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Thursday, March 1, 2012

My thoughts on Women & Women’s History Month (Part I):

Author’s note: Since the month March is Women’s History Month, I will be writing several things about women, at randoms times during this month. In this particular post, I plan to highlight some things about the unjust treatment of women all around the world, particularly & especially in the Muslim-World, more specifically in the Arab-World. I find it very relevant & important that we are made aware of the realities of the general mistreatment of women everywhere. The subject matter in which my discussion will be based upon highlights only one of many types of problems which women globally face. Human-Trafficking & the hypocrisy of Politics which fuels it: Human-Trafficking is a Human disease of the heart. It’s a disgusting industry, which ruins the lives of millions of Human beings each and every day, particularly the lives of women & young girls. It is my hope that this post will shed some knowledge and/or awareness of the reality of the ugliness of Human-Trafficking, whose involved & who profits from it. What is Human-Trafficking? Human-Trafficking- The illegal trade, transportation of Human beings, for the exclusive purposes of reproductive slavery and/or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution), forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. The Evils of Human-Trafficking: I won’t go through the ridiculously long lists of stats, which recall how sinister this trade is. It’s very obvious how inhumane & disgusting Human-Trafficking is. However, what I do plan to do is expose the incredible levels of hypocrisy, which are displayed, when countries like the United States condemns nations who indulge in Human-Trafficking, yet the ironic fact is that in countries which are red-flagged as being the lowest-tier Human-Trafficking countries (meaning the the nations with the highest reported cases of Human-Trafficking), are outright allies of the United States & vice-versa. These countries which I plan to highlight for this discussion are the following: Bahrain- Bahrain is a country where both men & women from places like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, migrate voluntarily to work as domestic workers or as unskilled laborers in the construction and service industries. But, unfortunately, they are often duped & coerced into forced labor & more specifically, forced prostitution. Some of the classic abuses that people who migrate to Bahrain, in search of greater economic opportunities for themselves & their families are the following: unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on traveling through the country, under-handed contract substitution, non-payment of wages, threats, and even physical or sexual abuse. According to a study, by the Bahraini government’s Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), 65% of average migrant workers in Bahrain had not seen their employment contracts, and 89% of migrant workers were unaware of their terms of employment upon arrival in Bahrain. Many labor recruitment agencies in Bahrain require workers to pay high recruitment fees, a practice which makes workers highly vulnerable to forced labor once in the country. This same LMRA study also revealed that 70% of migrant workers either borrowed money or sold property, in their countries of origin, in order to secure employment in Bahrain. Some Bahraini employers illegally charge workers non-contractual fees in order to keep them in Bahrain, working for third-party employers, under the “free-visa” arrangement facade. The LMRA estimates that 10% of migrant workers in Bahrain work under illegal “free-visa” arrangements, a practice that can contribute to debt-bondage. The Bahraini Chamber of Commerce and Industry puts this statistic at 25%. Women whom are most likely forced into prostitution in Bahrain are from Thailand, the Philippines, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, China, Vietnam and Eastern European states. Israel- In Israel, men and women are trafficked & often used for forced labor and commercial prostitution. Low-skilled workers from China, Romania, Turkey, Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India flock to Israel for contract labor in the construction, agriculture, and health care industries. Israeli migrant workers are often confronted terrible conditions of forced labor. Many labor recruitment agencies in Israel charge fees ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. This causes migrant workers in Israel to become highly vulnerable to trafficking once in the country, and in some cases, situations of debt-bondage are ever prevalent. Israel is also a destination country for women being trafficked from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Belarus, China, South Korea and possibly the Philippines, for the exclusive purposes of sexual exploitation. In addition, NGO’s note an increase in the internal trafficking of Israeli nationals, for commercial sexual exploitation, and report new instances of trafficking of Israeli women abroad to Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Kuwait- Men and women readily migrate to Kuwait, from countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, and the Philippines, looking for employment as domestic servants or low-skilled laborers. Upon arrival, however, some are often subjected to conditions of forced labor, especially women, who are most often, once caught up in the web of Human-Trafficking, forced into commercial sexual exploitation. For example, some female domestic workers are forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers, or after being deceived with promises of employment in different sectors. Kuwait is also a transit country for South and East Asian workers recruited by Kuwaiti labor recruitment agencies for low-skilled work in Iraq. Oftentimes, these workers are deceived, as to the true location and nature of this work, while others willingly transit to Iraq through Kuwait, but endure conditions of involuntary servitude while in Iraq. Some Kuwaiti nationals have even reportedly traveled to foreign destinations, including Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh to engage indulge commercial sexual exploitation. Oman- For men and women, primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia, some of whom are subjected to being trafficked, specifically under conditions indicative of forced labor, Oman is a haven for Human-Trafficking. Most of these South and Southeast Asian migrants travel willingly to Oman, with the expectation of employment as either domestic servants, or as low-skilled workers in the country’s construction, agriculture, or service industries. Some of them face conditions indicative of working for long working hours without food or rest, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Recruitment agents, as well as labor brokers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Iran, very often deceive workers into accepting work, that in some instances constitutes forced labor. Many of these agencies produce falsified contracts for employment, either with fictitious employers or with fictitious wage rates, charging workers high recruitment fees (often exceeding $1,000), and urge workers to enter Oman with tourist-visas. Oman is also a destination and transit country for women from China, India, Morocco, Eastern Europe, and South Asia, who may be forced into commercial sexual exploitation, generally by nationals of their own countries. Male Pakistani laborers, and others from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and East Asia, transit Oman en route to the UAE, are often exploited in situations of forced labor upon reaching their countries of destination. Qatar- People from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some face very inhumane conditions once in Qatar, among many other things, predominately involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious physical or financial harm, withholding wages, charging workers unnecessarily for employment benefits, which the employer is fully responsible for by default, traveling restrictions, including the confiscation of passports and identification documents, illegal detention, threats of deportation, as well as physical, mental, and sexual abuse. In some cases, arriving migrant workers have found that the terms of employment in Qatar are wholly different from those they had previously agreed to in their home countries. Individuals employed as domestic servants are particularly vulnerable to Human-Trafficking, since they are not covered under the provisions of the labor laws in Qatar. Small numbers of foreign workers transit Qatar and are forced to work on farms in Saudi Arabia. Qatar is also a destination for women who become caught up in prostitution-rings, but the extent to which these women are subjected to forced prostitution is unknown. Saudi Arabia- Regarding Human-Trafficking, Saudi Arabia is notoriously known to not fully comply with the minimum standards of anti-trafficking enforcement & are currently not any making significant efforts to do so. Saudi Arabia is a destination for both men & women, from South East Asia & East Africa, to be trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation. Also, children, from countries like Yemen & Afghanistan, have very often been trafficking victims, for forced begging. Hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers from places like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya migrate travel to Saudi Arabia, some fall into conditions of involuntary servitude, suffering from physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, withholding of identification & traveling documents, restrictions on their freedom to travel within Saudi itself and non-consensual contract alterations. According to international organizations, such as the Ansar Burney Trust, young children from Bangladesh and India are also smuggled into Saudi Arabia, to be used as camel-jockeys. These children are underfed, to reduce their weights, in order to lighten the load on the camels used for racing. Saudi Arabia has been classified as having a Human-Trafficking Tier-3 status, since 2005. United Arab Emirates- Women from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Philippines travel to the U.A.E. to work as domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude such as excessive work hours without pay, unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on traveling, non-payment of wages, and physical or sexual abuse. Oftentimes, they are not even given legitimate employment, but rather, they’re smuggled into the sex trade in the U.A.E. Similarly, men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are drawn to the U.A.E. to work in the construction industry, but are often subjected to similar conditions of coercive labor, as we as debt-bondage, as they work to pay off recruitment costs, often exceeding the equivalent of a 2-year salary. Women from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Uganda, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, the Philippines, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco are reportedly trafficked to the U.A.E. for commercial prostitution. Non-Emirate women are reportedly recruited to work as secretaries or hotel workers by third-party recruiters, perhaps even in their countries of origin. But, they were often coerced into prostitution or involuntary domestic servitude. The U.A.E. may also serve as a transit country for women trafficked into forced labor in Oman, and men deceived into working involuntarily in Iraq. And, much like the neighboring Tier-3, oil-rich Arab states, which border the U.A.E., the Emirate government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of Human-Trafficking. What all of these countries have in common- What these countries have in common is their collective importance to U.S. interests in the Middle-East. each of these countries provide enormous resources, like petroleum, as well as influence & insight into the Muslim-World, the Arab-World, and the region known as the Middle-East generally, which is essential for America to maintain dominance in this part of the world. These particular countries are highly valued by the U.S. America has deeply vested interests in the economic sustainability as well as the geo-political survival of these nations, against any of their would-be rivals in the region. Likewise, these nations have also managed to acquire a substantial influential foot-hole into the economic fabric of the U.S., to such an extent that many of these countries have so much money invested into our economy, that if they were to remove their assets, America’s entire economy would collapse. And, because of this need for the U.S. to keep these countries invested in the American economy & to ensure the safety & security of these regimes to stay in power, they’re willing to turn blind-eyes when it comes to things like Human-Trafficking. Honestly, if the U.S. really wanted to do something really substantial to these countries, for their lack of diligence in dealing with the issue of Human-Trafficking, they would put them on blast at U.N. meetings, commence economic-sanctions against these countries, decrease the amounts of foreign-aid given to these countries, decrease their consumption of foreign goods from these countries, thereby making the economies of these Human-Trafficking havens stronger via U.S.-patronage, etc. But, which should not be surprising, none of what I’ve mentioned is happening, and it won’t happen, so long as the symbiotic relationship between money & power exist in our world. The U.S. thrives particularly upon maintaining its dominance & influence in the Middle-East, via supporting the following countries mentioned whom clearly, blatantly violate the sanctity of basic Human-Rights, on a daily basis; yet, they are left alone, to do as they please.

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