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At a human trafficking event at the National University of Singapore in September 2012 journalist Benjamin Skinner spoke about the conditions of quarry workers in India to “put a human face on statistics”. He proceeded to tell the audience, “the vast majority [of slaves] are born into debt bondage” and predicted, “in the US, every half hour one person becomes a slave” (I can find no evidence for either statistic). As I sift through post-Award season media reverie commending the success of 12 Years a Slave and the Director’s subsequent recruitment as Patron of Anti-Slavery International and Ambassador of Polaris Project, I am reminded of a similarly unquestioned use of conflating narratives.
The intent of this post is not to vilify campaigners, or anyone involved in the film. It is intended to highlight another missed opportunity to engage in critical discourse with the public about the complications of human trafficking. There are clear lessons to be learned through international and intercultural dialogue, but that dialogue should be inclusive of conversations about weaknesses and differences, not only success. It should also be contingent on cultural and geographic context, mindful of impacts, especially in countries with emerging policy change. In discussions facilitated by this movie, we hope to see the production of evaluations completed by organizations that highlight the outcomes of such campaigns on public understandings of human trafficking. (more…)
Without The Guardian, I might have remained blissfully ignorant of any preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Sidestepping, for a moment, the imminence of the 2014 (Brazil) and 2018 (Russia) World Cup tournaments, I am stereotypically American. I do not follow soccer, or football, hence the mixed metaphoric title of this post; the only context in which I will sanction the word “tackling” in anti-trafficking discourse. I am, however, no stranger to the keen perseverance of media and activist reporting on the links between A Major Sporting Event and human trafficking. (more…)
This week TTRP are pleased to present a jointly authored post with SWEAT – a sex workers rights organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. SWEAT works to ensure that sex workers’ rights are defended, that sex workers have access to health and other services and that sex workers are respected and valued members of society. The organisation takes a rights-based approach to its work and has three central programs: Advocacy and Human Rights Defence; Outreach and Development; and Research and Knowledge Management. Their goals are to: advocate for the decriminalisation of adult sex work in South Africa; to address health and human rights abuses with sex workers; and to support the development of self-representation of sex workers on a national and continental level in issues affecting them.
TTRP and our blog guests have previously highlighted difficulties within the anti-trafficking movement, and the NGO sector more broadly, of collaboration. This lack of collaboration between stakeholders is a chorus repeated ad nauseum, but, often overlooked, are the less public, daily exchanges that take place between groups that create space for opportunity and constructive engagement. (more…)
We are pleased to welcome Neill Wilkins to TTRP this week with an interesting post on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the work undertaken by his organisation on this issue. Neill is Migration Programme Manager for the Institute for Human Rights and Business and manages the Staff Wanted Initiative. He also helped oversee the development of the Dhaka Principles for Migration With Dignity – a set of human rights based principles that offer a clear framework for understanding the challenges businesses face regarding the recruitment and employment of migrant workers worldwide.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – developed by United Nations Special Representative Professor John Ruggie – is the most authoritative framework for business in ensuring human rights are respected within their operations around the world. The Guiding Principles, endorsed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, are the result of a six-year multi-stakeholder process that included strong backing by companies and civil society. What is now needed is to apply the Principles and use them to understand and overcome human rights challenges faced by business in different sectors and operating in different contexts around the world. (more…)
A few months ago, I met with an old childhood friend who is currently undertaking a PhD in the UK on human trafficking. While reminiscing about growing up on the Isle of Man, we wondered if trafficking was an issue on the Island. For those unfamiliar with the Isle of Man, it is in the middle of the Irish Sea, population 84,497; the main source of income is the provision of financial services and its status as a tax haven. Of the resident population, only 4%, as of 2001, were born outside the British Isles. Multi-cultural and ethnically diverse, the Island is not. But, more recently, there has been an increase in work permits issued to non-European Economic Area (EAA) nationals: “During 2005/06 NI [national insurance – tied to holding a work permit] numbers were issued to people from Poland (271), India (155), South Africa (148) and the Philippines (76).” Sadly, more recent figures don’t seem to be available.
Considering the extensive coastline of the island, the increasing numbers of wealthy residents, both Manx born and from the UK, and the relative economic boom which has seen increased non-EU immigrants take up roles in the service and healthcare industries, the conditions seem ripe for trafficking and exploitation to at least have featured on the radar of the Island’s authorities. Further, the increased consumption of illegal drugs, pretty much all of which are imported, points to the presence of some level of organised criminal activity. For example, a survey in 2008 found that half of the Island’s prison population were detained for drug offences. The main source of these drugs was Merseyside in England, with 95% of all drugs coming from this source. My friend and I recounted rumours that the Island had functioned as a transit point for IRA weapons during the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland, pointing to its strategic location and potential stopping point in the transportation of illegal goods. While we are not suggesting that the Isle of Man is full of hardened criminal “syndicates” that are expanding their criminal empires from guns, to drugs, to people in reflection of the increased wealth of the island, we are highlighting the fact that the conditions noted above point to the potential for the movement of people onto the island for the purposes of exploitation. (more…)
Today we are delighted to welcome our first contributor from Northern Ireland, Khara Glackin. Khara is currently the Immigration and Employment law solicitor at the South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (S.T.E.P); she also sits on the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Ethnic Minority Reference Group and is a member of the Northern Ireland Strategic Migration Partnership Board. Khara is a qualified Barrister and subsequently cross-qualified as a solicitor. Since 2008 she has lived and worked in Northern Ireland, initially working in Belfast private practice at leading Firms, prior to joining the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission as a solicitor in October 2009. Khara has a keen interest in human trafficking issues and does an extensive amount of legal training and public speaking in the area to various statutory agencies and NGO’s.
Cases of trafficking for forced labour are occurring in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As the majority of people trafficked for forced labour are not identified, and not afforded adequate assistance, their rights are ultimately unprotected.
According to the latest global estimate by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) published in June 2012, nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour exploitation across the world, including 880,000 in the European Union member states. In the UK, there were 421 potential victims of trafficking for forced labour identified in 2011. The ILO observed that even though forced labour is now widely recognised as a crime it is ‘rarely prosecuted because of the difficulties in articulating the various offences that constitute forced labour in national laws and regulations’. There are various forms of forced labour in existence. These include bonded labour, involuntary servitude, domestic servitude and child labour. Victims of trafficking for forced labour often experienced restricted freedom of movement, permanent physical and psychological harm, isolation from families and communities, and reduced opportunities for personal development. Victims are often very wary of law enforcement and psychologically dependent on their traffickers. Child victims are denied educational access, which reinforces a cycle of poverty and illiteracy. (more…)
Winter’s end in the UK has brought along several interesting anti-trafficking initiatives. Sexual violence converged with interpretations about victim responsibility in the media; Crimestoppers launched a new video seeking to raise awareness of forced labour; and a campaign focused on the exploitation of London’s hotel workers gained an audience at Westminster.
Last year, West Mercia police had to apologise for their anti-rape campaign which linked alcohol and rape, following pubic complaints; the campaign seemed to blame the victim for, well, being a victim. In December 2012, The Independent carried an article which rounded-up the various “blame the victim” slurs and campaigns, from organisations and individuals alike. This included George Galloway’s (MP) demotion of the rape allegations against Julian Assange as “bad sexual etiquette”. January saw social media alive with the consternation at yet more instances of victim blaming relating to sexual violence. A Gloucestershire MP stated:
If you are a young woman on her own trying to walk back home … early in the morning in a tight, short skirt and high shoes and there’s a predator and if you are blind drunk and wearing those clothes how able are you to get away? … life doesn’t give you full protection from a predator all the time.
It seems though that no-one told the BBC that victim blaming was out. Their odd story, supposedly to coincide with Valentine’s Day, “How safe do women feel on a night out?” interviewed five women about their personal safety concerns when on a night out with friends, which focused depressingly on the correlation between their choice of clothing and safety from sexual violence. Across the pond, advice faired no better, as reflected in the worrying advice from the University of Colorado, which encouraged women to tell their attackers that they had a disease or were menstruating, as a method of repelling an attack. (more…)