Archive for April, 2011

“Collaborative Force Against Human Trafficking” (Part II)

A second Kazakh student of mine wrote this problem/solution essay concerning human trafficking in Central Asia. My students know that I never want to see them write that the government is going to solve this problem or any other problems. (In the case of the Soviet Union, they created more problems than they solved.) I would have to agree that if ALL the people are aware enough and make a collaborative effort as the Kazakh government did to close down the crime at Polygon-Semipalatinsk, then positive changes can be made for the emotional and spiritual health of the nation of Kazakhstan.  Her title was the above:

Central Asian countries, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, faced great social and economic crisis. After getting their independence, poor and new established governments of separate countries could not provide the citizens with jobs, financial support and, even, food. Seeking for better life poor people became victims of organized crime. And this picture maintains without any changes into better conditions till present days. Even though the problem of international human trafficking still remains actual and unsolved, opening more human protecting and supporting institutions and strengthening the law enforcement can make this concern less dramatic.

Though about twenty years have passed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the social and economic issues in Central Asian countries still remain dramatic. The high level of unemployment, poor law enforcement in these countries have now become a global concern. Though the democratic government always highlights the freedom and equality of all human beings, more and more people are becoming the victims of slavery and involuntary servitude. And it is difficult to confess that our Fatherland, Kazakhstan, this year the Head of OSCE and the leading country in Central Asia, is the centre of organized crime and international trafficking.

If we look at our constitution[Kazakhstan], the second part is devoted to Man and Citizen, and in the seventeenth entry of this part is said that 1) a man’s rights must remain untouched, and 2) no one is allowed to abuse, to enslave, to violate another man. But somehow these words carry no importance for some people who are involved in cheap labour market. Recent events show that there is a complete absence of ruling in Kyrgyzstan and its people have been left far away from globalization. The prove for that is the increasing number of their men and women becoming victims of human trafficking. We also can’t say that life in other Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan is better. According to some media information, two or three years ago Kazakhstan was in the first place on the list of countries that use cheap labour forces of immigrants.

Even though the problem of international human trafficking still remains actual and unsolved, opening protective and supportive institutions can make the conditions better. Most people is ill – informed about human trafficking, because very little is written in books and pages of media sources, and very little is said on TV, schools and other social institutions. If we open such protective shelters, it may function actively in providing people with “three P’s”: prosecution, protection, and prevention. And the most dramatic thing is that most people, especially women who were the victims of slavery and sexual exploitation and could rescue, do not share with their problems because of, maybe, their mentality or they are still afraid of that. But they must be persuaded to say about what they have experienced more and more in order to make other people be aware of that. They must warn them.

One more solution that can make this concern less dramatic is strengthening the law enforcement, because Central Asian countries are famous for the high level of corruption. We know that international human trafficking belongs to organized crime. It means that representatives of government, custom affairs may be or are involved in international human trafficking, because the word “traffic” means “transport” and this crime would never happen without supporters in the field of international transportation. And also it means that corruption absolutely takes place in this process. That’s why people and mass media sources should warn again and again the representatives of policy and law.

Summing up, I should say that if there is a problem, there is always a way out. It is just a question of time and effort that people put on it. Consequently, if we start to act actively, open supporting shelters and collaborate with the government, it will help to fight against international organized crime, and make less concern for the people all over the world.

Leave a comment »

Human Trafficking from my KZ students’ perspective

I feel more at liberty in the U.S. to write what some of my Kazakh students thought and wrote after reading “Two Kyrgyz Women” and about the BIG problem Kazakhstan is facing.  However, it appears that not many in Kazakh government or in education seem interested enough to eradicate this crime against women, neighboring women from Kyrgyzstan or even their own women.  What is needed are better laws to catch, imprison and purge the traffickers from this land. Needed also is to educate the young, Kazakh girls in the countryside or elsewhere to NOT believe everyone who rolls into their village promising they will become rich quick.  Here’s what one of my students wrote:

It has long been recognized that an essential element in protecting human rights was a widespread knowledge among the population of what their rights are and how they can be defended.” 
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Sixth UN Secretary-General

Nowadays human trafficking is the most profitable way to wealth and money. It became one of the criterion by which we recognize a country as criminal-free or not. Even though many people are trapped in human trafficking and the victims’ number is increasing year by year, there still can be found a way out through education.

 “The Soviet Kazakh who lived exactly the same life as their Kyrgyz counterparts, in the same Soviet country where they all had lived, who resembled them and spoke basically the same language, suddenly became rich while the Kyrgyz remained poor” says Marinka Franulovic in “Two Kyrgyz Women”. Indeed, Kazakhstan is now a seductive place for people from other Central Asia countries who turned out to be less fortunate. Since 2002 the number of permitted migrants was 11,800 while unofficially they reached 200,000-250,000. A lot of people of different fields from traders to the customs are involved in it. It is built on corruption and other criminals such as prostitution, illegal work, etc.

No one can deny the damage trafficking causes. Victims undergo serious trauma. The condition they live under is not of the best: work almost 20 hours a day, sometimes on frost, no medical service, inhumane treatment, humiliation – these all are hard to recover from both physically and mentally. Many women report on being raped, they are made to undergo forced pregnancy or abortion. This causes another problem of HIV. HIV is rather crafty and one cannot get any proper result walking their shoes. It means that if they are affected but not aware there is possibility they will infect their husbands and breastfeeding kids. As mentality of Central Asia countries are strict, victims possibly won’t be understood if accepted at all. The ways they struggle with pain is tucking it all up and try to forget.

What can we do from our part? For me, the best answer is education. Ignorance is the most dangerous thing at present. Projects, training-seminars should be held throughout the country and especially in rural areas.

As you can see that although human trafficking is not stopped yet and the number of victims trafficked is increasing, people should be aware of the traps of human trafficking for two main reasons. First, its increase means the increase of criminal. But most importantly, it humiliates the rights of enslaved people leading to physical as well as psychological damage.

Leave a comment »

Leadership and Education…after a month long hiatus

I didn’t expect I would write on this blog again once home in the U.S. However, I have great quotes that Kazakh students have written saved up on my computer that I just could not ignore.  As an educator for over 30 years, I think it is absolutely important to keep writing on these issues about education that concern Kazakhstan deeply.  Education, according to Sir William Halley, British newspaper editor and broadcasting administrator should reflect this: “Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school, every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.”

While I taught in Kazakhstan in the last three and a half years, both in Almaty and Astana, I not only filled my students minds with facts but also hopefully moved their hearts.  I hope that the leaders of the westernized universities in Kazakhstan would understand the following quote attributed to an unknown author: “Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers, not their minds.”  However, those administrators in universities throughout Kazakhstan are driven by Soviet practices which they learned in pedagogical institutes many years ago.  Sadly, they are teacher-centered in their approach as administrators and many are sorely outdated to keep up with the speed of the 21st century. I would like to remind them and my former students what Socrates knew:  “In every person there is a sun.  Just let them shine.”  Today’s Kazakh and Kazakhstani students are told over and over again they are the future of Kazakhstan but their own educators are not about letting them shine as individuals with their God-given strengths and talents.

The following is what one Kazakh student wrote, which encouraged me:  “I like reading.  One of my favorite books is “Abai” by Muhtar Auezov.  Abai was a great Kazakh poet, he lived in 1845-1904.  He exposed human vices, such as greediness, covetousness, duplicity, laziness, etc. in his works.  He did a lot for the enlightenment of Kazakh people. In his book Auezov describes Abai’s life, his experiences and difficulties he faced.” I need to find and read this book by Auezov in the U.S. if it has been translated into English, I doubt it though.

Finally, a British parliamentarian, Benjamin Disraeli is quoted as saying the following:  “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”  I think the following piece written by an informed Kazakh student about leadership is on the same, right track when she wrote about Olzhas Suleimenov.  If only there would be some champions to push to the public awareness about human trafficking.  That is today’s “nuclear sites” in rural Kazakhstan and other poorer countries in Central Asia:

“I would like to refer to one of the bright examples of leadership from Kazakh history, Olzhas Suleimenov.  He is known in Kazakhstan and other countries for his political activity, poetic works and anti-nuclear activity.  His name became known worldwide in 1989, when he led the movement called Nevada-Semipalatinsk.  It was aimed on closing nuclear sites in the Semipalatinsk area of Kazakhstan. He showed outstanding leadership skills during this movement.  It is really difficult and dangerous to rise against governmental machine of power and defend rights of people, who became victims because of nuclear testings in the region.  People were talking about closing nuclear test sites, but only to each other. 

And only Olzhas Suleimenov called people to fight for their rights.  Olzhas Suleimenov is a person who ideally suits the word “effective leader.”  First of all, he knew what he was going for.  He knew the risks, aims and he know that people would follow him.  At the same time, he worried for the future of his nation, he believed that people should fight for their rights.  He showed responsibility towards people and was brave enough to fight for their rights.  These qualities deserve admiring of this person and striving to follow suit.”

 

 

Leave a comment »