Greetings from The Slave Detective,
I like to sometimes address my readership. This week I’ve noticed a sharp increase in persons reading this page from The Middle East. Welcome.
I have to confess I have not visited The Middle East since I became aware of Human Trafficking. I was in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2001. I found it a vibrant and interesting place.
I did note there was a large Indian/Asian population doing many of the low paid heavy manual jobs. I had no knowledge of their status and their situation.
I have also noted a large increase on News Articles documenting successes in this region. To me this signals a change in attitude and a willingness to address some of The Human Trafficking Problems encountered in the region.
The sudden interest in this page maybe to do with my good friend Mr Desmond…yes he of the Ju Ju fame. He was in that region recently on behalf of The UNODC.
So what is happening in this region?
The T.I.P report is always a good place to start in these matters.
The TIP Report grades countries and states it gives a clear and honest assessment of where all of Countries are making progress on commitments to Trafficking and where they are either standing still or even sliding backwards.
In the TIP Report, the Department of State places each country onto one of three tiers based on the extent of their governments’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” found in Section 108 of the TVPA.
While Tier 1 is the highest ranking, it does not mean that a country has no human trafficking problem. On the contrary, a Tier 1 ranking indicates that a government has acknowledged the existence of human trafficking, made efforts to address the problem. The USA and UK are amongst Tier 1 Countries.
Below is just a quick snip from each country in this area. Read The TIP report to see exactly what each is doing and progress they may be making.
Bahrain (Tier 2- watch list) is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Men and women from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Eritrea migrate voluntarily to Bahrain to work as domestic workers or as unskilled laborers in the construction and service industries. Some, however, face conditions of forced labor after arriving in Bahrain, through the use of such practices as unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, contract substitution, nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.
Iran (Tier 3) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Iranian and Afghan boys and girls residing in Iran are forced into prostitution within the country. Iranian women, boys, and girls, are subjected to sex trafficking in Iran, as well as in Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Europe. Azerbaijani women and children are also subjected to sex trafficking in Iran.
Iraq (Tier 2 watch list) is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Iraqi women and girls are subjected to conditions of trafficking within the country and in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia for forced prostitution and sexual exploitation within households. Anecdotal reporting suggests that trafficking in forced prostitution and bonded labor are increasing in Iraq, partially owing to pervasive corruption and an overall increase in criminal activity.
Israel (Tier 1) is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Low-skilled workers from Thailand, China, Nepal, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, and, to a lesser extent, Romania, migrate voluntarily and legally to Israel for temporary contract labor in construction, agriculture, and caregiving industries. Some subsequently face conditions of forced labor, including through such practices as the unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, inability to change or otherwise choose one’s employer, nonpayment of wages, threats, sexual assault, and physical intimidation. Many labor recruitment agencies in source countries or brokers in Israel require workers to pay exorbitant recruitment fees to secure jobs in Israel – ranging from the equivalent of $4,000 to $20,000 – a practice that contributes to forced labor once migrants are working in Israel.
Jordan (Tier 2) is a destination and transit country for adults and children subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser extent, sex trafficking. Women from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines voluntarily migrate to Jordan for employment as domestic workers; some are subjected to conditions of forced labor after arrival, including through such practices as unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, threats of imprisonment, and physical or sexual abuse. Jordan’s sponsorship system binds foreign workers to their designated employers without adequate access to legal recourse when they face abuse and without the ability to switch employers, thereby placing a significant amount of power in the hands of employers and recruitment agencies. Migrant workers are further rendered vulnerable to forced labor due to indebtedness to recruiters, negative societal attitudes toward foreign workers, and legal requirements that foreign workers rely on employers to renew their work and residency permits.
Kuwait (Tier 3) is a destination country for men and women who are subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser degree, forced prostitution. Men and women migrate from India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nepal, Iran, Jordan, Ethiopia, and Iraq to work in Kuwait, mainly in the domestic service, construction, and sanitation sectors. Although most of these migrants enter Kuwait voluntarily, upon arrival their sponsors and labor agents subject some migrants to conditions of forced labor, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as confinement to the workplace and the withholding of passports. While Kuwait requires a standard contract for domestic workers delineating their rights, many workers report work conditions that are substantially different from those described in the contract; some workers never see the contract at all. Many of the migrant workers arriving for work in Kuwait have paid exorbitant fees to recruiters in their home countries or are coerced into paying labor broker fees in Kuwait that, by Kuwaiti law, should be paid for by the employer – a practice that makes workers highly vulnerable to forced labor once in Kuwait. Due to provisions of Kuwait’s sponsorship law that restrict workers’ movements and penalize workers for running away from abusive workplaces, domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to forced labor inside private homes. In addition, media sources report that runaway domestic workers fall prey to forced prostitution by agents who exploit their illegal status.
Oman (Tier 2) is a destination and transit country for men and women, primarily from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia, who are subjected to conditions indicative of forced labor and, to a lesser extent,forced prostitution. Most migrants travel willingly and legally to Oman with the expectation of employment in domestic service or as low-skilled workers in the country’s construction, agriculture, or service sectors.
Qatar (Tier 2) is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily migrate to Qatar as low-skilled laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude.
Saudi Arabia (Tier 3- lowest Tier) is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and to a lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and many other countries voluntarily travel to Saudi Arabia as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace. Although many migrant workers sign contracts delineating their rights, some report work conditions that are substantially different from those described in the contract. Other migrant workers never see a contract at all, leaving them especially vulnerable to forced labor, including debt bondage. Due to Saudi Arabia’s requirement that foreign workers receive permission from their employer to get an “exit visa” before they are able to leave the country, migrant workers report that they are forced to work for months or years beyond their contract term because their employer will not grant them an exit permit.
Women, primarily from Asian and African countries, are believed to be forced into prostitution in Saudi Arabia. Some female domestic workers are reportedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers. Yemeni, Nigerian, Pakistani, Afghan, Chadian, and Sudanese children are subjected to forced labor as beggars and street vendors in Saudi Arabia, facilitated by criminal gangs.
Syria (Tier 3) Prior to the political uprising and violent unrest, Syria was principally a destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking. Thousands of women – the majority from Indonesia, the Philippines, Somalia, and Ethiopia – were recruited by employment agencies to work in Syria as domestic servants, but were subsequently subjected to conditions of forced labor by their employers. Some of these women were confined to the private residences in which they worked, and contrary to Syrian law, most had their passports confiscated by their employer or the labor recruitment agency.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Tier 3) is a destination, and to a lesser extent, transit country for men and women, predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, who are subjected to forced labor and forced prostitution. Migrant workers, who comprise more than 90 percent of the UAE’s private sector workforce, are recruited from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, Thailand, Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Philippines. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to the UAE to work as domestic servants, secretaries, beauticians, and hotel cleaners, but some are subjected to conditions indicative of forced labor, including unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, threats, or physical or sexual abuse.
Yemen (Tier 3) is a country of origin and, to a much lesser extent, a transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some Yemeni children, mostly boys, migrate to the Yemeni cities of Aden and Sanaa, or travel across the northern border to Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, to Oman where they end up working in forced labor in domestic service, small shops, or as beggars. Some of these children are forced into prostitution by traffickers, border patrols, other security officials, and their employers once they arrive in Saudi Arabia. Some parents may have refrained from sending their children to Saudi Arabia for fear of them encountering violence in northern Yemen, while other Yemeni children attempting to reach Saudi Arabia were abducted by rebel groups to serve as combatants.
A Saudi study conducted in 2011 reported that most beggars in Saudi Arabia are Yemenis between the ages of 16 and 25.
So What do these Coutries have in common with The West?
Myths and misperceptions about trafficking in persons and its complexities continue to hinder governments’ ability to identify victims, provide them the services they need, and bring their traffickers to justice. These challenges are made worse by the unfortunate tendency to conflate human trafficking and human smuggling. Persistent practices, including the following, contribute to this conflation:-
- Prevailing concerns about illegal immigration continue to guide governments’ initial responses to potential trafficking victims. Trafficking indicators are missed and victims are wrongly classified as illegal migrants and criminals.
- Narrow definitions and continued stereotypes of trafficking as a problem confined to women and girls in prostitution result in the mistreatment of other victims of trafficking. For example, instead of receiving protective services they need, migrant men in forced labor may face immigration charges or deportation if not identified as trafficking victims.
- A focus solely on initial recruitment of migrant workers and prostituted individuals – whether or not they consented to their situation – can impede the proper identification of subsequent trafficking. Authorities often fail to look beneath the surface for possible indicators of forced labor, debt bondage or sex trafficking.
- The risk of conflation leading to the treatment of victims as criminals increases when responsibilities of anti-trafficking enforcement and victim identification lie solely with immigration, as opposed to criminal justice, authorities. As the anti-trafficking community continues to debunk these misperceptions, governments have an obligation to move away from flawed and outdated interpretations of human trafficking that focus on the process of bringing someone into exploitation, as opposed to the compelled service that often results after a migrant arrives in a country. Domestic law enforcement, not border interdiction, is usually what catches traffickers and frees victims from modern slavery.
With increasing the knowledge and awareness in this region and support from Law Enforcement with the sharing of idea’s and strategies many of these countries could raise at least one Tier