Global News

South East Asia:

A series of successful arrests has hopefully brought to an end a human trafficking operation that spanned Thailand and Laos. A police raid on a bar led to the discovery of 12 Laotian girls being held in a Holiday Inn hotel in Muang Lop Buri. This raises the question yet again of whether global hotel chains are doing enough to ensure that they aren’t acting as unwitting accomplices to the sex trafficking trade. Read our blog post about what the Hilton is (or rather, isn’t) doing, here.

New Zealand:

New Zealand is known universally for being home to a number of unique species; the Kiwi bird and the lizard-like Tuatara spring to mind. But it’s remarkable biodiversity is blessed with another rarity: the proactive politician. Although incidences of people being trafficking from, through or into New Zealand are thought to be relatively few, the Department of Labour has taken the hugely welcome step of launching a public awareness campaign which seeks to ensure that any signs of trafficking are recognized.

UK:

“…some were subject to the most extreme sexual and physical violence”. A prosecutor at Manchester Crown Court describes the plight of Romanian women who were lured to Manchester with the promise of houses and jobs, only to be horrifically sexually exploited. Somehow, the fact that this operation was a ‘family business’, headed by a father and son team, makes it all the more chilling. 

Canada:

“It’s a rare and very uncommon charge” – the words of a lawyer defending a Canadian man from the small town of Kitchener, who faces the charge of human trafficking. However unusual it may be in provincial Canada, this surely highlights the fact that nowhere should consider itself immune from the world’s fastest growing organized crime.

US:

Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame makes her first appearance on the STOP THE TRAFFIK blog. Is it too much to ask for the upcoming Sex and the City 3 film to provide a potent, compelling narrative addressing the horrors of modern-day slavery in New York in a sensitive yet rousing manner? Well, yes, far too much to ask. But SJP has lent her support to an initiative launched by the Brooklyn District Attorney to re-double their efforts to detect and combat sex trafficking. Joined by actress Gabourey Sidebe, the pair took to the airwaves to shed some light on the issue.

Children found enslaved on Worcester farm

Earlier this week I got home quite late. It was dark; I was feeling rather cold, hungry and was generally struggling to come to terms with the fact that winter seemed to be looming heavily.

Anyway, I foraged around the kitchen on the hunt for comfort food and managed to uncover a rather limp cucumber from the back of the fridge and some sad-looking spring onions that I had no recollection of buying. The result was, if I may be so bold as to say so myself, a nicely seasoned warm cucumber and spring onion soup. Recipe is available on request. Perfect autumnal comfort food, no?

Less comforting, however, was this weekend hearing how those spring onions may have begun their journey from field to soup.

Following a police raid on a farm in Worcestershire last week, 7 Romanian children between the ages of 9 and 15 were found picking spring onions. These children were working daily from 7.30am until dusk, without food or water, in freezing weather dressed only in thin summer clothing.

Although this is the first instance of child slaves being discovered working in UK fields, it’s an appalling practice that’s rumored to have been occurring for some time. Chillingly, a pair of Wellington boots suitable for a 5 year-old were also found in the field, suggesting that even younger children may have also been exploited.

6 of the children have been taken into police custody until their parents are identified.

It’s much too early for the authorities to start back-patting one another though. There have been several occasions in the past where trafficked children, forced to beg and steal on the streets, have been ‘rescued’, reunited with parents, only to find themselves returned to slave labor shortly afterwards – trapped in a vicious cycle. Why? Because some parents may be complicit in the trafficking operation.

Unpicking the role played by parents in child trafficking is incredibly tricky, and varies hugely from case to case from the naïve or innocent through to the simply criminal.

In some instances, parents may be duped by traffickers offering promises of a better education for their child, for example. In other instances, a parent may knowingly sell a child into slavery if it enables them to feed the rest of their family. Or the situation may be somewhere between the two – for example where the parent does intend to send the child to work, but is under the impression that he or she will be better fed, paid and looked after than is actually the case.

But in other cases, the sad reality is that parents are directly involved in the trafficking operation. This could take the form of forcing a child into labor in order to alleviate debts, or it could be that the parent is actually part of an extensive multi-child crime ring.  

The details of the case in Worcestershire are much too sketchy at this stage to be able to make any assumptions about how and why the children came to be working in these conditions.   

What is clear, though, is that not only can we ill-afford to under-estimate the scale and scope of the problem in the UK, but we also need to consider how to ensure children such as these aren’t ‘rescued’, only to be re-trafficked.

Breaking News: East London Big Child Trafficking Racquet – 7 arrests

Great news -the Police have broken an East London Romanian-based Trafficking  ring that targeted Roma Children between 3 and 17 years of age and forced them to beg and steal .

Lets just hope that the victims now receive the proper care and the ‘victim-centered’ approach that is said to be a policing priority.  The problem is, a lot of the children end up back in the care of their parents, who in many cases are complicit in the trafficking.

“Many parents are told by the gang they can earn money if they give up their child to be taken abroad. The gangs loan them money to pay for the trafficking at an extremely high interest rate, and it can take many years to pay off gangs” with increasing numbers of the children and even entire families becoming debt slaves.

You can read the news story here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11524732

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23886980-100-romanian-children-found-in-16-homes-as-police-raid-begging-ring.do

You can read more on the problem of exploited Roma street children here:

https://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/trafficking-on-the-streets-of-europe/

Bitter Sweet update on Chocolate…

Hey Everyone!

Here’s an update on what’s currently happening in Europe around the chocolate industry, thanks to Antoinie, STOP THE TRAFFIK Netherlands:

Last week Thursday, Tulane University published their latest report on trafficking and the worst forms of child labour in the cocoa industry of West Africa. The findings were shocking, to say the least. They had done a new research among kids that had worked in the cocoa industry of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. All of the kids they spoke to who had worked in cocoa had been the victims of the worst forms of child labour. From the kids that came from Mali, two thirds had been trafficked. From the kids that came from Burkina Faso almost three quarters had been trafficked. 

The issue of child trafficking in cocoa is still very much alive.

What makes this report so surprising, is that Tulane University was hired by the industry to report on progress. So this is not a critical group of NGO’s that are claiming this, this is actually commissioned by the people receiving the flack. In fact, the report states that all the current initiatives are nowhere near enough to end child trafficking and other worst forms of child labour in cocoa production. 

Coincidentally, the day after the report was released, a whole bunch of European charities and industry were at a conference. So we got everybody together, including the big companies, to talk about what the next steps are. It is clear that industry needs to step up their effort, and it is clear that NGO’s worldwide need to step up their call for change. The discussions with industry will continue, but we need to see change. And we need to see it quickly. 

A first step that we made as NGO’s was to make a European wide press release, which has been picked up in various countries. In Holland, where I work, we saw it on most of the major news portals, it was discussed on radio, and we even got some pretty critical questions asked in Parliament. These are just first steps, though. There are too many children still being trafficked, there are too few things done to change it at the moment. 

We’ll continue to keep the pressure on the companies, who are making billions of dollars each year, to really start making a difference! 

Antonie

Keep an eye out for the next exciting phase of our Chocolate Campaign to see soon at www.stopthetraffik.org/chocolate

Exploitation of labor rights in Chocolate production is ongoing

The worst forms of child labor, forced labor and trafficking of children have not been eradicated yet, on the contrary, a newly released study gives real  evidence about the widespread practices and the ineffectiveness of the industry’s efforts.

Nine years ago, a voluntary agreement called the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed by the cocoa and chocolate industry. This was part of a voluntary commitment to end all Worst Forms of Child Labour including the trafficking of children and Forced Adult Labour (FAL) in the cocoa production in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana by the end of 2005.

To monitor this promise, they asked Tulane University to report on progress. This led to a four and a half year project which covered at least half of the cocoa growing areas in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Not only has it been found that children from Burkina Faso and Mali  are still being sold to work in cocoa agriculture, especially in the Côte d’Ivoire, but all of the children interviewed who worked on cocoa farms there were subjected to the Worst Forms of Child Labour. More astoundingly, a vast majority of them were trafficked (63% from Mali, 75% from Burkina Faso).

This is not the only indicator for the ridiculously slow progress of an industry trying to clean up its act. There are two main problems in the way. Firstly, most industry programs concentrate on increasing farm productivity. But if this is not met with social welfare programs, it might not improve the situation of the children on the farms and could potentially make it worse. Secondly, many of the programs are still being piloted with less than 3% of cocoa growing communities in the Cote d’Ivoire and less than 14 % in Ghana, fully in place. In other cocoa producing countries like Nigeria or Cameroon the situation is even worse.

Sadly, the industry’s goal to have a wide independently verified certification process fully in place across each country’s cocoa-growing sector by the end of 2010 has failed.

This calls for continues action to ensure what was promised is delivered. Keep your eyes peeled for the next exciting phase of our Chocolate Campaign to see at: www.stopthetraffik.org/chocolate.
More information on: http://www.childlabor-payson.org/

See the full report here:

http://www.childlabor-payson.org/Final%20Fourth%20Annual%20Report.pdf

Diamonds- until death do us part

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Blood Diamond” before. Possibly you’ve seen the film. And if you’re even vaguely familiar with the subject, you’d probably wish you didn’t know that beneath the sparkle of a ‘girl’s best friend’, lies a very unsettling contradiction.

In Zimbabwe, like in many parts of Africa, diamonds are seen as a major money making opportunity. But it is an opportunity that comes at a high price. As the value of mined diamonds has grown, so has the potential for conflict and exploitation. And so the dream of the thousands, who move to the Marange diamond fields (near Zimbabwe’s eastern border with Mozambique) in the hope of riches, soon becomes a disquieting reality. Here’s a glimpse:

 “The young men stand at the roadside shaking. The youngest, weeping with fear, shouts and pleads with his captors. His mouth is foaming. He knows that this is just the beginning of his torment. Handcu­ffed together and forced to lean against a baobab tree, their trousers at their ankles, blood streams down their buttocks – a common sight in war zones: a humiliation and a warning to others”.

This boy’s freedom was taken for a frosty-grey stone no bigger than a newborn’s thumbnail. Him and many others like him, are suffering because of the vast Marange diamond fields (at 400 square miles- possibly the world’s biggest) in a country with hyper-inflation and at the hands of a corrupt dictator.

A few years ago, Zimbabwe’s huge rate of inflation made army wages almost worthless and soldiers rioted. Without military backing, Mugabe faced losing power, so he put mining operations under the direct control of the army. This helped pay their wages, keep him in power and allowed the military to enslave villagers as miners and take the profits.

The army set up Operation ‘No Return’ in 2008. With a ‘shoot-on-sight’ policy, it helped take control and killed opportunistic miners. Helicopter gun ships were used to control the fields and as many as 10,000 villagers living nearby were relocated, many recruited at gunpoint and forced to dig. Both those who come at risk and those recruited, are forced to work at gun-point by the army. The guns are fixed with spikes, the points of which are used to ‘encourage’ production. Jona says ‘We have no choice but to do this…The soldiers rounded us up in the night and they have threatened to kill our families. It’s always the diamonds. What do they mean to people in the West? What do they mean to you when my people…are dead men walking?’ 

Marange is full of industry abuses that the Kimberley Process (a certification scheme to regulate diamond trade) was created to protect the industry against. Yet blood diamonds still enter the global market and it is hard to tell which ones are tainted. A recent report estimates between $30 and $54 million dollars of diamonds from mines with horrific human rights abuses to be auctioned off into the international market.

Last year, as the Kimberley Process review panel prepared to rule over Zimbabwe’s future as an exporter of gems, a Live magazine investigation uncovered shocking first-hand evidence of the violent enslavement of miners. This was weeks after the Zimbabwean government assured the world its diamonds were ethical and months before they claim to have pulled soldiers out of the mining fields. There have been various reports over the last year with claims the problem is still rife; read one here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/8012481/Diamonds-sharpen-Zimbabwe-power-struggle.html

What can you do?

As part of our ACT campaign www.stopthetraffik.org/act , you could:

  • Write to Kimberley process states including China, Russia and Switzerland telling them they need to act to end trafficking and forced labour in the diamond pipeline. You can find a sample letter here:

http://www.kintera.org/c.nlIWIgN2JwE/b.5657811/k.FB1A/Stop_Blood_Diamonds/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx

  • Urge consumers to ask retailers about the source of diamonds and request conflict-free proof.

You can read the report that was submitted to the Kimberley Process review panel here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1213894/The-return-bloody-diamonds-Miners-gunpoint-Zimbabwe.html

Read more here:

http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/tiffany_cartier_zales_urged_to_boycott_zimbabwean_diamonds

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/local/27021-diamonds-zim-accused-of-child-labour.html

http://messagefromafrica.com/2010/09/15/54-million-of-zimbabwes-diamonds-reach-markets-bloody-as-ever/

Global News

Benin– 87 traffickers have been prosecuted and jailed the National Agency for the Prohibition for Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) while it has also rehabilitated more than 4,000 victims since establishing in 2003. There are many Nigerian women forced in the sex industry in Europe (around 10,000 in Italy alone). A project has been commissioned for a Skills Acquisition Centre funded by Italy, Netherlands and Norway.

Zimbabwe– Women comprise at least 56% of the world’s human trafficking victims. Victims are men, women and children. Lured with promises of better jobs or education, they often end up in prostitution or forced labour. But such is the ‘feminisation’ of poverty and migration, which makes women from poorer and developing countries particularly vulnerable. Read what can still be done in Zimbabwe to fight trafficking.

Northern Ireland must become a “hostile place” for traffickers, with a new condemning motion as the North has become a “staging post” for traffickers. This follows a police crackdown earlier this month of a suspected Scottish-based gang allegedly running brothels in Belfast and other areas, with the potential to be worth more than £20,000 (€23,600) per day. Asset recovery is said to be an important means by which perpetrators can be punished.

Kuala Lumpur– the Australian government is applying to extradite an Iraqi businessman wanted for alleged human trafficking. It is believed he arranged to bring approximately 763 individuals to Australia. He was arrested while holding three international passports. The extradition application was objected on the grounds of the businessman disputing the identity of the person named in the arrest warrant.

Finland
the recruitment of Thai citizens to pick wild berries in Finland is said to resemble human trafficking. Pickers may have been encouraged to come to Finland by giving false information about conditions there. They might not have the possibilities to disengage from the situation, as their debt is often unreasonable compared to the money earned. In Finish legislation, money earned from picking wild berries and mushrooms is not taxed, and foreigners do not require work permits.

Canada– In Winnipeg, an older woman befriended a 21-year-old woman and allegedly forced her into the sex trade. The victim was not bought into to Winnipeg, but allegedly preyed on her once she was there. Since human trafficking became a separate offence in Canada, five people have been convicted; all cases involve Canadian victims, mostly under 18, forced into the sex trade within Canada.

Anti Slavery Day UK just around the corner

The UK’s first anti-slavery day is just around the corner on the 18th October, 2010. The Anti-Slavery Day Act was passed into law just before the general election, providing a chance for raising awareness about the many people in the UK and around the world who continue to be trapped in exploitation. It is also a chance to promote the need for individuals across society to play their part in ending it.

We think it is absurd that while the date coincides with the European Anti-Trafficking Day, the new UK government has chosen to opt out of a new EU law to tackle human trafficking. This is despite the fact that it would increase protection for victims and make it easier to prosecute traffickers across the EU at a time when prosecution rates in the UK are at their lowest in five years.

The government claims they are already taking all the steps outlined in the new EU directive without needing to sign it. But even if they don’t see it as a vital opportunity to combat trafficking across borders in addition to what they’re doing already, they should at least be sending out a tough message to traffickers across the world. That message should be that trafficking will not be tolerated and that concerns over national sovereignty are not prioritized over the rights and protection of victims.

Anti-Slavery UK are asking people to call on the Government to support the adoption of this new international convention on domestic work. You can sign the petition here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/stop-human-trafficking
Here are three things you can do to mark the day:

 1. Sign the petition.

2. Set a challenge to organize a run for freedom (www.freedomticketforlife.org).

3. Get five people to sign up to our STOP THE TRAFFIK or join our ACT campaign (www.stopthetraffik.org/act).

The choice is yours. Choice represents freedom; and with freedom, comes responsibility.

You may have been part of the incredible response we’ve seen around the Slavery Season on Channel 4 in the UK. If you missed the programmes, they are still available on 4 on demand (UK only).

Global News 17/09/2010

PHILIPPINES-268 human trafficking victims, some of them minors, have been rescued from from 10 bars and night clubs in Pampanga. The Philippines is in danger of losing about $250-million in aid from the US if it does not improve prosecution of trafficking cases. Since 2003, only 23 cases led to convictions.

ENGLAND An Indian man arrested on suspicion of trafficking offences in the East Midlands is to be deported after raids on two Hotels. The UK Border Agency raided the hotels believing two vulnerable immigrants were being forced to work in harsh conditions against their will.

HELSINKI – Finnish police have uncovered a trafficking ring that brought more than 100 people into the country, many through the Baltic States. They had mostly come from Iraq and Afghanistan between 2008-2009. Victims were smuggled into Finland through Lithuania, Latvia and Russia. The crime ring may be based in Moscow.

NEPAL– Women tricked into trafficking have been reluctant to come forward as majority of the accused easily get away with impunity. There has been a huge increase in migrant female workers (in menial work and the sex trade), who return home or go missing after undergoing immense torture. Leniency on the part of authorities gives confidence to offenders to continue exploiting victims.

JAMAICA– 13 people have been held in a major human trafficking ring in Jamaica after a night club and house were raided. Those in custody are nationals of Panama, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Italy. Apartments in upscale communities were rented to accommodate girls believed trafficked.

BEIGING– Vietnam and China have signed a co-operation agreement on prevention and control of human trafficking. This is hoped to strengthen border control and enhance peace, friendship and development in the area. Things look to be moving ahead for china which has also had its first conviction for human organ trafficking.

The Dark reality of child beggars in Dakar

“Abdoulaye Ba, 10, looked right, then left, before timidly approaching the taxi and holding out his hand.” A 10-year-old begging is nothing new in Dakar, “but the fear in his eyes is” (http://ow.ly/2Ey8f). A few days ago police chased him away from the intersection where he used to beg as part of a national ban on begging. Now he hangs around a gas station under the police’s radar, where he earns half of what he did.

Child begging is a big problem in Senegal. One significant reason why is because of the number of children forced to beg by religious teachers known as “Marabouts”. Boys as young as three are sent out into chaotic streets and forced to earn a daily amount of money. An estimated 100,000 children are forced to beg every day by Marabouts, some of whom make as much as $100,000 a year; this is shocking in a country where people live on about $2 per day.

Many Marabouts conscientiously carry out the important tradition of providing young boys with a religious and moral education at Koranic schools called Daaras. However, some Senegalese  Marabouts are using education as a front for the economic exploitation of children. They are accused of recruiting young boys from all over Senegal and neighboring countries to enroll in their schools, then forcing them to beg on the streets. They do this under threats of sever physical harm, while taking the profits and leaving the children without proper clothing, food, shelter or education.

These children are recruited for exploitation; they are trafficked. Such exploitation is in stark contrast to the custom of Marabout-led Koranic schools which have operated across West Africa for centuries providing moral education and guardianship to children.

Nobody objects to this form of exploitation because in Senegal’s mainly Muslim society, religious leaders wield massive social and political power and people have traditionally been able to trust Marabouts. Also, begging is seen as an important cultural act and one of ‘zakat’ (charity). It is argued that begging ‘builds character’, ironically meaning that it instills humility. All these  factors make it easy for unscrupulous Marabouts to justify making a lucrative gain off the backs of children and get away with it.

Even though police are now cracking down on begging, the ban isn’t motivated by a state desire to protect children from forced begging. The real reason is money. If Senegal finds itself another year on the U.S. trafficking watch list, and are not seen to be doing something about it, the U.S. could stop sending a huge amount of aid.

But is rounding up beggars the right solution? Abdoulaye says: “My teacher told me that if I see a policeman I should run. But he still makes me beg. At night he counts the money and I get in trouble if I don’t bring back 500 francs” (around $1). Will the unscrupulous Marabouts simply find other ways to make the children in their “care” beg, driving them further underground?

Read more here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/sep/10/us-pressure-leads-to-ban-on-beggars-in-dakar/

http://vladtepesblog.com/?p=21525

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/04/15/senegal-boys-many-quranic-schools-suffer-severe-abuse

http://observers.france24.com/en/content/20100903-senegal-dakar-beggar-ban-koranic-school-marabouts

Virginity for sale just around the corner from Harrods, UK

A letter is delivered by an Iranian trafficking ring to a London Hotel. It reads: ‘I have 12 girls ready from the age 14-20 years, who are living all over the UK…”

A girl’s photograph can be sent to potential clients to show them what is on offer.

The trafficking ring moves girls across the country to work as “dancers” for rich men. They take a 14-year-old to a luxury hotel in London’s Knightsbridge, to meet a “punter.” The girl is a virgin and costs up to £150,000.

She is one of six other young victims, brought to London from North-West England, marketed to wealthy businessmen.

The would-be client is actually an undercover detective. The trafficking ring tells him and other undercover officers to “pick whichever ones they want and do what they like.”

This is not the plot of a glossy Hollywood film following on from “Taken”. It is the harrowing and appalling reality of young girls used as bait, to gain the highest bidder. Liam Neeson is not the hero this time; but rather Scotland Yard who are tipped off by equally heroic hotel staff. They knew something was suspicious and did something to stop it.

How horrific it is, that just around the corner from London’s biggest shopping attraction, you could even buy girl’s virginity. Trafficking is happening in our communities whether in the UK or worldwide. That means YOU have the power to STOP it!

We are so thankful that the staff in the hotel not only saw trafficking happen on their doorstep, but that they did something about it. Yes we have to be aware but we also have to act upon what we see happening around us.

The four gang members involved were arrested last year, and will be sentenced today. You can read the full story here:

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/09/14/uk.trafficking.case/  

If you’re a hotel, business traveler or tourist, see here:

http://www.stopthetraffik.org/takeaction/business.aspx

If you want to do ACT in your community, see here:

www.stopthetraffik.org/Act.

Global Newsround 10/09/2010

Honolulu – a company victimized nearly 900 Thai workers, more than double the 400 cited in a grand jury indictment that alleges forced labour at farms in Hawaii and on the mainland. The CEO of the company that provided the workers has had bail set at $1million.

Belfast a crime gang controlled by a Scottish university graduate spent more than £50,000 seeking clients for young women trafficked illegally into Northern Ireland.  Raids on 13 suspected brothels are believed only the tip of the iceberg and only part of the solution. There is a need to look at what happens to vulnerable people, and how they are supported and treated by the authorities.

U.S.  – A man in Kansas had a “sex slavery contract” with a runaway teenage girl, which turned into a business. From his home, he charged other men hundreds of dollars to watch him torture the woman through a Website, and even participate in person. There are allegations of genital mutilation, suffocation, electrocutions, and being cuffed in a dog cage.

Malaysia– Changes to Malaysia’s anti-trafficking law will harm victims by making it more likely that they will be treated as undocumented migrants subject to immediate deportation. The revised law also narrows the legal definition, undercutting protections for those tricked not forced into trafficking.

Global Newsround 03/09/10

Spain police have broken up a human-trafficking ring for male prostitution, the first case of its kind. The alleged victims were given stimulant drugs to make them available for sex 24 hours a day.

U.S.– in another unusual case, a bondsman has been arrested in an unusual charge of forced labor after he was accused of forcing a woman do sexual favours and work in exchange for bail. The victim was in the detention center as a result of a driving offense.

Nepal– a 27 year old woman from Nepal has been arrested for running a trafficking network from Delhi, luring young girls with the promise of jobs, sending them on forged passports to supply a placement agency in Kuwait.

U.K.- the coalition government stand accused of sending the “wrong signal” to human traffickers across the world after opting out of endorsing an EU directive to co-ordinate European efforts to combat the trade in sex slaves.

Malaysia– 24 Indian nationals, believed to be victims of a human-trafficking racket, have been rescued from a locked terrace in a house in Malaysia after being forced to work in a factory. Two Pakistani men were arrested.

Australia it used to be Australia’s sex industry that drew the focus on human trafficking but now it is forced labour in construction, hospitality and agriculture. It is estimated that more than 1,000 victims are brought to Australia each year. Has the global financial crisis has made international forced labor more of an issue?

Talking about Trafficking…

We think it’s great that Channel 4 in the UK has had a string of programmes on Human Trafficking and exploitation.

Some of you may have watched “I am Slave“, the Dispatches on “Britain’s Secret Slaves” or last night’s first part of “The Hunt for Britain’s Sex Traffickers“. It’s good news that these have helped to get everyone talking about trafficking and realising that it’s happening right here, right now.

If you were moved by these programmes but are left wanting for something to do about it, know that there are lots of things you can do, because we know all too well that when people act, things change! That applies to everyone, EVERYWHERE!

Trafficking can only hide in a community that allows exploiters to hide and act with impunity. What’s lurking in your community?

If you want to STOP THE TRAFFIK, take a look at what you can do here: www.stopthetrafik.org/takeaction and take a moment to read about our ACT camapign www.stopthetraffik.org/ACT.

Together we can make a difference!

 

Does Buying Sex come with consumer responsibility?

The cover reads “Just like Peter Crouch…we’re young, hot and have slept with prostitutes. Yes, it’s a weekly gossip magazine. Yes, like most girls, I’m guilty of reading it. And yes, even I surprised myself to have found within, inspiration for this blog!

But I remind myself that we are anti-trafficking, not anti-prostitution; and this is not an opinion poll- on whether prostitution should be legal or illegal. It is not about how to tackle the demand of trafficking under the guise of a feminist morality. It is purely to address the issue of consumer responsibility. Where the product is sex and the woman the commodity, that responsibility like with any product where trafficking is concerned (e.g. chocolate), must fall on the buyer.

From the candid interviews I read in the magazine, it seems there is a general delusion about brothels as self-governing bodies and about the women who work in them. I read about Nick, a web designer from Lancashire, who like 1 in 10 men in Britain buys sex regularly. When asked how he knows if a girl is over 16, he said “I can always tell… and brothels have rules about who can work there”. “Do you wonder if the women enjoy it. “No” replies another man, “…for them its probably just work.” 

I could go on. You see it makes me furious given what we know about trafficking, when a regular guy like Alex, 23, a barber from Cheshire (and another of the magazine’s interviewees) generalizes “It’s her job isn’t it? No one’s forcing her to do it”. Or when he unwittingly rhymes “I don’t care about her name or where she’s from. I just do my bit and I’m gone.” Surprisingly, he later admits he “wouldn’t want to break the law.” Perhaps he doesn’t know it is currently illegal for a man to pay for sex with girls who’ve been trafficked or pimped? Or that ignorance of a woman’s ­circumstances is no defense.

Critics suggest the law is ­unfair; a man can’t possibly know whether a woman is being exploited. But here’s the scary thing. A lot of them are aware of the problems, and even those who told researchers in a previous study (*see below) that they would be ­easily deterred by the current law, it would seem that discovering a women has been ­trafficked would not actually be so ­effective. Shockingly, most of those researched knew to some degree, about abuse and coercion in prostitution; they weren’t operating under the ­convenient illusion that women enter the trade for love of sex.

In the same research, more than half the men admitted they either knew or believed a majority of those in prostitution were tricked or trafficked. More than 1/3 said they thought the prostitutes they visited had been trafficked from another country, based on their difficulty with the local language or how young or vulnerable she appeared. “To be new in a country and be a prostitute – it can’t be a choice…She looked troubled.” One man even suspected an African woman he’d met was trafficked ­because “she was frightened and ­nervous. She told me she had been tricked. I had sex with her and she seemed fine with the sex. She asked me to help her, but I said there was little I could do…”

But surely little is better than nothing? If we’re asking chocolate buyers or business travelers to be aware of trafficking and do something about it, then surely we must ask the same of the men who buy sex? It is estimated that 2.4million adult men have paid for sex at least once in their life; 870,000 are regular customers. In Britain alone, more than 10% of men have visited a prostitute. These figures come from the Home Office who have also dispelled the myth that these are ‘dirty old men.’ The average man who pays for sex, is between 33 and 41 (but could be as young as 18), and there is about a 50% chance he is either married or in a stable relationship- a boyfriend or a husband. He doesn’t fall into obvious stereotypes, just as the prostitutes he might visit will not.

What has emerged is that at worst, trafficking for sexual exploitation is actively tolerated; at best, it is just ignored.

You can read more here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jan/15/why-men-use-prostitutes

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/810695-one-in-10-uk-men-has-used-a-prostitute

* Study on Men who Buy Sex: http://www.eaves4women.co.uk/Documents/Recent_Reports/Men%20Who%20Buy%20Sex.pdf

Global News 27/07/10

SWEDEN 8 people were charged with trafficking 10 African women, intimidating them into prostitution by using means of vodoo and debt bondage. A 16 year old girl was forced to continue to pay half of her earnings even after her debt was repaid.

GREECE 2 Bulgarian nationals have been arrested and charged with human trafficking along with a Kurdish national during an attempt to smuggle 18 people to Italy.

MEXICO– The bodies of 72 people believed to be migrants from Central and South America were found in a ranch in Northern Mexico. In Mexico, human trafficking is a $15 billion- to $20 billion-a-year business.

FINLAND – Many Thai men pay money to agents, buy their own flight tickets and equipment to pick berries and end up being exploited. Last summer, berry crop wasn’t very fruitful and many returned home owing more money. 

MYANMAR Many female victims became traffickers themselves after being rescued. This is supposedly due to a lack of victim assistance in the country which does not cover living expenses during their transition to a normal life.

Slavery Remembrance Day 23rd August, 2010

Today marks the 12th International Slavery Remembrance Day for the abolition of the Slave Trade. We had our delightful Victoria Kuhr on BBC’s breakfast radio in Plymouth this morning, speaking STOP THE TRAFFIK’s part on what slavery looks like today. 

The date commemorates those who worked together around the world to end an inhuman system, which saw almost 30 million men, women and children displaced from Africa.

These victims endured the trauma of being forcibly taken and sold as slaves in the different slave trading systems. Those sold into chattel slavery were subject to forced labour on the sugar plantations in the Caribbean, where the life expectancy did not exceed six years after their arrival. 

Today it is estimated that at least 12.3 million people are still victims of forced labour worldwide. Of these 2.4 million are as a result of human trafficking. But there’s no one source continent and no one destination. Trafficking affects Trafficking affects every continent and most countries. 300 years after slavery’s abolition – how is this form of slavery the fastest growing international crime?

Slavery ended because of the courageous acts of all those who rose together against its oppression and did something to STOP IT. We need to continue acting together to end all forms of slavery everywhere. When people act, things change!

News Summaries 20/08/2010

Iraq – US Embassy advisors conducted a human trafficking seminar for female Iraqi Police officers, to equip students with the tools to deal with victims who rarely come to the forefront with information.

UK– A new police report reveals at least 2,600 women have been trafficked into England and Wales and forced to work as prostitutes. Another 9,200 sex workers are considered “vulnerable migrants.” Findings are thought to be incomplete and miss out brothels advertised in other languages for example.

Scotland –A play about the iniquities of human trafficking, based on a true story from Glasgow, documents stories of those innocently recruited (often by other women), who are betrayed, raped, and imprisoned.

Canada – World Vision is calling on government to crack down on child traffickers who might be on board the Sri Lankan Tamil boat that landed in British Columbia. Children on board could be smuggled to the U.S., and may then be forced into bonded labour or sexual exploitation if not protected.

US– Immigrants from Southeast Asia are brought illegally to Ohio for a price, given false identities, and forced to work as “indentured servants” in nail bars  to pay off debts. Ohio is considered one of the “Dirty Dozen” states because of failure to address trafficking.

Poundland to grow: value for injustice?

Recently, I blogged about Poundland and their use of slave labour in their supply chain:

https://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/from-slaveland-to-poundland/

Well, guess what? They are now on the hunt for BIGGER and MORE stores after a 130% rise in annual profits:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/19/poundland-discount-retail-retail

But while consumers chase value, they must ask themselves whether Poundland are really their shopping list justice.

What are Poundland doing to confront the dark side of their industry?

Albino hunter sells victim

A 28-year-old Kenyan has been arrested by Tanzanian police for trying to sell another man for his body parts. In a sting operation, police pretended to be businessmen buying albino body parts, which are highly prized in Tanzania by witchdoctors for their alleged healing properties. Police struck a deal equivalent to over $250,000 with the man who tricked his 20-year old victim into believing he would get a job in Tanzania as a truck driving assistant.

This type of trafficking is different from organ trafficking where there is consent from the donor who usually gets money directly in exchange for his/her organs.

People with albinism, a condition characterized by complete or partial lack of color in the skin, hair and eyes, are under constant threat in East Africa. They are dehumanized and seen by traffickers as a lucrative business opportunity. Albino body parts such as hair, genitals and limbs are used for potions which supposedly make people rich or healthy.

The Albino Association of Tanzania says that although 4,000 albinos are officially registered in the country, the actual number could be as high as 173,000 because so many are in hiding. Over the last three years more than 50 albino adults and children have been killed.

The Tanzanian government despite promises has been slow with tackling this problem. Even though this case has brought it back into their agenda, is law enforcement the only answer? Without a change in cultural attitudes towards witchcraft, will there ever be an end to this problem? How about making it part of your agenda too by raising awareness today.

You can read more here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11001791

http://www.care2.com/causes/human-rights/blog/man-arrested-for-trying-to-sell-albino-man/

https://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/witchcraft-abuse-a-method-of-coercion-and-submission/

https://stopthetraffik.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/witchraft-abuse-how-it-increases-vulnerability-to-human-trafficking/

International Baby Shopping

Adopting a baby can be a huge responsibility. I just came across an old article in The Times called “Baby trafficking may not be all bad.” It spoke of the line between wealthy celebrity adoptions, and the demand this potentially creates for trafficking in babies. I am about to summarize a few ideas from that story.

International baby shopping has become fashionable over the years. Many well off westerners, usually celebrities, are able to go abroad and select for sex, beauty, race and country of origin of their baby. There were reports around the time Madonna adopted her one-year-old boy from Malawi, that she had flown to southern Africa by private jet to “locate a suitable candidate” after inspecting a shortlist of 12 tiny orphan boys. Like Madonna, many well-off western women have gone as far as Latin America, the Far East, Africa, and to the poorer parts of Europe.

But do these women encourage the rich world to spare a thought for lost and abandoned children in poor countries? There is a paradox between the glamorous side of adoption (accompanied by charming maternal longings, compassion for the poor and non-racist credentials) and the fact that adoption in reality can be a hard, demanding and potentially risky practice. The risk I am interested in is when demand is so great that in some places it promotes baby trafficking.

Human rights activists have been outraged with the money exchanged in the process of wealthy celebrity adoptions and the idea that this might encourage trafficking. Of course it is wrong to buy or sell a person, but is this fear of adoption misplaced and exaggerated?

As the article says, it is no surprise that where there is demand there will be dealing. In some parts of the world like Bulgaria, some mothers are forced to sell their babies to dealers to pay debts, and others are cruelly tricked into handing them over for ever. Baby trafficking has only been a crime in Bulgaria for a few years. In Romania, where there are countless orphans in need of a loving home, the government stopped international adoptions in 2001 after allegations of trafficking.

Thousands of western families were anxious to adopt orphaned and abandoned children in Romania, especially when the media exposed the terrible conditions of orphanages. But when a black market grew up around adoption, the government with pressure from the EU, stopped foreign adoptions altogether in 2001. Many of the teenage orphans, who were approved for adoption but caught up in the ban, actually ended up being sexually abused and beaten for many years in their orphanage.

Just because rogue traders get involved, is that any reason to deny unwanted children the chance to be loved? Where do you think we should draw the line on adoption?

Read the original article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/minette_marrin/article664922.ece

Global News 12/08/2010

India– Operating across the country and neighbouring Nepal, a gang lured over 200 girls and boys and sold them in West Asian countries and Saudi Arabia. Officials were suspicious on detecting the age on passports slightly scratched.

US– Online classified advertising site Craiglist has been described as “the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking” of underage girls. Two young women said they were repeatedly sold through the site to men who “paid to rape” them.

Montenegro– 16 people have been charged for trafficking women from Kosovo and Serbia for forced prostitution. Suspects were arrested in February as part of a police operation targeting night clubs.

UK– A jailed couple have to hand over almost half a million pounds made from trafficking poor Mauritian workers and forcing them to work in care homes working up to 90 hours a week.

Spain– Police arrested 11 people from former Soviet republics who organized a network for trafficking women for sexual exploitation from Russia to Spain. The organization was headed by a Ukrainian woman.

Italy– A polish actor and owner of an advertising agency is being charged with being a middleman for Italian mafia which forced young women into prostitution.

Mexico– Drug cartels are amassing bigger fortunes than ever, transforming into broad criminal empires, grafting human trafficking onto their drug-smuggling routes, and padding income with kidnapping, extortion and the movement of a wide range of contraband, including fake luxury products, exotic animals, and pirated DVDs.

Global News 06/08/2010

Good News

Malaysia Victims of human trafficking in Malaysia are now going to be treated as such instead of taken to immigration detention at the airport where they are sometimes kept for many months.

NigeriaA Nigerian teenager stopped alleged traffickers from transporting her and 5 other girls to work as prostitutes by shouting to alert authorities. Trafficking of young women from Nigeria to Europe via Niger and Libya for prostitution is commonplace. Girls are usually lured with promise of lucrative jobs, only to be forced into prostitution once in Europe.

ChinaPolice rescued 22 women and children abducted by a human-trafficking ring that had operated for two decades. Human trafficking is a serious problem in China, with a thriving black market in girls and women sold as brides.

Bad news

TajikistanA court in Tajikistan has ruled that a political leader and another man are not guilty of human trafficking. The men paid $500 to the mother of a 16-year-old girl who they allegedly planned to sell to someone in Russia. It was claimed she was a relative they were trying to arrange a marriage for – the money supposedly marriage “dowry” paid to any Muslim girl.

South Africa In South Africa’s first conviction for human trafficking for sexual exploitation, the case has been postponed. A man and his Thai wife were convicted in April and argued the interpreter used during the trial was not competent.

Global News 30/07/2010

South Asia

Follow Siddharth Kara as he researches trafficking around South Asia. He will be accessing the heart of the problem, telling CNN.com readers what he discovers every week over the next ten weeks. So far “…it’s not just construction, but commercial sex, agriculture, mining, leatherwork’s, fishing… Business is business and slavery is no different.” Read his first report here and see pictures and video:http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/07/29/kara.human.traffic.india/#fbid=oVPPIoS8LKn

England & Wales

Prosecutors have launched a draft policy on prosecuting “modern-day slavery” in a bid to increase the number of victims testifying in England & Wales. Last year 102 people were prosecuted for sex trafficking and 19 for labour trafficking. Successful prosecutions are difficult, partly because victims are afraid to come forward despite their evidence being a key starting point for investigations. http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/jul/29/human-trafficking-prosecutions-policy

Thailand

There are an estimated 1.36 million trafficking-related victims in the Asia-Pacific region- more than half the global total. Thailand is on the US State Department watchlist of not doing enough to combat trafficking. Victims, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, form part of a huge shadow economy across Asia making about $10 billion a year. Thai authorities identified about 530 foreign victims last year and rehabilitated 79 Thai citizens overseas- only the “tip of the iceberg.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/Human-traffickers-prey-on-vulnerable-in-Thailand/Article1-579310.aspx
Germany

German authorities have asked Bulgarian authorities to extradite two Bulgarian citizens- a father and his 24 year old son- over charges including human trafficking and pimping. This follows a tip off from Czech police when one of the victims, a 19-year-old girl, managed to send a text message to her relatives. The pair allegedly confiscated the passports of three women, and then abused, exploited, drugged and raped their victims in the German city of Bremen. http://www.sofiaecho.com/2010/07/29/939606_two-bulgarians-charged-to-be-extradited-to-germany-charged-with-human-trafficking

Cocoa Journalists in the Ivory Coast locked up

The latest news coming out of the Ivory Coast suggests its not just victims trafficked into chocolate production whose freedom is at stake. Even the reporters trying to highlight things in the cocoa industry those in power would rather keep hidden, are having their freedom taken away.  Since journalists are particularly important in providing public accountability for official malpractice, there is now a fear for others working to expose the dark and bitter truth of the industry.

The International Labor Rights Forum recently reported that 3 journalists from the Ivory Coast were arrested after publishing a story about corruption in the cocoa sector, including a former Ivory Coast owned New York Chocolate & Confections plant in New York.

The cocoa industry in the Ivory Coast accounts for 40% of the global cocoa supply. Chances are, when eating a chocolate bar that isn’t fair-trade or Rainforest alliance, you are unknowingly fuelling the conflict in the Ivory Coast. Journalists also have an important role in voicing what is happening in the cocoa industry but in doing so they face being arrested. Despite being charged with “theft of public documents,” the arrested group has refused to identify their sources for their report, claiming such privacy as a fundamental right of their profession, which it is. Why then do they face a one year jail sentence and almost $20,000 fine?

We have always campaigned to get chocolate companies to have an invested and sustainable interest in cocoa farms. By this we mean investment into independent checks like those provided through the Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certifications. Ironically evidence now suggests companies have ‘invested’ and ‘sustainable’ interest but not exactly in the ways we’re after. Global Witness have reported members of the cocoa board are believed to be close to top political officials and corporations and have apparently tapped into profits from cocoa for their own personal and political missions. In this way, their ‘invested’ interest is more likely to be in trafficking, as they can profit directly from the exploited labour of human beings- ‘sustainable’ unlike other forms of exploit (e.g. a drug or a weapon).

You can read more on the following links and can also send a message to the government of the Ivory Coast that we will not accept violations of freedom of the press.

http://www.valleynewsonline.com/viewnews.php?newsid=89178&id=1

http://www.laborrights.org/stop-child-forced-labor/cocoa-campaign/news/12374

Also, check out our chocolate campaign www.stopthetraffik.org/Chocolate

Global News 23/7/2010

Africa

19 human traffickers have been caught and 625 victims reintegrated into communities across Ghana. The survivors have also been given formal education and skills training. Research suggests 70% of human trafficking cases in Ghana are internal with 78% of victims between 6-15 years old. Low participation and progress of women in society is likely to make girls more vulnerable http://news.peacefmonline.com/crime/201007/61474.php

U.S.

14 year old trafficking survivor speaks out. “Samantha” was coorced to run away from home by an older man she’d met who promised her trips to Vegas, meetings with movie stars, and cross country trips. After being sold into prostitution, she blamed herself: “After it was done to me, I felt like I deserved it. I had made the decision to run away and I made the mistake of trusting a stranger.” See clip http://www.wtvr.com/news/wtvr-trafficking-victim-speaks-out,0,7985482.story

Australia

Asian workers are being exploited for labour on strawberry farms. They are reportedly subject to underpayment or no payment at all, forced labor, abuse, and humiliation. Police have identified more than 100 potential victims over the past two years. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/asians-taking-aussie-jobs-no-its-labour-exploitation-20100721-10l2g.html

Japan

A government trainee programme for foreigners has been described as a “form of human trafficking,” after dozens have died from “karoshi” or “death through overwork.” Since the 1990s Japan has invited tens of thousands of foreigners (mostly from China, Indonesia and the Philippines) to take part in industrial training programmes to “learn new skills”. In reality however the scheme exploits cheap unskilled labourers. Many pay huge deposits in, often equal to several years’ income, to unauthorised brokers who help them register for the programme and travel to Japan. One worker was found to be working more than 100 hours overtime in one month at a metal processing firm.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gXN3sBZiNLSKHP3WYJ_8Qj2PROjA

UK

7 Arrests made in trafficking operation at properties in Ipswich, Norwich, Swindon, Harwich in Essex and Tedburn St Mary in Devon. Those arrested are also being held on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic for sexual exploitation and for managing, keeping, or assisting in the management of a brothel for prostitution.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-10724684

From Slaveland to Poundland

Have you ever been into a Pound/Dollar/Euro shop and like me, wondered, who (when you save so much) actually gains from what you buy? This question has never been more relevant than it is today. In Poundland, for £1 (the equivalent of about $1.5 or just over €1), you can buy anything from a notebook to a decorative ornament. When we buy a gift for a Pound, is it really a bargain?

“I was brought to Delhi by a person who paid £14 to my family” says 8 year old Mohammad. Currently in a safe house, he and 4 other boys await being reunited with their families, having been rescued from a Delhi sweatshop.

The boys were working for an Indian firm supplying Christmas gifts destined to the British chain Poundland. They worked 14 hours a day (98 hours a week) until 11pm, making a measly 7 pence (11 US cents or 8 Euro cents) for each long hour. That’s under £7 a week- the equivalent of 7 gifts from Poundland. When we get our Poundsworth, we are paying for over 13 hours of labour. I guess now I know why it’s so cheap.

“We work hard to bring you amazing value products everyday” is one of Poundland’s mottos, but it’s young boys who have been trafficked and exploited who are working hard to make them profits. So who is really working overtime?

Poundland have stated they didn’t know about it and will not tolerate child exploitation in their supply chain. But if it’s not their responsibility to know, whose is it? We have the responsibility as consumers to make a difference and to care. This is why we encourage people to buy things like fair trade chocolate (see our Chocolate Campaign www.stopthetraffik.org/Chococlate).

Maybe the real question should be what will we really be celebrating at Christmas…?

-cheap gifts?

-the lives of children who are for sale for cheap labour?

-7 year old Ravi, dressed in rags, emaciated with marks on his face, found working 98 hours a week?

-or perhaps more optimistically that child labour is finally being exposed, and that means you can do something to STOP it before Christmas!

Do one thing today- tell someone else about it. Do one thing tomorrow- read about out ACT campaign www.stopthetraffik.org/act . And do one thing over Christmas- look out for our Christmas campaign to STOP THE TRAFFIK!

You can read the article from the Metro here: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/835669-children-paid-7p-an-hour-to-make-poundland-gifts

 What would you pay a Pound for?

 

Global news round 16/07/20

UK

ECPAT UK and the Body Shop launched a new petition calling on government to introduce a new strategy of guardianship. Research found 55% of children who have been identified as trafficked go missing from local authority care and are never found. It is believed this is because the trafficker has found them or they run away in fear of being found. Last year, the Guardian exposed the case of one council run home near Heathrow where 77 Chinese children went missing in less than three years. Check out ECPAT UK online to sign the petition

www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/jul/15/child-trafficking-petition-guardians-ecpat

Working in partnership with French police, Six Albanian men have been arrested in a series of raids across Britain, as part of an investigation into human trafficking. The close collaboration between the forces of the two countries highlights an important message: criminals cannot escape justice by crossing international boundaries.

www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gspemDKxLi6G5qRscmPe2Z082wig

US

There is an interesting article in the New York times discussing legal issues and the vulnerability of US born runways.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/opinion/15kristof.html?src=mv

Belize

A Businesswoman in Belize has been charged for 2 counts of human trafficking. An 18-year-old domestic reported that between March first and May 10 she was working as an unpaid waitress or the businesswoman, forced to work and have sex with male clients against her will.

http://www.lovefm.com/ndisplay.php?nid=12345

Lybia

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has accused world football’s governing body FIFA of being a “global mafia” that is involved in the trafficking of players from poor nations to wealthier ones. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football-world-cup/news/Kadhafi-slams-FIFA-as-mafia-for-trafficking/articleshow/6043544.cms

Newsround 9/7/10

Canada – 11 women rescued from forced prostitution in massage parlour

A popular Richmond Hill massage parlour has been raided over the weekend. 11 women were found inside, however only one was willing to give a statement against the men who police believe were running the parlour. The women were forced to provide sexual services for customers, and if they refused, brute force was used. They lived in cramped conditions and were given very little food. http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/07/06/14622011.html

Nigerian-EU anti-trafficking project launched

A project has been launched to try and reduce the number of Nigerians being trafficked into Europe. The project will also improve the protection and rehabilitation of trafficking victims. The project will run for 2 years and is being funded by the EU. This coincides with Nigeria being one of the largest source countries for victims as far as national referrals go. http://allafrica.com/stories/201007061218.html

Three people arrested in Florida for trafficking for forced labour

Three people have been arrested in Florida for multiple offences, including human trafficking for forced labour. It is believed that hundreds of Haitian nationals have been trafficked into America, to work on farms in rural Alachua County. Further arrests are possible in relation with this. One worker told investigators about being forced to work in fields recently sprayed with chemicals so harsh they left her with permanent scars. http://www.ocala.com/article/20100706/ARTICLES/100709817/1402/NEWS?Title=Three-charged-with-human-trafficking-on-Alachua-County-farms

Top 26 fugitives to be found using Facebook

Interpol are using social networking sites, such as Facebook, to try and find 26 top fugitives. These 26 include several human traffickers who have offended multiple times, and are probably still buying and selling people now. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2010/07/06/interpol-release-list-of-world-s-most-wanted-suspects-86908-22385418/

IGI arrests point to international human trafficking ring

Following the arrest of 27 people at the IGI Airport and two agents in a human trafficking racket, Delhi Police and other agencies will now check the details of ‘tickets taken in bulk’ by travel agents, especially for countries like Saudi Arabia. It is suspected that two agents of Pan travels in New Delhi, sent several people outside the country promising them jobs in Iraq and handing over fake passports and visas. There are thought to be many bogus agents operating. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/IGI-arrests-point-to-international-human-trafficking-ring/643643/

Marriage under Sharia Law- the case of customary abuse?

Human trafficking knows no geographical, political, cultural or religious boundaries so measures to combat trafficking must, like the crime, transcend all boundaries. But is this possible? There have been questions asked about Islam’s position on trafficking. This blog draws on an interesting new paper by UNODC to open a discussion on the issue of how if at all, an Islamic approach differs from a secular one when combating trafficking?

Given its nature, Sharia/Islamic Law (which most Muslim countries use), is considered unchangeable. This makes it unsympathetic to situational or cultural differences and changes across countries or time. (As an aside, should any law be unresponsive to changing circumstances and different traditional practices?)

From reading the UNODC paper, I have come to understand that the West may view Sharia Law a little unfairly in terms of trafficking. The Western fear is that Sharia laws are so rigid that people can exploit them in ways that increase the potential for trafficking. For example, in some Muslim societies there is a tendency for early marriage which doesn’t require a women’s consent (like when a guardian concludes the marriage contract on a women’s behalf). Another tradition allows men to ‘inherit’ women as property. Such lack of freedom and choice for women may open up a possibility for force, exploitation or deception.

Western thinkers might blame Sharia Law but Sharia Law states clearly that consent is fundamental in marriage. So contrary to perception, problems which could potentially lead to harmful practices do not stem from Sharia law, but rather from different cultural interpretations of the Qur’an.

I think the West needs a better understanding of Sharia Law which the UNODC paper offers. At the same time, we need to know more about how Sharia Law combats cultural interpretations of the Qur’an that clash with the law, which could lead to trafficking. How does Islam address different forms of marriage and the rights given to individuals so that these forms of marriage don’t become forms of trafficking?

Other examples which Sharia Law could be seen to condone from a Western perspective, include forced, transactional, temporary or child marriages, all of which are connected to trafficking but are actually “a violation of the principle of consent under Islamic Law and may constitute harmful customary practices in contravention of Islamic doctrine” (UNODC).

While on the topic of marriage, keep an eye out for my next blog on Mail Order Brides and how this relates to trafficking.

 Read the UNODC paper here: http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/Islamic_Law_TIP_E_ebook_18_March_2010_V0985841.pdf