Between the fire of injustice and "sexual slavery" .. A warning bell on human trafficking Culture and Society -

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"I thought I would get out of the bondage I was in. From my mother, who treated me and her husband badly, I was among two firemen," an Albanian woman described her life after she accepted an Italian man's invitation to come to Italy and ended up in sexual exploitation.

The story of this woman has been included in many other survivors' testimonies as part of a two-year study by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the University of Bedfordshire in the United Kingdom. In a joint report, "Between Narain: Understanding the Vulnerabilities and Support Needs of People from Albania, Vietnam and Nigeria who Experienced Human Trafficking in the UK", a team of researchers spoke with people in Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK to understand the motivations and vulnerabilities that could lead to human trafficking .

Escape away

Dr. Patrick Borland of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), one of the two main authors of the report, explains that human trafficking is motivated by escaping bad situations at home or poverty. Borland spent several months interviewing people in the four countries listed in the report – the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Albania and Vietnam.

"This happened because we are poor," explains Blessing, a Nigerian woman whose parts were quoted in the report. "We have nothing, that's why I traveled." Her parents were in poverty, and when I met someone he said he would take to Europe to be a nanny, she agreed to her.

"Thousands of Nigerian women receive false promises every year," says Florence Kim of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). They try to deceive these women by promising to find work as a waitress or a hairdresser. There they can earn enough money to start a new life. But it is not, many victims of sexual exploitation and slavery. "

This is what happened to "Chance" (the name was changed). She was persuaded to leave school and promised to work as a waitress in Malaysia. She was told she could earn $ 800 a month. The girl left Nigeria with two other girls from her neighborhood. Once they arrived in Mali, the three were told that they had to act as prostitutes to pay back the money they had incurred.

Lack of knowledge

Borland explains that the victims promised to earn money, but some promised amounts that might seem unnatural even in the Western world, such as earning (4,510 euros) a month, which is a huge amount for a non-specialist. Which makes some believe that in a few months only will be able to pay all their debts, prompting many to take any risks arising. According to Borland.

This lack of knowledge also extends to the details of the trip itself. Most flights from Vietnam to the UK start with a trip to Russia, making their way across Eastern Europe to Germany and then France. Borland says the trip can take anywhere from three to eighteen months, sometimes on foot, sometimes on buses or in cars. Sometimes, victims are held for days or months and are often beaten. Borland points out that during the flight new people join, and others disappear.

Debt bondage

From Nigeria and Vietnam, many victims of human trafficking have been arrested for so-called debt bondage. Where documents and flights to the UK are first obtained by traffickers. They are then detained with "voodoo curses" and other rites, or threats to harm their families if they do not cooperate.

For milk, the mechanism, at least for women, can be different. Borland explains that they sell them the illusions of marriage and family formation by presumed lovers. "They were usually subjected to violence and abuse at home," Borland says of the victims of Albania. "They were usually subjected to sexual and physical violence, so when they started relationships with young people, they did not have current experience in health relationships.

In Vietnam, there is a great sense of duty and the need to provide family supplies, especially among men. It was these common morals and beliefs that drove many men to become victims of trafficking in the UK. They owe not only their traffickers with their money, debts they felt they had to pay, but also often mortgage their land and their families' land, so they owed money to official credit institutions as well. The risk of returning from the UK without paying the money would put them at risk again in their home country, which made them work in exploitative situations in the UK even when they realized that what was happening to them was not true.

Lagos | Proteste gegen Menschenhandel (Getty Images / AFP / P. U. EkPei)


Stigma is another reason why some end up an easy prey for traffickers, and the stigma that is subsequently traded hampers their return to their communities. "I could not stand up, I ran away, I started to go from one village to another so I could still get a living," said Ihoma, a Nigerian, who immigrated to the United Kingdom after fleeing her family after the death of her sister because of circumcision. "She says, adding that she was then an easy prey for her sexual exploiters and that she fled and was unable to return home.

Marina from Albania explains that her family abandoned her when she was pregnant. "For six months I lived with my friend, the father of my child … He left without telling me and I did not know where he was after I gave birth to my son, I had no place to live in. I had no income."

Dimensions of human trafficking

It is difficult to identify victims of human trafficking. In the United Kingdom, the British National Organization (NRM) estimated the number at about 7,000, a figure much lower than those already exploited, according to IOM researchers. Christian Action Research and Education estimates that there are about 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, but not all of them have been officially recognized.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that about 40.3 million people are trafficked and engaged in modern slavery worldwide. 24.9 million of them in forced labor and about 15.4 million in forced marriages.

Deutschland BdT Protest gegen Menschenhandel in Berlin (Reuters / F. Bensch)

In a demonstration in Berlin against human trafficking

Need for support

IOM recommends that more work be done in the UK not only to identify people who may be victims of human trafficking but also to be able to provide support to them.

Where the victims identified receive support for a minimum of 45 days in a safe house in the United Kingdom. Since February, victims can receive 45 days as a "transition" period to help them reintegrate into society. Borland believes this is not enough. He notes that it takes an average of more than 100 days to decide whether or not someone is a victim of modern slavery.

Borland explains that when the 45-90 days are over, people may become homeless. In some cases, they return to the people who exploited them in the first place, because they are the only way to make money in the UK. For others, if they are not recognized as victims, they may be subject to deportation either because of the work they have done or because they have not received residence permits allowing them to remain in the country.

A bill against modern slavery, submitted to the British House of Representatives, proposes support for the victims for 12 months.

* All names have been changed by the International Organization for Migration

From Immigrant News

Emma Wallis / Alaa Juma

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