American media gives print and column inches to whether Oprah will return. Surprise. Yes, loved ones, Oprah will return.
Three days ago, the European Union outlined a wide-ranging strategy to fight human trafficking which is rising across the region. The new strategy comes as EU officials are concerned about a possible spike in trafficking during the current European football championship.
To people who get how trafficking works, this is a joke.
They know this: traffickers are having no problems getting their merchandise to the slave block. The football paradigm is disingenuous.
The European Union posted the testimony of several victims of human trafficking on its website.
One of them was a young Ivorian woman named Agnes who recounted her arrival to France as an orphan. She says a French woman offered to let her go to school in exchange for caring for her children. But Agnes says the woman never honored her promises. She escaped two years later, with the help of neighbors. France has very tight custody laws regarding who owns what. Most of them were written three hundred years ago.
Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom outlined a new EU strategy to tackle the problem.
“We must have a common aim in the European Union. We must stop this form of modern slavery. We have identified in the coming five years more than 40 concrete initiatives,” Malmstrom said.
I know this: what we need are more initiatives.
What we need to do is remove the property of organized crime to where organized crime is kept a long way away. What we then need to do is confront the dynamics of trauma.
The EU strategy includes improving ways to identify and help victims, prosecute traffickers and coordinate among EU members states in eradicating human trafficking. Brussels wants countries to establish police units specializing in human trafficking and create cross-border investigation teams.
In the US, there is no such awareness. The Obama DOJ wants to increase the number of DEA agents assigned to Northern California so it can bust pot farms. You know, real crime, and mix in some Mexicans where there is no trafficking.
I shrug. It’s always a matter of priorities. It’s a situation where trafficking children is more legal than growing weed.
According to European and United Nations statistics, roughly 21 million people are trafficked worldwide, about a quarter of them children. Women and girls are the main victims, with many victims of sex trafficking. Others are forced to work long hours for little or no pay.
There is no awareness that a single male child has ever been trafficked.
The number of 21 million would preclude that alone.
My own guess is that one in every thousand trafficked is a young male victim.
Many victims who have been trafficked but have been subsequently released by authorities who HAVE made arrests, are reluctant to give testimony in cases where traffickers are being tried.
They know this: organized crime takes a dim view of having their property confiscated. People who have been trafficked can also know the routes.
“They are working in the streets. They could be cooking your food. They are selling sex many times a day in shabby brothels or apartments. They are building our houses,” Malmstrom said.
Human trafficking is particularly in the spotlight during the current European football championship. The EU’s border control agency Frontex is stepping up its watch against human smuggling, particularly of prostitutes. But overall, the EU faces a tough challenge. Malmstrom notes human trafficking is growing across the region - but the numbers of convictions against traffickers have dropped in recent years.
There is little hue and cry from organizations of prostitutes (the UN has been buying many of them off by arranging all expense paid trips to UN conferences in places like Barcelona) who often condemn human trafficking in their public agendas, but most remain committed to a legalization of prostitution.
Which would both help and hinder human trafficking.
If prostitution was legal, trafficked prostitutes would be beyond law enforcement’s reach. But all prostitution would be freed of the shackles of the pimp who provides what can be very expensive protection. The need for that protection would be removed. It is well-known that often pimps are also trafficking.
Selling slaves is simply a quid pro quo of commodity. So is selling sex.
In all of this, no one even proposes going after tricks.
American men are especially exempt.
Among reports that cannot be verified, human traffickers have been losing young boys who have simply disappeared, the US State Department has released a new report. The report makes no attempt to estimate the impact of HIV in any of this quite mobile population of 21 million. You would think that some kind of transit OUT might be five kids here, five kids there. Out of 21 million. But no.
There is no hope for it. 21 million is a huge amount of people. The UN estimates that out of that 21 million, less than a hundred thousand people see freedom through release by law enforcement. It’s terrorism that gets the real money.
I would argue that 21 million people, not one of whom is being treated for HIV although they come from epidemic-countries, represents an instability that is, indeed, a threat to sovereignty. Sacred sovereignty. How is sovereignty like custody. Sovereignty defines who owns what.
Let us look at one part of an above sentence. All you little wannabe writers out there, get your pencils out. This is a test.
Consider this: “has released a new report.”
Wow. I’m impressed.
The US State Department probably figures that is all it can do.
That is not all it can do.
The US State Deprtment doesn’t hesitate one second to apply pressure wherever it thinks pressure should be applied. Again, it’s a matter of priorities.
I would argue that the real reason the US remains lukewarm to the idea that children who are being trafficked can be “untrafficked” and put in situations that are safe from traffickers, is because children being trafficked are seen within the context of US law as property. If the US wants to do more than issue reports, it could begin by ratifying conventions the United Nations has adopted. Some of them thirty years ago. But in the past 30 years, the US has been very busy expanding empire.
This will come as a surprise to some people, but “custody” means ownership. There is no such thing as children’s rights in the US, and the US has not ratified any of the UN conventions that would imbue the children of the world not to be considered as property. Not a single one. The only other country with such a dismal record is Somalia. And they don’t even have a government on a continent where many of the traffickers are governments. Like Nigeria.
The issue goes to sovereignty and the US hates being told what to do.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report.
“U.S. adds Syria to human-trafficking blacklist, which ranks 184 countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking, including the United States.
While the U.S. has long been a global leader in the fight against modern-day slavery, this Congress has thus far failed to pass a critical piece of anti-trafficking legislation: The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
This bill renews the landmark TVPA of 2000, which made human trafficking a federal crime and established the Trafficking in Persons Office to combat trafficking internationally.
Fighting slavery has always been a rare point of bipartisan cooperation in Washington. As we approach the anniversary of our nation’s founding — a nation “conceived in liberty,” in the words of President Lincoln, Congress should come together again to rid the world of slavery, once and for all.
It ain’t gonna happen. But we can always issue a report card, give offending countries a grade, and then sit back and say we’ve done our part. We’ve done all we can do.
The US State Department would like you to think that in some moral imperative it applies pressure to countries where human trafficking is a dime a dozen and out in the open. One of the countries that is the worst offender remains Pakistan. There is pressure on Pakistan.
If one reads actual day to day reports, it becomes obvious that the subject has never even come up with Pakistan. A country that now prohibits US access to Afghanistan via any of its roads and check points. Pakistan is not behaving like a friend and ally.
No fucking shit.
The children trafficked from Pakistan would probably agree. There is a market for Pakistani boys that stretches from Karachi to Washington, DC.
It has been rumored that there is an underground railway.
I have only heard gossip. I wouldn’t know. It’s probably not true. There is no hope for such a thing. There would be no model to go by because those disappeared 175 years ago, and Harriet Tubman is dead.
There is little hope that governments will be offering either assistance or HIV testing or trauma recovery to anyonbe who has made it out of human trafficking.
Informal but somewhat organized groups of prostitutes whose operant paradigms are off the grid anyway and who understand how organized crime works (and its relationship to the issues of addiction: read, Vancouver, Canada, which is a major route for traffickers), could conceivably offer more assistance than the US State Department offers anyone anything.
But there is no hope for it. Hope is elusive.
I know this: Oprah will be back.