Posts Tagged ‘human slavery’

In April, a strike broke out at a seafood processing factory in Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla, where thousands of Burmese and Cambodian workers, living in small barracks and working in a nearby factory, process shrimp for export by a Bangkok-based company called Phatthana Seafood Co., Ltd… Some workers said they were provided inadequate toilet facilities and given insufficient bathroom breaks, obliging them at times to relieve themselves in corners of the factory. Far worse, labor organizers say, many of the migrant workers at the Songkhla facility found themselves in conditions amounting to debt bondage. Workers told organizers that many of them paid recruiters excessive placement and transport fees to get the jobs. Managers at the plant took portions of their wages to pay these debts, workers said, as well as various “fees” to the company for accommodation, utilities, and other necessities. Several workers said that before the strike they were promised 26 days of work per month, but often were only given 10 to 14 days of work, going unpaid when the factory was idle.
Some workers were receiving so little pay after deductions that they couldn’t afford sufficient food. Before the strike, they were reportedly catching minnows and snails for meals. Despite the legal requirement that workers be enrolled in Thailand’s social security system to receive health care, the company failed to sign the workers up, meaning workers had to pay out of pocket for any medical treatment for injuries or sickness.
Workers who wanted to leave found it difficult, organizers say, because their official documents, including work permits, health cards, ID cards, and passports, were reportedly confiscated and held by factory management to prevent workers from running away. New workers were told they would only get their documents back after their debts were paid off—a key criterion used in legal cases to prove human trafficking.
The conflict at the Songkhla facility escalated after management locked the workers out on April 9. Thai police fired gunshots in the air to disperse protesting workers. A few weeks later the workers reached a partial agreement with the company for modest pay increases, and received their passports back. The company agreed to provide additional toilets and pay part of the accommodation costs and debts to recruiters, but not utilities or health care. Some of the workers with smaller debts left. But the pre-existing debt conditions continued for most workers. Many today are still effectively in bondage.
Local labor organizers are skeptical that even the minor changes made are durable. “I am suspicious that they are making these changes right now only because they are being watched,” one labor researcher told us recently
The U.S. labor organization Change to Win has been raising awareness of abuses associated with factories like Phatthana, not just for the sake of workers there but also because one of the U.S. companies supplied by Phatthana is a continuing nemesis for the American labor movement: Walmart.
http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/17/walmarts-human-trafficking-problem

Common facilitators on which traffickers frequently rely include:
Hotels and Motels
Landlords
Labor brokers
Taxi and other driving services
Airlines, bus, and rail companies
Advertisers 
-Online websites like Craigslist.com and Backpage.com
-Phone books
-Alternative Newspapers (and some mainstream newspapers)
Banks and other financial services companies
In some cases, businesses are aware of their involvement in trafficking, and the profits they generate outweigh reservations they may have about their role. In other cases, businesses are unaware and find it difficult to know which of their customers are human traffickers.
http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview/the-facilitators

Common places where forced labor has been found in the United States include domestic servitude and small-scale “mom and pop” labor operations, to more large-scale operations such as farms and factories. Certain labor brokers that supply labor to multinational corporations have also been identified as an emerging type of labor traffickers. Sex trafficking includes commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), as well as every instance where an adult is in the sex trade as the result of force, fraud, or coercion. Sex trafficking occurs within numerous venues in the broader sex industry, commonly found in street prostitution, online escort services, residential brothels, and brothels disguised as massage businesses. Under U.S. and international law, commercially sexually exploited children found in the sex trade are considered to be victims of trafficking, even if no force or coercion is present.

Victims of human trafficking in the United States include U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, adults or minors, and men or women. Foreign-born victims in the U.S. may be either documented or undocumented.

Because human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries, the U.S. government and academic researchers are currently working on an up-to-date estimate of the total number of trafficked persons in the United States annually. With 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade in the United States each year, it is clear that the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
http://www.polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/overview
New-York-City-Skyline

In August 2001, soldiers with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea were purchasing ten-year-old girls for sex in local hotels.

– Before the arrival of 15,000 UN troops in Cambodia in 1991, there were an estimated 1,000 prostitutes in the capital. Currently, Cambodia’s illegal sex trade generates $500 million a year. No less than 55,000 women and children are sex slaves in Cambodia, 35 percent of which are younger than 18 years of age.

– Over 5,000 women and children have been trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and are forced into prostitution in bars servicing the U.S. Military in South Korea

The Cadena smuggling ring trafficked women, some as young as 14, from Mexico to Florida. The victims were forced to prostitute themselves with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park. Of the $25 charged the “Johns” the women received only $3. The Cadena members kept the women hostage through threats and physical abuse. One woman was kept in a closet for 15 days for trying to escape. Some were beaten and forced to have abortions (the cost of which was added to their debt). The women worked until they paid off their debts of $2,000 to $3,000.

– Domestic servants in some countries of the Middle East are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day with little or no pay, and subject to sexual abuse such as rape, forced abortions, and physical abuse that has resulted in death.

– Traffickers in many countries in West Africa take girls through voodoo rituals in which girls take oaths of silence and are often raped and beaten, prior to their leaving the country. They are also forced to sign agreements stating that, once they arrive in another country, they owe the traffickers a set amount of money. They are sworn to secrecy and given detailed accounts of how they will be tortured if they break their promise. Traffickers have taken women and young girls to shrines and places of cultural or religious significance; they remove pubic and other hair and then perform a ceremony of intimidation.
http://www.teamwmi.org/educational-information/human-trafficking-facts-figures/-britain

“South Africa is commonly regarded as the main country of destination for trafficked persons in the region,” SACTAP said in its brochure. “In many cases, women and children are lured to South Africa with promises of jobs, education or marriage, only to be sold and sexually exploited in the country’s major urban centres, or small towns and more rural environments.”
A 2004 report by South Africa’s Independent Newspapers alleged that “every year nearly 900,000 people are smuggled across borders as sex slaves, child labourers and illegal organ donors, with 75 percent of them going through South Africa.”

“Using numbers provided by informants in the sex industry and migration figures provided by Statistics South Africa, the authors calculate that between 850 and 1,100 women and children are trafficked to South Africa for the purpose of sexual exploitation annually,”

“They similarly estimate that at least 1,000 Mozambican women are trafficked into some kind of sexual exploitation in South Africa each year, earning traffickers approximately R1 million [$125,000] annually.”
http://www.irinnews.org/Report/80229/SOUTH-AFRICA-How-heavy-is-human-trafficking