Filipina Maid Shows a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

By: Sara Kim

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

hk domestic

Xyza Cruz Bacani has been working as a maid in Hong Kong for over a decade in order to provide for her younger siblings’ education. Domestic service is not uncommon in this city, as it houses around 330,000 workers in the field. Most of these maids are foreigners coming from poorer countries, such as the Philippines or Indonesia, in hopes of earning enough money to support their families back home.

However, what makes Bacani noteworthy are her photographs, which publicize what she calls “modern slavery” in the domestic sector of Hong Kong. Bacani mentions that she was lucky enough to work under a nice boss, who even helped to enter her photographs into the Magnum Program. Through the program, Bacani was able to earn a scholarship to study at New York University. Bacani’s black and white photographs speak of the abuse experienced by foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, who receive very little pay for terrible working conditions. Many maids in Hong Kong are expected to work up to 19 hours a day, while not receiving proper care. Many others are even beaten and/or neglected when hurt.

By publicizing the abuse through her photographs, Bacani hopes to empower other victims and bring attention to their situation. Because many victims dread the chance of deportation or becoming fired, they are hesitant to expose the exploitations they experience. Even the Chinese government’s policies, which outline the minimum wage and accommodations migrant workers should receive, are not effective, as many domestic employers do not abide by them. However, Bacani’s efforts to help the victims have been successful in stirring up awareness about the situation that has oftentimes been ignored. Bacani describes her future aims by saying that she hopes her work can “change people’s perspective on domestic workers and help end this modern slavery.”

Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.

Reference: Batha, Emma. “Filipina maid photographs “modern slavery” in Hong Kong”.

Daily Mail. May 25, 2015. URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3096645/Filipina-maid-photographs-modern-slavery-Hong-Kong.html. Date accessed 5/27/15.

Photo Credit: Xyza Cruz Bacani

[http://blog.grainedephotographe.com/incroyables-photos-employee-maison-devenue-street-photographe

Malaysian Police Uncover 28 Suspected Human Trafficking Camps

By: Luis Gay

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

malaysian graves

Malaysian police claim that they have discovered 28 suspected human trafficking camps located near the Northern Malaysian border, one day after authorities uncovered multiple mass graves. National police chief Gen Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters that they had discovered what they believed to be 139 graves.

 

Dense jungles in northern Malaysia and southern Thailand have been a popular route for smugglers to bring victims into Southeast Asia from Burma by boat. Most of those being smuggled are Rohingya Muslims who are fleeing from persecution. The current findings of jungle camps and graves have stirred regional concern about human trafficking and smuggling. This discovery follows repeated denials by Malaysian officials that such activity exists; these same officials have been previously accused multiple times by human rights groups of not doing enough to prevent illegal trade. The biggest camp discovered could have housed up to 300 people and another about 100. Enclosures were made of wooden fencing and tarpaulin. At the sites, storage boxes for bullets and white clothes traditionally used to wrap dead bodies in Muslim burial rituals were found. The evidence strongly suggests of a large-scale operation of human trafficking in the region and officials suspect that they will discover more bodies as they investigate further.

Khalid noted that some camps were fairly old, with at least one highly decomposed body made up of only skin and bone. Other camps had rice, vegetables, and cooked meals, showing signs of abandonment as early as two weeks. Khalid told reporters than an investigation is being carried out and will not condone anyone involved in these crimes, including Malaysian officials. He also explained that no action was taken earlier because the police was building up intelligence based on 37 arrests of suspects of human trafficking, which included two policemen. As of today, there have been no arrests in connection to the 139 grave sites.

This revelation brings attention to a battle that Malaysia has been involved in for quite some time: migration under the operation of criminal syndicates. The latest example occurred on May 22, 2015, where 3,500 migrants were still stranded on overloaded vessels with very little supplies as they wait to enter Malaysia. Malaysia and Indonesia have allowed those at sea to come ashore temporarily. Thailand will not allow migrant boats to land, although will treat anybody who is ill or injured.

Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference:

Yi, Lih Ben. 25May2015. “Malaysia migrant mass graves: police reveal 139 sites, some with multiple corpses”. The Guardian. [Accessed 26 May 2015] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/25/malaysia-migrant-mass-graves-police-reveal-139-sites-some-with-multiple-corpses

 

Photo Credit:

This photo was taken by James Nachtwey and can be found in an article in TIME magazine. [Accessed 26 May 2015] http://time.com/3895816/malaysia-human-trafficking-graves-rohingya

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Earthquakes in Nepal Exacerbate Child Marriage

By: Sara Kim
Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

nepal2

According to the United Nations, 1 out of every 3 girls in developing countries are married off before they turn the age of 18. Girls are typically forced into matrimony because their families cannot afford to care for them, or because the groom’s family receives financial gain from the bride’s dowry. Because the amount of dowry increases as the girls get older, many poor families try to wed their daughters as early as they can.

Nepal exemplifies the child-bride culture, where 10% of Nepalese girls are given over to marriage before they reach the age of adulthood. Although some may argue that child-brides are part of certain cultures and should be left alone, opponents to child marriage contend that this custom increases the likelihood of complications during birth as well as exposure to sexual and domestic abuse. Many times, becoming a child bride robs a girl of their chance to fully appreciate their childhood and finish their education.

Nepal had undertaken a strategy to combat child marriage, but recent earthquakes in the country have undermined such efforts. Not only did it bring a halt to the strategy, but experts predict that the earthquakes triggered increased rates of child marriage and sex trafficking. Because many children lost their parents in the disaster, there are more vulnerable children for sex traffickers to prey upon.

Anand Tamang, the director of a Nepalese campaign to combat child marriage (CREHPA), reported that many girls have been raped in refugee sites and/or kidnapped to be sold into sex trafficking. In order to protect their daughters, parents have increased their efforts to immediately marry them off. Even the government cannot intervene at this point since their current priority lies in rebuilding the country from the catastrophe. Such conditions make a perfect environment for defenseless girls to fall victim to abuses amidst what some consider the deadliest natural disaster known to the Himalayas.


Sara (Da Som) Kim is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes.


Reference: Batha, Emma. “Child marriages, trafficking will soar after Nepal quake.” F. World. May 20, 2015. URL: http://www.firstpost.com/world/child-marriages-trafficking-will-soar-after-nepal-quake-charity-reuters-2253038.html. Date accessed 5/20/15.

Photo Credit: AFP/ Getty Images/ P. Mathema.
[http://www.dw.de/nepal-earthquake-death-toll-climbs-over-2100/a-18408901]

Program Assistance Helped Save Filipina Mom from Traffickers

By: Charmaine Santos

Edited by: Sharon E. Chin

 

filipino momo

Joy, whose real name is withheld to protect identity, and her husband made coconut wine and sold two barrels a week to support their family in the hills of Ormoc City in the central Philippine islands. Nearly half the population in the region lives in poverty. When Super Typhoon Haiyan came in November 2013, it destroyed most of the infrastructure that laid in its path and the winds damaged up to 90% of the coconut trees in some areas. Those who depended on these coconut trees to make a living were then left with no source of income and faced even more hardships.

Having no house or food, Joy desperately sought work and found a job as a domestic helper for $50/month. After Joy moved to work in a nearby province for $70/month, Joy’s employers kept her without pay for 7 months and physically abused her. Joy could not escape and shared, “I didn’t think I would make it out alive. I thank God every day that I am still breathing.”
USAID partnered with World Vision to start the “Prevention of Trafficking in Persons through Sustainable Livelihood Recovery for Typhoon-Affected People Program” in April 2014. This program aims to reduce people’s exposure to trafficking in 10 Ormoc villages and restore farming there; Ormoc and the surrounding areas are a historical hot spot where traffickers recruit women, men and children. The yearlong project hopes to reach 14,000 people through public assemblies and campaign materials. USAID and World Vision taught the Ormoc City community how to identify and report suspicious behavior, which lead to Joy’s husband realizing that Joy was being trafficked. Her husband reported the case and Joy was rescued.

The program provided Joy’s family 2 piglets so that they can sell and invest the income into a home-based farm. Joy says, “These piglets have made it possible for us to earn income without needing to leave our village.” The assistance also helps to ensure that vulnerable families like Joy’s don’t have to consider jobs from recruiters. Joy is now confident about her future and hopes that their family can return to the coconut wine business. 

Charmaine Santos is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.

Reference:

Surviving a Super Typhoon and Escaping Traffickers in the Philippines. (2015). USAID. Retrieved May 20, 2015 from http://www.usaid.gov/results-data/success-stories/surviving-super-typhoon-and-escaping-traffickers-filipino-mother-fights

Photo Credit: https://www.childfund.org/childfund-emergency/

North Korea: Profit through Citizen Sales

By: Luis Gay

Edited By: Sharon E. Chin

1026455093_06a6487783_o The North Korean government is conducting state-sponsored trafficking of its citizens and claiming that it is a way to “generate new income.” Citizens are forced to do manual labor in other countries while the North Korean government appropriates most, if not all, of their wages. According to Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, state-sponsored trafficking has become an emerging issue.

In both April and May of this year, the North Korea Economic Institute of America and House’s Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission met in Washington D.C. to discuss this issue at hand. As a nation, North Korea has been repeatedly ranked as the world’s worst human rights abuser by luring roughly 60,000 citizens to work in laborious industries (mining, logging, restaurants) in over 40 countries including Russia, China, Mongolia, Africa, central Europe, and the Middle East. Victims enter into work with guarantees of receiving wages, whereupon the North Korean receives a profit of more than $2 billion US dollars without the workers’ consent. Robert King, special envoy for North Korea Human Rights Issues at the State Department, stated that those who try to escape or complain risk retribution toward themselves and their family.

Snyder expressed that the increase in trafficking was a method used to obtain foreign exchange. North Korea has sustained itself in the past through illegal acts such as drug trafficking and counterfeit weapon sales, although revenues from those customs have declined.

Lim II, a defector, told the Lantos Human Rights Commission that he was a state employee in North Korea, but went to work in a construction company in Kuwait. There, he was forced to work 14-hour days under strict surveillance with two days off per month. He believes that he was a slave laborer. When he escaped to the South Korean embassy, he discovered that all of his wages had gone into the Office of the Worker’s Party, which regulates foreign currency. The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights reported that the money generated from export laborers overseas was delegated to Kim Jong-Un’s personal fund.

The United States and the international community are having difficulty tackling this issue. The biggest problem is that most of trafficking from North Korea occurs in China and Russia. This limits the exposure of victims to countries that would report illegal activity and challenge the North Korean Government. Officials contemplate whether or not to approach trafficking from a sanctions perspective or a human rights point of view. Snyder stressed that the international community is needed to address this problem, where “the best way of doing that would probably be to make this an issue” for countries North Korea makes transactions with.



Luis Gay is an undergraduate attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Chemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.



Reference:

Lafon, Holly. 19May2015. “North Korea turning to human trafficking for foreign currency”. Marketwatch. [Accessed 19 May 2015]. ttp://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-turning-to-human-trafficking-for-foreign-currency-2015-05-18

Photo Credit:

This photo “North Korea – Pyongyang Embroidery Institute” by (stephan) was accessed on May 20th, 2015 and can be found: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/1026455093.