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Monday, October 10, 2011

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Inside the world of child brides
Understanding the true depth of the issue of child marriage sometimes requires a new lens so to speak.  BBC presenter Nel Hedayat travels to India and Bangladesh, countries with two of the highest rates of child marriage, to chronicle what life is like to be one of the 10 million girls worldwide who are married off each year before they reach the age of 18. The 23-year-old Hedayat has a legacy of child marriage in her family, as both of her grandmothers and an aunt were married as children in her native Afghanistan.

UNESCO hosts forum on education gender gaps
Academics, government and NGO representatives have gathered for a two-day UNESCO forum to discuss the causes behind gender equality in education. Enrollment ratios have increased around the world over the past decade, but large gaps remain in Sub-Saharan and Arab countries, UNESCO said.

Police in Peru say they have rescued nearly 300 women from sexual exploitation in a raid in the country's Amazon region. At least four people were arrested in Puerto Maldonado on suspicion of human trafficking. Among those rescued from about 50 brothels were at least 10 minors - the youngest was a 13-year-old girl. More than 400 police took part in the three-day operation in the region, known for its illegal gold mining. Prosecutors say young girls are lured to the area by women who travel around offering them jobs in shops or as domestic helpers, but that the girls often end up being forced to work as prostitutes in local bars.
EU Lawmakers Block Textile Deal with Uzbekistan Over Child Labor Concerns
European Union lawmakers have rejected a trade deal that would have made it easier for Uzbekistan to export textiles to Europe, citing objections to that country's continued use of forced child labor in its cotton harvests. The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee unanimously voted against the inclusion of textiles in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), a document that has formed the basis of trade in most other goods between the EU and Uzbekistan since it came into force in 1999. The deal would have lowered the tariffs on EU imports of Uzbek cotton, which currently represent one-quarter of that country's exports. The committee wants international organizations to verify that child labor is not used during the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan before considering an inclusion of textiles.

Thailand: Escaping From Burma but Falling into Slavery

There are an estimated 2 to 3 million Burmese working in Thailand. Khun Mint says two years ago he had made up his mind to head to Thailand, but he needed help. When he reached Mayawatti, the Northeastern town that borders Mae Sot, Thailand, he met what many refer to as a "broker" or "recruiter" at a barbershop. The man helped him cross the river into Thailand, for a fee to be paid later, and from there, he eventually was led to a fishing village in the South. The young Burmese man essentially worked as slave labor the first six months, paying off his debt. Conditions were horrible, he says, thanks in part to enforcers on the boat, who carried what Khun Mint refers to as the, "stingray." "When you're casting the net or pulling it back up, if he see something he doesn't like, or even randomly, he'll start whipping you. It's like that."

Human Trafficking: Washington Works to Stem Demand

The Seattle area ranks among the top in the world for sexual exploitation of minors, according to Robin Schildmeyer of Genesis Project. Human trafficking is especially prevalent in Washington because of the state's ports, said Sen. Tracey Eide (D-District 30). In 2003, Washington became the first state to pass a law that criminalizes human trafficking. Since then, a series of laws have addressed restrictions on sex tourism, along with confidentiality and benefits for victims. In 2012, the Legislature will attempt to restrict advertisements for escort services related to underage victims. Chris Johnson, policy director for Attorney General Rob McKenna, credits the growing grass-roots support for allowing the state to "chip away" at human trafficking. "Where we are with human trafficking is where we were with domestic violence 30 years ago," said Johnson at a public forum. "We have a long way to go."

Intl. Bodies Hold Seminar on Curbing Money Laundering to Combat Human Trafficking

An expert seminar organized by the OSCE and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on leveraging efforts to fight human trafficking through clamping down on money laundering started in Vienna today. Trafficking in human beings is one of the most lucrative forms of organized crime, estimated to generate $32 billion dollars in gross proceeds each year. Criminal assets arising from this grave violation of human rights may be invested in legitimate and criminal activities. To minimize the profitability and increase the risk of human trafficking, these assets must be traced, seized, frozen and confiscated. A key goal of the seminar is to advance the body of operational knowledge available to law enforcement, financial intelligence units and private sector compliance departments in the use of financial investigations in identifying and confiscating the proceeds and instrumentalities of human trafficking.

Indiana Could Change Human Trafficking Law Before Super Bowl

State Attorney General Greg Zoeller is making a push for law enforcement to crack down on human trafficking in the state ahead of the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Zoeller says the last two Super Bowl sites had trouble getting out in front of the issue.  A major problem, he says, is differentiating commercial sex crimes that involve human trafficking from more standard prostitution. “I think the deficiencies are really that we look at prostitution where the prostitute is the criminal,” Zoeller said. “In this instance, where you recognize human trafficking, where the prostitute is a victim herself.” Zoeller says to help deal with the core issue, he will urge the General Assembly to pass legislation before the Super Bowl that will close gaps in state law.

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