INSIDE TraCCC Issue 3
1. International Perspectives on Anti-Trafficking
2. Do I have a Choice? Sexual Exploitation in Rural India
3. Interview: Veerendra Mishra
4. Human Trafficking in Mongolia: Interview with Enkhchimeg Sengee
5. Trafficking in the Philippines: Interview with Prof. Al Fuentes
6. Human Smuggling from Central America to the US: Interview with Carol Cleaveland
7. Prostitution within the Illicit Market of the Saratov Region (2013)
8. Child Labor in Russia
9. Labor Trafficking in the CIS
10. Sex Trafficking in Rural Nepal
11. TraCCC in the News
12. TraCCC Calendar
1. International Perspectives on Anti-Trafficking
TraCCC Hosts Delegates to Discuss Anti-Human Trafficking Strategies
On August 19 TraCCC hosted a delegation of anti-trafficking professionals from twenty countries, visiting Washington on a U.S. Government-sponsored International Visitors Program. The group had repre-sentatives from every continent and many different organizations, including police, customs, airport and immigration authorities, NGOs, and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Social Protection, Home Affairs, and Labor.
After introductions, Dr Shelley opened the discussion by noting that in the U.S., the overwhelming share of NGO assistance to counter human trafficking is spent on victim aid. She argued that this is a misal-location of funds. We need to help the victims, but we also need to devote more efforts to preventing victimization. This can be done by allocating more resources to uncovering and breaking up the criminal networks which organize and profit from human trafficking. As she noted, trafficking is not a “stand-alone” crime. Traffickers are almost always involved in other criminal activities as well. She also argued for focusing on key business operations by the traffickers — with transport and financial operations being the most important, because this is where traffickers can best be detected and intercepted.
An important element of anti-trafficking strategy is to put pressure on the “enablers” of trafficking, which include businesses who are not directly involved, but profit from trafficking. These include truck stops, motels and money transfer services for sex trafficking, and employers who hire trafficked labor, or buy services from those who do. Without these “enablers” the trafficking wouldn’t take place.
In her presentation, Dr Shelley also emphasized the importance of working with the private sector in combatting trafficking, especially in the transport sector. She cited the example of a small U.S. NGO, In-nocents at Risk that has been successfully training airline personnel to recognize signs of trafficking among their customers, and to alert authorities when they see them. Truckers have organized themselves into Truckers against Trafficking. She noted that in many cases these initiatives are more eagerly embraced by the rank and file in a company, than by management, who may be uncomfortable about having their company name associated in any way with human trafficking.
Participants raised a number of issues during the discussion, including the difficulty of getting private sector support, and the difficulty of getting NGOs to accept working with government. Another point raised was the
difficulty of identifying sex trafficking in countries where prostitution is legal, and identifying labor trafficking and debt bondage in countries where there is no minimum wage.
(Contributed by Judith Deane)
2. Do I have a Choice? Sexual Exploitation in Rural India
TraCCC Affiliate Dr. Veerendra Mishra Presents a Short Film on Sexual Exploitation in India
On an overcast Friday afternoon, attendees gathered to watch a short (22-minute) documentary and ask questions of its producer, Dr. Veerendra Mishra. The documentary, Do I Have a Choice: A Saga of Socially Sanctioned Sexual Servitude, focuses on the intergenerational practice of prostitution among the historically repressed Bedia group in Northern India. Dr. Mishra and his wife, Dr. Priyanka Mishra, co-produced the film and became concerned with the plight of the exploited female population of the Bedia through their work as police professionals in the state of Madhya Pradesh. A police professional and psychologist by training, Dr. Mishra was a visiting scholar at TraCCC and a Humphrey Fellow with the Institute of International Education In 2012-3.
Dr. Mishra first came into contact with the Bedia in the film through his work as police chief in the jurisdiction where they live. The stigma against the Bedia is so strong that any man who approaches the village is assumed to be a prostitute’s customer. This stigma prevents the Bedia from obtaining access to social programs and charities working in the region. Dr. Mishra had to personally transport one representative of a charity to the village in his official police vehicle in order to deflect any threat to the charity worker’s reputation. Dr. Mishra was proud to point out that none of the responses in the film interviews were solicited or scripted and that the women speak of their lives as prostitutes and Bedia in their own words.
Over time, members of this very closed community came to trust Dr. Mishra, his wife, and other members of the Samvedna organization, speaking to them frankly about their experiences in prostitution. Samvedna, a non-profit originally founded by Dr. Mishra to work with slum children, has since partnered with social workers and a professor from the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and shifted its focus to the Bedia.
Under British rule, the Bedia were labeled a “criminal tribe” due to their practice of prostitution, which originated through the trade of the sexual favors of the tribe’s women to powerful landlords and rulers for protection. In the Indian Constitution they are classed as a “scheduled caste,” as a historically disadvantaged group. Most Bedia children do not have birth certificates and the entire community lives below the poverty line. The creation of isolated communities and enclaves has exacerbated the problems of discrimination and poverty for the population of approximately 100,000 Bedia. In order to improve the lives and futures of the community’s children, it is necessary to “mainstream” them and diffuse the social stigma against them.
Samvedna has placed Bedia children in schools outside their villages because they experience severe social stigma in the village schools, to the point of being forced to hide their origins to escape discrimination. This discrimination causes the vast majority of Bedia children to drop out of school. The Samvedna school program has grown from 6 children in its initial year to 32 children in Bhopal schools today. The organization hopes to expand the program to 50 children for the 2013-2014 school year.
There are a few other communities which practice intergenerational prostitution in India, but the situation is not common and a tradition legitimizing the practice is rare. However, the economic incentives for prostitution among the Bedia are strong: because of the women’s sex work, not a single male Bedia has ever left the village for a day of work. Even when jobs were made available to the Bedia, including a salary of 5000 rupees and a place to stay, the Bedia men rejected the offer in favor of their leisurely lives made possible by the exploited labor of their mothers, sisters, and daughters, who sometimes service 20 clients a day to provide for members of their extended families. The social structure and traditions of the village keep the women in prostitution.
The practice of intergenerational prostitution is playing havoc with Bedia family structure. Within the village, 70% of children are fathered by the prostitutes’ customers. Bedia prostitutes are ceremonially engaged to “money,” and a form of concubinage is the only stable relationship a Bedia prostitute may be allowed to have with a man. Only 8 women have been married in the village in the past 20 years, as marriage means a loss of revenue for the family, because married women are prohibited from engaging in prostitution.
The rehabilitation and reintegration into Indian society of prostitutes and victims of human trafficking is very difficult, due to strong conservative, patriarchal values, in which female sexual activity outside marriage is strongly discouraged. Dr. Mishra and Samvedna are focusing their efforts on the education and empowerment Bedia children, in the hope of breaking the cycle of generational prostitution. These efforts have been rewarded through children‘s insistence that their mothers take up vocational training and join self-help groups.
The questions following the short documentary were as varied as the social, cultural, and economic concerns raised by the film, and gave Dr. Mishra the opportunity to display his wide-ranging expertise on sex-trafficking, prostitution in India, and the Bedia’s current and historical situation. Under current Indian law, prostitution per se is not illegal, although public solicitation of prostitution is. A Calcutta-based prostitution group is pleading in the Indian Supreme Court to decriminalize prostitution on a right-to-work basis. As a police official, Dr. Mishra knows that the demand for prostitution will always be present, but he hopes to diminish the supply of prostitutes among the Bedia women through education and empowerment.
[Click here to watch the documentary]
(Contributed by Shelley Cade)
3. Interview: Dr. Veerendra Mishra
Dr. Veerendra Mishra is an Indian expert on human trafficking and a law enforcement officer of more than 18 years’ experience. During his career, he has served in United Nations Missions and worked as an Assistant Inspector General of the State Police in the Central Region (Madhya Pradesh) of India. He is a Humphrey Fellow with the Institute of International Education of the U.S. Department of State and a scholar affiliated to TraCCC.
How did you connect with TraCCC?
VM: I read Dr. Louise Shelley’s book Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective (2010) and her article in Human Traffic and Transnational Crime: Eurasian and American Perspectives (2005). She gave a very interesting perspective in her book. I was impressed by her work. I then contacted her and expressed my desire for us to work together. Now, I am an affiliated scholar at TraCCC.
What are you working on with TraCCC?
VM: My stay in TraCCC is very short — six weeks. I am trying to understand the focus area of TraCCC and discuss possible new ventures in the study of human trafficking. I am trying to highlight sex trafficking in com-munities in which this is generational prostitution. TraCCC has screened my documentary film ‘Do I Have a Choice: A Saga of Socially Sanctioned Sexual Servitude’, which I produced and directed with my wife Dr. Priyanka Mishra.
Dr. Priyanka Mishra is your wife? How did she first react when you started working with the Bedia community? How was it to work with your wife on this documentary?
VM: Yes! Dr. Priyanka Mishra is my wife and professional colleague.
It was always a challenge when I started working with the Bedia. Due to the stigma attached to this community, people (except for those exploiting them) tended to avoid them, and hence they suffered. My wife was apprehensive that someone with professional grudge against me might consider character assassination. But, her fear did not last long, as she herself got passionately involved with the work, and now it is a collaborative effort. It was a pleasant transformation, from her being my weakness to my strength.
The documentary was our common dream. I give her all the credit for making it possible. She spent months at the editing table, learning editing techniques and working tirelessly. It was a new experience in our married life, and working on a project together certainly gave new meaning to our partnership. We are very excited with the outcome and look forward to helping the community by spreading the message and garnering wide support.
Your wife is in law enforcement too? Are you strict parents?
VM: As I mentioned earlier, we both are law en-forcement officers in State of Madhya Pradesh in India. She is currently serving as Assistant Inspector General of Police, Planning at Police Headquarters, Bhopal, M.P.
We are normal, loving parents. We both have a passion to live and look beyond core policing work. That has certainly helped us from being bitten by the ‘Police Syndrome’ problem (This concept can be understood from book Community Policing: Misnomer or Fact?, Sage Publications, 2011). We have two sons, 15 and 7 now, and they are great company and friends to us.
What were your main tasks when you served as an Assistant Inspector General of the State Police in the Central Region? What is unique about this region?
VM: While serving as AIG, Crime Investigation Department, I was in charge of the Juvenile Aid Bureau of the Police Headquarters, monitoring the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act in the state. I was responsible for liaison between different government departments, agencies, UNICEF and NGOs on child rights issues. Additionally, I supervised the investigation of sensitive cases transferred to CID of three zonal areas of the states. I also supervised the administration of the whole department.
What got you interested in human trafficking?
VM: My interest in human trafficking dates back to the 1990s. I worked in the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1997-98), Kosovo (2004-05), and East Timor (2009-2010). During my stays, I encountered the sexual exploitation of women and children, especially of Roma/Gypsy people in Bosnia and Kosovo, and both labor and sexual exploitation existing in East Timor. Somehow, I felt that UN failed to meet the standards established to combat human trafficking. From 2005 onwards, I started learning about this subject and started working intensely on it.
Could you talk about human trafficking in India?
VM: As in any country, the focus is on sex traffick-ing in India, although labor trafficking is a major issue and attracting a lot of attention recently. Some other prevalent forms are medical trafficking, human organ trafficking, and child trafficking under the guise of international adoption.
Around two thirds of child labor trafficking is in the agricultural sector. This sector still remains large, as 70% of the country’s population lives in rural areas and around 60-70% of the total work-force is employed in the agricultural sector. It is very challenging to deal with cases involving child labor exploitation because the family is party to this exploitation. They fail to notice the exploitation due to the feudalistic character of society. The victims accept it as a norm.
Trafficking of children through International adoption is a recognized problem now. Another growing, but less well-researched, form of trafficking is the issue of “Surrogate Mothers”, “clinical drug trails”, and so on. This has grown into a big business.
How much effort is directed towards anti-human trafficking efforts in India?
VM: Human trafficking was first defined in India by the Goa Children Act (state law) in 2003. The current Criminal Law and its Amendment Act of 2013 (CLA) has included the definition of human trafficking, maintaining its commitment to fight against trafficking. Recently, India has geared up to tackle human trafficking by setting up Anti-Human Trafficking Units in each district. This is a Multi-Agency Board involving representatives of the government, NGOs, and members of the community. These are amazing changes, that happened in a short period of time.
India has a long history of domestic servitude. Is it a problem when combating human trafficking?
VM: It is mostly girls from lower castes and tribes who become victims of domestic servitude. This is a form of labor exploitation within human trafficking. They work for long hours for a family, away from home, under stressful conditions, and are paid meagerly. The unregistered placement agencies and middlemen play a crucial role in exploiting victims. Even the employers continue exploiting them for convenience.
India took a progressive step by amending the Child Labor Act in 2006 by prohibiting children below 14 years from employment as a domestic servant.
Do you find it challenging to combat human trafficking in a society deeply rooted in the caste system?
VM: Yes, the caste system is deeply entrenched in Indian society. It is true that, according to literature, lower caste people are more exploited than upper caste people. But, discrimination on the basis of caste is an unlawful act. India passed the law “Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes Act of 1989 (Prevention of Atrocities)”, which criminalized any type of discrimination against them. It is a very strong law. The cases related to this law are heard only in special session court.
What are you working on currently?
VM: In May, my book Human Trafficking: The Stakeholders’ Perspective, (Sage Publication, May 2013) got published. Also, I just finished teaching an online course on Human Trafficking and Smuggling with Human Rights Education Associates. Now, my current research is on Missing Children and Human Trafficking in two states of India. I am trying to convey more understanding about different dimensions of human trafficking, which involves missing people as well. Also, I am working on two of my books, one on the Bedia Community, victimized by sex trafficking through inter-generational prostitution (my wife is co-author), and the second is on Human Trafficking and Social Policy.
In general, what are your concerns in research of human trafficking and anti-human trafficking measures?
VM: The biggest problem is generalization of the terms of human trafficking. All these different types of exploitation have different characteristics and require specific intervention. For example, I defined six distinct types of exploitation within trafficking for sexual purposes: bride trafficking, community based sexual exploitation, prostitution in confinement (i.e. brothels), and sexual exploitation in the tourism, pornography and entertainment sectors. All of these require different approaches to the problem. However, due to the generalization of the problem we fail to address them. It is always the victims who suffer due to misunderstanding or lack of understanding of human trafficking. As I say, we can’t sweep the whole house with the same broom.
How do you feel about working with TraCCC?
VM: I am privileged to have been associated with TraCCC. The center focuses on many different types of organized crime. I think TraCCC has great potential to work specifically on human trafficking. Dr. Louise Shelley is an expert in the field, a great resource, and an asset for TraCCC.
TraCCC focuses a lot on terrorism and transnational crime, and there is lot of scope to work on the links between terrorism and human trafficking. Human trafficking is the second most income-generating organized crime in the world. Quite obviously, it holds a lot of potential to generate money to support terrorist activities. There is an established connection between terrorist groups and drugs/arms trafficking (the other two main types of organized crime). Less research has been done on links between terrorism and human trafficking, and TraCCC is the appropriate center to take up this issue.
4. Human Trafficking in Mongolia: Interview with Enkhchimeg Sengee
Enkhchimeg Sengee is a TraCCC Research Fellow.
How did you get interested in human trafficking?
ES: I have been interested in criminology since I was a child. I studied International Relations at the National University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. In 2007 I read a report on human trafficking that got me interested in the subject. At that point, in Mongolia, people didn’t know what human trafficking was, or that it existed in our country. And then I got a job at the Gender Equality Center, a Mongolian NGO that works on human trafficking.
Is trafficking a problem in Mongolia? Are people concerned about it?
ES: Mongolians have become more aware of risks of human trafficking only in recent years. During the early 1990s, at the start of the transition from Communism, things were very difficult in Mongolia and many new social problems appeared. We started seeing lots of homeless children in Ulaanbaatar – mainly boys – and they formed into gangs. And then, in the mid-1990s, the number of street children dropped dramatically, and everyone began wondering where they had gone. Some of the kids said that people in big cars had come around offering food and money and the boys who went off with them never returned. There were newspaper articles about childrens’ bodies (mostly young boys) being found missing organs and blood. Even some kids with families went missing and their parents advertised for them on TV. Naturally there were lots of rumors, but no one ever knew what happened. Also, memoires and uncensored interviews of prostitutes revealed that domestic human trafficking for sexual exploitation was on the rise during that period. And in those days no one knew the term “human trafficking.”
What is the scope of the human trafficking problem in Mongolia today?
ES: Currently, Mongolia is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. Most of the sexual trafficking is to the PRC, especially Erlian, Huh hot, Hong Kong and Macau. Labor trafficking is usually to Turkey, Kazakstan, Ukraine or Russia . There is also a big problem of brokered “marriages” to South Korea. Mongolia has no laws against brokered marriages, and about 80% of Mongolian marriages that are registered with foreigners are with Koreans. But the women who marry Koreans only meet their “husbands” once, and the husbands pay Mongolian marriage brokers from $10,000 to $40,000 for the transaction. This creates a debt-bondage situation where the husbands treat their wives as human purchases, and they are exploited for labor or sex. Even under the best of circumstances, the Mongolian women are very isolated in Korea, because the language and culture are so different. And if they succeed in leaving and returning home, they often can’t get a legal divorce in Mongolia because they don’t have the necessary documentation from Korea.
Mongolia is also a transit country for North Koreans who are sent to work in China or Russia . And since the mining boom began, Mongolia has become a destination country for foreign workers. It is very difficult to protect their rights, because very few law enforcement officers speak English and lack experience of dealing with cases involving foreign citizens. There are many Filipino women who work as domestic servants for politically connected Mongolians, or for Mongolians who have become rich in the mining sector. These women often have to work 14 or 15 hours a day with no contract. They don’t need a visa to come to Mongolia, but if they stay for over 21 days they become illegal, and can’t leave unless they pay a big fine. But of course, their employers don’t help them. So it is very easy to exploit them, and there is no Filipino embassy in Mongolia to protect them.
What did you do at the Gender Equality Center?
ES: I was coordinator for the Assisted Voluntary Return Program and program officer for the Direct Assistance to Trafficked Persons Program, both funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). I was also program officer for the Combatting Human Trafficking in Mongolia Program funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). And since I was the only English speaker I did lots of other things as well.
What kind of help could you provide to victims of trafficking?
ES: When Mongolian victims of trafficking were identified abroad, the IOM would provide funding to bring them back to Mongolia. We developed programs to support them when they came home: psychological and medical assistance, temporary accommodations, clothing, etc. We also had re-integration programs, designed to help them to re-connect with their families, get documentation, educational assistance, vocational training and find jobs. We provided Gers (traditional Mongolian housing) to our clients who were homeless or could not live with their families again. We also helped them build, furnish their new ger.
We also did educational programs. We developed a full-day training program for Mongolian women who wanted to marry Koreans. We explained the dangers that they could encounter, and also where they could get help. Many decided not to go ahead with the marriages. The Mongolian government supported this program and refuses to register marriages to foreigners, unless the Mongolian woman has a certificate that she attended our training program.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you come to George Mason?
ES: I won a Soros Foundation scholarship for an undergraduate exchange program with Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania in 2006-7. This was a life-altering experience for me and I will always be grateful for it. The process of awarding the scholarship was transparent and fair – something we had never seen in Mongolia, where only rich and well-connected kids got these kind of opportunities. I was very impressed by the American educational system and the way that students are encouraged to express their views, even if they disagree with the professor. And I was amazed by all the facilities –updated textbooks, computer labs, libraries, and extra-curricular events for extra credits! So I knew I wanted to come back to the U.S. for a graduate degree. I chose George Mason because I wanted to be in Washington and I was very interested in all the courses that TraCCC offers. Also, GMU costs less than comparable schools in the area.
What do you like most about TraCCC? What would you change? What do you see as your contribution to TraCCC?
ES: TraCCC is very dynamic. The issues we study here are constantly changing as new issues arise and new technologies bring new problems. We also have a wonderful resource in the research that TraCCC sponsors in Eurasia. We cooperate with Eurasian colleagues who do very important work, but it is not accessible to most people here, because it is in Russian. I am trying to change that situation by summarizing some of the more interesting research and translating it into English so that people here have access to it and can get a better picture of the situation there.
5. Trafficking in the Philippines: Interview with Prof. Al Fuertes
Professor Al B. Fuertes is an Assistant Professor at GMU’s New Century College. He is a field practitioner and consultant, specializing in community-based trauma healing as an integral component in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Dr. Fuertes received the 2008 GMU Teaching Excellence Award and the 2001 AT&T Asia-Pacific Leadership Award.
What got you interested in human trafficking?
AF: My interest in human trafficking began while I was working at Silliman University in the Philippines in the early 1990s. During that time I began noticing activities that I could not pinpoint, but I knew something was not right. It was not until a later trip to Cambodia that I was able to recognize these activities as ‘human trafficking’ after meeting a UN official who clarified the situation for me.
How many years have you been associated with GMU?
AF: I began my PhD here in Conflict Analysis and Resolution in 2001 and graduated in 2007. Shortly after, I began working full-time at the university in 2008 as an Assistant Professor within the College of Humanities and Social Science at the New Century College.
What classes do you teach?
AF: I teach two very exciting study abroad courses, one to the Philippines and the other to Cambodia. The Philippines study abroad is a six week (nine-credit) course that focuses on grassroots peace building, environmental issues and cultures. Participants visit all of the major island groups of the Philippines: Luzon (Manila), Visayas, and Mindanao. During their travels they attend the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, which allows them to work with local and international peace activists, visit organizations that work with sexually abused women and children, study organic farming and open pit mining, interact with local residents, and visit one of the most pristine marine sanctuaries in the world at Apo Island.
The Cambodian study abroad is a three week (three-credit) course that focuses on community development, post-conflict reconstruction, and spirituality. Participants begin by touring Angkor Wat and learning about the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. Next, they participate in a peacebuilding project on human trafficking that takes the students into the red light district of Phnom Penh. Finally, they work with Buddhists for Development on environmental issues and have the opportunity to visit a 12th century temple built in the style of the Khmer Empire.
In addition, I teach courses in Narratives of Identity; Conflict, Trauma and Healing; Refugee and Internal Displacement; Human Trafficking and the International Community; and Human Systems.
Are you associated with organizations outside GMU?
AF: Yes. In addition to working at George Mason, I am affiliated with Eastern Mennonite University, Kennesaw State University, and the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation.
You are both a practitioner and a scholar. Could you talk about the interaction of these aspects of your work?
AF: Outside academia it is important to me to be a practitioner who brings awareness of human trafficking, conflict, and trauma healing to Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, East/Central Africa, and Melanesia. Within academia, I enjoy opening students’ minds to new ways of thinking. After participating in one of my classes many students leave glad that their minds have been opened, but also often sad that their original thoughts about how the world operates are often severely mistaken.
What directions are you considering for future research?
AF: My future research aims to better understand the different perceptions of “human trafficking.” The term often has different meanings, which de-pend on one’s viewpoint and status. For example, for those living in developed countries and working in international organizations, “human trafficking” invokes thoughts of criminal activities and abuses. However many who live in poverty understand the same action as a possible opportunity to get out of their current oppressive situation, even while understanding the risk of leaving their home with a recruiter. Specifically, what do Filipinos think when they hear the term human trafficking? Do they hear abuse and oppression or do they hear opportunity? I like to examine human trafficking through the lens of poverty to better understand this dichotomy.
Another area I focus on is Burma, which has recently begun to open up to the outside world. I am interested in understanding what this means to the refugees on the border. Will they be able to return?
What do you like best about GMU?
AF: I most enjoy the openness to new ideas and ways of teaching that I find here, as well as the level of international interests. I also appreciate the opportunity to focus on practice in the field with the students and then to be able to bring that practice back to the classroom.
6. Human Smuggling from Central America to the US: Interview with Carol Cleaveland
Carol Cleaveland is an Associate Professor in GMU’s Department of Social Work. She specializes in undocumented immigrants and Latino migration. Since 2005, her research has focused on Latino immigrants and community conflict in suburban communities. Dr. Cleaveland earned her PhD at Bryn Mawr College.
How did you get interested in human trafficking?
CC: I have an ethnography background, having studied with Elijah Anderson, who now directs the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale. It was good training, and I went on to apply it to studying human smuggling and women survivors.
What is the focus of your current research?
CC: In 2004, I was doing research on undocumented male workers in New Jersey. Accounts of their own border crossing were frightening enough, but what they told me about the experiences of women was horrible.
After I came to Mason, I was working in Manassas with Latino immigrants, and found that many women were volunteering the information that they had been raped. One woman appeared to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease as a result. I mentioned this to a colleague in the nursing department, who said that it is a very common phenomenon. Women report that they take the contraceptive Depo-Provera before crossing, because they expect to be raped.
I’ve just begun a research project on human smuggling experiences, for which I’ve interviewed seven people so far. Four were raped, and a fifth was made to disrobe so that the smugglers could rob and humiliate her.
According to a recent UN report, the human smuggling route from Central America through Mexico into the US is now the most dangerous in the world. Increased border surveillance has had an impact on human smuggling operations, but there are still relatively unpatrolled routes into Arizona and Texas from Mexico.
There is an extremely dangerous train passage which smugglers use before they reach the US border. Many of those smuggled by this method are raped and/or robbed. A number of NGOs and religious groups assist victims on this route. Throughout the train corridor, there are approxi-mately 50 sites run by religious organizations, and others run by NGOs, which are trying to provide services to victims. However, because these groups are offering assistance to illegal immigrants, the Mexican government has raided a number of shelters.
The women I have spoken to haven’t encountered any civil society assistance, but I hope to expand the study considerably.
CC: I would like to bring in colleagues from other departments at Mason to work on large surveys and quantitative research, and to collect detailed information on victims’ experiences. Once we have better data from those who have undertaken this journey, we should be able to establish pattern, and discern networks and operations used in this type of human smuggling. I also envision an extensive database of injuries sustained by people being smuggled through Mexico into the US.
What is your background with GMU?
CC: I joined Mason’s Department of Social Work in August 2007. I teach Social Policy, Programs and Services, Advanced Clinical Practice, Psychopathology and Direct Practice I, Community Clinical Practice and Immigration Policy.
What are you teaching this semester?
CC: Social Policies, Programs, and Services and Family Therapy. I have also taught a class on qualitative analysis for the School of Nursing. In the spring, I expect to teach Immigration Policy, which includes a human trafficking element. We look at the definition of, or legal standard for trafficking. There is a difficulty in the US in ascertaining who is trafficked and who is smuggled, particularly because smuggling cases can turn into trafficking cases in a number of ways. The difficulty in distinguishing between smuggling and trafficking poses a problem for some of those seeking asylum in the US.
Students find human trafficking a very engaging topic. This was evident when I was trying to hire Spanish-speaking RAs for my project, and found that a number of our students wanted to apply even though they didn’t speak Spanish.
Do you see any opportunities for future collaboration with TraCCC?
CC: I think there is plenty of scope for working with TraCCC on qualitative and quantitative research on NGOs in Mexico as part of my current project. Our shared interest in human smuggling and what happens to victims of trafficking, and I would love to involve other specialists in the project, too.
What do you like best about GMU? What would you most like to change about GMU?
CC: I am happy here, and appreciate having tenure. The administration encourages research, although I hear that it’s easier at other institutions to find opportunities to collaborate. I love the Department of Social Work, though, and have really appreciated receiving seed money for my research project from the Provost’s office. I am very grateful to Mason for developing its capacity for research.
7. Research Summary: ‘Prostitution within the Illicit Market of the Saratov Region’ (2013)
Research by Yu. A. Fomicheva
Saratov Center for the Study of Organized Crime and Corruption at the Saratov State Law Academy
Yuliya. A. Fomicheva, a senior at the Saratov State Law Academy, conducted a research pro-ject on prostitution within the illicit market of the Saratov Region in early 2013 through a grant from TraCCC. Through her research, she draws attention to the characteristics of prostitution in the illicit market and analyzes different approaches to dealing with its negative consequences. Her research methods include a review of Russia’s historical experience in dealing with prostitution, an analysis of mass media and relevant legislation, a detailed analysis of a recent high-profile case involving an organized crime group, 12 expert interviews, and an empirical survey involving 300 people living in the region. The surveys were conducted in the form of a questionnaire, discussion, and website-based survey (administered on the Russian social network site Vkontake). 92% (276 of total 300) of surveyors were aged 15-30, of which 79% were students (237 of 300).
According to Fomicheva, during the Russian Empire, prostitution was partially legalized under strict supervision (p. 13-17). The first systematic legal regulation of prostitution was reflected in the Code of Laws of the Russian Empire (1832). The law was designed to protect public morality and family values, to guard public health, and also to make prostitutes’ clients punishable. Under the law, only certain places were authorized to provide prostitution. The author notes that biletnyie prostitutki provided services in brothels and blankovyie prostituki worked in rented apartments under the supervision of pimps. Prostitutes were given a zholtyi bilet (yel-low ticket) from the police, for which they had to temporarily surrender their passport. The ticket recorded weekly medical check-ups, which were conducted at police stations in a “health unit for prostitutes”. Prostitutes without the proper documentation were detained by the police and forced to undergo medical check-ups, then sent to places authorized to provide the service. Punishments for violations of the law included forced repentances in churches, monetary charges, detention in a police correctional house, and even closing the unauthorized organization involved in prostitution (i.e., a hotel, restaurant, bath house, or cafe). According to Fomicheva’s findings, the total number of prostitutes in Imperial Russia was esti-mated at 17,603 in 1889.
Driven by socialist ideology, the Soviet Union implemented repressive measures to eradicate prostitution (p. 18-23). Per Fomicheva, in the early years of the USSR, prostitutes were viewed as victims of capitalist structure. In 1919, a “Forced Hard Labor Concentration Camp for Women” was established in Petrograd, in which 60% of the women were suspected prostitutes. She notes that in the 1920s lawyers, medical doctors, narcologists, and venereologists conducted a major study on prostitutes and homeless women, including underage girls. The study revealed negative social and hygienic consequences of prostitution: drug addiction, a high rate of venereal diseases, and crime. By the late 1930s, Soviet society considered prostitutes enemies of the socialist class. Some measures against them included incarceration in mass concentration camps (Gulags) and being sent to monasteries for corrective rehabilitation. For many years the issue of prostitution was not publicly discussed. However, in later periods of the USSR, as the economic situation dimmed, prostitution was again denounced as a negative social phenomenon.
In 1986, the issue re-appeared in Soviet news-papers and a documentary was even made about it. Between March 1998 and January 1999, the Security Council of Saratov oblast’ authorized a test period to observe the feasibility of legalizing prostitution in the region. The post-test results revealed that the youth infection of syphilis grew fourfold (p. 24). The spread of STDs in the city of Balakovo was the highest.
Fomicheva argues that prostitution plays a central role in the illicit market within the Saratov region. Prostitution is a form of organized crime closely related to the sale of narcotics and psy-chotropic substances, violence and abuse, hu-man trafficking, and corruption. Those surveyed by Fomicheva identified prostitution and pimping as the second largest activity (75.5%) in Saratov’s illicit market, surpassed only by the narcotics business (78%). The third-largest was gambling (50%), followed by trade of counterfeits (39%), arms trade (27.5%), poaching (27%), contraband activity (23.5%), and pornography (8%). Saratov has a reputation as a criminal center in Russia due to the prosecution of recent highly publicized criminal cases related to prostitution (p.36). Fomicheva analyzes the widely publicized prosecution of Eduardo Davidov and his comrades, known as the Perm Business. The investigation revealed that Mr. Davidov’s criminal group was highly organized with a strict hierarchical structure. Their cover business was the ‘Computer Club T-18,’ established in 2008. The investigation revealed law enforcement involvement. An example of this involvement provided in the paper is a fake debt-bondage conspiracy designed to keep women in prostitution. A pimp would secretly put a small packet of flour in a prostitute’s belongings, which would be declared to be co-caine by a police officer searching her. The pimp would then rescue the prostitute by bribing the police and further indebting her to the pimp. Fomicheva asserts that these anecdotes reveal the multi-faceted problem of prostitution in modern Russian society and have led authorities to consider ways to reduce prostitution.
The author notes that, over time, the characteristics of prostitution have changed in the Saratov region. The region is undergoing rapid urbanization, increased access to legal and illegal goods and services, migration, and a rising student population, all of which have led to a shifting composition of criminal activities in the region (p. 4). The places providing prostitution have diversified, expanding from brothels, saunas and summer dachas to massage parlors, dating clubs, sports and fitness complexes, ordinary apartments, and hotels. Fomicheva notes the existence of widespread “implicit” prostitution, in which young girls act as girlfriends or mistresses for richer men in exchange for material items. Her research shows that women inclined to prostitution are likely to have witnessed adultery, immoral abusive relationship, abuse of loyalty and marital duty in the family. However, the most common reason women become involved in prostitution is financial problems or a lack of legitimate employment opportunities. Fomicheva provides excerpts from the blog of a prostitute in Saratov, “Prostitutka Ket”, who writes that she comes from a poor, remote village. After completing her university studies and returning to her village, she determined that only way to escape poverty was through prostitution. Ket openly shares her stories on her blog and maintains an average of 23,000 followers. She claims that she earns 100,000 rubles per month. Fomicheva highlights that Prostitutka Ket believes that her blog is a journal encouraging women to seek opportunities other than prostitution.
Fomicheva’s survey reveals systemic problems in dealing with prostitution. She finds that mass media plays a significant role in the recruitment of prostitutes and in the delivery of services in the Saratov region, even asserting that the open advertisement of prostitution has made inhabitants of the region tolerant to it. The survey of inhabitants of the city of Saratov indicates that 74.5% of them had been exposed to solicitations for prostitution services in the media, including the Internet, TV, paper advertisements, and other sources. Moreover, experts and surveyors expressed concerns about the legal system in prosecuting prostitution and sexual exploitation cases. According to the criminal code of the Russian Federation, prostitution is an administrative offense subject to Article 240, Involvement in Prostitution, and Article 241, Organization of Prostitution. Experts interviewed by Fomicheva stressed the need to create laws that would specifically address situations in which law enforcement officials are found to have been involved in prostitution-related crimes, which is a frequent occurrence. (p. 55-56). Under Russian law, pimping is not a criminal offense, although pimps are professional criminals and are a threat to public safety. Additionally, many experts noted the need to expand the law to cover crimes committed using media and electronic forms of communication.
The author concludes that Saratov tolerates the existence of prostitution in the region, but is not inclined to legalize the phenomenon. According to the survey, the 62% of the people living in Saratov are against legalizing prostitution, including many of the experts and law students interviewed. To the question: “What type of negative consequences would the legalization of prostitution have?”, the citizens of Saratov ranked the options: a moral crisis, moral-ethical and physical degradation (70.5%); undermining the family unit, inflict negative impact on the next generation (56.5%); an increase in death and suicide rate, and deg-radation of health (24%); a rise in prostitution of friends and relatives (21%); a rise of price of sexual services (2%); an increase in corruption (1%). Formicheva concludes that dealing with the causes and systemic problems of prostitution is likely to be more effective than legalization.
8. Research Summary: Child Labor in Russia
Addressing Labor Exploitation of Children in Russia: original research by Dr. Dmitry Poletaev
A combination of factors, including demo-graphic decline and a lack of employment opportunities in neighboring countries, has led to increased illegal migration into Russia. In recent years, scholars have observed that this phenomenon has been characterized by greater numbers of female and child migrants. Once in Russia, however, many illegal migrants are marginalized and largely excluded from Russian society. Research based on the experiences of other countries, such as the U.S., suggests that marginalized migrants are more likely to contribute to future destabilization and social concerns. Dmitry Poletaev, the director of the Moscow-based Center for Migration Research examines the problem of labor exploitation of foreign migrant children in Russia in a recent TraCCC-sponsored research project.
Research context and hypotheses
In highlighting a gap in the Russian academic literature on this subject, Dr. Poletaev makes a convincing case for the project’s relevance as well as the need for future research. Drawing on historical sources, Dr. Poletaev describes how forced child labor was officially sanctioned during Soviet times, as children would join adults in harvesting crops and in other tasks. As is well documented by the international media and human rights groups, this practice continues today in Uzbekistan.
Dr. Poletaev presents three central research hypotheses, all of which were confirmed by extensive qualitative data, including 300 interviews with foreign child migrants from former Soviet countries (mostly Central Asia), as well as 15 expert interviews and 7 in-depth interviews with foreign migrant children. First, it is suggested that labor exploitation of migrant children in Russia has increased in magnitude and variation over time. In particular, Dr. Poletaev postulates that the dangers of child labor and the share of child labor in informal sectors of the Russian economy have increased over time. However, the exact nature of these increases is difficult to discern due to the latency of the problem. Second, the project hy-pothesizes that violations of labor laws with respect to migrant children are closely related to their work in the informal economy. Third, migrant difficulties in adapting to life in the Russian Federation have contributed to the extent of foreign migrant child labor exploitation.
Arrival and marginalization
Why do foreign migrants come to Russia in the first place? Of the 40,000 to 60,000 children of migrants found in the risk group that may be drawn into labor exploitation, Dr. Poletaev suggests that the absence of future employment possibilities in home countries and hopes for a higher standard of living are the major factors encouraging a child’s entrance into the Russian labor market. Moreover, a number of child laborers in Russia are forced by their parents to seek employment in Russia because of bad eco-nomic conditions at home. These children then act as financial lifelines to their families at home via remittances.
Once in Russia, limited access to schooling and questionable legal status encourage child migrants to enter the labor force at a younger age than their Russian counterparts. This often means that child migrants are drawn to criminal and non-criminal work in Russia’s shadow economy, which is more often than not exploitative. Drawing connections to the immigration debate in the United States, Dr. Poletaev argues that migrant children who fail to receive a proper education, experience marginalization in childhood, and are otherwise excluded from society, are more likely to pose problems for the Russian state and society in the future.
To address this problem, Dr. Poletaev suggests that alongside the fight against corruption, which remains the most serious barrier to reform and development, a few key measures are called for. First, the welfare of migrant children should be linked to that of all children in Russia. Second, the residency permit process, which is crucial for gaining educational access, should be streamlined, as should the citizenship process for migrant families and child migrants who have received education in Russian schools. Third, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play an important role in supplementing official advocacy efforts, delivering services, and monitoring legislative and policy responses to this issue.
In addition to increasing social protection for all children, including migrants, Dr. Poletaev argues for more frequent inspections of worksites and more severe punishments for violations of labor laws. Preventive measures must also be taken, such as working with potential migrants before they arrive in Russia. Potential migrants and their parents should be informed about the risks they will be taking by bringing or sending their children to Russia. It should be understood that by allowing migrant children to enter the Russian labor market, these children are likely forgoing the opportunity for an education, which will bring greater economic benefits via access to better paying jobs over the long-term.
Official Media Response
Shortly after the Russian State Duma approved a new law aimed at preventing the legal employment of migrants under 18 years old, Dr. Poletaev organized a conference on April 25, 2013 to publicize the results of his project. Following the conference, the official newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, which publishes official texts of Russian laws and legislative bills, choose to provide significant positive coverage of Dr. Poletaev’s research. Rossiskaya Gazeta appeared to agree with Dr. Poletaev’s conclusions, particularly with respect to proposals calling for the easing of residency and citizenship processes as well as access to basic schooling for migrants. Additionally, Dr. Poletaev’s research was covered by the news outlets Vechernaya Moscow and Russia Today as well as the radio station “Avto-Radio” and the official news agency RIA Novosti.
Dmitry Poletaev’s meticulously researched project adds significantly to the knowledge of and ways to address the growing problem of labor exploitation of foreign child migrants in Russia. Moreover, the positive reception of Dr. Poletaev’s work suggests that fine research can influence important policy debates.
9. Student Research: Labor Trafficking in the CIS
Matthew J. Stack
An informal, unrecognized, and shadowy economic cooperative exists in the CIS: the smuggling and trafficking of millions of economic migrants for forced labor. Comparatively little research has been done on the trafficking of men for forced labor, as previous research tends to focus on sex traffick-ing. The CIS serves as a source, transit, and destination region for forced labor trafficking (FLT); Russia, as the largest economy within the CIS, is also the main destination country for labor trafficking.
The Soviet Union rejected individual autonomy and made wide use of forced labor for its building projects, resource extraction, and other labor-intensive projects. Contemporary forced labor provides the same economic benefits to private traffickers and exploiters. After the collapse of the USSR, FLT flourished within the conditions of loosened national borders, corruption, and severe economic stratification. The borders cannot cope with the pace and rate of movement of people across them, and, in the places where there are border monitors, bribery is common. Both unofficial and official border checkpoints are used, and traffickers frequently coach laborers in how to answer questions and deceive border crossing officials.
The collapse of the post-Soviet economy exacerbated FLT. Because of a lack at work at home, most victims begin the process voluntarily. Often, only upon arrival at their destination do they discover that they are in an exploitative situation from which they cannot escape. In response to the rise in human trafficking worldwide, the United Nations has adopted the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto, which contains the “Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.” Each member of the CIS has ratified the protocols against human trafficking, but they vary in levels of commitment to fighting trafficking and the resources available with which to do so.
Severe economic depression drives CIS workers to look for work elsewhere, most often in Russia, where there is a perceived higher standard of living. According research by Rebecca Surtees for the International Organization for Migration, a person’s perception of his or her relative poverty is a significant factor in making the decision to migrate. Recruitment by traffickers is often done through personal contact and social connections. In Belarus and Ukraine, it is com-mon for strangers to approach men in a variety of settings: employment centers, bars, cafes, discos. Usually the recruiter is a middleman acting on behalf of the employer/exploiter. With differing levels of success, traffickers also utilize unregulated advertisements in various forms of media: newspapers, television, billboards, and the Internet. Less frequent forms of recruiting include employment/migration agencies, the selling of a person by his or her family, or kidnapping.
Victims of trafficking are often driven into the hands of traffickers by restrictive immigration policies in the destination country, which result in the formation of a large, irregular regional labor market. Attempts to cope with the issue of irregular migrants have sometimes backfired, as in the case of Russia’s 2002 “On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens on the Territory of the Russian Federation,” which established a number of bureaucratic barriers complicating the procedures for registering foreign citizens and introduced a foreign worker quota, ultimately resulting in an increase in the numbers of irregular migrants and a growth of corruption. There is no functioning official organ exists in Russia to provide intermediary services for mi-grants seeking work, and so workers must search for assistance in the informal or shadow economy. Future victims, unable to navigate across borders and without sufficient funds for bribes, enlist the aid of traffickers and benefit from the traffickers’ money for bribes, knowledge of the system and skill in forging documents.
Due to a lack of primary research, little is known about those who traffic forced labor within the CIS. From victim accounts, it is known that traffickers are overwhelmingly male, which is not surprising as men are the primary victims of FLT. Traffickers generally act as intermediaries and prevent workers from contact with an employer before delivery at a worksite. This practice may serve multiple purposes: (1) the intermediary can take money for transport without ever having to provide payment or reimbursement; (2) the prevention of contact between victim and employer leaves the victims without recourse for lack of wages or lower wages; (3) employers using intermediaries can claim ignorance of any promises or arrangements between the trafficker and victim. Deliberately, traffickers often keep most or all personal information, including their ethnicities, from their victims.
Employers, the true exploiters, are little better than the traffickers. Employers ensure the compliance of victims through a variety of means: debt bondage; late, reduced, or no payment; theft of worker documents; lack of medical care. In Russia, it seems that workers in debt bondage are eventually able to pay off their debt. Withholding payment or reducing payment keep the worker from being able to leave the jobsite or remit funds to family members; employers will even shift workers without payment to another employer by the promise that the new employer will pay wages for all work undertaken. The theft of identity documents and passports serves to restrict workers’ movements and to make them fearful of the host nation’s police and immigration authorities. Within nine CIS countries, there is evidence of official complicity in forced labor trafficking, including by elected officials, police, and border guards. Employers may turn workers in to authorities once work is completed; the authorities remove or deport the workers without investigating employer abuses.
FLT has significant impact on the mental and physical health of victims, who are usually found in very risky and dangerous endeavors. The common industries employing forced labor in the CIS include: construction, oil drilling, forestry, commercial fishing. Usually little to no health care is provided to workers to treat work injuries or those from beatings or other abuse to ensure compliance. Victims’ shifts consistently extend to over 12 hours per day, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Injured victims are even more dependent on their employers, and fear of punishment forces them to continue to work, further worsening their health.
CIS countries are attempting to fight FLT as well as identify and assist victims. Most progress, with the assistance of central governments, has been made by NGOs due to the depressed economic conditions in CIS countries. Nations have implemented legislation specifically aimed at preventing human trafficking, generally through modifications of the criminal code. There has been a steady increase in reported prosecutions and convictions, though this trend is uneven among CIS countries.
Policy to combat FLT should include: (1) rein-forcing porous borders through increased training and pay of border guards, and constructing more official crossing points; (2) enacting anti-trafficking legislation that focuses not only on the trafficker but also the illegitimate and exploitative employer, with preventative measures especially in industries known to disproportionately employ trafficked workers; (3) crafting legislation that moves toward regularizing or providing legal status to illegal migrants; (4) continuing collaboration with, and greater autonomy for, NGOs. The goal of a region free of forced labor must be made a long-term objective of the countries of the CIS.
10. Student Research: Sex Trafficking in Rural Nepal
Sabina Shrestha (Alumna, School of Public Policy, George Mason University)
A landlocked nation between India and China, Nepal is more widely known for its tourism than for sex trafficking. The poverty of its poor communities of subsistence farmers has made Nepalese girls easy victims of sex traffickers. A 1740-mile open border with India, vital for Nepalese economic survival, has given rise to human smuggling and trafficking. Pimps, generally in the disguise of a relative or family friend, traffic vulnerable Nepalese women and sell them to brothels in India. The route through Nepal may be one of the busiest slave trafficking routes in the world: an estimated 12-15 thousand women and girls trafficked to India each year. Nepalese women are vulnerable due to their limited economic opportunities, illiteracy, and low socioeconomic and cultural status. The smuggling of large groups of girls, mostly between the ages of 9 and 16 and destined for brothels, is the lowest-risk illegal activity along the border, due to a corrupt border police.
Nepal is dominated by a patriarchal worldview, in which women are seen as subordinate to men and are treated as dependents of men, regardless of a woman’s education or economic achievements. Discrimination against women begins at birth and continues throughout their lives. A woman is considered the property of her father and, after marriage, the property of her hus- band. Since families are raising someone else’s
future property, education is considered an unnecessary investment for females. A woman has minimal power to accept or reject a marriage partner in Nepal. The uneducated rural women of Nepal are easy targets for sex traffickers.
The cultural and religious beliefs of Nepal are such that sons are valued over daughters, as a result of generations of “family values” and Hindu beliefs. Parents reside with a son until their deaths, as it is his religious duty to care for them. A son ensures a family’s continuity, and families without sons are considered cursed. The practice of dowering a bride causes female children to be considered family financial burdens. In poor families, this burden is discharged as soon as possible by selling or marrying off a female while still a child. It is commonly believed the only responsibility a girl’s parents owe their daughter is to find her a good husband. Pimps exploit this opportunity by posing as potential husbands, then selling their new “brides” to Indian brothels across the border.
Agriculture is the livelihood of over 80% of Nepalese, and the country is experiencing an acute land shortage. Rural Nepalese are desperately trying to make ends meet in a failing economy of few exports, high unemployment and increasing poverty. By contrast, India’s rate of growth lures Nepalese across the border in search of better opportunities, providing another avenue for sex traffickers to acquire their victims through the promise of good jobs in India.
The mountainous terrain of Nepal is prone to climate-related disasters, for which help often comes late, and sometimes never arrives. These disasters disrupt normal local social controls and protections, leaving women and children unaccompanied, separated, or orphaned and vulnerable to human traffickers. The decade-long civil war in Nepal internally displaced between 100,000 and 150,000 people and left men and women equally vulnerable. The era of the civil war marked a hike in human trafficking, as women desperate to leave conflict areas were easier to deceive, and kidnappings could be blamed on the Maoist rebels.
Rampant government corruption at all levels has become a defining characteristic of the Nepalese government, with the most visible abuses at the local level. Funds for the economic development of villages are stolen before they reach their intended destinations. Villagers are left desperate for alternative economic opportunities across the border, and poor families frequently trust traffickers in the guise of family friends or neighbors who promise a better life for their children elsewhere.
Trafficked Nepalese women are popular in Indian brothels because of their fair skin, small and thin figures, and diffidence, generally caused by the language barrier. They are generally brought to India under false pretenses and have nowhere to turn for help at their unfamiliar destinations. As previously mentioned, the most popular means among sex traffickers of acquiring a girl are kidnapping, false marriage, or through the promise of employment. Some families sell their daughters or trade them for payment of family debt. Some women, wishing to escape bad conditions at home, voluntarily run away to India, knowing that they will be working as prostitutes. These women see prostitution as a better alternative. Others are pressured to support their families or pay off family debt, and voluntarily work in brothels to earn money to send back home.
Sex trafficking, as in any form of trafficking, has a devastating impact: depriving victims of their freedom; harming victims psychologically and physically; and undermining a country’s health, safety, and security. Trafficking victims in Nepal suffer from a high level of social stigma due to their involvement in sex work, despite its involuntary nature. The cultural norms of the Nepalese value female virginity at marriage, and trafficking victims are viewed as “spoilt” and untouchable. Victims may be rejected from their own families, who seek to distance themselves from their daughter’s “shame” and subsequent dishonor. Other families will not marry their sons to the daughters of families tainted by prostitution. Many women suffer from serious psychological and physical trauma as a result of their trafficking: permanent injury, depression, scars from torture, infection with sexually transmitted diseases, and/or psychological trauma. Brothel prostitutes are forced to service upwards of 25 customers a day. Children born to prostitutes are used to extort the prostitute’s compliance with her exploiters. The societal cost of trafficking is also high: search and rescue efforts, support to the family of the missing, and providing health and psychological care to victims who are rescued.
The Nepalese government has established a special unit at the federal level to investigate trafficking, and has increased its direct financial support for protective services. Passage of the 2007 Trafficking in Persons and Transportation (Control) Act prohibited all forms of trafficking, which are punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years. Nepal has also ratified various UN Conventions against the trafficking of women and children. Efforts by NGOs, founded by Nepalese living abroad or the survivors of trafficking and domestic violence, include: providing education to women and villagers about the conditions in Indian brothels; providing safe housing, psychological care, and healthcare to victims who have returned from India; vocational training of victims for their lives after they leave the safe house; patrolling the India-Nepal border to identify potential victims and traffickers and bring suspicious groups to local police stations for questioning. Former victims frequently support efforts by participating in border patrols and education efforts. Despite government and NGO efforts, sex trafficking remains epidemic in rural villages. Victims generally do not return to their home villages, and if they do, cultural norms of family honor inhibit them from discussing the horrors they have experienced.
Unfortunately, there exists very little effective intervention in sex trafficking in Nepal, due in large part to limited and corrupt border control. A comprehensive anti-human trafficking strategy through a human rights approach is key to mitigating the damages caused to Nepalese women, children and society by trafficking. This approach would include the development of policies and programs that address the socio-economic, political, environmental, and cultural factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking at the local level. In the short-term, the Nepalese government should significantly increase law enforcement efforts along the Nepal-India border. Proper training in understanding trafficking, how to identify it, and how to intervene appropriately should be provided to border patrol officers. The government should cooperate with NGOs to increase awareness of sex trafficking in rural villages. In the long-term, the government must revise the open status of the border, make proper documentation mandatory for border crossings, and maintain a record of those crossings, which would allow for easier identification of sex traffickers. Nepal must also reinforce educational priorities for girls in rural areas, as well as generate awareness of gender inequality and its societal impact.
11. TraCCC in the News
10 September, 2013: Routledge launched a new title in their Transnational Crime and Corruption series: Environmental Crime in Russia: Federal and Regional Perspectives. Edited by Sally Stoecker and Ramziya Shakirova, this collection examines a wide range of Russian environmental crime, from radioactive pollutants to illegal logging and wildlife poaching, as well as the corruption that facilitates it.
2-6 September, 2013: Dr. Louise Shelley was a keynote speaker at an event in Bogota, which marked the 15th anniversary of Transparency International’s activities in Colombia. During her visit to Bogota, she was interviewed for Colombian television (Canal Capital’s Su Madre Naturaleza) in connection with the event. Watch the entire broadcast (in Spanish) here.
16 August, 2013: Dr. Louise Shelley’s book Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective was mentioned by John Tirman in the Washington Post, in his discussion of Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight by Stephanie Hepburn and Rita J. Simon. Read the full piece here.
12. TraCCC Calendar
Friday, October 11
Fall Series Lecture: Does Anticorruption Work? Latvia’s Experience
TraCCC will host Professor Rasma Karklina, who currently works in Latvia, where she is a member of parliament and its sub-committee on anti-corruption issues. Professor Karklina is professor emerita and former chair of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of the book The System Made Me Do It: Corruption in Post-Communist Societies (M.E. Sharpe, 2005). For full details, see the event flyer.
Friday, November 8
Book Launch Event: Environmental Crime in Russia: Federal and Regional Perspectives
To mark the publication of Routledge’s new volume, TraCCC will host editors Sally Stoecker and Ramziya Shakirova for a guest lecture and Q&A session. (Details to be announced)
Thursday, November 14
Fall Series Lecture: The Rule of Law in Jamaica
Professor Enrique Desmond Arias will join us for a talk on his recent work in the Caribbean Basin.