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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Like a bull in a china shop: haphazard do-goodery campaigns against trafficking

Well-constructed public awareness campaigns on human trafficking can enlighten and challenge public perceptions. The positive impacts of such campaigns may include: a more informed society – preferably one that pressures companies to examine their supply chains – shaping attitudes about ‘victims’, challenging prejudices, and mobilizing government leadership to take the issue seriously. But for these best case scenarios to come to fruition, they must be built on a strategic and considered approach.

In its response to the newly-published US Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report, the Singapore Government highlighted that in Singapore: ‘…the concept of “human trafficking” is not widely understood, or misunderstood…’. The TiP report recommended that the Government: ‘continue public awareness campaigns to inform citizens and residents of the penalties for involvement in trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labor.’ But, if human trafficking is not widely understood here and, as noted in previous posts, limited research is being carried out on this issue, how do we know what to raise public awareness about (and shouldn’t awareness-raising extend beyond educating the public about penalties)? (more…)

A response to the United States Trafficking in Persons Report (2012): Singapore

Executive Summary

The Trafficking Research Project (TTRP) has made a number of submissions to the Singapore Government on the issue of human trafficking. While we welcome the scrutiny provided by the TiP report and the role it plays in developing efforts to address human trafficking, we advocate that this process should be the subject of critique and evaluation. Our concerns focus on the absence of any acknowledgement of the need for research on trafficking in Singapore and the need to encourage contextualized good practice. (more…)

Is legislation always the answer? The debate on the criminalisation of forced marriage in the UK

In early June, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Government would be bringing forth new legislation on forced marriages.  This would make it a criminal offence to force someone to marry against their will.  Similar issues to the ones explored in an earlier post written by my co-contributor, apply to the UK context.  Forced marriage in the UK can take a number of forms.  Most commonly it involves either young British women being forced into marriage with non-UK nationals, usually taking place outside the UK, or trafficking young non-British women into the UK for the purposes of marriage.

Predominantly occurring in communities with origins in the Indian sub-continent and East Africa, there are estimates of between 5,000 to 8,000 cases each year.  For instance, the Forced Marriage Unit, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Home Office initiative, gave advice and support 1468 times in 2011.  This is an issue which primarily impacts women, though 15% of those affected are male.  However, the male experience of this practice is often ignored, as is the particular impact of forced marriage on gay and bi-sexual men.  (more…)

Signing on the dotted line: examining operational indicators of trafficking. Part 2: Contract Substitution

We are pleased to welcome the second part of our guest post by John Gee (TWC2) analyzing employment contracts.  In this post, he looks at the issue of contract substitution and makes some important recommendations on the treatment of migrant workers in Singapore.

Part 2: Contract substitution

The first part of this post considered cases where a country of origin contract was used to employ workers on terms disadvantageous to them when compared to the legal requirements of a destination country. The opposite occurs too, when a home country government attempts to use contracts to secure better conditions for its nationals in a destination country than they might obtain under that country’s laws and regulations. In this instance, employers may resort to contract substitution to nullify the home country government’s intent.

In contract substitution, a formal contract is signed by an employer to present to those seeking to enforce its provisions, frequently a home country government’s embassy. This appears to bind the employer to comply with those terms. The employer signs because he believes that he must do so to obtain a worker.  However, a separate contract is signed between employer and worker with terms less favourable to the worker, and it is this contract that actually sets the conditions of employment. (more…)