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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Modern Slavery News Round-Up

According to a major recent survey by the Ministry of Health, 43% of married women in India in the age group of 20 to 24 had been child brides.  The legal age for a girl to marry is 18, but for uneducated girls the average age is 15.  "There is real competition in law in India, between federal law and the law of custom," says Michele Goodwin, a law professor and expert on child marriage.  Over 70% of young brides said they were married before the age of 18 and, like human trafficking, they had no say in the arrangements and they often experience sexual and physical abuse.  "She is the property of anyone in the household," says Goodwin.  Money exchanges hands in the form of a dowry and once a daughter has been sent off there are more resources left for the rest of the family.  

In a rare show of bipartisanship in Virginia, Republicans and Democrats passed a slate of bills that will combat violence against women and human trafficking and create harsher punishments for criminals who commit these acts.  Three of the slate are aimed at stemming the trend of human trafficking in Northern Virginia where gang members were arrested for trafficking high school girls.  The State Board of Education will have to provide training and materials to local school divisions to help identify and report instances of human trafficking and strips clubs will be required to post the human trafficking hotline number.  "Passing the bills is the easy part," says Sen. Janet Howell.  "Much harder is providing the services to the victims of violent crimes." 

Police arrested a Thai man for selling women as sex salves to Japan last year.  After being rescued in September, three women told police that Chakraphan Wacharaphin has arranged travel documents for them to work in a restaurant in Japan, but they were then forced into prostitution upon arrival.  Chakraphan denies being involved in human trafficking, but he did earn thousands of dollars for arranging the women's visas.  If found guilty, he will face up to 10 years in prison in Thailand.   

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