“Human Trafficking in Our World- 2011”

The dark Side

Globalization places a special emphasis on borders between countries, specifically on opening them up. Economic globalization encourages free trade agreements between countries, multinational corporations, and the free flow of goods across the world. However, the focus on open borders does not seem to apply to people. As inequalities between rich and poor countries increase, borders are becoming more and more closed to people. Because of these tight border controls and a growing global fear of those seeking refuge, migration is risky business. Stories abound of people crossing highways and deserts, mountains and seas, hiding in trucks and boats or clinging to lifeboats adrift in the ocean. Some never arrive and are found tied to boats, dead in cargo containers of airplanes, or shot dead in the Mexico desert in flight to the United States. People smugglers cash in on tough immigration laws, promising asylum seekers safe passage for a fee. Many of these smugglers are part of a growing ring of sex-traffickers.

Save me, Please!

Huge numbers of poverty-stricken girls and women accept the promise of a good job or a kind husband but find they have been tricked into prostitution. Some girls are even sold to smugglers by poverty-stricken families who see them as their only hope for an escape from poverty. GABRIELA Philippines reports that a Filipina woman sells for between $3000 and $5000 in the international sex trade. A Cambodian woman who herself escaped the sex trade after being sold at the age of twelve recounts violent, vivid stories of women and girls as young as four who are raped for profit in her book “The Road of Lost Innocence.” She estimates that 2.4 million young women and children will be forced into prostitution in 2011.9Most trafficked women come from Asia, but Eastern European women have also been prone to be trafficked into prostitution as they escape poverty created after the erosion of the social safety net in their home countries. In Canada, foreign trafficking for prostitution is estimated to be worth $400 million annually.

A particular criticism has been the reluctance of some countries to tackle trafficking for purposes other than sex.

Another action governments can take is raising awareness of this issue. This can take three forms. First, in raising awareness among potential victims, particularly in countries where human traffickers are active. Second, raising awareness among police, social welfare workers and immigration officers to equip them to deal appropriately with the problem. And finally, in countries where prostitution is legal or semi-legal, raising awareness among the clients of prostitution to watch for signs of human trafficking victims.

Raising awareness can take on different forms. One method is through the use of awareness films or through posters.

Statistical estimates show 300,000 women have been sold into the sex trade in Western Europe in the last 10 years, and since 1990, 80,000 women and children from Myanmar (formerly Burma), Cambodia, Laos and China have been sold into Thailand‘s sex industry.

Among the other findings:

 • As many as 7,000 Nepali girls as young as 9 are soldannually into India’s red-light districts, 200,000 in the last decade.

Is there any hope?

Can we save these women?

• Afghani women are sold into prostitution in Pakistan for around 600 rupees – less than $4 a pound, depending on their weight.

• About 50,000 Asian, Latin American and Eastern European women and children are trafficked into the United States for sexual exploitation, the going rate between $12,000 and $18,000 each.

• Ten thousand children between the ages of 6 and 14 are in Sri Lankan brothels.

• Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have become the sex centers for Western Europe, featuring women from the former Soviet Union.

• About 1,000 women from the former Soviet Union became prostitutes in Israel in exchange for legal documentation.

India

As many as 200,000 Nepali girls, many under 14, have been sold into sexual slavery in India. Nepalese women and girls, especially virgins, are favored in India because of their light skin.

Bernard Dickens, professor emeritus of health law and policy at the University of Toronto Law School, has said that “Hindu girls are being smuggled and purchased from poor countries like Nepal and Bhutan to be brides for Indian men”.

Southeast Asia

It has been estimated that at least 200,000 to 225,000 women and children are trafficked from Southeast Asia annually. Most of the trafficking destinations are within the region (60 percent are major cities of the region; 40 percent are outside the region).

 Thailand

Within Thailand, women are trafficked from the impoverished Northeast and the North to Bangkok for sexual exploitation. It is common that Thai women are lured to Japan and sold to Yakuza-controlled brothels where they are forced to work off their price. Thailand is a major destination for child sex tourism; children are exploited in sex establishments and are also approached directly in the street by tourists seeking sexual contact.

Philippines

Quoting the subhead blurb of a December 2009 online article on a German media site, the Havocscope website, which bills itself as “An online database of black market activities”, estimated that there are about 800,000 women working as prostitutes in the Philippines, with up to half of them believed to be underage. A major obstacle which prevents effective anti-trafficking enforcement is the fact that government officials and the police are often involved in trafficking operations within the country, protect such activities, and demand bribes from traffickers and pimps. In the late 1990s, UNICEF estimated that many of the 200 brothels in Angeles City offered children for sex, describing the brothels as “notorious”.

In a country where trafficking is commonplace (especially in airports), organizations such as the Asia Foundation are calling attention to human trafficking in several different ways. In August, the Philippine Star ran a front page article titled “Internet Pornography: The Untouchable Crime” which called attention to the dangerous nature of human trafficking. In addition, infomercials that depict possible trafficking scenarios are being produced and aired on television to provide viewers with potential situations they should be wary of. The Asia Foundation has also been successful in setting up halfway houses and help desks in international airports dedicated to providing information to individuals to prevent them from being trafficked, and support and consolation for those who have been victims of trafficking.

Actions taken to combat human trafficking vary from government to government. Some, have introduced legislation specifically aimed at making human trafficking illegal. Governments can also develop systems of co-operation between different nations’ law enforcement agencies and with non-government organizations (NGOs). Many countries have come under criticism for inaction, or ineffective action. Criticisms include the failure of governments to properly identify and protect trafficking victims, immigration policies which potentially re-victimize trafficking victims, or insufficient action in helping prevent vulnerable people from becoming trafficking victims.

 “The break-down in human rights, and what the world is not doing to stop it!” Hotdogfish!

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Corruption! Bribery!

Cartoon showing statue of Andrew Jackson on a ...
Image via Wikipedia

To the victor goes the spoils! The question is? How much are you willing to pay to get what you want?

By its nature corruption can be difficult to detect as it usually involves two or more people entering into a secret agreement. The agreement can be to pay a financialinducement to a public official for securing favour of some description in return.

Corruption Chart

In overseas corruption this can manifest itself by a UK company paying a bribe for the benefit of an overseas public official in order to win a contract. This can be done through a 3rdparty commonly known as an agent or advisor who then passes the bribe on to the public official or directly by the UK company to public official.

Ingenious methods of making the payments are used by those involved, including moving the money through a number of offshore companies (that on the face of it has nothing to do with the intended recipient) registered in various jurisdictions.

The secret nature of the agreement means that it is difficult for anyone other than those involved to know what is going on. As a result of the work the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has conducted, we have identified a number of questionable practices within various sectors. We call these corruption indicators.

Here are some definitions on some corruption-related terms that you may have heard of:

  • Bribery – Giving or receiving something of value to influence a transaction
  • Illegal Gratuity – Giving or receiving something of value after a transaction is completed, in acknowledgment of some influence over the transaction
  • Extortion – Demanding a sum of money (or goods) with a threat of harm (physical or business) if demands are not met
  • Conflict of Interest – Employee has an economic or personal interest in a transaction
  • Kickback – Portion of the value of the contract demanded as a bribe by an official for securing the contract
  • Corporate Espionage – Theft of trade secrets, theft of intellectual property, or copyright piracy
  • Commission/Fee – Used by a UK company or person to obtain the services of an agent/agency for assistance in securing a commercial contract

India and Corruption! But India is not alone! The vast majority of Asian countries with one exception Singapore, is on this list!

An Indian website, ipaidabribe.com, set up last summer by anti-corruption activists, reveals just how grasping officials can be. It has documented over 8,500 instances of bribery adding up to nearly 375m rupees ($8.4m) in back-handers. These include 100 rupees to get a policeman to register a complaint about a stolen mobile phone and 500 rupees for a clerk to hand over a marriage certificate. The amounts are much larger to facilitate income-tax refunds, where the standard “charge” is 10%; sums between 5,000 and 50,000 rupees change hands.

But such initiatives can do little beyond allowing people to vent their anger about corruption. Kaushik Basu, the chief economic adviser to India’s finance ministry, suggests that this may be partly because the law treats both bribe-giving and bribe-taking as crimes. This makes it hard to blow the whistle on corrupt officials, because the bribe-giver has also broken the law. If he complains, he risks prosecution or, more likely, being asked for another bribe by the police. In a provocative paper based on game theory, Mr Basu argues for the legalisation of some kinds of bribe-giving. His proposal has instigated a furious debate in India, with television channels even assembling panels to discuss it.

In the land of opportunity, fair trade is not neccessarily the key to winning! Hotdogfish!