Posts tagged Marinka Franulovic

Kyrgyzstan terms from “Two Kyrgyz Women”

On Friday I had my composition students download the free version of the book titled “Two Kyrgyz Women” by Marinka Franulovic. About five years ago, I had had my ten Kazakh students read this book in hard copy that I had been gifted with from Marinka.  Now I am glad I can have my American students read the free e-book version. Here it is:  http://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Two-Kyrgyz-Women

I think it is always a good idea for the teacher to read or do whatever assignment he or she is giving to their students.  I’ve read this book several times before but now I see it with fresh eyes after what I have learned much more about modern day slavery. Actually this book helped to jump start me on this path as an educator to inform others about this great evil. In any case, I will quiz my students on Wednesday whether or not they have read the first story about the first Kyrgyz woman who was in slavery in a tobacco plantation in Kazakhstan.

On p. 24, the first slave named Ainura revealed a little bit about her husband who had become an alcoholic and didn’t help support the family with their two children.  He would often tell Ainura, “Nobody is getting rich by working.”  This was according to the Kyrgyz Post-Soviet moral relativism that pervaded the country soon after the fall of the USSR.  When my American students read this part, it will go against everything they have been taught by their parents and grandparents who worked hard to own their farm or run their business.  My students have a high cultural value of believing in hard work or having a good work ethic. Most of my students value hard work and they had better because I am going to work them hard in the next ten weeks of this semester.

Interesting to read on p. 29 “Some of the world’s most spectacular architectural treasures were built by slaves, and no one is embarrassed to appreciate them.”  Immediately I think of the Great Wall in China and KNOW that there were thousands of slaves who died creating that monster structure which can be seen from outer space, maybe even from the moon.  Marinka, the author, further wrote: “Some of these new land owners in Kazakhstan may earn money by using foreign workers for free, and they do not seem embarrassed by this either.”

On p. 32 the slaves were reminded by their “owner” to NOT speak in Kyrgyz if they met anyone who was a stranger to the farm.  These Kyrgyz slaves who had been brought up to their northern neighboring country didn’t have the right documents. The manager put more fear into these “slaves” that they may be beaten or imprisoned if the Kazakh police found them without proper IDs on the farm.  Apparently on the next page, one girl who was from the Krygyz city Osh and not used to rural life spoke a different kind of Kyrgyz.  As it turns out, Altanay was much more educated than the other slaves and she just did not know how to work quickly like they did.  The masters dubbed her with the name “White Hand.”  She did NOT last long under their abusive jokes and shaming techniques. Actually she was only on the farm for two weeks before she disappeared.

I have seen the movie “Nefarious: Merchants of Souls” and will probably go again next month to another screening of this 1 1/2 hour documentary of slavery in our modern 21st century.  Nothing is new under the sun and the unfortunate like Altanay who was called “White Hand” probably ended up as a sex slave. Many young girls are picked off who do not come from a loving home where the father protects but rather assaults his own daughter. According to this documentary, some mothers in other lands sell their daughters off to be sex slaves.  The question was asked, how can a loving mother do this?  Some of their responses were that they love their daughters enough to sell them to local dealers and not to dealers in some place far off.

These two Kyrgyz women were mothers who happened to be married to selfish and uncaring husbands.  I found out from Marinka that the two women ended up going back to their family and their husbands because what they had been through as a slave did NOT compare to what they thought was a bad home life. They were desperate enough to believe a lie about getting a job in Kazakhstan to support their family.  Little did they know they could have died under the conditions they were subjected to.  In their shelters they were separately told to NOT tell anyone in their family what they had gone through with slavery, they would have been ostracized by the very people they needed to love them.

Anyway, I hope to have some spirited conversations with my students on Wednesday when they come back to our class after a LONG weekend. Today is President’s Day so we have the day off.  Good thing, I could use the break as I know my students can too.  However, reading this 150 page book will open their eyes to the depravity of man.  It is NOT just in Kazakhstan, it is all over the world and slavery is going on right at our doorstep.

 

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American student’s response to “Two Kyrgyz Women”

My composition I class is currently looking into different aspects of human trafficking in order to write their third paper for me.  I’m starting to get their impressions and reactions in their extra credit assignments, some are getting emotionally connected to this difficult topic.  The following is what my American student wrote after she read “Two Kyrgyz Women.”  Fortunately “TKW” is on free ebooks, so she was able to read this on-line. My student knows that sex trafficking hits close to home for her.  This is because she had a childhood “friend” who was part of a trafficking ring as the “pimp” and now sits in prison because she was caught.  Another girl she knew was one of the trafficked girls, it could have been my student.  This tragedy seems entirely too close to home when it affects my Minnesota students.  So, for my one student reading about this woman’s pain in Kyrgyzstan was very real to her.

When I first started to read the book I saw that she depended a lot on her family and tradition. That no matter how bad life gets, you can always depend on family. She also went on to say that her father and mother constantly told her that one day she will get married and have a husband of her own. She always stated that she wanted to stay at home and never leave but her parents continually stated that one day every girl gets married. She had many fond memories growing up, from the lake Issyk Kul and all the swimming she would do there. She traveled a lot from her dad’s business and remembers the many places they lived. She then went into taking about all things that led up to her circumstances. From the marriage of her brother and the joy of his first child, to the start of a new journey for herself in Bishkek at a Technological University, and how proud her father was of her to accomplish such an undertaking.  As well as the effect of her father’s death, and how not only she but her whole family was starting to struggle financially.  Shortly after her father’s death she was soon to be married; her mother was shocked to hear that she was to be married so shortly after her father’s death. She refers her to wedding not as her wedding but as her kidnaping. She says it was so well thought out and much less expensive than a regular wedding. Her soon-to-be husband’s uncle and other men went and spoke to her about how wonderful the man she was to marry was, the perfect one for her. Her mother gave in and they were off to be married. She goes into saying how the night of their wedding what had gone on and how all his family was eager to know what had happened. As well as what her husband expected her to give to him the night of their wedding and how she lost her virginity that night. I have seen this more times than not, that men find women they want to marry because they just want the intimacy, so they marry the women so they can do whatever they want to the women as husbands and wives so they don’t have to face consequences. When in reality they don’t really love the women they only want their own satisfaction to be filled.  I know one woman in particular that her husband constantly depend stuff from her and was still never happy even though she gave him everything he wanted. They are now divorced and they have a wrecked home. He is off living with his girlfriend he had been seeing while still married and their two children are messed up with alcohol and drugs at the age of 15 and 19.  

            The author went on to talk about many stages in her life, from the birth of her second child a little girl, sending her boys off to school, and constant coming and going of her husband who later returned with a Mazad car and spent more time away than with her and the children. She went through a lot during this time and did a lot on her own to make everything the best she could. She later had an encounter with her husband’s long-time girlfriend which caused even more heartache. Shortly after that her husband had to pay twelve thousand dollars because of an accident that was caused when he drove his car too fast.    She goes into a long story that leads up to her abduction; she thought that she was sent to Dubai to meet her sister-in-law Nurgal. Only to find out that she was there to pay back Adele seven thousand dollars.

            She talks deeply of the many horrible things she had to endure the whole time she was imprisoned. It is so sad to me to see all these women taken advantage of something that is so valued. It is something that should be saved for the one man you love and marry.  But people don’t care as long as they are making money and can buy whatever they want and are getting the satisfaction they want, they are happy at the expense of others. It most always starts with a lie that most everyone believes, they are made to make it seem so real and that it’s going to help them earn money or help their family. So when they have no idea what is to come, it hurts me to read all the many things she had to endure the time she was imprisoned, especially knowing she had children waiting at home for her. How can someone take a mother away from her children so they can be satisfied for their own profit?  I can’t imagine all the hurt she had to go through day after day, the regret of living and all the “what ifs.” This book by Marinka Franulovic has definitely made me more aware of things that are happening in our world today, I even know thirty miles from here. People need to be aware of these things so we can help other women escape or help women before they too become victims.

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Extra Credit for my Comp I students

We are into Week 7 of our Composition I classes which to me feels like mid-point for the semester. The students are now putting the finishing touches on their second paper and we are looking into materials that relate to human trafficking.  Paper #3 will involve this horrible topic and cover different subtopics of the following where victims of trafficking can be found throughout the whole world:

1) tobacco and cotton fields

2) building construction

3) begging in the streets

4) child laborers

5) child soldiers

6) pornography

7) prostitution

8) forced marriages

9) surrogate maternity

10) harvesting of organs

In order to improve their percentage grade, my students have been given the following options in order to get more emotionally involved in this assignment.  I know human trafficking is a tough one but not one to be avoided because it is unpleasant.  I will encourage them to do something in their sphere of influence.

1)     Read the book on-line – Two Kyrgyz Women” by Marinka Franulovic and write 500 word reaction to one or the other story.  The first is about a mother with her baby working as a slave laborer in the tobacco fields of Kazakhstan.  The second is about a woman who was prostituted, taken from her four children. Both women were restored to their families but are not telling anyone in their village of the dangers they were in.  Very much a taboo topic in Kyrgyzstan.

http://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/Two-Kyrgyz-Women#ixzz1z5pbxEsN

(25 points for each story, 50 points for whole book)

2)     Read the book on reserve at the UMC library “Not For Sale” by David Batstone and write 100 words summarizing each chapter for 10 points each (read what chapters are of interest to you)

3)     Check out and watch movie “Changeling and write 300 words about your impressions about it and how it might relate to your Paper #3 (25 points)

4)     Check out and watch movie Taken” and do the same as above (25 points)

5)     Read my blog entries about human trafficking from this Kazakhnomad blog site for 10 points each and write 150-200 words OR read this other blog which is very current and posted from India written by Katy Westrom:

http://katywestrom.theworldrace.org/?filename=bleeding-red

6)     Take the Slavery Footprint survey to find out how many slaves work for you.  Do the finetuning to get a more accurate score.  Write 150 words telling about the results and what surprised you the most about this inventory?  (5 points)

http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/?gclid=CM69yfrr1LUCFe4-MgodkUQAzQ#where_do_you_live

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More than a discussion about Human Trafficking (Part III)

I have been invited to be a speaker at a service club in my community.  The following is what I will include in my ppt presentation.  This is the little bit that I know about human trafficking in Central Asia.  First though, I’ll give a background about how I fell into this tough topic that has been a slow burn for me for some years.

Back in the late 1990s when I lived in Kyiv, Ukraine, I knew about the dangers to my students about being trafficked for sex exploitation. Some were very beautiful girls, others dressed rather provocatively. There’s a good reason for dress codes in schools. Also, on the streets were homeless Ukrainian children who probably got snapped up by lying traffickers.  In the mid-2000s, I had heard a story about one particularly bright Ukrainian student who fell into something awful but was smart or fiesty enough to escape.  She wouldn’t talk about it once she returned to her friends at the university, but to this day I wonder how Ivana is doing.

When I went to Almaty, Kazakhstan fall of 2007, I had the book “Two Kyrgyz Women” that was just published the same year fall into my hands. I didn’t read it for another year or so. Thus, I can understand when I give Marinka’s book to someone and they don’t read it right away.  It can be so offputting because it is such a tragedy to read about slavery in Central Asia while living freely in our land of the American Dream.  Sadly, so many in the world live the opposite of the American Dream.

When I suggested that we read it as a book club group when we moved to Astana in January of 2010, the other women of the expat community eagerly agreed.  I had little indication that the hostess of the book club actually KNEW the author, Marinka Franulovic.  That is where I met Marinka and asked for 10 copies of the book so I could give to my Kazakh students who were teachers in the public schools.  After they read it, we invited Marinka to come and talk about this book asking what we could do to help.  When I left Kazakhstan, I was happy to leave about 5-6 big Chinese plastic bags full of my husband and my clothes for the shelters.

Turns out one of my former students DID go to a trafficking shelter recently to find out what it was like.  Here’s what she wrote:

“Since you left many things have happened. You know, I wasn`t sure I could be a change agent. Now I feel like I ought to be. A week ago I went to the shelter in Astana; our dearest Marinka has invited me. What I learnt during the trip was shocking, though I knew the problem.

Unfortunately, the issue of human trafficking is not primary in our country, it is not even discussed as a problem. People see in news that some group of illegal migrants were caught on some construction site, for example, and were sent out of country, but nobody thinks of these people as victims of human trafficking and victims at all. It`s very sad.

The shelter is one storage house in the village near the city, nearly 20 people can be located there. When we went, there were 9 women 20-40 year- olds, one of them was rescued from 15 years long slavery on a farm. The shelter has a psychologist, a doctor and some kind of manager.

Anna is guiding and organizing the whole activity at shelter. Today, I texted to Anna, she wants us to come again! May be I will bring some good movies, they need good films. Also, I am starting the English course for girls from the shelter next week. At least I could help these people continue education. Thank you for making me think about it and desire to change the situation.”

Of course I was happy to read that my former student took this initiative but I plied her with MORE questions.  I want her to be my eyes and ears about what is being done to help these poor people caught in a horrible trap.  Here is another quote that I found on the Not For Sale website:

“Modern-day traders in human property know their business inside out and respond to changes in the market with a speed unmatched by even the most competitive corporations. Their expertise and ability to exploit the market are surpassed only by their disregard for human life. Women are bought, sold and hired out like any other product. The bottom line is profit.”

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More than a discussion about Slave Trafficking in Minnesota

This morning I woke up with a strange dream about bullying and intimidation.  Apparently we had a snow mobile that had been sold to my Dad by a famous snowmobiler in our area.  A Polaris, as I recall, (sorry Arctic Cat.) Three guys roared into our front yard and were taunting and yelling at my dad and the rest of the family.  I stayed inside trying to decide whether to call our neighbor one mile away or call the cops.  My Mom finally came in and said that there are worse things going on in the world, that this was merely a distraction.  I guess the answer was, no, don’t call the police.  I never did hear them roar off but they did leave their tracks all over our snow.  An analogy can be made of this dream with our talk about human slavery in the world, which is still going on for about 30 million unfortunate people caught in a trap.

Last night eight Minnesota women gathered at our home to discuss human trafficking.  Nine of us are very fortunate ladies with loving husbands and a roof over our heads. Yes, thankfully my husband busied himself grilling shashlik (Kazakh version of shish-ka-bob) outside. Once we ate, our discussion took different turns and each contributed from their own experience about what they had read or knew on the topic concerning other cultures.  Mostly they wanted to find out more about what is happening in Central Asia after having read the book “Two Kyrgyz Women” by Marinka Franulovic.

According to Marinka’s book, many women are deemed as nothing in the Kyrgyz culture. Also, the males in the book appeared spineless, the mother-in-law didn’t come off too well either for the second Kyrgyz woman.  If her father had not died, the second woman’s life may have turned out quite differently. He had wanted her to at least get an education, which served to help her use her wits later to escape from her awful situation in Dubai.

We all agreed there was a generational thing going on where the mother-in-law is considered the queen bee. She expects her new daughter-in-law to be broken in as the family servant.  Also, the husbands in this book were rascals and did not take their responsibilities as fathers or husbands seriously.  The two women unwittingly got into trafficking simply because their children needed to be fed, they had no money for food. Both husbands lost money to alcohol or foolish, big dreams.

The question was initially asked, “Why does no one DO anything about this problem of trafficking?” One answer was that there are no good role models to show depth of love or compassion within the family.  Since the Kyrgyz mother-in-law was a “slave” in her husband’s family, she is eager for her son to provide her, in the form of his wife, a new slave to carry the burden of household chores.  With the emergence of yet another change of lifestyle from Soviet times, as of 20 years ago, materialism has set in.  Once nomads of the steppes, now the amassing of things seems to rule over the Central Asian people. Girls and women are further devalued.

Someone commented that the devaluing of life goes on in our country as well.  But we don’t talk much about it when materialism and convenience override whether a woman chooses to extend the life of her baby to full term. (I won’t use the “a” word). Another said that in Central Asian culture they are brought up to expect bad, so bad things follow them. No hope like we in America enjoy.  We were reminded that we grew up believing in the American Dream or having grandparents or great grandparents who had an optimistic attitude. Not so in Central Asia where unemployment in the rural area is very bad. (I’m not sure of the correct statistics).  I DO know 61% of the internal migration are males who are caught in slavery within Kazakhstan. They do heavy manual labor in mines, cotton or tobacco fields or construction labor in the big cities of Almaty or Astana.

Someone pointed out that evil in each men’s heart needs to be purged. What father or mother would sell their daughter? Obviously there’s a market for the sex slave trade simply because men need to have these addictions for their warped appetites filled.  Alcohol, gambling, sex, eating…all the vices are there that preys on those who have next to nothing. The only thing victims have are their bodies for hard labor or for sex or both!

Back to the question of “Who can they turn to for help once caught in the trafficker’s deceitful web?” They need better law enforcement!  In many cases in other countries, not just in Central Asia, but in Mexico or South America you have police who are “in” on this crime. They have no backbone to save those girls or children who are distressed, who are crying out for help. The police, because of low salaries, are driven by greed. They pocket some of the money when they don’t arrest and are paid off by the traffickers.  Someone else mentioned the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson. That is an intense thriller when a father goes after the traffickers to try to save his daughter when she is off on a trip to Europe.  Check that movie out for a dose of reality.

(to be continued)

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Slavery is “alive and well” in Kazakhstan

According to guest speakers at American Corner in Astana, Kazakhstan, human trafficking or slavery is the second most profitable type of crime after drugs. The UN have statistics that report 5 million people become victims in human trafficking every year and the traffickers make about 8 billion dollars in income.   According to one of my students who attended this session with Marko Velikonja (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement) and Elena Beskrovnaya (INL Program Manager) mainly men are the victims of forced exploitation – 69.1%.  Sadly, 62% of the victims in Central Asia are exploited within their own countries. Slavery is alive and well in Kazakhstan and without proper awareness and education will continue unabated.

As Marinka Franvolic pointed out earlier when she spoke to my students, at least drugs can be found on the criminal as evidence and it is much easier to prosecute once drug dealers are caught.  Whereas, the victims are going along with their trafficker to a new, unknown destination not knowing they have been deceived. If there is any suspicion, or if the victim becomes alert to the fraud, the trafficker will plead innocent and get off the hook if law enforcement is called upon.  Therefore, a trafficker can get off scott free to victimize someone else since rigid penalties are not in place to strictly enforce those who are caught.

Three kinds of people are involved: victims, traffickers and the providers (transit people).  In the case of prostitution it would include the “johns” or customers. As mentioned earlier, every year five million people fall victim to exploitation (either sexual or hard labor with little or no pay) in the following kind of work:

Tobacco, cotton fields

Building construction

Child labor

Begging in street

Forced marriages

Prostitution

Pornography

Surrogate maternity

Transplantation of organs

Who are these victims in Kazakhstan? They are usually the vulnerable people in the rural areas who are poor and jobless. Often they are heads of households who want to provide for their families.  Also, orphan children who have lived in orphanages all their lives but are turned out to fend for themselves at age 18 fall victim.  Basically it happens to uneducated people who have no skills in remote villages but it can happen to educated people as well.

The main tactic, after the victim has either been lied to or lathered with praise about their skills, abilities or beauty (cases of finding young girls at bars who are attractive and/or dance well), is to take away all of their documents once to their final destination.   The smart victims who are equipped with hotline numbers with the International Organization of Migrants (IOM) can get out of their slavery before they are exploited or raped by calling (8 8000 8000 15) free of charge.  The police hotline for dealing with human trafficking is 1 16 16.  Many Non governmental organizations throughout Kazakhstan exist and the phone numbers were given from 14 places: Astana, Aktobe, Aktau, Almaty, Zhezkazgan, Karaganada, Kokshetau, Kostanay, Krgyzlorda, Petropavlovsk, Taldykhorghan, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Shymkent, Taraz.  If I’m not mistaken most of these cities are in the northern part of Kazakhstan with the exception of 4-5 cities that are in the south.  What does that mean? More trafficking is happening closer to Russia OR more awareness and shelters with NGOs are in the north of Kazakhstan to help victims?

As it turns out, most traffickers are business people (owners of saunas, clubs, cafes, tourist and model agencies, farms, etc.)  Also, traffickers are former victims who are promised their freedom if they can bring in 2-3 more “victims” in exchange. Also, they are former convicts and corrupt government officials.

(to be continued)

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Professionals vs. Victims in Human Trafficking (Part VIII)

Okay, THIS is finally the very last essay written by one of my former Kazakh students after they read the book “Two Kyrgyz Women.”  This student did a wonderful job of showing the distinctions of those who are prostitutes of their own volition and those who are kidnapped and forced into this occupation.  The emotional trauma that is culturally in place for these victims if they were to ever return home is very much against them.  The whole Central Asian way of thinking would have to shift to not blame the victim but rather to go after the customers (Johns) and especially the traffickers.  Read what this astute student wrote:

Human trafficking is a very huge problem nowadays. It is spread all over the world and Kazakhstan is not the exception. As I am a woman myself, I am concerned of sexual human trafficking for many Central Asian women become victims of this crime. Even though sexual human trafficking is one of the most complicated crimes as it is hard to find those who are to be blamed, we can decrease the number of the victims by educating women and girls and changing the attitude of the society.

Sexual human trafficking is one of the most complicated crimes as it is hard to find those who are to be blamed. When speaking about this crime, we cannot distinguish whether the women engaged in it are victims or not.

First, there are women who know what they do and become prostitutes at their own will. That can be proved by the case of Adele which was described in the second part of “Two Kyrgyz Women”. She knew what her lot would be when she went to Dubai.

Second, there are cases when women were kidnapped, they did not want to be prostitutes but they had to because they were forced to. But when the time passed they got used to their position and rather preferred to continue working than to return home where there was nothing but hungry children or a drunk husband or both. This case was described in the second part of “Two Kyrgyz Women” when the women persuaded Gulya to resign herself as they did. They said it was not so bad after all.

The above described cases illustrate that it is hard to differentiate between real victims and those who undertake their “work” at their own will.

We can decrease the number of the victims by educating women and girls, giving them information because information is one of the most important weapons in fighting sexual human trafficking. And the author of “Two Kyrgyz Women” Marinca Franulovic made a good work having written the book about poor women.

Next, we should try to change the attitude of the society towards the victims of this crime. Sometimes women are afraid of telling the truth even to their parents! That’s why we do not know the real number of the human trafficking victims. We should change out attitude because it is not the victims who are to be blamed but those who use their service and who use them.

In conclusion, I can believe that we can fight human trafficking when being a whole nation we fight it together.

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