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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

Sharp rise in human trafficking in Pakistan
Pakistan’s Sindh Province has recorded a sharp increase in reported cases of human trafficking since the beginning of the year, and the trend could continue unless the authorities take action to contain it, say activists.  Some 190 cases have been reported in the province in the first two months of 2012, according to Zia Ahmeld Awan, chairperson of Madadgaar Helpline, an NGO helping women and child victims of abuse and trafficking.  In 2011, the NGO recorded 288 cases. 
She urged the Pakistani government to devote more resources to fighting trafficking and drafting new legislation to ban it.  Pakistan's largest human trafficking problem, according to the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report for 2011, is that of bonded labour. 

Spanish police arrest 'bar code pimps' gang
MADRID — Spanish police arrested 22 suspected pimps who allegedly used violence to force women into prostitution and tattooed them with bar codes as a sign of ownership, officials said Saturday. Police are calling the gang the "bar code pimps." Officers freed one 19-year-old woman who had been beaten, held against her will and tattooed with a bar code and an amount of money ($2,650) which investigators believe was the debt the gang wished to extort before releasing her.  Sex is a multibillion-dollar industry in Spain, with colorfully lit brothels staffed mainly by poor immigrant women from Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe lining highways throughout the country. Prostitution falls in legal limbo: it is not regulated, although pimping is a crime. The northeastern city of Barcelona plans to introduce regional legislation in coming weeks banning prostitution on urban streets.

Campaign against child sex trafficking on backpage.com grows stronger
Change.org started an online petition back in 2010 calling for the CEO of Village Voice Media to stop child sex trafficking on Backpage.com, a petition that has reached over 235,000 signatures. Similar campaigns have seen Craiglist shut down their 'adult services' sections in the U.S. and consequently their commercial sex ads from international sites. This Thursday 29th March will see the delivery of these petitions to Village Voice Media headquarters in New York City. 
Shared Hope International are calling on mayors across the country to stand against child sex trafficking and Village Voice Media, the owners of backpage.com. On the campaign website it states "Backpage.com will earn an estimated $25.8 million this year from its adult section, a platform that law enforcement and service providers recognize as a major facilitation tool for pimps to traffic children". They are asking people to contact their Mayor to urge them to take action and their website gives the option of emailing/writing to your local Mayor directly and easily through their website here.

Thai, Australia police bust human trafficking ring
Police in Thailand arrested an Iraqi man and a Thai woman in Bangkok on Tuesday while Australian police arrested four additional men in Sydney and Melbourne.  All are believed to be part of a transnational human trafficking network and the arrests were made as a result of "Operation Arapaima", a yearlong effort to crack down on human trafficking networks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, according to Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai.  A police raid found 16 fake passports in the woman's house that were to be used to illegally  transport refugees to Australia.  The country has become a haven for war-ravaged victims seeking a new life and "the organizers of these ventures are taking advantage of vulnerable people and are putting their lives at risk," says a statement from the Australian Federal Police.

GOP, Dems fight human trafficking by contractors
Legislation named "The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act" was proposed by a bipartisan group from the House and Senate that aims to cut down on human trafficking by contractors hired by the U.S. military to work in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is a reaction had by legislators after receiving reports from the Commission on Wartime Contracting that oversea contractors are known to engage in illegal practices after luring workers to work in the area such as seizing passports, engaging in sexual abuse, lying about compensation and keeping workers in a state of indentured servitude.  "Modern-day slavery by governmental contractors-unknowingly funded by American taxpayers- is unconscionable and intolerable," says Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), the lead Senate sponsor of the bill.  

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