Haiti; haven for Human Trafficking and illegal adoptions!

 

Poverty, endemic corruption, and lawlessness are the norm in what is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The void of authority has made Haiti a key transit point for drugs going to the United States, and, to a lesser extent, Europe, as well as a haven for myriad other criminal activities including human smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal adoptions.

Things have gotten worse since the earthquake in January 2010, which left entire cities in rubble, the country’s little infrastructure in tatters, and over 230,000 dead.

What was already a difficult place to live has also become a nearly impossible place to police. To cite one example, nearly 6,000 prisoners escaped from a maximum security prison following the quake, only eight per cent of whom have been recaptured

The UN mission adds that it’s worried about security forces’ connections to organized crime and noted that the murder rate “did not stop going up” in 2009 to 2010, according to EFE’s account, without specifying by how much or where homicides were increasing.

Amidst the chaos are thousands of children. The United States Department of State estimates that close to half a million children were displaced by the quake, adding to a culture of people inured to the death and destruction around them.

The State Department qualifies Haiti as a “special case” in matters of human trafficking, the highest alarm bell it can sound. And in its 2010 report on human trafficking, it says most of those trafficked are “restaveks,” a term used for domestic child servants who form part of an extended family.

“Restaveks are treated differently from other non-biological children living in households,” the State Department says. “In addition to involuntary servitude, restaveks are particularly vulnerable to beatings, sexual assaults and other abuses by family members in the homes in which they are residing.”

Haiti has created a special Brigade for the Protection of Minors, but this has done little to curb trafficking since the brigade does not pursue forced labour or forced prostitution cases because there is no existing law against these activities, the State Department adds. It noted an increase in the number of restaveks found in shelters since the quake.

The UN’s report may indicate that other children are also being bought and sold in large numbers on the black market, as desperate, entrepreneurial parents seek to lower their burden. Much of this market, it appears, is in the Dominican Republic, which shares the Hispaniola Island with Haiti.

Haitians are trafficked to work on Dominican sugar plantations, in brothels and other forced servitude, the State Department says.

Human Trafficking-Sex Trafficking Mexico!

Mexicos' Human Trafficking Routes

Human trafficking, and especially sex trafficking, in Mexico has attracted a significant amount of attention in recent years, as the security crackdown there has forced drug trafficking organizations to broaden their criminal portfolios. As a result, the country’s cartels are becoming increasingly involved in human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which is made easier by a lack of strong penalties for these crimes. As congresswoman Rosi Orozco told the Washington Post recently, “If narcotics traffickers are caught they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity.”

But sex trafficking is not simply a problem in Mexico. As the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report notes, the majority of human trafficking victims worldwide become products of commercial sexual exploitation, and the phenomenon is widespread throughout the western hemisphere. In fact, a 2010 report by Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls found that Mexico ranked fifth in terms of the estimated number of trafficking victims in Latin America, putting the country below the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Brazil and Argentina.

In Mexico, as in much of Central America, sex trafficking is closely linked not only with organized crime but also with the migrant smuggling trade. Because of the region’s close proximity to the United States, the flow of migrants ensures a ready supply of new recruits. The economic and legal vulnerability of their situations makes them even easier targets.

Sex trafficking is not just a purely economic phenomenon, however. Some victims are drawn into the trade due to more complex reasons, and then are psychologically conditioned into staying. As InSight Crime has documented, such is the case in Honduras, where young women are increasingly falling prey to false “modeling agencies” which serve as fronts for sex trafficking rings. Seeing an opportunity to fulfill aspirations of fame, young women contact the organizations, when they are often told to arrange an in-person “audition,” alone. From there, a cycle of psychological and physical abuse begins, and these women are often kidnapped or tricked into working in brothels in other Central American countries.

The Mexican Attorney General’s office’s Special Prosecutor for Violent Crimes against Women has investigated 1,500 cases of missing women since 2008, many of whom are thought to have been forced into prostitution.

Mexico’s federal government passed a law against human trafficking in 2007 and the issue is of concern to regional governments as well. In July, the south-central state of Hidalgo passed a law to punish anyone who promotes or facilitates prostitution, including newspaper publishers, with up to 18 years in jail.

Elsewhere in Central America, human trafficking is more closely associated with tourism, especially “sex tourism,” whereby individuals (generally wealthy North American or European men) travel to a country with the explicit purpose of purchasing sex, frequently with minors. This trend is particularly visible in Costa Rica, which is a major tourist destination. Although efforts have been made to clamp down on this sex trade, and break. its ties with the conventional tourist industry, they have generally been unsuccessful. In 2004 the country made headlines for mandating that employees in the tourist industry be made to accept a new “code of conduct” which discourages them from assisting foreigners in finding sex. However, the strong economic incentives offered by the business made this relatively unsuccessful.