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Women – Empowerment and Crime against Her.

Whenever I look around I found many unanswered questions which have not been answered since time unknown. Women throughout the history have faced the wrath of the male dominated society. Their rights have never been given importance or enforced into a civil system which leads her into complete decline as the time passes by.  She is the producer of the world whom the creator had created and she is the only one who can give birth and nourishes it with her body.

A woman in her life plays various roles and goes through numerous phases, from her first breath after her birth she becomes a daughter with a decided future and undecided intentions of the society even of her parents.  As she grows up in the backgrounds of her courtyard the eyes around her monitors her progress drawing the boundaries for her where she has large limitations but few openness for her mindset to allow her heart to explore further. With the celebrations of her sweet sixteen she approaches in an empowered world of man where her ambitions have no value, no respect which falls on the deaf years of her own family.

At the age when she should be living her goals of her life her parents sees the groom for her as if she is just meant for the matrimonial purpose and have no other rights to live her life as she planned. The marriage brings whole new roles and theme in a woman’s life where she defines new parameters for her life carrying the carcass of her dark future with a destiny where she will have to live with those for whom she had left the home. A married woman is more vulnerable than an independent unmarried one to the violence.  When married she is forced to work for the entire family making her a complete slave who not only have to look after her husband’s desires but also of others members in the family. If she didn’t expect the child pregnancy she is not only treated as an unwanted member but as a debt on their family. No matter how much she tries to adjust herself in the new environment and tries to satisfy the needs of others or her mate but she never rests in peace even at the time when her feet hang in the grave.

The journey from being a daughter to a wife transforms her life 360 degree with lots of sacrifices she owes on herself. But the story what it seems is not that as the reality is mouthing different. There is nothing like a peace in the world of woman where even the love she gets has the hidden desires of male for his unsatisfied nerves. Woman from ages had been treated like an object of glamour under whose shadow a world of males can quench his thirst. An object with whom they can play with, use her, live their hopes to live in her womb but never thinks about her desires, her aims of life, her rights which she deserves to live with as she wishes to practice.

The rudeness which a woman faces in her life is not only done by the male dominance but also those women who had faced and has been facing the similar atrocities on them. This has lead to a complete devastation of a gender that formed the generations of the entire human civilizations since without her it wouldn’t be possible. Even to this day women faces the violence and bears the brunt of the so called their male counterparts.  The majority of the world still flows in the rivers of her tears come out of the agony which this male dominated society has created for them. Women are still being burnt, being killed in the name of honor; experiencing the mutilation/cutting of their body parts, being harassed sexually, morally, being forced to marry in early child hood or before maturity and many such kinds of violence which this noble being do not deserve to face.

Worsening Violence against Women:

There is no country in the world whether developed or developing where the violence / crime against the women does not happen. At least one-third woman killed every year by their intimate partner in the US. Every six hours a woman lost her life by an intimate partner in South Africa. In India on an average 22 women are murdered in dowry related cases every year.

Every day two women are killed in Guatemala. When we talk about human trafficking women constitutes 80% of all the people trafficked in a year and the worst is 79% are being trafficked for sex trade. In Thailand 10% of its GDP comes from Prostitution this has given rise to many anti social elements and AIDS threat on a much larger level. Majority of the staff are women.

More than 60 million women are child brides and majority of them are from South Asia and Sub- Saharan region where this heinous custom is still alive and being practice in distant hidden corners sometime even in the civilized corners of these regions.

1 out of 4 women suffers from violence during pregnancy worldwide leading to miscarriage, still birth and abortion the abuse involved the acts like kicking or punching on the abdomen faced by more than half of the women who suffers this kind of physical assault. In Brazil every 15 seconds women is harassed. In Ecuador 37% of the Perpetrators are teachers who sexually abuse adolescent girls. In England and Wales 100 women are killed each year by their intimate partners or ex partners.

During war, civil war, rioting women are the easiest targets who face the unwanted wrath of the mob. At the time of Rwandan Genocide approx 250000 – 500000 women and girls raped and killed in 1994 whereas 200000 women survived rape during Congo where they still face the high rate of violence against them as now it is a common say that “rape has now become a weapon of war” while the same number or more were killed due to rape and other sexual assault. This is done to destroy the targeted community.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo 5,000 cases of rape, corresponding to an average of 40 a day, were recorded in the Uvira area by women associations since October 2002. In Sierra Leone 94 per cent of displaced households surveyed had experienced sexual assaults, including rape, torture and sexual slavery, in Iraq at least 400 women and girls as young as eight were reported to have been raped in Baghdad during or after the war, since April 2003, every 14 days a Colombian woman is a victim of forced “disappearance”.

In a 2008 survey of 4,700 Afghan women, 87.2% had experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage in their lifetimes and the situation is continued to be worsen due to the increase complexities of this banana republic which still faces the nexus of violence from all corners. One of the major causes in the increase in violence against women is the rise in human trafficking and illiteracy.

Whereas in Malaysia which portrays itself as a peaceful and prosperous civilized society women continues to suffer in the darker corners of this shining society where the violence against them rises with the change in year. Malaysian police’s statistics showed that the number of reported domestic violence cases went up by 505 from 3,264 in 2006 to 3,769 in 2008.

Between 15% of women in Japan and 70% of women in Ethiopia and Peru reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner; between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by a non-partner; the first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 24% in rural Peru, 28% in Tanzania, 30% in rural Bangladesh, and 40% in South Africa.

In South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females reported being a victim of physical dating violence. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against girls and women. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women report being victims of sexual violence as children.

According to WHO in Bolivia 17% of all women aged 20 years and over have experienced physical violence in the previous 12 months, whereas in Bangladesh 50% of all murders are of women by their partners while in New Zealand 20% of women reported being hit or physically abused by a male partner according to UNICEF.

In Pakistan 42% of women accept violence as part of their fate; 33% feel too helpless to stand up to it.  In the Russian Federation 36,000 women are beaten on a daily basis by their husband or partner, according to Russian non-governmental organizations. In Spain one woman every five days is killed by her male partner. About two women per week are killed by their partners in the United Kingdom.

In the USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds, in France 25,000 women are raped per year whereas if we talk about Turkey then 35.6% of women have experienced marital rape sometimes and 16.3% often. Whereas in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20,000 – 50,000 women were raped during five months of conflict in 1992 while in some villages of Kosovo 30%-50% of women of child bearing age were raped by Serbian force.

Want Change in the Mindset

So from the above mentioned reported data it has now proven as written earlier in the writing that no matter whether it is developed or under developed / developing women suffers from violence. Countless attempts have been made on judicial grounds and numerous campaigns have been launched to support the women empowerment but none has yielded results as expected because the mind sets of the society had never been targeted since the whole situation is just because of our undeveloped thought process which still sees the gender as the object previewed since the time un known without making difference as per the advancing world even in 21st century.

Until n unless we will not change our thinking and perceptions towards women we cannot guarantee a healthy and peaceful society to them. The whole life of a woman goes into a search of a perfect side for herself where she can be respected no matter whether she is a daughter, a girlfriend, wife, in law; mother but she faces the undeserved attitude of the biased society.

The feminine gender can be empowered only if she wants to position herself in the world dominated by those who deserve to be under her. A revolution can only be bring into reality of life if women herself lifts the lit flame in her own hands to fight for her rights and with an organized support of those who want to bring change in the cultural world who have never respected her leaving her alone to face the plight.  She should stand up for herself against the inhumane age old trends which had always forced her to remain under the feet of her own soul mate. Now women should start raising their voice against the crime which they face since the real justice can only be bring when she understands her rights must be made aware on a much large level so that those remain untouched and unaware about what’s happening around just living their lives in the isolated corners of the progressing world must be approached under a dedicated campaign designed exclusively for them who still breathes under darkness of crime against them.

Now the world should think about in a different and more reformed way so that whatever the mistakes were committed in the name of women upliftment should not be repeated again and must also works towards building an open mindset of the male dominated society getting rid from the unwanted perceptions against women. Reforms in the women empowerment line must be brought keeping in mind the entire scenario of the gender decline which women are being subject to and still facing the same with the growing numbers of crimes against them. This can only be tackle with the joint efforts from both gender sides of man and woman as the healthy society is that where the women lives a healthy and empowered life. The literacy of women must be prioritize especially in rural backward areas and must be made free which will help majority of the households to send their girls to schools and pursue their dreams free mindedly.

Pictures from Google.

Sexual crimes against children in Indonesia

In Indonesia, raping case is  on the  2nd ranks the most common crime after the murder.

Rape comes from the Latin rapere , means to steal, force, seize or carry away. Rape is an attempt to vent his sexual lust by a man against women in a way that violates according to the moral and law. According to the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC), rape is any sexual assault or coercion. Form of rape is not always intercourse, but any form of attack or coercion involving the genitals. Oral sex, anal sex, destruction of the female genitals with an object also is rape, and rape also can occur in marriage.

Currently, common rape against women is rape against children. Based on data from the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) in 2010 showed as many as 39.18 percent of 1649 cases of violence against children is sexual violence. Since 1993 there have been 1500 to 2000 cases of rape and in 2010 every 10 day recorded 33 cases of rape of children.

Based on  Article 1, paragraph 1 of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia No. 23 of 2002, children is someone who has not aged 18 (eighteen) years old, including children who are still in the womb.

Rape is usually done by a stranger to the child, but now it is very disappointing that  the rape was carried out by people who are well known to the victim (seductive rape), such as teachers, doctors, friends or the biological parent (father). Data showed that 68% of sexual violence against children, the perpetrators were their family

Ideally, a father is the leader in the family that responsible to provide protection, love and affection, a decent living, education and mental development of children so  the children has a personality that is established well and able to float ideas in a positive and focused way.

But not all fathers can carry out his duties properly, some of them destroy his daughter’s  life by raping on them (incest). Incest is a sexual intercourse or sexual relations that occur between two people that have bond,where the bond consanguinity between them is close enough, for example between the brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters, mothers with sons or uncles with nephews. In this case, sexual relations that occur there are a voluntary and there is coercion. That is coercion is called rape. Many people are known to rape incest, because this case is more frequently reported by victims or their families.

Sexual violence in this category is the hardest violence because the victim always  remember that the offender is a person in a family and near her own so that incest usually occurs over and over, and between the victim and the perpetrator most likely to meet each other.

Rape case  by a father that abusing his own daughter was a lot happening on  the middle class economy families, because the house that they have is very narrow, the conditions at home is only one room for a whole family members. So over time people who were there will inflame passions biological. Fathers that  spend more time at home because they do not have a job while his wife works outside home or abroad. Rape can also happens  due to environmental influences or background which affects living  way in the past, feel deprived or left behind of sexual experience when he was teen (sexual lag behind) as well as psychological shock due to spontaneous sexual stimulation and lack of understanding of religious values.

Most of the perpetrators  explained that they had raped their children because of sexual arousal (see parts of the body), a wife who can not serve their sexual needs, habits of children who sleep together with parents, horny after watching porn movie, unconscious, too fond of children, the influence from alcohol and social construction that is too strong (the way men judge women)

CASES EXAMPLE

We can see several examples of cases below:

1. Jakarta – April, 2002

A biological father raping 2 of his daughters since 1996 when they was aged 8 and 6 years old. The perpetrator complained  by his wife and he was imprisoned.

2. Bogor – April, 2002

A father raped his biological child until having a child. The perpetrator reported to the police  by the victim.

3. Surabaya – June, 2002

During the 3 years raping his own daughter. Perpetrators reported by the victim and his ex-wife who has been divorced for a long time.

4. Padang – August 19, 2005

HS (32 years old) raped her daughter for many times since  divorced with his wife and they used to sleep in one room.

5. West Sumatra – August 20, 2005

Not satisfied although already has two wives, a father raped his biological daughter (18 years old). Perpetrator  threatened the victim with a knife to obey his will. The perpetrator imprisoned.

6. Madiun – August 4, 2002

During the 3years while his mother worked abroad, Lel (14 years old) raped by her own father. It had happened for a long period  because the victim fear of the threat from her father. Perpetrator have been arrested and punished.

7. Malang – June 12,2008

M (44 years old), raping his daughter since she was  8 years old to 14 years old. The victim claimed that rape by her father since she was in 4th grade of secondary school. If counted, rape by her father is more than 10 times in a year. Rape is done because his wife works outside the country so no one fulfiil his  sexual needs. Perpetrator arrested after a complaint the victim and her boyfriend.

8. Nganjuk – April 21,2009

By the reason of drunkenness, Sutriyono (41) raped his biological child who was 15 years old. The child was raped beside her mother who was asleep. When the mother woke up and prohibit the perpetrator, he’s beating of his wife and banging her  into the wall. Both of them then reported this thing to the police and the perpetrator has been arrested and imprisoned.

9. Timor  – July 16,2009

IN (39 years old), three times raping his children. It was in October 12.2008, February 10.2009 and July 15.2009. The reason is that the father must raped her first daughter so can live happily if married later. Perpetrator reported by his wife, children and neighbors and have been detained by the police.

10. Labuhan Batu Selatan – January 20.2010

BN (42 years old), since 2007 has four times raping his daughter  who is now 15 years old. The victim told this to the neighbors and they reported it to the police. The perpetrator is imprisoned.

11. Padang – August 10.2010

AWE (48 years old), his child abuse began in 2005 because of seeing his beautiful daughter’s face. The perpetrator  was  reported by the victim to the police and was arrested.

12. Bangkalan – October 9.2010

MK (47 years old) had raped his daughter KLZ (16 years old)  for thirty times since she was in 3rd grade secondary school. The perpetrator reported by the victim and her mother to the police and  now is imprisoned.

13. Malang – October 22, 2010

BH (45 years old) raped his 16 years old daughter. He rape her when the condition of the house is quiet and his wife was ill. He have been detained by the police. BH crimes uncovered after his daughter  complained to her teacher at school so the school reported the incident to the police.

14. Purwokerto – November 23, 2010

KP (50 years old) raped his daughter MR (16 years old) until got pregnant for  5 months. The act was reported by the mother’s of victim and the neighbors as suspected her  physical changes. The perpetrator  who worked as a pedicab driver confessed that he had raped the victim from the beginning of 2009.

15. Jakarta – January 12, 2011

Puji  (40 years old) rape his daughter (B) from she was  in 4th grade of secondary school until now in junior high school and got pregnant for 1.5 months. The perpetrator  reported to the police by the neighbors after they saw  B have been pregnant.

16. Jakarta – February 5, 2011

MJ (40 years old) rape his  daughter MO (13 years old) in mid of January. Currently this case ready for trial.  Now  she moved into her relative’s house and not go to school anymore.

Rape action lasted for a long time because previously no one knows because the perpetrator is always tricky and threatened to kill the victim if the victim does not want to obey his will or try to report the rape to someone else.

Sexual crimes against children have been frequent in Indonesia, but  case like this is just like an iceberg phenomenon, to obtain estimates of the right or at least closer numbers to reality is very difficult because many cases unreported. Indonesian society still don’t have the courage to report these cases because it is still considered taboo in the family, they also think that these domestic issue is very privacy in a family.

RAPE IMPACT

1. Physical / Health Impact

Physical effects that can be experienced by victims are :

a. Damage to organs, such as the hymen, collapsed and died
b. Victims may be exposed to communicable diseases
c. Unwanted pregnancies

The possibility of pregnancy due to rape incest action if these people having child  will carry the homozygot gene. Some diseases can be inherited through a recessive homozygot gene which can cause death to the baby ie fatal anemia, impaired vision to children aged 4-7 years which could effect in blind, albino, polydactyl and so forth. A  genetic weakness and poor genetic history will grow dominant to the children.

Emotional disturbance experienced by the mother due to pregnancy affect fetal growth and development of pre-and post-birth. Moreover, many genetic diseases has a greater chance of emergence to the children that born from incest as a genetic disorder that causes mental health problems ( skizoprenia), mental retardation (idiot) and weak brain development.

2. Psychological Impact

Incest rape will make women living in a miserable life. Dependency and fear of the threat makes women can not resist being raped by her own father. It is very difficult for them to get out from it because they are highly dependent on the perpetrator  and still do not want to open a disgrace of  the man who basically they cared about and should be their protectors. As a result they are traumatized for life and psychiatric disorders.

The psychological impact suffered by victims are:

a. Disorders of sexual behavior

b. Severe Trauma / shock psychiatric (crying, isolate themselves, fear, self-blaming and suicide). This is commonly called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

c. Difficult to concentrate.

d. Can not trust other people.

e. Depression

Rape by someone who is known, the father, in psychologically it takes a longer time to recover because the victims have memory against the perpetrators of rape, so victims will experience a very long fear. Rape against children is also caused many of them unable to continue their study anymore because they are embarrassed by the circumstances, until eventually it caused the destruction of their future.

3. The impact in terms of humanitarian

Universal conscience of humanity (in general) that civilized until today condemned this act as a crime against the human values ​​that has sacrificed the moral feelings of the public.

4. Social Impact

In Indonesia, an incestuous relationship occurred in one family would cause the destruction of the family name in the public eye. Families can be ostracized by society and become the rumor the community. More important problem of child asylum cases of rape incest is that there is an unhealthy condition in a social context, relating to the social construction of the family. For example, people know the father and daughter as one family. But in case of incestuous rape cases, where the father impregnated her daughter, then when the child is born a child of the woman’s father then became a double status, father and grandfather.

ROLE OF THE STATE AND SOCIETY

Sexual crimes against children is a serious issue that should get priority attention from the State to immediately deal with it, because children who are victims have been humbled status and dignity, and will experience a long psychological trauma throughout her life. Role of the State becomes very important because the State has the obligation to preserve, protect and fulfill children’s rights.

Protection of children is all activities to ensure and protect children and their rights in order to live, grow, develop, and participate, in an optimal fit with the dignity of humanity, and get protection from violence and discrimination.
Perpetrators of rape against children in Indonesia can be arrested and subjected to punishment for violating the articles such as:

1. Article 81 paragraph 1 of Act No. 23 of 2002 on Child Protection

Any person who intentionally commit violence or threats of violence forced the children to do sexual intercourse with him or with another person, is punishable by a maximum imprisonment of 15 (fifteen) years and a minimum 3 (three) years and a fine of  Rp300,000,000.00 (three hundred million rupiahs) and at least Rp60,000,000.00 (sixty million rupiahs).

2. Article 46 of Law No. 23 Year 2004 on Domestic Violence

Any person committing acts of sexual violence as referred to in Article 8 letter (a) shall be punished with imprisonment of 12 (twelve) years or a fine of not more Rp36.000.000, 00 (thirty six million rupiahs).

A lot of reporting, arresting and a maximum punishment given to the perpetrators of  rape, but these crime is not reduced, even more to increase daily. If the perpetrators thinks that the punishment are not hard enough to make them refrain from doing such act, then cooperation with the community is require so this crime can be stopped, at least reduced in number.

Society as a social control including the school, the government, neighbors, friends and family should more caring and give attention to the situation that occurred in the vicinity. A little awareness that we have to consider other people will mean a lot to people who needs it. At least the perpetrators won’t be so brave committed rape if the people critical and look at the surrounding circumstances.  Needs courage from various parties, especially family, to be able to see this
proportional and siding with the victims to uncover case.

Also, it’s not enough only put this rape  problem against women as a moral issue, because this is also a problem of perspective and human reason; men’s  perspectives on women and women’s perspectives on men.

The perspectives should be changed, that a father is a man who should have the awareness to take care of  his family and its responsibilities as a leader in the family. A father does not just deserve to be respected, but also must appreciate his other family members. And women as wife and children, should be able to carry out its obligations properly, appreciate and cherish their family leader, appreciate and love themselves as individuals who have the same rights for life and able to resist and act decisively if their dignity as human beings have harassed and persecuted.

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future – Unknown

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

Overview of the violence against women around the world

The situation of women and girls, facts and figures all over the world*


Gender and HIV/AIDS:

  • Nearly a third of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are under the age of 25 and 2/3 of them are women.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls are getting infected faster and earlier than boys. In the group from 15 to age 24, two girls are infected for every boy. According to surveys that indicate women who have some post primary schooling compared to women with no education are 5 times more likely to lack basic information about HIV/AIDS.
  • In 2002, an estimated 800,000 children under the age of 15 were infected with HIV as a result of parent-to-infant transmission.

Gender and girls education:

  • Over 110 million of the world’s children, 2/3 of them being girls are not attending school.
  • Of the world’s 875 million illiterate adults, 2/3 is women.
  • Half of the girls who live in developing countries (excluding China) will be married before their 20th birthday. Increasing girl’s time in school is one of the best ways for the girls to get married in an older age.

Gender and violence against women and girls and child protection issues:

  • One in every 3 women is a survivor of some form of gender based violence, most often by someone in her family. Between 15 and 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Girls between 13 and 18 years constitutes the largest group in the sex industry and it is estimated that around 500,000 girls below the age of 18 are victims of trafficking each year.
  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) affects around 130 million girls and women globally and places 2 million at risk but the last decades this problem has improved.
  • In some cultures, the preference for boys results in pre-natal sex selection and death of many girls. In India for example; there are 933 Indian women for every 1000 men resulting in 40 million missing women.

Gender and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and other health issues:

  • 1,400 women die every day from pregnancy-related causes, 99% of them in developing countries.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman has 1 in 3 chance of dying in child birth. In industrialized countries the risks are 1 in 4,085.
  • Direct obstetric deaths account for about 75% of all maternal deaths in developing countries.

Emergencies

  • More than 80% of the world’s 35 million refugees and displaced people are women and children.
  • Emergencies put women at risk of extreme sexual violence and abuse. In Rwanda, 2,000 women and many of them are being survivors of rape tested positive for HIV during the 5 years following the 1994 genocide.

Femicide

  • In Guatemala, two women are killed every day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007 and unknown number of murders of women and young girls were labeled as “suicides” or “accidents”.
  • Between 40 and 70% of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States.
  • In Chihuahua, Mexico, 66% of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and young women

  • Up to 50% of sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls under the age of 16.
  • An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002.
  • The first sexual experience of some 30% women was forced and the percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation.

Harmful practices

  • Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have experienced female genital mutilation leaving more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides and married before the age of 18. The numbers are divided as; South Asia-31, 3 million and Sub-Saharan Africa-14, 1 million. Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
  • Trafficking
  • 80% from the estimated number of 800,000 people being trafficked across the national borders is women and girls.
  • One study in Europe found that 60% of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual harassment

  • Between 40 and 50% of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
  • Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40% of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.
  • In Nairobi, 20% of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.
  • In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Rape in the context of conflict

  • Estimates suggest that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  • Between 50,000 and 64,000 women in camps for internally displaced people in Sierra Leone were sexually assaulted by combatants between 1991 and 2001.
  • In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996: the actual numbers are believed to be far higher.

Conservative

  • The following figures are some of the facts of violence done on women compiled by Amnesty International and Feminist.com from various researches done by individuals and/or organizations all over the world;
  • An estimated 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States annually for sexual exploitation or labor (US Central Intelligence Agency, 2000).
  • One in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime (WHO 1997).
  • In USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds (US Department of Justice, 2000).
  • Somewhere in America a woman is battered, usually by her intimate partner, every 15 seconds (UN Study on the Status of Women, Year 2000).
  • Up to 70% of female murder victims are killed by their male partners (WHO 2008).
  • In Kenya more than one woman a week was reportedly killed by her male partner while in Zambia, five women a week were murdered by a male partner or family member (Joni Seager, 2003).
  • In the Russian Federation 36,000 women are beaten on a daily basis by their husband or partner, according to Russian non-governmental organizations (OMTC, 2003).
  • More than 135 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation and an additional 2 million girls and women are at risk each year (6,000 everyday) (UN, 2002).
  • 82 million girls who are now aged 10 to 17 will be married before their 18th birthday (UNFP).
  • In India there are close to 15,000 dowry deaths estimated per year. Mostly they are kitchen knives designed to look like accidents (Injustice Studies, Vol. 1, November 1997).
  • 4 million women and girls are trafficked annually.
  • An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year (UNICEF).
  • A study in Zaria, Nigeria found out that 16 per cent of hospital patients treated for sexually transmitted infections were younger than five (UNFPA).

Population and families

  • The world’s population tripled between 1950 and 2010 to reach almost 7 billion.
  • There are approximately 57 million more men than women in the world, but in most countries there are more women than men.
  • There is a “gender spiral” with more boys and men in younger age groups and more women in the older age groups.
  • Fertility is steadily declining in all regions of the world but still remains high in some regions of Africa.
  • Life expectancy is steadily rising as women lives longer than men.
  • International migration is increasing and there are more and more women migrants and in certain areas they outnumber men.

Health

  • Women live longer than men in all regions.
  • 2 out of every 5 deaths of both women and men in Africa are still caused by infectious and parasitic diseases.
  • Women are more likely than men to die from cardiovascular diseases, especially in Europe.
  • Breast cancer among women and lung cancer among men tops the list of new cancer cases globally.
  • Women stand for the majority of HIV positive adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East.
  • The majority of over half a million maternal deaths in 2005 occurred in developing countries.

Education

  • 2/3 of the 774 million adult illiterates worldwide are women.
  • The global youth literacy rate has increased to 89%.
  • 72 million children of primary school age are not attending school out of which over 39 million (54%) are girls.
  • Women in tertiary education are significantly underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering but remain predominant in education, health and welfare, social sciences, humanities and arts.
  • Worldwide, women account for slightly more than a quarter of all scientific researches that is an increase compared to previous decades.
  • Use of and access to the Internet grew in the past decade as it narrowed the gender digital divide, however, women still don’t have the same level of access as men in most countries whether it is more developed or not.

Work

  • Women are predominantly and increasingly employed in the services sector.
  • Vulnerable employment – own-account work and contributing family work – is prevalent in many countries in Africa and Asia, especially among women.
  • The informal sector is an important source of employment for both women and men in the less developed regions but more so for women.
  • Occupational segregation and gender wage gaps continue to persist in all regions.
  • Part-time employment is common for women in most of the more developed regions and some less developed regions, and it is increasing almost everywhere for both women and men.
  • Women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work – paid and unpaid – is considered, women work longer hours than men do.
  • Half of the countries worldwide meet the new international standard for minimum duration of maternity leave – and two out of five meet the minimum standard for cash benefits – but there is a gap between law and practice, and many groups of women are not covered by legislation.

Violence against women

  • Women are subjected to different forms of violence – physical, sexual, psychological and economic, both within and outside their homes.
  • Rates of women experiencing physical violence at least once in their lifetime vary from several per cent to over 59% depending on where they live.
  • Current statistical measurements of violence against women provide a limited source of information, and statistical definitions and classifications require more work and harmonization at the international level.
  • Female genital mutilation is the most harmful mass perpetuation of violence against women shows a slight decline.
  • In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept abuse.

Environment

  • More than half of rural households and about a quarter of urban households in sub-Saharan Africa lack easy access to sources of drinking water, and most of the burden of water collection falls on women.
  • The majority of households in sub-Saharan Africa and South-Eastern Asia use solid fuels for cooking on open fires or traditional stoves with no chimney or hood, disproportionately affecting the health of women.
  • Fewer women than men participate in high-level decision-making related to the environment.

Poverty

  • Households of single mothers with young children are more likely to be poor than households of single fathers with young children.
  • Women are more likely to be poor than men when living in one-person households in many countries from both the more developed and less developed regions.
  • Women are overrepresented among the older poor in the more developed regions.
  • Existing statutory and customary laws limit women’s access to land and other types of property in most countries in Africa and about half the countries in Asia.
  • Fewer women than men have cash income in the less developed regions, and a significant proportion of married women have no say in how their cash earnings are spent.
  • Married women from the less developed regions do not fully participate in intrahousehold decision-making on spending, particularly in African countries and in poorer households.

Harmful tradition practices include;

  • Forced marriage
  • Child marriage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Honour killings
  • Dowry related violence
  • Female infanticide
  • Trafficking of women and girls

Afghanistan at a glance*

  • Only about 15% of births are attended by trained health workers while more than 90% of the births take place at home. According to UNICEF, the maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the second highest in the world with an estimated 15,000 women dying each year from pregnancy related causes.
  • The infant mortality rate is 165 per 1,000 and less than 5 mortality rate is 257 per 1,000 with 1 in 4 children in Afghanistan dying before the age of 5 from preventable diseases.
  • Only 23% of the population has access to safe water, and only 12% have access to adequate sanitation which increases the incidents of diseases. 15,000 Afghans die of tuberculosis every year and of this 64% are women.
  • Malnutrition of women which affects pregnancies negatively is caused by the food scarcity linked to the war and drought.
  • The poor health situation has been aggravated by the lack of basic health services and resources, especially in rural areas because of the small number of trained female doctors, nurses and midwifes that remained in the country after the rise of Taliban.
  • 23 years of war have destroyed the infrastructure of the educational system and increased the illiteracy rate in Afghanistan. Only 10% of women are able to read and write.
  • 54% of girls under the age of 18 are married. Families of girls and young women were forced to marriage for several reasons and often for the purpose of dowry for the family’s survival.
  • *Source; Report of the Secretary-General on Discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan (E/CN.6/2002/5)

International women’s day celebrates 100 years of progress and regress

“Women hold up half the sky”

Mao Tse-Tung, Chinese statesman.

We are living in the 21st century and would think that the women’s situation has improved much the past 100 years. In fact it has, but there is still a long way to go. It is unfortunate that millions of women around the world today are victims of discrimination, violence, abuse, human trafficking, poverty and murder. We would have thought that they would have equal rights, and even though some countries has constituted this, many women are still being suppressed, victimized and having their human rights violated. I would first of all like to congratulate every single woman on this day but also write about the dark side of the reality many women have to face. I could have written hundreds of pages about every country but it is impossible to do it at once so I only wrote about some cases and add some figures and statistics that can give a glance of the harsh reality. Let us notice the important message given by UNDP saying;

Women should be viewed as “valuable partners” in life, in the development of a society and in attainment of peace or just as important as taking legal aspects to protect women’s human’s rights.

From past to present

Since the early days of the Industrial Revolution women in Europe and North America have made considerable progress towards equality with men, although much remains still to be done. The industrialization of Western countries at first had not improved the status of women, but degraded them even further by exploiting them and their children in factories as cheap labour. Slowly, women stared to receive recognition for their substantial share and the factory system changed, but women and children were still paid less than men. At the same time, middle- and upper-class women were increasingly confined to the home with little to do except to take care of their children. Their husbands no longer worked inside the house, but were absent during most of the day. This led to that these women found enough time to devout themselves to various religious and moral causes; some became interested in abolition on the women’s rights movement. The common thing between the working class woman and the upper class was that they all insisted on change and contribute to women’s rights.

Today, women in many non-western countries also called third world countries live in a state of misery and suppression. They wake up every day to struggle to survive or feed their children. Their concern is far beyond what the concerns of the western women have about their liberation. This was also obvious when the United Nations sponsored an “International Women’s Conference” in Mexico City in 1975 where there was a serious communication gap between women from industrial and agrarian societies. It also revealed that a billion women live in poor, rural areas. Most of them are illiterate, malnourished, exhausted, or even ill, and are forced to work long hours for little reward. Naturally, men share many of these hardships, but women still bear the greatest burden. In almost all of the underdeveloped countries, boys are more favored than girls as they are they are considered to be a guarantee for the families economic security, and the girls marry into another family. Even in poverty, boys are better fed, clothed and educated than girls. The girls have to struggle with work, have few rights and must undergo several pregnancies.

Despite all our technological breakthroughs, we still live in a world were a 5th of the developing world’s population goes hungry to bed, a quarter lacks access to safe drinking water and a 3rd lives in despair. A 3rd of the world’s poorest 20% live in India and China. Poverty is a large problem for women as they are affected worse than men. Some reasons for these are that they are less paid then men, less decision making power within the household or because of the responsibility of children. Poverty will not vanish but follow us to the next millennium as the situation for the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty is still not improving. 900 million of these are in fact women. Women do not have the same opportunities as men and poverty is the leading cause of death. This poverty leads often to higher birth rates and physical and social underdevelopment of their children.

Women’s role in agriculture

As statistic numbers from 1991 showed that only 8.5% of rural women are economically active, research and field observations shows that the number is much higher. The fact is that rural women play an active part in food and other crop production, fisheries and livestock, especially poultry rising. In forestry, women are involved in the production and transplanting of seedlings. Since income from agriculture is often insufficient for subsistence, rural women’s non-agricultural activities, such as carpet weaving and other crafts are important to household survival.

Problems in acquiring land for women are widespread, but seem to be worst in Africa. Hindering access to credit, land ownership, technology, marketing, and training, are all sources of serious constraints on national development. There are needs for more women in decision-making positions, better organization of women in agricultural organizations, and for women’s unpaid work to be recognized in both official statistics and the calculation of GDP.

An overview of the Afghan women’s situation

“Your country is now embarking on a process to create credible and accountable institutions in which all Afghans are represented. These are decisions for Afghan men and women to make. The role of the United Nations is to assist and encourage this process. But, I would like to take this opportunity to say to all Afghans: there cannot be true peace and recovery in Afghanistan without a restoration of the rights of women.” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his statement to the Afghan Women’s Summit for Democracy (Brussels, 4 to 5 December 2001)

Afghanistan is a country of approximately 23 million which, after three years of severe drought, 23 years of war and devastation and 5 years under the Taliban authorities, has been left as one of the poorest countries in the world. Afghanistan has also the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world as it was even before the Taliban came to power; Afghanistan had high maternal and child mortality rates and a very low literacy rate for women. But in the 1960s women participated economically, socially and politically. They even helped to draft the 1964 Constitution. In the 1970’s, there were at least 3 women legislators in the Parliament and women worked as teachers, medical doctors, professors, lawyers, judges, journalists, writers, poets and in the government.

After when Taliban came to power, women and girls were discriminated, marginalized and their human rights were violated. Women and girls were restricted in their access to education, health care facilitates and employment. During the rule of Taliban, only 3% of girls received some form of primary education but the ban on women’s employment affected the boy’s education as well as the majority of teachers had been women.

Taliban’s policies also limited women’s freedom of movement. Women couldn’t travel without being accompanied by a male relative, which put a strain on female-headed households and widows. In May 2001, a decree was issued by the Taliban, banning women from driving cars, which further limited their activities. Women’s removal from the public space also meant that women could not play any role in the political process and were excluded from all forms of formal or informal governance. Today, as the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan continues, a number of United Nations entities continue to be actively involved in improving the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. Some examples of this work include:

Since September 2001, Afghan women have begun to increase their activities as several events were organized by and with Afghan women’s organizations inside and outside Afghanistan, such as panel discussions, conferences and international meetings, in order to ensure that the experiences and needs of Afghan women would receive the needed attention in all efforts directed at the post-Taliban Afghanistan. Schools for girls are being reopened, and young women are enrolling in universities. Women are seeking to return to their former jobs as teachers, doctors and civil servants. Radio and television broadcasts in Kabul once again feature woman commentators.

In January 2002, Hamid Karzai demonstrated his support for women’s rights by signing the “Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women”, which affirmed the right to equality between men and women and the Declaration was adopted by a meeting of Afghans in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in 2000. Women are at the helm of two Ministries which are part of the new Interim Administration headed by Hamid Karzai. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which had never existed before, is headed by Sima Samar, a physician and founder of the Shuhada Organization network of clinics, hospitals and schools in Pakistan and central Afghanistan. Ms. Samar is also one of the five Vice-Presidents of the Interim Administration. Suhaila Siddiq, a surgeon who continued to practice in Kabul throughout the Taliban regime, heads the Ministry of Public Health.

Widows flock to city to die

Thousands of India’s widows flock to the holy city of Vrindavan waiting to die. They are found on side streets and their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles in their faces. These Hindu widows are poor and shunned from society when their husbands die, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition and because they’re seen as a financial drain on their families. They cannot remarry, they must not wear jewelry and they are forced to shave their heads and wear white. Even their shadows are considered as bad luck for many.

Hindus have long believed that death in Vrindavan will free them from the cycle of life and death. The widows hope that death will save them from being condemned to a life as widow again. “My son tells me: “You have grown old. Now who is going to feed you? Go away,” a widow says, as her eyes are filled with tears. “What do I do? My pain had no limit.”

There are an estimated 40 million widows in India and it’s believed that 15,000 widows live on the streets of Vrindavan, a city of about 55,000 in northern India. The situation is much more extreme within some of India’s rural community. There, it is much more tradition-bound; in urban areas, there are more chances and possibilities to live a normal life. Meneka Mukherjee is 85 years old. She speaks five languages and used to work as a geography teacher throughout her marriage, but now she is too sick and weak to take care of herself. Her daughter lives in another state and doesn’t have space for her mother, so Meneka moved into an Ashram in Vrindavan. Is human life worth nothing where there is too much human? Meneka thinks so. “India has so many people that India don’t have use for those who are useless,” she says. “Nobody can help everybody. Every night before I go to sleep, I pray that somebody will help me, and every morning I pray the same prayer. Maybe it would have been better if Idied? Maybe I should pray to die,” Meneka says.

“According to the Dharmashastra, the sacred Hindu legal text, covering moral, ethical and social laws, widows are expected to devote the rest of their lives to the memory of their husbands by renouncing life’s luxuries and by withdrawing from society. “Imagine, in front of a group of my relatives as large as this one, my bangles are smashed, my hair is shaved, my bindi removed,” Dr. Giri said before a conference for grief and renewal at the University of New England, Office of Multicultural Studies and Women’s Studies Department in 2005. “They are forced to wear white saris. Saddest of all is that they are often removed from their children and families, and abandoned,” continued Dr. Giri.

Here women of all ages who have become widows are waiting for the moment they, too, will follow their husbands to the fields of death to escape a life filled with isolation, poverty, despair and discrimination. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples today and many ashrams. The approximate number of widows living in the holy city today numbers over 20,000. The conditions in some of the ashrams of Vrindavan are terrible, where sexual abuse and trafficking of younger widows occurs. Activists like Dr. Giri and the Guild of Service are working to better these conditions and to give widows their dignity back as well as health care, learning, sewing and weaving skills.

Although India’s widows today are not forced to die on the death of their husband – in ritual sati – by burning to death on their husband’s funeral pyre, they are still forced to undergo daily ritual humiliations, beg for alms each day chanting, to live completely apart from society, to live lives of extreme poverty, lonely for their children, alone and hopeless. Rising problems with widows and their husband’s family after the death of their husband can sometimes include sexual abuse from a husband’s brother or father, starvation or abandonment. Lack of education, lack of literacy and knowledge of basic human rights along with strong cultural beliefs in the conservative Hindu caste system and extreme poverty are the major causes of suffering today among the widows and it will unfortunately take a long time to change all of this for the better.

Types of violence against women

Violence against women happens through physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. But the most common are;

Physical abuse is most widespread method around the world. It includes slapping, hitting, kicking and beating. The perpetrator is often the husband,, ex-husband, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend or another family member. According to Population Reports, in nearly 50 population-based surveys, 10 to over 50% of women reported being hit or otherwise physically harmed by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Violence against women is also a major cause of poverty because it keeps women from getting an education, working, and earning the income they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. And research shows that giving women in poor countries economic opportunity empowers them to escape abusive situations.

Sexual abuse can be performed either through verbal, visual or when it is forced intercourse. According to Population Reports, sexual abuse can lead to a wide variety of unhealthy consequences including behavioural and psychological problems, sexual dysfunction, relationship problems, low self-esteem, depression, thoughts of suicide, alcohol, substance abuse and risk-taking. There is therefore the need to raise awareness concerning violence against women by educating boys and men, punishing perpetrators by raising the costs and changing the attitudes and beliefs of the society in regard to women.

Several women are killed on the base of practicing witchcraft. For example, if a child is suffering from a disease in a neighbourhood, a women living nearby can easily be pointed out as a victim for casting a spell, but in fact, people are taking revenge from this women by accusing her for this. These cases happen in rural areas where the tribes make their own rules and police becomes helpless against the mob.

Sati is a custom that has occurred in India for a long time. Although it was prohibited by law, there are still cases reported from some parts of the country. When the husband dies, the wife throws herself on the fire and dies over him.

Besides rape, domestic violence is the worst type of violence against the women. A married girl (bride) is tortured by her in-laws and husband for not providing/giving enough gifts or cash money to their in-laws by her parents and when the in-laws of daughters lose hope for getting any more any cash from the girl’s parents they commit the most heinous crime as burning the girl to death and kill her using different short of violent measures. About 50 cases of dowry per day are registered all over India. Other ways of domestic violence happens when the husband beats up the wife on a regular basis.

 

Midnight in Oslo, Norway, by Hatef Mokhtar

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