then brought to the UK and driven to brothels around the country, where they were sexually exploited.

The women’s plight was discovered earlier this year when one of the victims managed to persuade hotel staff to call police. This underlines how important it is that hotel workers in particular are alert to the signs of women and children being trafficked for sex. Read more…

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