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Human trafficking and modern day slavery

Trafficking has become a lucrative industry and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Globally, it is tied with the illegal trade, as the second largest criminal activity, followed by the drug trade. Human trafficking usually affects women and children more than it affects men. Sex trafficking is nothing less than slavery because when an offender takes a woman or girl against her will and forces her to engage in prostitution, he not only sells her body but also her freedom and dignity. Much sex trafficking is international, with victims being taken from places such as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less-developed areas to more developed places including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. Those who profit from victimizing children and adults in the sex trade are only one half of the problem. The other half is those who patronize this industry.

The total annual revenue for trafficking in persons is estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion. The Council of Europe states, “People trafficking have reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion,” and The United Nations estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked around the world.

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. As for smuggling, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to transport them from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. After entry into the country and arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free to find their own way, while smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination, they are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work includes anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation.

1. How Does Human Trafficking Take Place?

Traffickers find their victims from developing countries where poverty is widespread, commonly through force or deception. The victims are typically very young, from 8 to 18 years old and some as young as 4 or 5 years old. A common scenario involves a poor Asian or Eastern European girl who is offered a “better life” as a housemaid, restaurant server or dancer in a wealthy country such as the United States, Great Britain, or Italy. As she arrives, her passport is taken away, she is physically and sexually abused and forced into prostitution in a country where she neither speaks the language nor have any friends nor relatives. She is forced to service 8-15 clients a day and does not receive any pay as she is told that the money is used to pay off her “debt” to the trafficker and brothel owners for transportation, food, lodging and so on. After some period of time, she will be resold to another brothel owner, often in another country, and the cycle will continue all over again. She is likely to acquire HIV/AIDS, and to pass it on to her clients and their wives, all around the world. She has a greater chance than most of dying early, and is certain to live a horrible existence in whatever short years she has. Even if she is eventually rescued and repatriated to her country and community, she is likely to be ostracized as a result of her involvement in prostitution.

Government and police corruption, primarily in under-developed countries, play a large role in the perpetuation of the sex slave industry, with blind-eyes being turned toward openly active brothels and payoffs being accepted by those officials charged with the enforcement of national and international laws prohibiting trafficking, prostitution and child sexual exploitation.

Click at the pictures for a larger image.

2. Types of labor work

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”

Forced labor is when victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.

Sex trafficking victims are generally found in poor circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. These circumstances include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background. Traffickers are known as pimps or madams, offers promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Various works in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. Most have been told lies regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 1,229 human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 % were sex trafficking cases.

Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.

3. Trafficking in children

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.

Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records. One of the major reasons is the parent’s extreme poverty where they sell their children in order to pay debts or gain income. Some is deceived that the traffickers will give a better life and education for their children. The adoption process, legal or illegal, can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world. Thousands of children from Asia, Africa, and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.

Trafficking victims are also exposed to different psychological problems. They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatization, social exclusion and intolerance make reintegration into local communities difficult. The governments offer little assistance and social services to trafficked victims upon their return.

4. Global nature of the problem

Sex trafficking is global in nature and the victims come from all developing countries and are trafficked into or through virtually all developing and developed countries. It is estimated, for example, that 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year, most of who are sold into prostitution. This is not dependent on nationality, race or religion and not on economic or social standing. The one substantial difference is that it is the wealthy countries – through their military, businessmen, tourists, and Internet pornography subscribers, all of whom pay significantly more for the use of a sex slave that keeps this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers.

Trafficking does not only occur in poor countries, but in fact in every country. A source country is a country where people are trafficked and these countries are often weakened by poverty, war, corruption, natural disasters or climate. Some examples of source countries are Nepal, Guatemala, and the former Soviet Union, Nigeria, Thailand, China, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and many more. Then there is transit country where the victims are enslaved and the destination country is where the victim ends up. Japan, India, much of Western Europe, and the United States are all destination countries and the most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US, according to a report by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).

Almost every human trafficking prevention organization works to spread public awareness of trafficking. Several methods have been used to achieve public awareness, and while some produce little results, others have succeeded in persuading governments to pass laws and regulations on human trafficking. By pushing the issue of human trafficking into the public eye through the media, organizations work to educate the general public about the dangers of being trafficked and practices of preventing individuals from being trafficked. Television, magazines, newspapers, and radio are all used to warn and educate the public by providing statistics, scenarios, and general information on the subject.

Regardless of the type of human trafficking, nearly 1 in 5 of its victims was children, according to various reports. Their innocence is abused for begging, or exploited for sex as prostitutes, pedophilia or child pornography. Others are sold as child brides or camel jockeys.”

In a 2008 report on human trafficking, the U.S. State Department listed Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as destination countries with widespread trafficking abuses, particularly forced laborers trafficked from Asia and Africa who are subject to restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats and physical and sexual abuse. The report found those countries made feeble efforts to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers. The department’s report also says slave labor in developing countries such as Brazil, China and India was fueling part of their huge economic growth. Other countries on the blacklist were Algeria, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Myanmar, Moldova, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Syria.

According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. In Central Asia and Eastern Europe, women make up more than 60 percent of those convicted of trafficking. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor, or slavery, making up 18 percent of the total, although the writers of the report say it may be underreported. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour counting 18 %. Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority, up to 100% in parts of West Africa.

Click at the picture for a larger image

5. War and abuse

Women and girls in war zones are especially touched by the ugly side of war. They are not able to defend themselves and after being abused or sold they are stigmatized in their communities besides ending up pregnant or with HIV/AIDS.

In August 2001, soldiers with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea were purchasing 10 year old girls for sex in local hotels.

Before the arrival of 15,000 UN troops in Cambodia in 1991, there were an estimated 1,000 prostitutes in the capital. Currently, Cambodia’s illegal sex trade generates $500 million a year. No less than 55,000 women and children are sex slaves in Cambodia, 35 percent of which are younger than 18 years of age.

Over 5,000 women and children have been trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and are forced into prostitution in bars servicing the U.S. Military in South Korea.

6. Children – lost innocence

  • Children from Pakistan and Bangladesh are kidnapped or sold by their parents to traffickers who take them to Persian Gulf States including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to work as camel jockeys. These children are 3 to 7 years of age and kept malnourished to keep their weight below 35 pounds. They suffer physical abuse from the traffickers and work all day training camels. Many of these children do also suffer extreme injuries or death from falling off camels during the races.
  • Child victims of trafficking are very vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Misconceptions that having sex with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS have fueled an increased demand for child prostitutes.
  • Girls from 15 to 17 years of age are trafficked from Thailand and Taiwan to South Africa. Traffickers recruited these girls to work as waitresses or domestic workers and once they arrive to South Africa they are forced into prostitution.
  • Filipino children are trafficked to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and Southeast Asia, where they are sexually exploited. Traffickers loan parents a sum of money, which the girl must repay to the trafficker through forced prostitution. In one case, a Filipino woman rented her 9-year-old niece to foreign men for sex, and eventually sold her to a German pedophile.
  • 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States from no less than 49 countries every year. As many as 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the United States over the last decade.
  • Women and children as young as 14 have been trafficked from Mexico to Florida and forced to have sex with as many as 130 clients per week in a trailer park. These women were kept hostage through threats and physical abuse, and were beaten and forced to have abortions. One woman was locked in a closet for 15 days after trying to escape.
  • In Fresno, California Hmong gang members have kidnapped girls between the ages of 11 and 14 and forced into prostitution. The gang members would beat and rape them into submission. These girls were trafficked within the United States and traded between other Hmong communities.
  • The Cadena smuggling ring brings women and some are as young as 14, from Mexico to Florida. The victims were forced to prostitute themselves with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park. Of the $25 charged, the women received only $3. The Cadena members keep the women hostage through threats and physical abuse and the women must work until they paid off their debts of $2,000 to $3,000.
  • Domestic servants in some countries of the Middle East are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day with little or no pay, and subject to sexual abuse such as rape, forced abortions, and physical abuse that has resulted in death.
  • Traffickers in many countries in West Africa take girls through voodoo rituals in which girls take oaths of silence and are often raped and beaten, prior to their leaving the country. They are also forced to sign agreements stating that, once they arrive in another country, they owe the traffickers a set amount of money. They are sworn to secrecy and given detailed accounts of how they will be tortured if they break their promise. Traffickers have taken women and young girls to shrines and places of cultural or religious significance; they remove pubic and other hair and then perform a ceremony of intimidation.

7. Human trafficking and the facts

  • An estimated number of 700.000 to 4 million people are forced in forced labor (including the sex industry) as a result of trafficking. Of these are:
  • 1.4 million – 56% are in Asia and the Pacific
  • 250.000 – 10% are in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 230.000 – 9.2% are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
  • 130.000 – 5.2% are in sub-Saharan countries
  • 270.000 – 10.8% are in industrialized countries
  • 200.000 – 8% are in countries in transitions
  • 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination count. People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy.
  • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age and 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
  • 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence.
  • 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation of which 98% are women and girls.
  • 32% of victims are used for forced economical exploitation of which 56% are women and girls.
  • 52% of those recruiting females are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women.
  • In 54% of the cases, the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of the cases, the recruiter knew the victim.
  • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labor are US$ 31.6 billion. Of this:
  • US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
  • US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
  • US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
  • US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle east and North Africa

Click at the picture for a larger image (statistics from 2008-2009)

8. Slavery and sex-trade in the Arab world


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a destination for men and women, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers, who stand for more than 90% of the UAE’s private sector workforce, are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to work as domestic servants or administrative staff, but some are victims of forced labor, including unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, or physical or sexual abuse. Men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are drawn to the UAE for work in the construction sector, but are often subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage.

For the foreign female domestic workers, it is a life of isolation both physically, psychologically, socially and culturally. Some of these women live in abusive environments but others are able to live a little bit more socially. Under the law, once a foreign female worker enters a employers house, she is under his/her control since the employer is the visa sponsor. The employer bears total responsibility for his/her domestic workers and has total control over them. But during the first 3 months of the contract, both the employer and the employee have the right to contact the recruiting agency in order to report problems or to seek change in the status or employment of the foreign female domestic worker. Most recruiting agencies, however, do not encourage this practice, and often hide information from the foreign female domestic worker about their rights. The immigration regulations governing the status of domestic workers and the social practices towards foreign female domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates enslave them to their employers until the duration of their contract ends. Whether one is placed with a desirable or an undesirable employer is a matter of luck.

Saudi Arabia is a place for men and women from South East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation and forced begging for children from Yemen and Africa. Hundreds of thousands low skilled workers from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya migrate voluntarily to Saudi Arabia to work. Many of these workers meet conditions of physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, withholding of travel documents and restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Unfortunately, the government of Saudi Arabia has done little or almost nothing to eliminate trafficking and has lack of efforts to protect victims and prosecute those who are guilty of abuse. Some victims of abuse, chooses to leave the country rather than to confront their abusers in court and according to the law, they are required to file a complaint first before they can be allowed in any shelter. If a victim chooses to file a complaint, he/she is not allowed to work and the Saudi Government does in fat provide food and shelter for female workers who file report.

9. Iran – High profitable sex-trade


Iran has for 25 years, has enforced humiliating and punishments on women and girls, enslaved them in a system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing, and stoning to death. Joining a global trend, in Tehran there has been a 635% increase in the number of teenage girls in prostitution. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that exist in the city. The trade is also international as thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad. The head of Iran’s Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today and government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and girls.

Many of the girls come from poor families living in rural areas. Drug addiction has become epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. There is also a problem with high unemployment, 28% for youth between 15-29 years of age and 43% for women between 15-20 years of age.

Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf because of the booming tourism and the good economy. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 years old, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8. The victims are often physically punished and imprisoned besides being examined if they have engaged in “immoral activity.” Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.

Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain, Turkey, as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, made fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000.

One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home for different reasons and 90% of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. The perpetrators look after street children, runaways, and vulnerable high school girls in city parks and manage to convince them. In large cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways but these places are often corrupt and run prostitution rings from the shelters. In one case, a woman was discovered selling Iranian girls to men in Persian Gulf countries; for four years, she had hunted down runaway girls and sold them. She even sold her own daughter for US$11,000.

For further information about the slave and sex trade and the work that is done to prevent, you can click into these links.

http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/

http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking/international_initiatives

Albinos the victims in Africa

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine. Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions. The girl, who was attacked, was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September. Armed attackers broke into the family home and tied up the girl’s parents before shooting her in the head, local officials say.

Tanzania is also a country in Africa were albinos are targeted and killed the moment they are spotted. Only the past year 25 albinos were murdered here. Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa. At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.

The head of the Burundi Albinos’ Association, Kasim Kazungu, says people with albinism had not suffered any discrimination until other Burundians heard about the lucrative trade in albino body parts in neighboring Tanzania. Not long ago police officers in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders and two mothers in western Tanzania were also attacked with machetes after gangs failed to find their albino children.

The latest victim was a seven-month-old baby. He was mutilated on the orders of a witchdoctor peddling the belief that potions made from an albino’s legs, hair, hands, and blood can make a person rich. Sorcery and the occult maintain a strong foothold in this part of the world, especially in the remote rural areas around the fishing and mining regions of Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria. Once these poor albinos would seek protection from the sun to avoid skin cancer, now they have to go into hiding just to simply survive and avoid being cut in pieces.

Nobody seems to know why the killings are happening now, but Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is now putting pressure on the police to identify where albinos live and offer them protection but it seems like it’s not going to be easy as long as the witchdoctors persuade people to bring albino body parts.

Albinism

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, including humans. The most common term used for an organism affected by albinism is “albino”. Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus and astigmatism and lack of skin pigmentation makes the organism more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancers.

We want your legs!

The last adult albino to be murdered was Nyerere Rutahiro. He was eating dinner outside in his rural compound, when a gang of four strangers burst in, and threatened to arrest him. As his wife Susannah looked on helplessly, the men began to hack at Nyerere’s arms and legs with machetes. “We want your legs,” they shouted, “We want your legs,” his wife recalls, still deeply traumatized by what she saw. Nyerere was targeted for being albino but he was human in the end and died a horrifying death. He was a man in his 50s, father of two and working as a farmer just like the others in the same area. His body was laid to rest in a cement-sealed grave to protect against grave robbers who often steal body parts of the dead to give to witchdoctors.

Nyerere is buried in a cementgrave

This is the work of organized gangs, according to Tanzanian police in the capital Dar as Salaam. Witchdoctors, middlemen and the clients who pay for albino body parts are among the 173 people in custody so far for these macabre killings but none has been prosecuted.

Ostracised

The sad reality is that albinos, who can afford it, are now flocking to urban centres where they feel a little safer. African albinos endure insults, discrimination and segregation throughout their lives. They also have a high risk of contracting skin cancer in a region where many jobs are outdoors.

Away from the wards, under the shade of a mango tree, a black woman sits with her albino daughter. Ashura and Amina, her angelic looking 9 year old. They may seem an odd couple at first, but the firm eyes of the mother reveals a woman deeply protective of her child. She is a woman who looks older than her years. Ashura and Amina now live on their own, ostracised by the rest of their family. “When Amina was born my husband and the older two children moved away,” recounts Ashura. “They were so ashamed and thought Amina would bring us bad luck, but I am not leaving her, she’s my daughter,” Ashura say.

Every parent nurturing an albino child has good reason to be frightened in today’s Tanzania. The stories of youngsters being snatched from their parents’ arms or attacked on the way to school are horrific but a part of reality.

Mary Owido, 36 years old and mother of 6 lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.”Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania,” she says. “This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone.”

The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of “a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors,” the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said. The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

Many fathers in denial
Almost 90 percent of albinos living in the region were raised by single mothers, because the fathers believed their wives were having affairs with white men. Some African communities believe that albinos are harbingers of disaster, while others mistakenly think albinos are mentally retarded and discourage their parents from taking them to school, saying it’s a waste of money. This resembles the witch-hunt that took place in the middle ages were women and girls would be burned at the stake accused of being witches.

Due to a lack of education, many albinos are illiterate and are forced into menial jobs, exposing them to the sun and skin cancer and those who manage to finish school face discrimination in the work place and are never considered for promotions. But one thing is positive and that is that before people would not dare to speak about albinism and would always keep silence. Today, everybody is talking about it and hopefully things will change so that these people can live as a part of the community and not as outcasts.

Surrogacy – Womb for rent

What is surrogacy

Many couples consider children as a very important part of their life and for those who have difficulty conceiving one can be a hard obstacle to tackle. Some couples do whatever they can such as various treatments, acupuncture, medicine treatment and IVF treatments while others feels that the pressure becomes too hard and they separate. Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term. There are many biological causes of infertility, some which may be bypassed with medical intervention.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the body, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. Robert G. Edwards, the doctor who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.

Some people decide to take the step to adopt a child but the negative aspects of this are that most adoptions take very long time. It’s a paradox if we think of the number of orphan children around the world and that those who apply for adoption have to wait for many years in line before they can add a new family member to their household. Therefore lately there is a rising use of surrogate mothers around the world. Surrogacy was first heard mostly in the media where Hollywood actors and actresses used but now, common people tend to use this method.

Surrogacy can be defined as an arrangement where a woman carries and delivers a baby for another person or a couple. This woman may be the genetic mother of this child (traditional surrogacy) or she may carry the pregnancy to deliver after having an embryo which she has no genetic relationship to (gestational surrogacy). If the pregnant woman receives compensation for carrying and delivering the baby besides medical and other expenses, it is called commercial surrogacy; otherwise the arrangement is called altruistic surrogacy.

The social parents, those that intend to raise the child arrange a surrogate pregnancy because of female infertility, or other medical issues which may make the pregnancy or delivery impossible, risky or otherwise undesirable. The social mother could also be fertile and healthy, and prefer the convenience of someone else undergoing pregnancy, labor, and delivery for her. The intended parent could also be a single man or woman wishing to have his/her own biological child and the legality of surrogacy arrangements vary widely between jurisdictions.

Usually, though, the etiquette is that the biological parents will provide the surrogate mother with any necessities the surrogate needs in the pregnancy such as providing transportation to and from doctor’s appointments; covering the costs of doctor visits, medications, procedures, hospital stay, and delivery fees (emergency and nonemergency) if medical insurance is not available by the surrogate; providing maternal clothing for the surrogate; if the surrogate was working before but quit to do the surrogacy, the biological parents will cover life necessities such as food, bills and etc.

INDIA: New regulation for India’s booming surrogate mother industry

Until recently, the 350 clinics offering surrogate mother services to the hundreds of medical tourists coming to India every week have been unregulated. But legal cases in India and other countries mean that this profitable free-for-all will be replaced by regulated agencies being forced to comply with national and international law. That may soon change. A draft bill to direct assisted reproductive technology (ART) is likely to be introduced this year in Parliament. India’s Supreme Court has demanded urgent new legislation to regulate one of India’s fastest-growing industries as they have become the world capital of outsourced pregnancies, where surrogates are implanted with foreign embryos and paid to carry the resultant babies to term. In 2002, the country legalized commercial surrogacy in an effort to promote medical tourism and Indian surrogate mothers are considered as available and cheap. In 2002 the country legalized commercial surrogacy in an effort to promote medical tourism; a sector the Confederation of Indian Industry predicts will generate $2.3 billion annually by 2012.

Many of the couples using India are from countries where surrogacy is either illegal or unaffordable. Surrogacy costs $12,000 to $20,000 per birth in India, compared to $70,000 to $100,000 in the USA. Indian surrogates are usually paid between 5,000 to $ 7,000 for their services, which is more than many of them would be able to earn after years of work. In some Indian clinics surrogates are recruited from rural villages, with most recruits being poor and illiterate. Surrogacy recruits are also brought to the clinics where they are required to stay in the clinic’s living quarters in a guarded dormitory-like setting for the entire pregnancy where they are being taking care of in case of complications.

There have been several cases in which babies born from Indian surrogacy arrangements were stateless, in which neither India nor the parents’ home countries recognized the babies’ citizenship. “We can only wish them good luck,” India’s Supreme Court told local media. Japan considers the woman who gives birth to a baby, the surrogate, to be the baby’s mother just like Norway does. Until recently, two-year-old twin toddlers were stateless and stranded in India. Their parents are German nationals, but the woman to whom the babies were born is an Indian surrogate. The boys were refused German passports because the country does not recognize surrogacy as a legitimate means of parenthood. And India does not confer citizenship on surrogate-born children conceived by foreigners. Only after a long legal battle did Germany allow the boys German passports.

The new proposed government bill bans in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics from brokering surrogacy transactions. It also calls for the establishment of an ART bank that will be responsible for locating surrogate mothers, as well as reproductive donors and fertility clinics will only come into contact with surrogates on the operating table but clinics see this as unworkable as they want to perform medical and background checks. But the new rules seek to protect surrogate mothers with freedom in negotiating their fee and mandatory health insurance from the couple or single employing them. The legislation will only allow a woman to act as a surrogate up to five times, less if she has her own children, and will impose a 35-year age limit. At the same time, the new legislation will also require and make sure that the international couple’s home country guarantees the unborn infant citizenship before a surrogacy can begin. If this stipulation becomes law it could kill the industry as few countries will or legally could guarantee citizenship before birth. Countries accepting surrogate-born children typically rely on DNA tests done post-delivery to determine the parentage of the baby.

How will the legislation affect Indian clinics?

Dr. Patel chooses among the women who appear at the clinic, at least three a day, hoping to hire out their wombs and she pairs the surrogates with infertile couples, catering to an increasingly international clientele from 13 foreign couples in 2006 to 85 in 2009. The entire process costs customers around $23,000 less than 1/5 of the going rate in the U.S. of which the surrogate mother usually receives about $7,500 in installments. Dr. Patel implants the women with embryos, using specimens from sperm or egg donors if necessary. Once pregnant, the surrogates are housed onsite, in a dormitory that was once a local tax office, so that they can be supervised until delivery. But under the new legislation, Patel will be permitted to supervise nothing but surgery.

Surrogate mothers waiting for check up

The proposed bill bans in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics from brokering surrogacy transactions. It also emphasizes for the establishment of an “ART bank” that will be responsible for locating surrogate mothers as well as reproductive donors. Fertility clinics will only come into contact with surrogates on the operating table and the reason for this is to create a safe distance between the clinic and the surrogate to avoid unethical practices according to Dr. R.S. Sharma, deputy director general of the ICMR and member-secretary of the bill’s drafting committee. “IVF clinics should only be concerning themselves with science.”

Dr Patel does not agree with the legislation maintains that ART banks will not have enough experience to determine whether a woman is fit for surrogacy. “The trust the clients and surrogate mothers have with me is what makes the whole thing secure and safe. And at the end, when they want to buy a house or a piece of land for farming, we get them the best deal. With this bill, we will not know what they are going to do with such a big amount of money,” she says.

Stateless children

During nine months, Kari Ann Volden, a Norwegian woman have been battling against the Norwegian government to adopt the twins Adrian and Michael, who was born from a surrogate mother in India January 24, 2010. According to Norwegian rule, the woman who gives birth to the child is the legal mother.

Family Minister Audun Lysbakken promised in May 2010 that the Ministry should take into account the children and make a moral exception in the case even if Kari Ann Volden was not considered to be the mother of the children but when it emerged that she had lied about the eggs being hers the application then was rejected. Therefore she is now caught in India with the two young boys hoping that her adoption application still will be granted.

According to the Norwegian authorities, the children are Indian government’s responsibility. But Indian authorities claim that the children are Norwegian and the twins are therefore now stateless. Norwegian government justifies the refusal on the basis of international conventions and Norwegian law to prevent the purchase and sale of children. This is the first time that such a case is dealt with in Norway. Norway has ratified the Convention on Human Rights, which states that children’s best interests will be emphasized, even when it comes to adoption across national borders. And that’s what this case is all about children’s best interests, not their biological connection.

After the birth of the two boys, the authorities demanded a DNA test to finish up the adoption process, and Volden admitted then that both eggs and sperm was donated and the Norwegian adoption authorities put their foot down for the adoption of the two twins. Volden is sorry that she had told the adoption authorities that the eggs were hers but says she said it to protect the boys and herself. “I did not think that the case would receive such attention. I thought we would be in India for seven weeks, but now we have been here for seven months,” she said.

Labor Party politician has followed the case with great interest for a long period. The case created great interest among the people, expressed both through the Facebook support group and fundraising since Volden is suffering economically. Much indicated that the case was about to resolve it when the family minister Audun Lysbakken opened to domestic adoption, but it was paradoxically this opportunity that led to incorrect information was revealed.

Indian surrogate mother: “We do it for money”

Regina A. Singh has never met the Norwegian father who applied for surrogacy alone and she thinks it’s strange to carry out a child who should not have a mother. “It would never have happened in India. But I do not think about it. This is not my baby,” Regina says. She is 23 years old and has two children from before herself. This is her first time as a surrogate mother. “We needed the money. First, my husband refused, but I managed to persuade him,” she said. For the job, she gets 350,000 rupees, around $7,740 and that is a fortune for the family of four, which until now have lived by the husband’s income of about $ 900 a month. But Regina has chosen to keep the matter secret from the in-laws as they would never understand. In the tradition-bound India, it is often associated with shame to rent out her womb for others especially in rural areas; surrogacy is combined with social stigma, and is seen as dirty and immoral.

Udmala Mansoya (30) and Hema Rawal (34) admittes its hard work but they do it for the money. Both have undergone multiple pregnancies earlier but this is completely different. Both agree that once is enough for them as a surrogate mother. Udmala will use the money to buy a house, while Hema will ensure that her own three children receive education, but none of them get the money in hand, they are managed for them by Akanksha Clinic. “Many of the women can not read or write, so we think it is best that we look after their money for them,” says clinic administrator Himesh Patel who helps the women with house and land purchase. If something were to happen during pregnancy or birth the women have little protection as Indian insurance companies refuse to insure pregnant women, and women are therefore at the mercy of their employers.”We did not know this. But we hope it goes well,” says Hema and Udmala.

Here are a list of countries that performs surrogacy and information about the process. http://www.surrogate-mother.ru/eng/surrogacy/surrogacy_different_countries.html

Rwanda, the forgotten genocide

Paul Rusesabagina is a Rwandan humanitarian who has been internationally honoured for saving 1,268 refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. He was the assistant manager of the Sabena Hôtel des Mille Collines before he became the manager of the Hôtel des Diplomates in Kigali, Rwanda. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Rusesabagina used his influence and connections as temporary manager of the ‘Mille Collines’ to shelter 1,268 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from being slaughtered by the Interahamwe militia. Rusesabagina’s efforts were also the basis of the Academy Award nominated film Hotel Rwanda (2004). He currently lives in Brussels, Belgium with his wife, children, and two adopted nieces.

Earlier life

Rusesabagina was born in the Central-South region of Rwanda called Murama to a farming family on June 15, 1954. He wanted to be a pastor when he grew up, but currently is a lapsed Seventh-day Adventist. He had three children (Roger, Diane, Lys) with his wife Ester Rusesabagina. After they separated in 1981, he graduated from the Hotel Management program of Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya, which included a trip to Switzerland. When he returned from Switzerland, he was employed in the Hôtel des Mille Collines as assistant general manager from October 1984 until November 1992, at which time he was promoted to general manager of the company’s Diplomate Hotel in Kigali. He met his current wife Tatiana in 1987 at a wedding party. Tatiana was a Tutsi suffering discrimination at her job as a nurse; Rusesabagina arranged for her to be moved closer to him for this reason, and to get to know her better. After they married, they had a daughter, who died only a few days after her birth. They later had a son, Tresor.

Rwanda genocide

The Rwandan Genocide started on April 6, 1994 as the Hutu-led Interahamwe began to slaughter the Tutsi population, a mass murder of an estimated number of 850,000 to 1 million people in the small East African nation of Rwanda counting as much as 20 % of the country’s population. The violence had raised and was influenced mainly by the Belgian colonization which favoured the Tutsi minority group because of their more “European” appearance of longstanding ethnic competition and the tension between the minorities Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries. The majority Hutu people had come to power in the rebellion of 1959-1962 as they overthrew the Tutsi monarchy.  In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began the Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone nations of Africa and France, and the RPF, with support from Uganda. This exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country. In response, many Hutu gravitated toward the Hutu Power ideology, with the prompting of state-controlled and independent Rwandan media.

The Hutu’s thought that the Tutsi’s intended to enslave the Hutu’s and they had to resist this at all cost. This ethnic strife resulted in large numbers of Hutu’s displaced in the north and Tutsi killings in the south.

Though Rusesabagina was of mixed heritage – his father was Hutu and his mother Tutsi, he was relatively safe from the Interahamwe due to his position and business connections with important Hutu military leaders. His wife Tatiana was a Tutsi and their children were considered mixed, so he could not escape the war zone with his family without outside help, however, no foreign aid came from the United Nations or its more powerful Western member states; the USA until after over 800,000 Rwandans had been murdered.

When the heinous violence broke out, Rusesabagina brought his family to the Hôtel des Mille Collines for safety. As other managers departed, Rusesabagina phoned the hotel’s corporate owners, Sabena, and secured a letter appointing him the acting general manager of the Mille Collines. Despite some difficulty in getting the staff to accept his authority, he was able to use his position to shelter orphans and other refugees who came to the hotel. His neighbours had moved into his house for safety, though Rusesabagina did not even own a gun. For protection against bullets and grenades they put mattresses against the windows. He described the hardships they faced, which included having to drink the water from the hotel’s swimming pool.

When a murderous Hutu militia threatened to enter the Mille Collines, Rusesabagina ensured that his wife and children fled safely in a truck past the militia’s roadblocks and the truck set out for Kigali airport so they could flee to another country for safety. He himself remained in the hotel because the refugees needed him. Rusesabagina and his wife discussed this decision for hours, because he had promised her he would never leave her in this situation but he couldn’t leave these people behind. He feared that the remaining refugees would be killed and feeling that he would never be able to forgive himself.

Tatiana was a specific target for the brutal attack because she was the wife of the manager of the Mille Collines; the Hutu militia knew she and her children were in the truck owing to radio messages sent out by presenter Georges Ruggiu. Ruggiu was an Italian-Belgian who was part of the radio station conspiracy to incite ethnic tension and encourage the Hutu population to kill all the Tutsis. Ruggiu called Rusesabagina’s family “cockroaches that were fleeing, but would return later to kill all the Hutus”. Tatiana’s mother, four nieces and nephews died in the genocide. Her brother and sister-in-law were missing and her father paid to be executed so he would not die a more painful death.

We all knew we would die without any question. The only question was how. Would they chop us in pieces? With their machetes they would cut your left hand off. Then they would disappear and reappear a few hours later to cut off your right hand. A little later they would return for your left leg etc. They went on till you died. They wanted to make you suffer as long as possible. There was one alternative: you could pay soldiers so they would just shoot you. That’s what her [Tatiana’s] father did.

— Paul Rusesabagina in Humo, nr. 3365, March 1, 2005

The Interhamwe left nearly 1 million corpses behind and the Tutsi rebels pushed the Hutus into Congo in July 1994, after over half of the Tutsis in Rwanda had been murdered. Rusesabagina took orphans from the camp behind Tutsi rebel lines with him to Tanzania, to keep them safe and away from Rwanda. Rusesabagina, his wife and children, and the refugees eventually managed to escape to Tanzania, thanks to the Rwandan Patriotic Front and after staying in Rwanda for two more years, Rusesabagina applied for asylum in Belgium and moved to Brussels in 1996 after receiving credible threats on his life.

  • In October 2005, Rusesabagina was awarded the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan in recognition of his rescue and defence of Tutsi citizens who took refuge in the Milles Collines Hotel.
  • Rusesabagina received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005 from President George W. Bush.

History of violence

Ethnic tension in Rwanda has always existed and there have always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown since the colonial period even though the two ethnic groups are actually very similar as they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions however, the Tutsis are often taller and thinner than Hutus, with some saying their origins lies in Ethiopia. During the genocide, the bodies of Tutsis were thrown into rivers, as the killers said they were being sent back to Ethiopia.

It all started with the Belgians arriving to Rwanda in 1916 and took the responsibility to produce identity cards to classify people according to their ethnicity but considered the Tutsi’s to be more superior to the Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s was satisfied with this idea and for the next 20 years they had the privilege of better jobs and educational jobs than the Hutu’s. The frustration and anger among the Hutu’s gradually built up by time and resulted in a series of riots in 1959 where more than 20,000 Tutsi’s were killed and many others had to flee to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. When Belgium granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutu’s took their place and over the next decades, the Tutsi’s were targeted as guilty for every crisis.

Civil war

Large numbers of Tutsi refugees in Uganda had joined the victorious rebel National Resistance Movement during the Ugandan Bush War and created a separate movement. Some 6,000 Tutsi refugee warriors invaded Rwanda to try to regain power as they threatened the Hutu’s since independence.

The beginning of the genocide

The killing was well organized by the government as the Rwandan militia numbered around 30,000, or one militia member for every ten families. It was organized nationwide, with representatives in every neighbourhood. Weapons, such as grenades were widely distributed by the government and many members of the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were armed only with machetes. Even after the 1993 peace agreement signed in Arusha, businessmen close to General Habyarimana imported 581,000 machetes for Hutu use in killing Tutsi, because at the time, machetes were cheaper than guns. Rwandan PM Jean Kambanda revealed in his testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings and that “one cabinet minister said she was personally in favour of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, she told ministers, all of Rwanda’s problems would be over

Hutus and Tutsis were forced to use ID cards which specified their ethnic group and these cards served as symbols that the Interahamwe could check via the threat of force. Skin colour was also a way to figure out the “ethnic” identification as the lighter-coloured Rwandans were Tutsi, the minority group, while the darker-skinned Rwandans were typically Hutu, the majority group in Rwanda. In many cases, Tutsi men, women, and children were separated from the general population and sometimes forced to be Hutu slaves. As for the Tutsi women, they were often referred to as “gypsies” and frequently fell victim to sexual violence.

Media and the propaganda

The news media played a crucial role in the genocide; local print and radio media fuelled the killings while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued events on the ground. The print media in Rwanda was believed to have started hate speeches against the Tutsis, which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators, anti-Tutsi hate speech became systematic and the state-owned newspaper Kangura had a central role, starting an anti-Tutsi and anti-RPF campaign in October 1990.

Due to high rates of illiteracy at the time of the genocide, radio was an important way for the government to deliver messages to the public. Two radio stations key to inciting violence before and during the genocide were Radio Rwanda and Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). In March 1992, Radio Rwanda was first used in directly promoting the killing of Tutsi in Bugesera, south of the national capital Kigali. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a communiqué warning that Hutu in Bugesera would be attacked by Tutsi, a message used by local officials to convince Hutu that they needed to attack first. Led by soldiers, Hutu civilians and the Interahamwe attacked and killed hundreds of Tutsi.

Genocide and massacre

The Rwandan military and Hutu militia groups, notably the Interahamwe, systematically set out to murder all the Tutsis they could reach, regardless of age or sex, as well as the political moderates among the Hutu. They incited Hutu civilians to participate in the killings or be shot in turn, using radio broadcasts to tell them to kill their Tutsi neighbours. Most nations evacuated their nationals from Kigali and abandoned their embassies in the initial stages of the violence. As the situation worsened, the national radio advised people to stay in their homes and not to go out. The militia put up hundreds of roadblocks around the country, using them to block off areas and attack the citizens.

On April 9, UN observers witnessed the massacre of children at a Polish church in Gikondo. The same day, 1,000 heavily armed and trained European troops arrived to escort European civilian personnel out of the country and on April 9–10, US Ambassador Rawson and 250 Americans were evacuated. Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or in towns, often by their neighbours and fellow villagers. The militia typically murdered victims by machetes, although some army units used rifles. The Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings, and massacred them. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their neighbours, and those who refused to kill were often murdered on the spot. “Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself.”

Another massacre occurred at Nyarubuye on April 12th, where more than 1,500 Tutsis sought refuge in a Catholic church in Nyange. Local Interahamwe, acting in concert with the authorities, used bulldozers to knock down the church building and the militia used machetes and rifles to kill every person who tried to escape. Local priest Athanase Seromba was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR for his role in the demolition of his church; he was convicted of the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Because of the chaotic situation, there is no consensus on the number of people killed between April 6 and mid-July unlike the genocides carried out by Nazi Germany and by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, authorities made no attempts to record deaths. The succeeding RPF government has stated that 1,071,000 were killed, 10 % of whom were Hutu. The journalist Philip Gourevitch agrees with an estimate of one million, while the UN estimates the toll as 800,000. James Smith of Aegis Trust noted, “What’s important to remember is that there was genocide. There was an attempt to eliminate Tutsis — men, women, and children and to erase any memory of their existence.” Out of a population of 7.3 million people, 84 % of whom were Hutu, 15 % Tutsi and 1 % Twa–the official figures published by the Rwandan government estimated the number of victims of the genocide to be 1,174,000 in 100 days. That is 10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute. It is estimated that about 300,000 Tutsi survived the genocide, thousands of widows, many of whom were subjected to rape, are now HIV-positive. There were about 400,000 orphans and nearly 85,000 of them were forced to become heads of families.

Several individuals were active in attempting to halt the Rwandan genocide, or to shelter vulnerable Tutsi, as it was taking place. Among them there are Romeo Dallaire, Pierantonio Costa, Antonia Locatelli, Jacqueline Mukansonera, Paul Rusesabagina, Carl Wilkens, André Sibomana and Captain Mbaye Diagne.

Aftermath

Approximately 2 million Hutus, participants in the genocide, and the bystanders, with anticipation of Tutsi retaliation, fled from Rwanda, to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and for the most part Zaire. Thousands of them died in epidemics of diseases common to the squalor of refugee camps, such as cholera and dysentery and the United States staged the Operation Support Hope airlift from July to September 1994 to stabilize the situation in the camps. After the victory of the RPF, the size of UNAMIR (henceforth called UNAMIR 2) was increased to its full strength, remaining in Rwanda until March 8, 1996.

International criminal court

In 2001, the government began implementing a participatory justice system, known as Gacaca, meanwhile, the UN sat up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, currently based in Arusha, Tanzania. The UN Tribunal has jurisdiction over high level members of the government and armed forces, while Rwanda is responsible for prosecuting lower level leaders and local people. 22 people were executed in public for their role in the massacre in 1998 and 18 of them in provincial towns where the massacres had occurred, while 4 were executed at a football field in Kigali by firing squad. The executed included Silas Munyagishali, a Kigali assistant prosecutor, and Froduald Karamira of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development.

Tensions arose between Rwanda and the UN over the use of the death penalty, though these were largely resolved once Rwanda abolished the punishment in 2007, however, domestic tensions continued over support for the death penalty, and the interest in conducting the trials at home. In ten years the Arusha tribunal only succeeded in sentencing 20 people.

On Thursday, December 18, 2008, Theoneste Bagosora was found guilty of crimes against humanity. He was charged by UN judge Erik Møse, and sentenced to life in prison. The court also found Bagosora responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers.

Children of Somalia

Somalia, one of the harshest places on earth has given huge challenges to its people in terms of simple survival. The legacy of a nomadic life way of life and a civil conflict that has shattered social structures and provided poverty giving Somali children of surviving to adulthood are among the lowest of children in the world. The odds of the child’s mother dying during pregnancy or in childbirth are also extremely high.

 

Diarrheas disease-related hydration, respiratory infections and malaria are the main killers of infants and young children. Cholera is endemic in Somalia, with the threat of outbreaks recurring annually during the season from December to May. The major underlying causes of diarrhea are the lack of access to safe water, and poor food and domestic hygiene. Malnutrition is a chronic problem in all areas, and becomes acute when areas are struck by drought or flood, or where localized conflicts flare up. These and other birth-related problems are a further cause of many infant deaths, while measles and its complications result in widespread illness. The reason for this is poor nutrition and transmission is rapid where living conditions is crowded, resulting in a high death rate.

Somalia is among countries with the highest incidence of tuberculosis in the world. Overcrowded conditions in camps where many displaced people are living, general lack of treatment facilitates, poor quality drugs and malnutrition keeps tuberculosis as one of the country’s main killer disease. Lack of access to safe water is a striking feature in almost all parts of Somalia. Probably less than 1 in every 3 households uses an improved drinking water source. A result of erratic rainfall patterns which are responsible for both droughts and floods, and destruction of water supply installations during civil war.

Only 37% of the population of Somalia has access to adequate sanitation. Poor hygiene and environmental sanitation are major causes of diseases such as cholera among children and women. The impact of poor environmental sanitation is felt in the cities, towns, large villages and other places where people are living in close proximity to each other with waste disposal adjacent to dwellings. Lack of garbage collection facilities is another factor affecting the urban environment and polluting water sources.

Primary school years Somalia is a country where schooling is available to very few children. A child of primary school age has only about a 1 in 5 chance of attending school. As a result of the collapse of the centrally government in 1991 and the ensuing long years of conflict, schools where destroyed and abandoned. Only now is rehabilitation of the damaged building beginning to take place. Most schools are financed from fees or other forms support from parents and communities, with some input from external agencies. For a girl child in Somalia, the prospects of attending school are even poorer. Result of previous school surveys reflects the same pattern. The high dropout rates of girls in most areas are due to a combination of traditional attitudes.

Adolescence Among the youth many have known nothing but conflict and hardship for most of their lives. Many children and youth have suffered displacement and have observed, experienced and sometimes participated in violence. A majority have never experienced normal, stabile social relationships and systems of governance. Lack of optimism about the possibilities the future holds for them is common among this group. There are growing categories of vulnerable children who are in need of special care and protection including:

  1. Those that have been displaced within the country, such as people driven from their homes by conflict, drought, floods or other factors.
  2. Children from minority groups, the very poor or orphans.
  3. Children living on the streets, militia children and children on conflict with the law.

Girls are specially disadvantaged in most of these categories. Gender discrimination is deeply rooted in the traditional sociocultural structures of Somali society and is a formidable barrier to women’s participation in decision-making and access to resources.

UNICEF officials are concerned that the current situation in Somalia will have lasting consequences for Somali society. Children continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, and many lack access to even the most basic services. Fighting has killed and injured numerous children. Many are recruited into armed conflict. In additional to the traumas of conflict, children in Somalia faces a myriad of other challenges, from education to health sanitation concern. Safe water is also scarce. Only 29% of the population has access to safe water, and this is being aggravated by droughts. Nutrition continues to be a critical concern, with 1 in 5 children acutely malnourished, and 1 in 20 severely malnourished on the risk of death without proper treatment.

July 22, 2010; According to USAID, flooding and limited access to sanitation facilities and safe drinking water has continued to increase the spread of waterborne diseases in the country. According to health officials, there has also been increased incidence of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) from reports made in Banadir Hospital in Mogadishu about 100 AWD cases from Banadir hospital, including 90 cases in children under five years of age and three related deaths, representing a 24% increase compared to the number of cases reported during the the previous month. Between January and May, health officials reported more than 25,000 AWD cases and 51 deaths countrywide, including approximately 18,000 cases in children under five years of age and 48 related deaths.

2011; The humanitarian community has improved access to sanitation facilities for more than 200,000 conflict-affected individuals and conducted hygiene promotion activities for more than 1 million people in 2010 but it is not enough for the war-stricken country as the ongoing political instability has prevented most of the aid agencies from delivering much of the food and clean water. Almost 6 million people have been hit hard by the drought in the country and 1 in 6 children have become malnourished says UN reports. Juba has the greatest proportion of acutely malnourished children – at 30% probably the highest rate anywhere in the world. This is due mainly to a lack of clean water, leading to diarrhoea, and reduced access to milk, as families move their livestock ever further away in search of pasture. Across southern Somalia, one in four children is acutely malnourished. The shattered political system does also complicate the matter as the terrorist group Al-Shabaab has banned more than 20 international relief agencies even when most of the aid offices are in the capital, they do see it as a big challenge to deliver to those in controlled districts.

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