Posts tagged victims

Survivors’ Stories…Not “Victims Stories”

One common thread shows up in each of the following stories…the people who lived to tell of their trafficking ordeal… SURVIVED!  I was corrected today by an American who has lived in Kosovo to not say “victims” but rather “survivors.”  This woman knows as she has worked in trafficking shelters with many “survivors.”  That is a much more hopeful and optimistic term rather than being saddled with the fatalistic word “victim.”  Those survivors who escaped at great peril, were proactive, they yearned for freedom again. People who embrace the label of “victim” usually wait for others to do something for them.  I’m glad I was corrected, but the following report put together by the U.S. State Department still uses the term “Victims Stories” just the same.


The victims’ testimonies included in this Report are meant to be illustrative only and do not reflect all forms of trafficking that occur. Any of these stories could take place anywhere in the world. They illustrate the many forms of trafficking and the wide variety of places in which they occur. Many of the victims’ names have been changed in this Report. Most uncaptioned photographs are not images of confirmed trafficking victims, but they illustrate the myriad forms of exploitation that comprise trafficking and the variety of cultures in which trafficking victims are found.


Maria Elena was 13 years old when a family acquaintance told her she could make ten times as much money waiting tables in the United States than she could in her small village. She and several other girls were driven across the border, and then continued the rest of the way on foot. They traveled four days and nights through the desert, making their way into Texas, then crossing east toward Florida. Finally, Maria Elena and the other girls arrived at their destination, a rundown trailer where they were forced into prostitution. Maria Elena was gang-raped and locked in the trailer until she agreed to do what she was told. She lived under 24-hour watch and was forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day. When she got pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion and sent back to work the next day. Maria Elena finally made her escape only to be arrested along with her traffickers.


Amina left her home in Bangladesh to take a job in Lebanon as a maid. Despite the promise of opportunity, she found herself exploited at the hands of an abusive employer. She was tortured, molested, and confined to the house for three months. “I was hardly given any food,” she later said. “In solitary confinement in a room, I had no idea what Lebanon looked like.” Amina managed to escape and was repatriated at the expense of the recruitment agency that had sent her abroad. She still suffers pain from injuries to her eyes sustained at the hands of her employer, but because the broker confiscated her passport and job contract, she cannot file a complaint with the authorities or receive compensation.


Gayan, a 15-year-old boy, was a school dropout when he was recruited by a broker who promised him a good job in the Jharsuguda district. Instead, Gayan, along with other boys, was confined to a factory to work, given little food, severely beaten, branded, burned with cigarettes, and allowed only a few hours’ sleep each night. It was not until Gayan returned home a year later that his parents learned what he had endured. “[O]nly now have we realized that he was threatened…the owners were always present while he was talking on the phone [to us],” they said. After Gayan’s parents complained to officials, the three traffickers responsible were arrested. The police have also initiated rescue efforts for the other boys held in forced labor and debt bondage in the same facility.


Uta was seven years old when she was sent from Romania to work as a domestic servant in the United Kingdom. Her family thought this was an opportunity to get Uta away from poverty, but the Romanian couple who recruited her physically and verbally abused her daily and forced her to sleep on the floor. The couple also enslaved and raped another victim, Razvan, a 53-year-old Romanian man. After being severely beaten and seeing the way the couple treated Uta, Razvan escaped and reported the offenses to the police. When the police rescued Uta she was dressed in filthy clothes, had scabs covering her head, and her teeth were so rotten they had to be removed. She had never been to school and could not even count to ten in her own language. The Romanian couple was found guilty of trafficking and was sentenced to a maximum of 14 years in prison.


Saeeda, a deaf Pakistani woman, was ten years old when she left Pakistan for Manchester, England for a job as a domestic worker. For nearly a decade, she was abused, raped, and beaten by her employers, a Pakistani couple. Now in her 20s, Saeeda told the courts that she was confined to a cellar and forced to work as a slave. Her abusers have been accused of human trafficking, sexual offenses, imprisonment, violence, and fraud; they have both pleaded not guilty to the alleged charges. It remains unknown why the couple was permitted to recruit a girl of this age as a domestic worker.


For 10 years, Joel and Ronival were enslaved on a Brazilian ranch. They were forced to bathe in a reservoir contaminated with cattle manure, and they slept in a wooden hut. “There was no electricity, drinking water, or sanitation … this is not human job, this is slave job,” stated Joel. Eventually, they left the ranch in the middle of the night and walked 14 miles to escape their exploitation. Joel, 30, risked his own life in order to help guide Ronival, 69, who had lost 55 pounds and broken a shoulder, to safety. They made it to an NGO that helped shelter them and assisted with filing a legal action against their traffickers. Because of their courage, Joel and Ronival obtained compensation from their traffickers and have restarted lives free from fear of those who held them captive for so many years.


At a carpet factory in Nepal, Nayantara met a labor broker who promised her a good job as a domestic worker in Lebanon. The broker convinced her to take the job opportunity, assuring her that she did not have to pay anything. He instead took Nayantara to India, confiscated her passport, and sold her to a brothel where she was forced to have sex with at least 35 men each day with only five hours of sleep. When she tried to refuse, the brothel owner would beat Nayantara with an iron pole until she gave in. She was not allowed to contact her family or anyone else outside of the brothel and her freedom of movement was constantly controlled. After six months, the police raided the brothel and imprisoned all the women and girls. The owner was arrested with them, but was released five months earlier than her victims because she bribed the police. When Nayantara was released from jail after 17 months, she was returned to the brothel, and sold to another owner within a month. Coming to the realization that she would never be able to pay off her debts, she ran away and eventually found her way back to Nepal. She has found refuge in a shelter.


Shewaye, an Ethiopian woman, was forced to work as a nanny under abusive conditions and no pay for a family member of former Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi. At the hands of her employer, Shewaye suffered severe abuse, including burns from scalding hot water poured over her head and body, and was never allowed medical treatment for festering wounds. After a year in servitude, Shewaye was found in August 2011 by a camera crew from CNN. The Government of Malta facilitated her departure from Libya to receive medical and rehabilitation services. The Maltese government has provided Shewaye with free accommodation, medical treatment, and legal assistance throughout her recovery process, and granted her temporary visa status.


When Ashley was 12-years-old she got into a fight with her mother and ran away from home. She ended up staying with her friend’s older brother at his house and intended to go home the next day, but when she tried to leave he told her that he was a pimp and that she was now his property. He locked her in a room, beat her daily, and advertised her for sex on websites. Once, she looked out a window and saw her mother on the street, crying and posting flyers with Ashley’s photo. When Ashley tried to shout her mother’s name from the window her pimp grabbed her by the hair and yanked her back, threatening “If you shout, I’ll kill you.” Ashley eventually escaped her confinement and is now at a treatment center for girls who have been sexually trafficked in New York.


Raju, a migrant worker from Burma, traveled to Thailand when he was falsely promised 6,000 baht per month as a restaurant or factory worker—if he could first pay a 12,000 baht brokerage fee. Out of options, he agreed to borrow money for the fee and use his future earnings to repay it. Raju was instead forced and threatened at gun-point to board a fishing boat. Onboard the Thai vessel, Raju and the other workers were forced to work day and night, lived in cramped quarters, and were beaten if they took fish to cook and eat. Already saddled by debt, Raju never received his promised wages. Each time the fishing boat docked, the workers were taken to a house and locked in a room so that they could not escape. Raju recalled one worker who attempted to run away but was caught: “The man was tied to a post…the man was electrocuted and tortured with cigarette butts…later he was shot through the head.” Raju was finally able to escape the Thai fishing vessel by tying himself to a buoy, jumping overboard, and swimming six hours to shore.


Camila was only 14 when she was persuaded to leave her job as a maid and forced into prostitution in a bar in the Amazon. She was repeatedly restrained, raped and drugged. The traffickers coerced and bribed Camila with her freedom to get her to recruit her friend Sandra into sex trafficking as well. Camila was given her freedom but Sandra was then sexually exploited and humiliated. One night, while out riding with a customer, Sandra made a break from the car and shouted for help from the police. Instead of being rescued, they took her to a center for juvenile offenders where she was detained for two years. Camila was finally able to return home and filed a criminal complaint against her traffickers, but says she still feels trapped in her memories.


Ivoline was at the top of her class in nursing studies at her hometown university in Cameroon. A woman from her village offered to help Ivoline complete her university degree in Europe. Ivoline and her father thought the offer was genuine and Ivoline’s father spent his entire savings to help her get to Spain. The woman had Ivoline pose as her daughter, using false passports while they traveled together to Europe. Once in Spain, instead of being sent to school, Ivoline was forced into prostitution on the streets. Ivoline eventually escaped from the woman and was homeless for a few weeks before she built up enough courage to go to the police. Although her trafficker was not brought to justice, Ivoline’s strength has given her new optimism and confidence; on her birthday this year, she toasted to hopes of finding work and creating a new life in Spain with her own family.”

We’d all prefer to dismiss these sad stories as “not our problem.” However, trafficking IS our problem if we care about what is happening globally and what is actually happening in our own country.  Of course the stories go much deeper than these short samples but it gives an idea about how pervasive trafficking really is.  Also, that it is more than just sex trafficking. These survivors, represented from all over the world, endured the sadness, pain, and horror of being trapped and trafficked. They should be listened to so this evil can be eradicated!  We need to be aware and try to do what we can to stop this sinister crime against humanity.

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U.S. report on human trafficking in Kazakhstan

Tomorrow I will share with you a person’s first hand report about some of the shelters for trafficking victims in Kazakhstan but it isn’t enough.  Understandably more is needed to be done. So much trafficking activity is happening and it goes in seasons.  The following is a report written by someone in the U.S. about human trafficking in Kazakhstan.  I am not sure of the source but the author has done their homework revealing what the laws are and what is being done to stop the traffickers.  I know this blog is being watched by the exploiters because I am getting a lot of “traffic” on my spam catcher.  Too bad, truth will prevail!  Freedom reigns!!!

Trafficking in Persons Report 2011: Kazakhstan (TIER 2)

Kazakhstan is a destination and to a lesser extent, source and transit country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking and for men, women, and children subjected to conditions of forced labor. Kazakhstani women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Greece, Indonesia, and Israel. Women and girls from Uzbekistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, and Ukraine are subjected to sex trafficking in Kazakhstan. Women and girls from rural Kazakhstan are subjected to sex trafficking in urban areas of the country. Kazakhstani men, women, and children as well as men from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, and Nigeria are subjected to conditions of forced labor in domestic service, cattle breeding and pasturing and also in the harvest of tobacco and cotton in Kazakhstan.

The Government of Kazakhstan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government significantly decreased the use of forced child labor in the cotton harvest, increased law enforcement efforts against human trafficking, passed a law strengthening penalties for convicted child sex trafficking offenders, and increased victim identification. However, it failed to effectively screen migrants for potential victims of trafficking and only identified two foreign victims of labor trafficking, despite being a significant destination country for foreign victims of forced labor.

Recommendations for Kazakhstan: Increase efforts to identify foreign victims of both forced prostitution and forced labor, including through expanded training of police officers and government officials in victim identification and assistance; work to ensure that foreign victims of trafficking receive assistance; increase efforts to identify labor trafficking victims, including by ensuring that authorities screen for potential victims of forced labor among those detained during immigration raids and refer those identified as victims for assistance; investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of being complicit in trafficking and convict and punish any complicit officials; continue efforts to prevent the use of forced labor during the cotton and tobacco harvests; continue to increase the number of victims who receive government-funded assistance by increasing funding to anti-trafficking NGOs; conduct trafficking awareness campaigns aimed at reducing the demand for both labor trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation; and continue to strengthen the capacity of police, prosecutors and judges to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate trafficking cases.


The government of Kazakhstan demonstrated modest progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Kazakhstan prohibits trafficking in persons for both labor and sexual exploitation through Articles 128, 133, 125(3)(b), 126(3)(b), 270, and 132-1 of its penal code, which prescribe penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment – penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Kazakhstan amended its penal code in 2010, adding Article 132-1 which strengthens punishments for child sex trafficking offenders. Police investigated 88 trafficking cases in 2010, a significant increase from 49 investigations in 2009. Authorities prosecuted 48 cases in 2010, compared with 35 prosecutions in 2009. A total of 32 trafficking offenders were convicted in 2010, an increase from 24 such convictions in 2009.  The government convicted 29 offenders for sex trafficking offences in 2010, an increase from 21 sex trafficking convictions in 2009, and convicted three offenders for forced labor offences in 2010, the same number as in 2009. Five convicted traffickers received parole and served no time in prison. Twenty-seven convicted offenders received sentences ranging from two to 14 years’ imprisonment. The Kazakhstani police, in cooperation with foreign donors, provided training in trafficking investigation techniques and victim identification procedures for 79 migration and criminal police officers and provided training for Kazakhstani law enforcement officers in Mongolia, Russia, Qatar, Turkey, Austria, the UAE, Belarus, and Armenia. It also provided in-kind assistance for NGO trainings for government officials. Police jointly investigated two trafficking cases with Russia and one with the UAE. Despite anecdotal reports of individual police officers complicit in trafficking and with close associations with traffickers, the government did not report any new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking.

The government demonstrated efforts to address the allegations of forced child labor in the 2010 TIP Report. The South Kazakhstan oblast government – the region in Kazakhstan where the majority of cotton is grown – issued several directives that explicitly prohibited the use of child labor (including forced child labor) during the 2010 fall cotton harvest. The Department of Education also inspected local schools to ensure they were not closed by local officials during the cotton harvest. Labor inspectors conducted inspection checks of cotton and tobacco fields and found no evidence of forced labor. NGOs in the region reported that the use of forced child and forced adult labor decreased significantly from the previous year. There were no reports of government officials complicit in forced labor in the cotton or tobacco harvests in 2010; however, the government did not pursue any prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in forced labor in the cotton or tobacco harvests of 2009.


The Government of Kazakhstan made some progress in identifying and protecting trafficking victims in 2010; however, the government identified only one foreign labor trafficking victim, despite being a recognized destination for foreign victims of forced labor. Although migration police reported screening illegal migrants detained during immigration raids, these efforts did not result in the identification of any trafficking victims. In 2010, thousands of migrants were deported without being screened for potential victims of trafficking. In 2010, the government identified 82 victims of trafficking, including 13 victims of forced labor, compared with 59 victims of trafficking, including 12 labor trafficking victims, identified in 2009. Of those identified, nine were foreign victims, including two victims of forced labor, an increase from three foreign victims identified in 2009. The government provided funding in the amount of  70,000 for the provision of food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and other services for all identified victims; this was a decrease from the $84,000 in funding the government provided for the same purposes in 2009. In total, 134 trafficking victims, including 49 victims of forced labor, were assisted by IOM, privately funded NGOs, and government-funded programs in 2010. The government fully funds one NGO-run shelter for trafficking victims, which assisted 40 victims, including nine foreign victims, in 2010. The local government of Almaty partially funds another NGO-run shelter, which assisted 33 trafficking victims, including 18 foreign trafficking victims. Shelters are open to all trafficking victims and provide legal, psychological, and medical assistance; however, some foreign victims of trafficking are unable to access medical assistance due to a lack of health insurance or temporary residency permits. Adult trafficking victims were permitted to freely enter and leave the shelters. Some child trafficking victims were held in juvenile detention centers until they were cleared of charges. In 2010, the government adopted a measure that permitted victims of serious crimes, including trafficking victims, to receive government compensation. The government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations and prosecutions. Foreign victims who agreed to cooperate with law enforcement were permitted to remain in Kazakhstan for the duration of the criminal investigation; this temporary residency status did not permit trafficking victims to work during the investigation. The government did not report how many foreign victims received temporary residence permits in 2010. The government did not offer victims longer-term residency; all victims were forcibly repatriated, either after a short recuperation period or after their service as a prosecution witness was completed. Although some victims cooperated with authorities during the initial investigation, some victims refused to testify in court for fear of retribution from traffickers. There were no reports of victims punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; however, unidentified victims may have been deported or prosecuted for immigration or other violations. Authorities provided one victim with repatriation assistance in 2010, a result of a joint investigation with law enforcement officials in the UAE.


The government increased its prevention efforts during the reporting period, including an awareness campaign by local officials targeted at employers in the cotton or tobacco harvests. The government supported a number of anti-trafficking efforts, including at least 191 newspaper articles and 73 videos on human trafficking. The government ran anti-trafficking campaigns on passenger trains and a hotline for trafficking victims. NGOs received $64,200 from the national government and $11,800 from local governments for trafficking prevention activities, including a second trafficking hotline. This represents an overall increase from $63,000 provided to NGOs for prevention activities in 2009. The government provided in-kind contributions for a program designed to reduce demand for sex trafficking. 

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