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.
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.
• 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.
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”.
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).
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.
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!
- We Can Change The World… (originalapplejunkie.wordpress.com)
- Infiltrating Europe’s shameful trade in human beings (sleepingbeautyslavery.wordpress.com)
- What About American Girls Sold on the Streets? (nytimes.com)