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7 facts about poverty in KabulKabul is the capital of Afghanistan with a population of 37 million people. Although there are efforts for improvements, Afghanistan still suffers from high rates of poverty. Here are seven facts about poverty in Kabul.

7 Facts About Poverty in Kabul

  1. Education: According to UNICEF, 3.7 million children in Afghanistan are out of school, 60 percent of which are girls. A few reasons for the low enrollment rates include poor sanitation systems in schools. Another reason is the lack of female teachers, particularly in rural areas. Female teachers are required for some because it is not allowed for male teachers to teach young girls. In addition, inadequate transportation in certain areas of the country makes it difficult for children to attend school.
  2. Child Labor: About a quarter of children in Afghanistan between the ages of five and 14 work or help their families. Many children are employed in jobs that can lead to an illness, injury or death due to dangerous working conditions and improper enforcement of safety and health standards. Children hold jobs in metal industries, agriculture, shoe shiners, and in the streets as vendors. Unfortunately, some children are forced to take on the pressures of going to school and work while others must quit school completely. In addition, children work long hours with little pay to no pay. However, UNICEF is supporting the National Strategy for Children at Risk, a strategy designed by the Ministry of Martyrs, Disabled and Social Affairs and partnered with UNICEF and other organizations that will help vulnerable families protect and care for their children. The main goal of this plan is for children to be protected from abuse, exploitation or violence in Afghanistan. In addition, the strategy will offer support to communities and vulnerable families. Another policy is the National Strategy for Street Working Children, which provides interventions such as family and community-based support systems for street children and their families to protect, prevent and decrease the number of children that work in the streets.
  3. Sex Trafficking: According to the USAID, Afghanistan happens to be a source, transit and destination country for forced labor and sex trafficking among men, women and children. However, efforts are being made to tackle this issue through the Combating Human Trafficking in Afghanistan project. This project is a collaboration of USAID and the International Organization for Migration that prepares the Afghanistan government institutions to contribute in the prevention of trafficking, prosecution of traffickers, victim protection and to enhance regional coordination in the fight against cross border trafficking.
  4. Literacy Rates: According to UNESCO, in Kabul, the highest female literacy rate is 34.7 percent and males at 68 percent. The difference in rates is due to a few factors such as women not being allowed to attend school, unsafe to travel to school and cultural norms. In addition, rates in urban and rural areas differ to due lack of schools in remote areas and extensive distances to travel for school. However, UNESCO has implemented a project called the which is a national program of the Ministry of Education that helps improve literacy and numeracy skills of the adult population in 34 provinces. The ELA Programme began in 2008 and since its launching, it has increased the literacy for over 600,000 adults and over 60 percent of them are women.
  5. Water: In Afghanistan, 79 percent of the population live in rural areas and only 27 percent have access to upgraded water sources. In Kabul, about 80 percent of people do not have access to safe drinking water. In addition, 95 percent do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. Due to lack of access to sanitation, about 20 percent of the population excretes in public.
  6. Health: According to the World Health Organization, Afghanistan has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the world. Approximately half of children under the age of five are stunted due to chronic malnutrition and 10 percent have chronic malnutrition. Over 60 percent of all childhood deaths and disabilities in Afghanistan are due to respiratory infections, diarrhea and deaths that could’ve been prevented though vaccines such as measles.
    Despite these statistics, USAID has partnered with the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan to make healthcare services more accessible to all. During October 2017 and September 2018, USAID delivered more than 900,000 institutionalized deliveries at public health facilities. In addition, over 1.4 million children were given PENTA3 vaccinations. Furthermore, with the financial help of USAID and other international donors, the World Bank supported more than 2400 public health facilities and 94 percent of the facilities have at least 1 female health care provider.
  7. Child marriages: In Afghanistan, 35 percent of girls are married before they turn 18 and 9 percent are married before their 15th birthday. Child marriages occur due to various factors such as family practices, traditional customs and level of education. However, there are several organizations dedicated to ending child marriages such as Girls Not Brides. This organization is a global partnership of over 1000 civil organizations from more than 95 countries. It was founded in 2011 by a group of independent global leaders called The Elders that aims to raise awareness on child marriages, facilitate open conversations and provide support for victims. In addition, the organization works closely with girls to help build skills, empower them and developing support networks.

These seven facts about poverty in Kabul demonstrate major issues that could use improvement. Nonetheless, with the help and support of organizations little by little change will happen.

– Merna Ibrahim
Photo: Flickr

Common Types of Human Trafficking
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines human trafficking as “the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.” Sometimes victims are taken from their home countries, other times they are kidnapped abroad. Nevertheless, thousands of victims in almost every country in the world are impacted by this human rights violation.

Act, Means and Purpose

The common types of human trafficking can occur in a multitude of ways. The UNODC outlines three clear elements that define trafficking: the act, means and purpose. The act can include the recruitment process, kidnapping, or possible transfer and transportation of the victim. The means refer to how the act of trafficking gets done. The means could be defined as the kidnapping, coercion, fraud, or force to control the victim. Lastly, the purpose is the reason for the act, which in the case of trafficking is exploitation. Exploitation could consist of sexual abuse, forced labor, removal of organs or slavery. Human trafficking can occur in many variations, but the most common types of human trafficking are debt bondage, forced labor and sex trafficking.

Debt Bondage

The most frequently used strategy to employ against victims of human trafficking is debt bondage. It is used against victims of labor and sex trafficking. Specifically, agricultural workers are frequently exploited in this manner, as they are led to migrant labor camps and kept from contact with the outside world. Eliminating their debt is impossible for these workers, as prices for everything cost more and more money. Their initial debt, rent, food and even the tools they work with, are rigged in a way to never be compensated by their wages. Occasionally, victims are “fined,” so that they remain in debt. Victims often have very few resources to turn to, as many are illiterate and impoverished. In poor countries, children are sometimes sold into bondage to eliminate debt.

Forced Labor

Forced labor, or labor trafficking, is a type of modern slavery. Over 14.2 million people across the globe are victims of this, one of the most common types of human trafficking. Victims are lured in the prospects of high-paying jobs and life-altering opportunities. The reality for labor trafficked victims is far different from what they were promised. With little to no payments, their supposed “employers” assert both psychological and physical control over victims. Seizure of passports and money, physical abuse and countless other methods are used to give victims no other choice than to continue working in these terrible conditions.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking, as defined by the Shared Hope International, “occurs when someone uses force, fraud or coercion to cause a commercial sex act with an adult or causes a minor to commit a commercial sex act.” A commercial sex act is considered to be pornography, sexual performance, or prostitution. The exchange can be done monetarily or to fulfill basic human needs such as food and shelter. As one of the most common types of human trafficking, sex trafficking is thriving because there is such a large demand for these type of services. Traffickers utilize several strategies to lure in the victims, as internet and social media being one of the most frequently used ones. The most common age range of victims of human sex trafficking is 14 to 16. Victims are encouraged by the false hopes of adventure, protection, opportunity and love.

These common types of human trafficking occur all over the world, but can be stopped. Organizations throughout the globe are fighting to stop these human rights violations. Shared Hope International, for instance, works as an advocacy organization to train professionals to spot the signs of human trafficking.

Furthermore, they work with the governments to strengthen laws against traffickers and protect victims. United Way, a group working to end modern slavery, has a set of six steps everyone can take to eliminate this global phenomenon.

Raising awareness, learning the signs, volunteering and knowing where your everyday products come from are simple steps that everyone can take to help end human trafficking.

–  Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ThailandOver the last several years, Thailand has made impressive progress in reducing poverty. It has gone down from 67 percent in 1986 to only 7.2 percent in 2015. While there has been considerable progress made, poverty is still a major problem in Thailand, especially among children. The following are 10 important facts about child poverty in Thailand.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Thailand

  1. It is estimated that about one million children in Thailand are living in vulnerable conditions. Child poverty in Thailand is a serious issue. These vulnerable individuals include children that live in poverty, have lost their parents, have a disability or have been forced to live on the streets.
  2. Child labor has long been a problem. It is estimated that more than eight percent of children between ages five and 14 are involved in the workforce. Impoverished children have no option but to enter into factory work, fishery work, construction or agriculture. Young children are also often forced into the commercial sex industry. Riley Winter, a student who recently traveled to Thailand, told The Borgen Project she witnessed children were giving tourists foot massages for just a small amount of money.
  3. Around 380,000 children have been left as orphans by the AIDS epidemic. This greatly affects child poverty in Thailand; many of these children are forced to live on the streets or enter the workforce because they have no one to care for them. It is also estimated that 200 to 300 children will be born HIV-positive each year.
  4. Poor children in Thailand do not have full access to medical care. Out of the 20,000 children are affected by HIV/AIDS, only 1,000 of them have access to medical care.
  5. Children are being exploited. Thailand has become wealthier and, consequently, trafficking networks have been expanding to poorer and isolated children in the country. Child poverty in Thailand has led these children to enter commercial sexual exploitation.
  6. Child poverty in Thailand makes it difficult for poorer children to remain in school. They do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed and remain in school so they are often forced to drop out. The wealthiest group has 81.6 percent of children of primary school age enter grade one while only 65.3 percent of the poorest group enter grade one.
  7. Arranged marriages are very prevalent in Thailand today. A man from a wealthy family is often chosen because the dowry system is still utilized in Thailand. The wealthy man will give the bride’s parents money in exchange for her hand in marriage. This happens in poor communities in Thailand very often, taking away the possibility for the impoverished girl to receive future education, among other things.
  8. Children are being forced to live on the streets due to things like violence, abuse and poverty. These children often beg or sell small goods for just a bit of money each day. They are at risk of poor health and lack of nutrition.
  9. Children are being left in rural communities. Thailand’s economy has been moving away from the agricultural sector and more money can be made in urban areas. Parents are forced to go to work in bigger cities like Bangkok, and children are often left in the care of someone else in rural villages.Parents send money back to their family but children often only get to see their parents one to two times a year. Although the parents are making more money, leaving their children comes with a risk. Children left in these rural communities are at risk of malnutrition and developmental and behavioral issues.
  10. Since the 1990s, child poverty in Thailand has been rapidly improving. The number of child deaths has decreased, literacy rates have dramatically increased, fewer children are malnourished and there are more children in school and less in the workforce.

There have been countless efforts made in Thailand to address child poverty but there is still a lot of work to be done. The nation has set long-term economic goals to be reached by 2036. These goals address economic stability, human capital and equal economic opportunities. These goals will be crucial going forward to help fight child poverty in Thailand.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

human trafficking relief organizations
Around the world, there is an ongoing epidemic that is often hidden in plain sight­: human trafficking. According to the United Nations, there are over 27 million slaves in the world today and this number threatens to increase as the demand for certain goods and industries increases.

Although this is a crisis is facing many people, there are several organizations that have stepped in to bring attention and relief to this global epidemic. The following are five human trafficking relief organizations that everyone should be aware of.

Five Important Human Trafficking Relief Organizations

  1. Freedom United: This organization works to combat human trafficking by encouraging direct involvement from people who visit its site. Freedom United does not exactly implement solutions to change and provide relief for victims, but rather it rallies for other people to get involved in order to produce change. The organization has made great strides in its efforts to end human trafficking which is why it is one of the five most important human trafficking relief organizations.Since its launching, it has acquired over 18 million actions taken to end human trafficking. The organization also has 5.9 million fans on Facebook and 79 global partners, including the United Nations University, helping to create effective change for issues facing the world’s most vulnerable.
  2. Urban Light: Founded by Alezandra Russell in 2009, Urban Light is dedicated to helping a sector of human trafficking victims that is often overlooked by mainstream media: boys. This is the reason why it is one of the five human trafficking relief organizations everyone should know. After visiting Thailand, Russell decided to leave her home in Washington, D.C., and relocate to Thailand to begin Urban Light. Since its founding days, it has helped over 3,000 boys and has provided over 10,000 meals.A few steps included in its method to restore the lives of vulnerable young boys include: health, which provides victims with education and awareness resources as well as screenings to make sure victims are healthy; education, which provides victims with educational resources to help them finish their education; outreach, such as frequenting clubs and bars in Thailand where victims of human trafficking are usually located and providing them with the opportunity to leave their vulnerable situation in order to get help; and legal support, such as working with victims to help them obtain legal identification cards to devoid any illegal circumstances and providing the opportunity for victims to be represented in court.
  3. Abolishment 21st Century (A21): Founded by Christine Caine in 2007, this organization works with women and girls who are victims of human trafficking with its own unique campaigns. A reason why this is one of the major human trafficking relief organizations to know is because it is a multinational organization, assisting girls in nations in Europe, Asia, Africa as well as the United States and Australia.A21 uses a three-step methodhttp://www.a21.org/content/our-solution/gn9pjs to help victims reintegrate into society. The method includes:Reach: The reach method consists of the Walk for Freedom campaign, where volunteers host public demonstrations highlighting the harsh realities of human trafficking today. Other campaigns also include Can You See Me, which bears a similar approach to educate men, women and children of the harsh realities facing victims of human trafficking in the world today.
    Rescue: The next portion of A21’s mission focuses on collaborating with law enforcement and the government to help prosecute captured human traffickers. Representatives also help with the legal process by defending victims in court.
    Restore: The last method in its solution focuses on providing victims the opportunity to re-integrate themselves into society, by providing them with prime accommodations for recovery that include housing, medical treatment, top-class educational resources, counseling, employment and enterprise opportunities.
  4. Rapha House: Rapha House was founded in 2003 by Joe Garman after he witnessed the near trafficking of a young woman in Cambodia. Since then, Rapha House has served as a safe house for victims of human trafficking. The organization contains several programs to help young, high-risk victims as one of the five human trafficking relief organizations everyone should know.One of Rapha House’s programshttps://raphahouse.org/programs is Safety House, a facility where young girls are given free housing, education and meals to protect them from the exploitation they face in the outside world. Another program is Kids Club, which provides boys and girls from impoverished backgrounds with education, housing and healthcare needs. Training and Reintegration provide victims of human trafficking with the skills they need to re-enter society. The program includes vocational training, such as sewing classes, produce farming as well as business training, among other programs.
  5. Prajwala: Founded in 1996 by Sunitha Krishnan, this organization seeks to address human trafficking in India. Prajwala uses a course of action that includes prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration.For prevention, the organization has established Implementation Programs as well as Community Based Prevention Programs to combat the issue of human trafficking. The rescue method uses the following planned rescue operations: Rape Victim Support Program, Victim Witness Protection and VIKALPA, which is a police-NGO partnership that seeks justice for victims. Rehabilitation works by providing victims with psychological rehabilitation, economic rehabilitation and civic rehabilitation and reintegration works by providing victims with family reunions, marriage and independent living.

These five human trafficking relief organizations are just a small number compared to the larger amount of efforts established to help eradicate the statistics of human trafficking worldwide. Although great efforts have been made to address human trafficking, the world still awaits a day when slavery will be abolished for good, but it is up to those who are aware of the dire situation to make this happen.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Google

Types of Slavery
Slavery is a term that most Americans are familiar with. From history classes to pop culture, the word has permeated the collective consciousness. UNESCO states that slavery is “identified by an element of ownership or control over another’s life, coercion and the restriction of movement and by the fact that someone is not free to leave.” Through this definition, the U.N. declared in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that every type of slavery is prohibited. Though it has been 70 years since this universal identification of slavery as an affront to human rights, the business of many types of slavery persists.

While exact numbers are difficult to establish, a recent estimate by the International Labor Organization claims that there are around 40 million people living in modern slavery. One of the many reasons that the number of people living in slavery is hard to identify is due to the many types of slavery that are used to coerce and control millions of people. To understand the global issue of slavery, this breakdown defines of the types of slavery as identified by the U.S. Department of State.

Types of Slavery

  1. Sex Trafficking
    The manipulation, coercion, or control of an adult engaging in a commercial sex act. The adult may consent to prostitution but be held in the exchange unwillingly due to unlawful debts. Any physical or psychological manipulation or force used to retain the individual is illegal and is considered trafficking.
  2. Child Sex Trafficking
    The child performs a commercial sex act after being recruited, sheltered, transported or sold. In this type of slavery, the child cannot consent. All forms of commercial sexual acts performed by children are illegal. These victims are especially vulnerable and often face long-term health issues.
  3. Forced Labor
    The physical or psychological manipulation or coercion to force a person to work. The employee may originally consent to work, but once force is used to compel the victim to work, it is considered trafficking and is illegal. Migrants and women are particularly vulnerable to forced labor.
  4. Forced Child Labor
    Some labor is permissible for children to perform, but there may be symptoms of abuse and trafficking if the child’s wages are redirected away from the child or his/her family. There are specific strategies outlined by the State Department to combat this unique problem.
  5. Bonded Labor or Debt Bondage
    The coercion of a person to work in order to pay off incurred debt. This debt may be from former employment or through ancestral debts. The ancestral form of debt bondage slavery seems to be most prevalent in South Asia.
  6. Domestic Servitude
    Individuals whose workplace is a private residence and feel as though they cannot leave; they may also be abused. These individuals lack common benefits including, but not limited to, days off, appropriate compensation and freedom from abuse and violence.
  7. Unlawful Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers
    The coercion or manipulation of children to act as combatants. The traffickers could be individuals, rebel groups, paramilitary groups or governments.

There are many organizations that fight trafficking. There are also several hotlines to report suspicious behavior that may indicate trafficking. Though the issue is global, fighting modern slavery begins at home. There are opportunities to become involved at the regional, national and international levels. As Congress navigates trafficking issues and seeks to expand protections in order to prevent human trafficking, understanding and showing support for the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the types of slavery impacting millions of people is one way of supporting those impacted by trafficking.

– M. Shea Lamanna
Photo: Flickr

The Fight for Freedom: Most Common Types of Human TraffickingThe prevalence of human trafficking is a present-day example of the existence of slavery. This global human rights issue is a billion-dollar crime industry, affecting millions of individuals in almost every nation in the world. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), human trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion… for the purpose of exploitation.”

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is a form of exploitation that has three elements: the act, the means and the purpose. The act refers to the transfer or recruitment of persons. The means is how trafficking is done, which includes the threat, force or deception used to control victims. The purpose of exploitation includes sex, labor, slavery or the removal of organs. According to the Human Rights Commission, the most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage.

Common Types of Human Trafficking

Sex trafficking refers to the forced participation of commercial sex acts; women and children are the most vulnerable to this type of human trafficking. This type of trafficking forms a significant portion of the transnational present-day slavery. The commercial sex trade exploits one million children a year. Women and young girls make up 80 percent of the trafficked victims.

Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, is where individuals provide labor through coercion, force or fraudulent means. According to the 2017 Estimates of Modern Slavery, there are 24.9 million victims of forced labor. Millions of enslaved individuals worldwide produce goods in various supply chains under violence and threat. These include the agricultural, mineral, construction and textile industries.

Debt bondage is also one of the most common types of human trafficking in which a person forcibly works in order to pay a debt. Migrant laborers are particularly vulnerable to this form of trafficking, as many regions have systematic schemes designed to exploit workers. Debt bondage involves a debt that cannot be paid off within a reasonable time frame. Also known as debt slavery, the period of debt strips the victim of basic freedom. A cycle of debt is then created and maintained through the abuse of contracts, increasing debt interest, increasing living expenses and higher labor expectations.

Response to the Most Common Types of Human Trafficking

Despite the large number of individuals that have fallen victim to human trafficking, there are many organizations that dedicate their efforts to address human trafficking issues. UNODC has established a comprehensive approach to tackle human trafficking. The strategy can be best viewed as three interdependent components which include: raising awareness, capacity building and maintaining strong partnerships.

Additionally, Polaris is a leading organization committed to the worldwide battle to end modern slavery. The organization’s model places an emphasis on the victims of human trafficking. Polaris provides assistance in the restoration of the victim’s freedom, helping survivors reintegrate back into society.

In other parts of the world, nonprofits continue to investigate core issues, such as the conditions that increase the vulnerability to human trafficking. The Freedom Project is an Australian movement that seeks to empower communities and focus on the prevention of human trafficking.

In response to these alarming human trafficking statistics, global movements dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery are leading the way to freedom.

– Dane de Leon

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights Issues in the Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands, like every country, has human rights issues that plague the nation. According to a 2015 Human Rights Report, the country’s human rights issues include the conditions of its prisons, domestic violence and corruption within the government. Along with these, the Marshall Islands struggles with the protection of worker’s rights, child abuse and trafficking.

The conditions in the Marshall Islands prison facility in Majuro were not up to code in 2015. In the older wing of the prison, the area was much darker and cleanliness was low compared to the newer wing. There were no fights or deaths, however, and no inmates complained of mistreatment.

The Marshall Islands government has yet to find a way to deal with the effects of 67 nuclear weapons tests that were conducted by the United States from 1947 to 1958. 14,000 Marshallese had to relocate and have struggled to keep their health in check long-term because of this. The survivors of this testing have since spoken up and the Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded them $2 billion. This amount was not paid out in full, however, due to lack of funds.

In 2012, the U.N. discovered that more than 60 years later, a long-term solution has yet to be found for the people displaced by the testing. Calin Geogescu, a United Nations Special Reporter, believes that solutions need to be specific to the needs of each individual atoll affected.

Refugee status is still not accessible for the Marshallese. As the effects of climate change cause sea levels to rise higher each year, there is a good chance that their homeland will be gone soon. The Marshall Islands’ laws do not have a system in place to protect its citizens who seek asylum or refugee status. If the islands and atolls fall completely victim to climate change, the Marshallese will have nowhere else to go because their refugee status does not exist.

Sex trafficking and domestic violence are also major issues in the Marshall Islands. The U.N. Population Fund study found that “seven out of 10 women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.” The victims of domestic violence are often discouraged from seeking justice because of cultural restraints. “91 percent of women who experienced domestic violence at the hands of their partner or spouse did not report it due to fear of repercussion or belief that the abuse was justified.”

The NGO Women United Together in the Marshall Islands and a 2011 Domestic Violence Protection and Prevention Act are both attempts at preventing this injustice. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been focused on keeping the children of the Marshall Islands away from violence and trafficking as well. They primarily give their attention to “the right of children to survival; to develop to their fullest potential; to protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation; and to participate in family, cultural and social life.”

These are just a few of the many human rights issues in the Marshall Islands. Improvements are sporadically occurring, but consistency is where these solutions are lacking. A continued focus on what the Marshall Islands has already implemented will help resolve these human rights issues.

Mackenzie Fielder

Photo: Flickr

2017's Worst Countries for Human Trafficking
In June 2017, the U.S. Department of State released its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report indicating the worst countries for human trafficking. The Department ranks countries on a three tier scale.

Tier 1 governments are those which acknowledge the trafficking problem and are making efforts to curb it. Contrarily, Tier 3 countries rank among the worst countries for human trafficking; they make little or no effort of bringing trafficking issues to justice.

 

The 10 Worst Countries for Human Trafficking

 

1. Belarus
Belarusian trafficking victims mostly remain in Belarus or Russia. Criminals smuggle other victims to Poland, Turkey and various countries in Eurasia and the Middle East. Belarusian women seeking foreign employment in the adult entertainment and hotel industries often fall prey to sex traffickers.

A 2006 Belarusian presidential decree condemns mothers and fathers (who have had their parental rights revoked) to compulsory labor; the government retains 70 percent of their wages.

2. Central African Republic (CAR)
Most human trafficking victims in the Central African Republic (CAR) are citizens exploited within the country. Young women in urban centers are at great risk of being entered in the commercial sex trade. Traffickers coerce girls into marriages and force them into domestic servitude, sexual slavery and international sex trafficking.

The International Office of Migration has developed a community awareness campaign for at-risk communities and individuals to improve awareness of human trafficking. This program especially targets internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees and host populations in the Central African Republic (CAR).

3. China
China reemerges on this year’s worst countries for human trafficking list, slipping from Tier 2 to Tier 3 in the 2017 TIP Report. In China, traffickers subject men, women and children to forced labor and the sex trade. Traffickers target individuals with developmental disabilities as well as children whose parents have migrated to the cities and left them with relatives. There are also instances of abduction of African and Asian men to work under state-sponsored forced labor conditions on fishing vessels.

4. Eritrea
Eritrea is no newcomer to the Tier 3 rating. Many Eritrean young women and girls travel to Gulf States, Israel, Sudan or South Sudan for domestic work but instead find themselves victims of sex trafficking rings. International criminal groups kidnap vulnerable Eritreans living in or near refugee camps, particularly in Sudan.

Members of these crime syndicates then transport their captives to Libya and detain them for ransom. Eritrean military and police officers often abet trafficking crimes along the Sudanese border, thus maintaining Eritrea’s status as one of the worst countries for human trafficking.

5. Iran
Iranian criminal organizations reportedly subject women and children to sex trafficking, not only inside Iran but also in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), Afghanistan, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Europe.

Traffickers target Iranian girls between the ages of 13 and 17 for trade abroad. Captors press the youngest girls into domestic service until their kidnappers deem them old enough for use in child sex trafficking.

6. North Korea
North Korea holds an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 prisoners in camps, many charged with no crime. Without medical care and food, the detainees often die, their bodies incinerated in furnaces and dumped in mass graves.

Government oppression prompts North Koreans to flee the country, making them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. North Korea’s forced labor camps and death penalty fuel trafficking in neighboring China. Ironically, captured refugees returned to North Korea experience punitive action – labor camps or death.

7. Russia
Between 5 and 12 million migrants are working in Russia in conditions of slavery, in positions at garment factories, as public transport drivers, and in construction and agriculture. Russian officials facilitate the entry of migrants into the country for exploitation. Other officials receive bribes not to investigate human trafficking crimes. Overall, the government has not undertaken efforts to protect human trafficking victims.

8. Sudan
Sudanese law enforcement agents are often involved in, and profit from, child sex trafficking rings. Sudanese law prohibits the recruitment of children. However, youth remain vulnerable to recruitment and use as combatants by Sudanese non-governmental armed groups and militias.

Darfur is a favored route to Libya, as the porous border and lax security allow traffickers to operate with impunity across the region. Sudanese police and border patrol purportedly facilitate abductions of Eritrean nationals and permit the transport of potential victims across borders without intervention.

9. Syria
The circumstances in Syria have deteriorated throughout the ongoing civil war with sub-state armed groups of varying ideologies exerting control over vast geographic areas of the country’s territory.

In December 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released public guidelines on how to seize, forcibly hold, and sexually abuse female slaves. ISIS soldiers routinely subject women and girls from minority groups to forced marriage, domestic servitude, systematic rape and sexual violence.

ISIS requires Syrian girls to submit to virginity tests before selling them in “slave bazaars” and transferring them to various Syrian provinces and other countries for sexual slavery. Throughout 2016, displaced Syrians continued to utilize smugglers to provide illegal passage to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, putting the Syrians at risk of being trafficked.

10. Venezuela
Among those trafficked out of the Venezuela, 55 percent are adults, 26 percent are young girls and 19 percent are young boys. Lured by promises of high paying jobs, they instead are sent to countries in the Caribbean, where traffickers force them into the sex trade or domestic servitude.

Venezuela continuously ranks as one of the worst countries for human trafficking as they do little to prevent or punish trafficking. They have strict laws surrounding it, but the prosecution of the crime is rare. Since 2013, Venezuela has convicted only three people under the human trafficking laws.

 

The Good News

 

Overall, the 2017 TIP Report listed 23 Tier 3 nations as the worst countries for human trafficking. However, the governments of Haiti, Gambia, Grenadines, Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Burma, Algeria, Malaysia, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Qatar moved up in the rankings. St. Lucia, Saint Vincent, Seychelles, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine and Zambia also deserve recognition for demonstrated improvement.

Perhaps the most encouraging data is that the 2017 report assigned 36 countries, including the United States, to the Tier 1 category. Guyana deserves special praise, as its ranking rose from Tier 2 to Tier 1.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Cambodia
The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been one of the world’s most important nongovernmental organizations defending women’s rights since it was adopted by the U.N. General Council in 1979. Since then, it has been ratified by 187 countries and has played a major role in the overall increase of women’s safety and living standards worldwide.

Cambodia ratified the CEDAW in 1992, shortly after the end of its civil war. Despite the good intentions such a ratification signals, women’s rights in Cambodia remained stagnant for many years.

Not until the 2003 National Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS) was enacted did the Cambodian CEDAW ratification become anything more than nominal. Among many other goals, the NPRS acknowledged and addressed the gap in education, employment and property rights between men and women. Though many women were helped by the plan, the fact remains that they were simply a small part of a larger overall strategy. There remained much to do.

Though women’s rights in Cambodia were helped by both the NPRS and a 2002 affirmative action policy, which gave priority to women entering tertiary education, it was not until recently that the government began truly following through on its commitment to equal rights for women. The Cambodia National Council for Women (CNCW) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) were both established in 2001, but it was not until 2005 and 2007, respectively, that either began having any measurable effect.

Some progress has been made. In 2005, 64 percent of people in Cambodia knew a man who had abused his wife. By 2009, the number had shrunk to 53 percent. Infant mortality rates dropped from 65 to 45 per 1000 births between 2005 and 2010, and maternal mortality rates dropped from 472 to 206 per 100,000 births over the same period. From 2008 to 2013, the number of women who received education increased three percent overall, with the most significant improvements being made in the vital rural regions.

Women’s rights in Cambodia have come a long way in a short amount of time, but there is no place now for complacency. Women make up only 15 percent of the Cambodian Senate, a number unchanged since 1999. Parliament is slightly better, with one in five members being women, but this percentage is still frighteningly low.

No Cambodian provinces are governed by women, and sex trafficking, low wages and long hours at menial jobs remain a reality for many women, especially those in rural areas. The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights monitors violations of women’s rights and the work they do alongside the CNCW and the MoWA will continue to shepherd Cambodia into the future. If Cambodians truly wish to become a modern nation, the progress they have made cannot stop until reality reflects the intent of the CEDAW, signed so many years ago.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Sex Trafficking in PeruAccording to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, Peru is a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children exposed to forced labor and sex trafficking. Women, children and indigenous populations are particularly vulnerable.

According to the Walk Free Foundation – an organization that fights against human trafficking, otherwise known as modern slavery – Peru has the third-highest rate of cases of forced labor in Latin America, after Mexico and Colombia. It is estimated that 0.6 percent of Peru’s population, or 200,000 people, suffer from some form of forced labor in their lifetimes. 80 percent of these people are subjected to trafficking involving prostitution.

Forced labor in Peru occurs in many service areas such as gold mining, logging, unregistered factories, organized street begging and domestic service. Mafia and terrorist organizations such as Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, recruit children as young as age 11 through social media with the intent to sexually exploit them. Recruiting often manifests through fake employment offers.

Once in the custody of traffickers, victims often are unable to leave due to being held in remote places such as mining camps, the high cost of transportation, the demand for commercial sex and the need to make money. Attempting to escape often results in murder and public body mutilation to act as a warning to other victims.

Online and offline child “sex tourism” is another way victims are trafficked. Americans will pay thousands of dollars to engage in online sex acts with underage girls. In a 2015 arrest of an online child pornography perpetrator, authorities rescued 36 victims, 11 of which were underage and as young as 4. The American police and the Peruvian National Police worked together on this specific arrest. The Protect Act allows U.S. authorities to charge American perpetrators whether the acts occur in the U.S. or abroad.

Human trafficking for the point of sexual exploitation carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison in Peru, but corruption often undermines the judicial system. While the government is not doing nearly enough to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, they are making some efforts and many NGOs are picking up the slack.

The Peruvian government has worked to establish specialized, anti-trafficking regional prosecutor offices in Callao, Cusco, Lima, Loreto, Puno, Tacna and Tumbes. It has also increased anti-trafficking operations and arrests, increased efforts to identify and assist victims and has been investigating and convicting sex tourists. Anti-trafficking commercials and posters in airports are another way the government is working to raise awareness.

NGOs have been the true heros thus far in the fight against sex trafficking in Peru. Along with safe homes for women, organizations such as PROMSEX are making great efforts to aid survivors of sex trafficking. PROMSEX is a sexual and reproductive rights nonprofit that has launched an awareness and mobilizing campaign against trafficking. They work to provide legal, psychological and material services for survivors; this includes treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and mental health counselling. As part of PROMSEX’s campaign, they are also working on improving the legal rights of victims, such as not treating victims of prostitution as criminals. They also educate the public on ways to avoid sex trafficking.

While there is still much progress to be made, NGOs like PROMSEX are pillars of hope for the sex trafficking victims of Peru.

Phoebe Cohen

Photo: Pixabay