Term Paper: Dreams Deferred Trafficking and Prostitution

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[. . .] Linda Smith, a former congresswoman and now a leading activist in Shared Hope, has opened nineteen homes for trafficked women in Jamaica, India, and Nepal. Testifying before the House International Relations Committee on June 14th of this year, she had the following to say:

In the three countries where Shared Hope is working, we have seen no significant evidence of positive or effective government action to curb the trafficking problem. There have been very few prosecutions of traffickers in India and Nepal. There has been very little work done to change what we see as continued tolerance for children being used and abused. There has been very little done to inform and educate women about the dangers of trafficking or to provide legal safeguards for women. We want to continue to shine a bright light on countries where human trafficking is still rampant...the trafficking bill will not be an effective tool for change unless we tell the truth about what is really going on in countries where we know human trafficking is a problem."

In Nepal and India, as in Kosovo and other Balkan nations, the job of helping trafficking victims is largely left up to private organizations. Over and over again, these groups hear the same horror stories. No matter the place, the pattern is the same. A country torn by strife is stripped of its moral cloak. Even women who are not directly involved in the traffic are subject to its baleful influences. Shorn of their dignity and of their dreams for the future, they are easy victims of the false promises and disingenuous offers of assistance that are held out to them.

A man from my neighborhood raped me when I was 15. I went to the police. Everyone knew what happened to me. I started having problems with my friends and with my family. I was so ashamed!

One day, one year later, a friend of mine, he is older than me, told me he could help me to get a job in Macedonia; I had the opportunity to leave all the bad things behind. The man drove me to a village close to Gostivar I remember he paid 200DM to a taxi driver to bring me through the border. Once in Macedonia I was brought to a bar and told I should work there as a waitress for 10DM per day. I was accommodated in a house together with other girls from Moldavia and Russia. I think they were Russians. None of us was free to leave the house during the day, we were obliged to stay indoor until we would go the bar."

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Organizations such as the United States Association for International Migration, and Shared Hope are helping these women and girls to put their lives back together. In Moldova for example, the saved have been provided with emergency shelters, medical care and psychological counseling, and legal advice. They have also been given a much-needed "Dignifying Return Package." This care package includes clothing, shoes, and even toys for those victims with children back home - all so these women can make a dignified to return to their families and friends back home. In addition, as a result of pressure from these philanthropic organizations, local authorities have begun to do more to combat this very serious problem. In Moldova as well, records show that police raids have been responsible for some two-thirds of the liberations that have taken place. Still, approximately one-third of the women and girls have bravely managed to make their own escapes, while a microscopic percentage has, after several months of "good service," been freed by their masters. Yet even in these cases, the counseling and other help offered by charities is invaluable. Women who have been held under these circumstances suffer from a host of psychological traumas. The longer a woman has been held, the more severe the long-term effects on her mental and emotional health. Experts have concluded that trafficking victims will tend to suffer from one or more of the following psychological disorders: Acute Stress Reaction, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Adjustment Disorder, and Dissociation Leading to Acts of Deliberate Self-Harm. It is as if these women have been exposed to combat under heavy fire.

In the Ukraine, an organization called La Strada-Ukraine, provides a wide range of services both to help the victims of trafficking, and also to prevent future instances of these terrible abuses from occurring. The programs cover everything from increasing public awareness of the illicit trade - lack of public knowledge is a major problem - to emergency hotlines for kidnapped women. The following is a full list of La Strada-Ukraine's activities:

Providing a broad range of assistance for trafficked persons;

Maintenance of a "hot line" for emergency telephone assistance;

Researching the problem of violence against women;

Providing expertise on legislation in an advisory capacity concerning women's status in Ukraine;

Conducting educational programs among youth on the problem of women's rights, prevention of trafficking in women and other kinds of violence and exploitation;

Cooperation with mass media, distribution of the information about the issues;

Publishing and distributing materials, bulletins, leaflets;

Conducting seminars and conferences;

Cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations in Ukraine and abroad with the goals of preventing trafficking in women and providing assistance for trafficked persons;

Cooperation with law enforcement bodies and lawyers in the field of improving Ukrainian legislation concerning trafficking in human beings, and trafficked persons' protection.

Only with the help of organizations such as these can any real progress be made toward the alleviation and eventual elimination of these horrors. Making sure that the public is fully aware of what is going on around them is absolutely essential, both in those nations that have been ravaged by the trade, as well as in those rich and powerful nations that have the resources to help. Each and every one of the countries that suffers most from these depredations is plagued by the same problems of political corruption, judicial laxity, poverty, and a lack of funds and manpower to combat these and other social ills. By making the American and Western European public aware of what is going on in the world around them, groups such as Shared Hope, the Human Rights Law Group, La Strada-Ukraine, and the United States Association for International Migration can obtain the funds and assistance they so desperately require. These political and economic powerhouses have the necessary leverage to effect change in the developing world. By being politically and socially active in the West, charitable organizations can push for the national, and even more importantly, the international laws and programs that will put an end to this terrible trade.

So, while countless thousands of women and girls around the world slave their lives away in brothels and other degrading and dangerous places of employment, there are those who are working to save them. Laws are being passed, and governments both in the First World and in the Third World are getting involved. Western countries are cracking down on immigrant smuggling, and developing nations are working to put their houses in order, devoting greater energy and resources to the enforcement of the law, and to the protection of people's basic human and civil rights. Police raids, and NATO, and U.N. crackdowns rescue more and more women and girls each year. However, the blight of this traffic in human souls will never be rooted out so long as the conditions remain that gave rise to it in the first place. Poverty, war, and ethnic dissension provoke the rampant crime and political corruption that make the operations of the slavers possible. Poverty, crime, and war create the conditions that make so many millions of women and girls will to attempt anything just to escape from their horrible circumstances. Despair and lack of education render them gullible to the sweetest, and most cynical of promises. As long as nothing is done to fundamentally change the situation in the Developing World, there will always be a trade - there will always be greed feeding on hope.

Works Cited

1. Binder, David. "Country Report: Albania - Country Sends Its Own to Europe and Beyond." MSNBC News. MSNBC.com, 2002. URL: http://www.msnbc.com/news/736680.asp

2. Binder, David. "Country report: Bosnia - In a Post-War Zone the Sex trade Flourishes." MSNBC News. MSNBC.com, 2002. URL: http://www.msnbc.com/news/736679.asp

3. Binder, David. "Country Report: Yugoslavia - After Milosevic, Country Still Mired in Crime." MSNBC News. MSNBC.com, 2002. URL: http://www.msnbc.com/news/736678.asp.

4. Binder, David and Mendenhall, Preston. "Sex, Drugs, and Guns in the Balkans." MSNBC News. MSNBC.com, 2002. URL:

http://www.msnbc.com/news/667790.asp

5. Haskell, Janet. "Shared Hope Testifies before the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee." Shared Hope international Media Release. Shared Hope, 14 June 2002. URL: http://www.sharedhope.org/feature4.htm.

6. "The Principle Activities of La Strada-Ukraine." La Strada-Ukraine. Brama, Inc., 2002. URL:

http://www.brama.com/lastrada/about.html

7. "Situation Report - February 2000 to September 2002." Return… [END OF PREVIEW]

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