Posts Tagged ‘exploitation’
This is why my heart breaks daily for the victims of human trafficking, both in the US and abroad:
Girls undergo systematic rape and torture in brothels
KOLKATA: One doesn’t expect socialites to spend a languid rainy afternoon listening to horror stories. Especially when it’s a diminutive 62-year-old narrating the tales. But when it is one Anuradha Koirala doing the talk, the glamour quotient doesn’t matter. The grit that fuels this character does. It jolts listeners out of stupor and lands them in a stark world with sleaze and grime.
A packed audience, mostly members of the FICCI ladies organization, listened with rapt attention as the chairperson of Maiti Nepal (an NGO that has rescued over 18,000 women from sexual slavery and exploitation) recounted stories that touch a nadir in human depravation.
Radhika, a 16-year-old from a well-to-do high caste Nepali family, fell in love with a boy from a low caste and eloped to get married. But with the boy unable to find a job and the girl’s family unwilling to support them, the husband convinced her to sell one of her kidneys at Chennai for Rs 65,000. By then, they had already had a girl. After the money was spent, the husband sold her along with the daughter to a brothel in Mumbai. There she was first gang raped and then forced into sex trade. Her daughter’s tongue was burned to prevent her from crying for her mother when she was entertaining clients. They lived like this for six years till a client learnt about her tale and informed Maiti.
“We managed to rescue Radhika and her daughter. There are many instances when tip-offs from clients have led to rescue of Nepali girls forced into prostitution. But for every such fairytale ending, there are hundreds of cases in which a girl lives and dies a sex slave,” said Koirala.
Sarita, another Nepali girl trafficked to Mumbai and working in a brothel, broke both her legs after jumping off the three-storied building when she attempted to escape from forced oral sex. She survived. But for many girls, it is too late when rescued. “Several of them are infected with AIDS. Others become drug addicts. All that Maiti can then provide them is dignified death. At its hospice, there are 17-year-olds who look like 70, waiting for death to deliver them from a short, yet horribly cruel life. While women rescued from India are usually infected with diseases, those rescued from the Gulf are worse off with 57% psychotic cases from not just sexual but physical and mental abuse as well. Depravation reaches new levels when girls are trafficked to the Gulf. They are like zombies when rescued,” she said.
While most girls trafficked from Nepal land up in brothels in Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Surat, Delhi, Bangalore, Siliguri, Gorakhpur and Meerut, girls are increasingly being re-routed to the Gulf, China and South-East Asia as well. “While traffickers in India prefer girls with mongoloid features as prevalent in people from lower castes in Nepal, those in China prefer girls from high caste who have prominent nose and high cheek bone,” Maiti Nepal director Bishwo Ram Khadka said.
Of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked every year globally, 70% are women and children. Of this, 150,000 cases are in South Asia with Nepal accounting for a lion’s share. Maiti estimates there are 150,000-400,000 Nepali girls and women in Indian brothels. A big chunk of them are aged 7-24 years.
“The girls undergo systematic rape and torture. They are starved and scalded by smoldering cigarettes and sometimes even murdered. Those who are young are given hormone injections so that they appear big and then gang raped as an initiation into the trade. Thereafter, they are made to entertain 5-50 clients a day,” said Koirala.
While extreme poverty in west Nepal is considered the primary reason for Nepali girls being trafficked in large numbers, Koirala says gender discrimination is the root cause, citing social practices like Chaupadi, Deuki and Badi where girls are driven into flesh trade by families.
Koirala took up the cause of rescuing and rehabilitating women in 1993 after suffering domestic violence. “At the time, everyone in Nepal was speaking about trafficking but no one was doing anything. So I took a plunge and have been swimming against the tide since,” said Koirala, who was awarded CNN Hero of the Year 2010.
Nepal’s Lost Circus Children
This concept that you can differentiate between willing sex work and trafficking is really complicated, because sex work fuels trafficking, and there’s so much money involved,” she said. “Consider that one girl can have sex with 15 men in a night, at $100 an hour. This means she’s producing $35,000-$40,000 a month for whoever owns her.
Andrea Powell, Fair Fund (via cynthiavankleeck)
This is an extremely long article, but worth the read if you have the time. If not, I have pulled a few of the most striking sections out and put them here. Basically, this article examines the real truth behind Dubai: it is completely run on slave labor. The author of this article found himself in shock at the reality of the slavery in Dubai and the flippant attitudes of the people who lived there toward the slavery that everyone knows exists, but the reality is that our entire world operates on slave labor – and it seems that most of the world has the same attitudes toward slavery today as the expats in Dubai. For them, it is worth it to live in luxury in exchange for destroying the lives of others, and that is really what the problem of slavery boils down to. My question that continually arises through fighting slavery looks like this: we live in a country that is based in “freedom,” yet our luxury is worth the freedom of others. Why are we so much better that we can trample on the lives of other people just for our own comfort?
The Dark Side of Dubai, by Johan Hari – sections that stood out
Sonapur is a rubble-strewn patchwork of miles and miles of identical concrete buildings. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in Hindi means “City of Gold”. In the first camp I stop at – riven with the smell of sewage and sweat – the men huddle around, eager to tell someone, anyone, what is happening to them.
Sahinal Monir, a slim 24-year-old from the deltas of Bangladesh. “To get you here, they tell you Dubai is heaven. Then you get here and realise it is hell,” he says. Four years ago, an employment agent arrived in Sahinal’s village in Southern Bangladesh. He told the men of the village that there was a place where they could earn 40,000 takka a month (£400) just for working nine-to-five on construction projects. It was a place where they would be given great accommodation, great food, and treated well. All they had to do was pay an up-front fee of 220,000 takka (£2,300) for the work visa – a fee they’d pay off in the first six months, easy. So Sahinal sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to this paradise.
As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don’t like it, the company told him, go home. “But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket,” he said. “Well, then you’d better get to work,” they replied.
Sahinal was in a panic. His family back home – his son, daughter, wife and parents – were waiting for money, excited that their boy had finally made it. But he was going to have to work for more than two years just to pay for the cost of getting here – and all to earn less than he did in Bangladesh…
In every large city, gay people find a way to find each other – but Dubai has become the clearing-house for the region’s homosexuals, a place where they can live in relative safety. Saleh, a lean private in the Saudi Arabian army, has come here for the Coldplay concert, and tells me Dubai is “great” for gays: “In Saudi, it’s hard to be straight when you’re young. The women are shut away so everyone has gay sex. But they only want to have sex with boys – 15- to 21-year-olds. I’m 27, so I’m too old now. I need to find real gays, so this is the best place. All Arab gays want to live in Dubai.”…
It is an open secret that once you hire a maid, you have absolute power over her. You take her passport – everyone does; you decide when to pay her, and when – if ever – she can take a break; and you decide who she talks to. She speaks no Arabic. She cannot escape.
In a Burger King, a Filipino girl tells me it is “terrifying” for her to wander the malls in Dubai because Filipino maids or nannies always sneak away from the family they are with and beg her for help. “They say – ‘Please, I am being held prisoner, they don’t let me call home, they make me work every waking hour seven days a week.’ At first I would say – my God, I will tell the consulate, where are you staying? But they never know their address, and the consulate isn’t interested. I avoid them now. I keep thinking about a woman who told me she hadn’t eaten any fruit in four years. They think I have power because I can walk around on my own, but I’m powerless.”…
My patience frayed by all this excess, I find myself snapping: doesn’t the omnipresent slave class bother you? I hope they misunderstood me, because the woman replied: “That’s what we come for! It’s great, you can’t do anything for yourself!” Her husband chimes in: “When you go to the toilet, they open the door, they turn on the tap – the only thing they don’t do is take it out for you when you have a piss!” And they both fall about laughing…
Perhaps Dubai disturbed me so much, I am thinking, because here, the entire global supply chain is condensed. Many of my goods are made by semi-enslaved populations desperate for a chance 2,000 miles away; is the only difference that here, they are merely two miles away, and you sometimes get to glimpse their faces? Dubai is Market Fundamentalist Globalisation in One City.