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Posts Tagged ‘Elimination of Violence against Women’

As part of the 16 days campaign toward the Elimination of Violence against Women, the UN has announced the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

“Combating slavery means not only its direct prohibition by law but also fighting against poverty, illiteracy, economic and social disparities, gender discrimination and violence against women and children.  We need to enforce laws against slavery; create mechanisms to combat such practices; reinforce bilateral, regional and international cooperation, including with non-governmental organizations that assist victims; and launch awareness raising campaigns.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Message for the International Day

for the Abolition of Slavery

2 December 2009

Slavery is an international problem. Wikipedia identifies slavery as:

[Slavery is a form of forced labor in which people are considered to be the property of others. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation (such as wages)…]

Perhaps we in the United States like to think we fully know what slavery is and condemn it. After all, we sent Eleanor to the United Nations in 1948 and thought we took care of that. We passed civil rights laws and thought that was an end. Some of us have  attempted apologies or reparations.

However, it still exists internationally and it still exists here. We are still a patriarchal society; we don’t place an economic value on the work that people, say, like abused women trapped in their home, do, or are not able to do, because of their situation. Women (and some men) still only have a domestic value if they take their skills across the street to their neighbor who pays them an hourly wage for their babysitting, caretaking and cooking. Therefore, we don’t count an abused woman’s plight as an aspect of slavery. It is. Yet domestic violence is rarely even treated as assault and battery, much less attempted murder or slave trafficking. Never the less, the abusers diminishment tactics that are used are very much the same.

Human trafficking is a component of slavery. It is here in the United States.

Wikipedia says:

[…Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world,[4] with the total annual revenue for trafficking in persons estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion.[5] The Council of Europe states, “People trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion.”[6][7] Trafficking victims typically are recruited using coercion, deception, fraud, the abuse of power, or outright abduction…]

The FBI website has the “Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line” at 1-888-428-7581.

The FBI also has a website devoted to understanding your rights and where you can find help it you are a victim of trafficking and are in the United States.

HumanTrafficking.org is an organization previously supported by the USA State Department, and now, by the Academy of Educational Development (AED). It’s purpose is to bring Governments and NGO’s (Nongovernmental Organizations) in East Asia and the Pacific together, to share knowledge country specific information and laws, action plans and activities in the realm of human trafficking.

They have a hotline you can call if you suspect trafficking.

HOTLINE: 1.888.3737.888

HumanTrafficking states that the United States is principally a transit and destination country for human trafficking.  However, their numbers, while large, appear to reflect that of 2007. In fact, in looking around the web I realized that there was a dearth of figures for 2008 or 2009.

I found a clue to this mystery at another UN organization, UNESCO. They have begun a new project to strengthen research and conduct a literature review and meta-analysis of existing statements on human trafficking.

UNESCO offers a data comparison sheet to show the difficulties with which they are working. Big crime activities are notoriously hard to quantify precisely because they are hidden. Assume, however, that the smallest figure of 600-800,000 people, supplied by the US, has been trafficked globally, between 2000 and 2008.

That figure does not include those who are trafficked within their national borders. According to Wiki, in 2007, 40% were thought to be trafficked sex slaves worth an estimated $29,210 each. The average profit was $3,175 with the lowest for a bonded slave laborer at $950. That is 2.54 billion.  In fact, Wiki quoting, Siddharth Kara, estimates the total for slavers to be around 91.2 billion in just 2007.

This figure does not include the asset and production value of slaves to the new owners. However, these values can be quantified. Learning is one of the first steps toward understanding and then acting. One of my must-reads this week is Siddarth Kara’s book, “Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery”.

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