Top TiP from the US 2016 – Ask the right questions

“If there is a single theme to this year’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report,”  Untitled pictureannounced Secretary of State John F Kerry in the presentation of the fresh off the presses 2016 TIP report,  “it is the conviction that there is nothing inevitable about trafficking in human beings. That conviction is where the process of change really begins—with the realization that just because a certain abuse has taken place in the past, doesn’t mean that we have to tolerate that abuse in the future or that we can afford to avert our eyes.  Instead, we should be asking ourselves—what if that victim of trafficking was my daughter, son, sister, or brother?”

So the stage is set yet again, where the global scenario of human trafficking not parties to the UNODC ppis set within the context of connectedness. Across the TIP report one reads of the state of each nation’s efforts to address human trafficking and the grading which the US assigns to their efforts.  Tier 1 is thetop score you can attain as a country working against trafficking,  whilst Tier  3 is a place to escape from with some rapidity, if you want to be working with the US Government in Trade, or US Aid related schemes.  Tier 3 countries are designated as ‘ Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.’

And this year Secretary John F Kerry pulls into the front of the stage the ‘victim’ of trafficking, fairly and squarely centre stage for the imaginary of politicians, business executives, prosecutors, immigration personel and protection agencies world wide.  For the victim isn’t to be seen as ‘other’ as an opaque figure, lacking clarity in the wider obfuscation of the counting exercise which global policy makers are caught in, in order to make proportionate allocation of resources in the fight against trafficking networks.  Rather the ‘victim’ is being posed as someone, a sentient human being, one who could have relational, familial, household connectedness with the decision maker, or reader of the report.

This is an important reminder for those of us who struggle to discern the quantity and geographical distribution of those trafficked within the agglomoration of statistics, unsegmented data, migration records and algorithms designed to spit out  ‘hard numbers’ for policy makers and Gift a netpoliticians alike. To announce some form of ‘familial connectedness’ in the imaginary,  invites us to explore more deeply the fundamental issues  at stake within the globalisation of the economic activity of the world.  For the forces driving migration, the assymetries in wealth, access to land, access to protected human rights and dignity,  the essential levels of protection which the United Nations calls on the world’s 194 Nation States to respect, but which are corroded both within and without, are the very forces which put millions of people’s lives at risk of being exploited through forced labour and human trafficking, in their watercourse of erosion.

John F Kerry Secretary of State“Ending modern slavery isn’t just a fight we should attempt” announces John F Kerry in the preface to TIP 2016,  “it is a fight we can and must win.”
To win the fight, we need to understand the forces which are arraigned against people which put them at risk of trafficking abuse.  We also need to be asking wider questions around the business model of trafficking, which means that there is ‘demand’ for a market of those whose rights are being flagrantly violated by others, and unprotected by the states and communities through which they pass and where they end up exploited.

We need to ask the right questions,  dig deep into the prevailing context of global, regional and national inequalities, and explore the wider system in which Human Trafficking is set.  We need to ask  tough questions about location, ethnicity, gender, age-set, sexuality, the mode of labour and biological reproduction,  the distribution of state and cultural power, priveleged buyers and underprotected sellers, all leading to a the compromising of safety, security, and sustainable living for a significant proportion of the world’s population.

Ending slavery in the end is perfectly possible, but the time-line for its chinese worker in chinarealisation, when our ability to acknowledge the ‘other’ as brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, in the face of the migrant, the unaccompanied minor, the refugee, the street hawker, the urban slum dweller or the West African child pulled out of education at 13 because of household poverty,  is depressingly some way off.

For more on the TIP report, and its analysis of the state of various nations strategies to address Trafficking,  do follow @ccarht where we shall be delivering key details of the report, and be following the inputs to our CCARHT Summer School, where TIP 2016, the UNODC Global Report 2016 and the Global Slavery Index 2016 will comprise some of our first two days work.  With our faculty lecturers drawn from Universities in India, Africa, Asia, Europe and Canada, we shall be unpicking the methodological underpinnings of TIP, and exploring the implications of global data analysis in the struggle to mitigate Human Trafficking and ‘end modern slavery’.  See more here – some Early bird tickets still available.

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South African life imprisonment for child trafficker

Our thanks to Advocate Beatri Kruger who works in at the Free State University in South Africa for the following update on South Africa where the legislature is developing its response to Human Trafficking –  she informs us about the following news released yesterday.

Human trafficker Adina dos Santos was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Pretoria Regional Court on the 20th July 2011. Dos Santos was found guilty of trafficking three girls from Mozambique who had been forced into prostitution and worked in South Africa. Dos Santos was in addition to life imprisonment, also given a one-year sentence for living off the money she had made from the girls.

This is very significant case. The giving of a life-sentence now clearly sends the message that human trafficking is categorised among the most serious of crimes in South Africa and signals clearly that those who traffick in human beings can no longer get away with impunity, or light sentencing in South Africa.

Dos Santos was convicted of sex trafficking under the terms of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 32 of 2007.  South Africa is currently reviewing its legislation on human trafficking and its comprehensive legislation regarding both child and adult trafficking has still not passed through the legislature. However there is interim legislation in place criminalising

-all forms of child trafficking and

-sex trafficking of adults

which are now in force on which courts are reaching their judgements, and judges sentencing on the strength of them.

In May two Chinese women who allegedly ran a brothel in Goodwood, South Africa were accussed of  luring young women from China to South Africa. They were charged with keeping a brothel and human trafficking, but because the charges involve sexual offences, they have not yet been named until they plead.  They were set bail conditions of R5000  – less than £500 each.

The women were accused of luring young Chinese women to South Africa with false promises of jobs that paid monthly salaries of up to R50,000 (£4,481). Chinese women are some of the most at risk women and girls in the world, in the current global movement of women for sex, domesticated servitude and trafficked labour.

The dos Santos judgement,  is just one part of the long haul in getting a grip internationally on the globally realised crime of human trafficking – but an important one.  As IOM acting chief of mission in South Africa Erick Ventura noted –
‘human traffickers in South Africa have in the past been rarely taken to court and only charged with minor offences such as “keeping a brothel” when they have been brought for prosecution.’

Without appropriate – punishment fits the crime judgements – those who benefit from as much as £100,000 per woman/minor exploited within trafficking for sexual exploitation – will continue to ply their illicit merchandising.  Other dimensions of the trade need to be addressed as well. Importantly, dos Santos would have made no money whatsoever if there had been no clients to purchase the three young Mozambicans whom she had imported and forced into prostitution. And thereby hangs a longer and more critical cultural conversation for most countries in the world to engage with.

If you have news on recent judgements or decisions occurring in your context on which you would like us to comment or feature in the CCARHT blog drop us a line on update@ccarht.org