Monday, December 31, 2012

Urgent End of Year Appeal - We're More Than Half Way There!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us reach over $11,000 in donations for our end of year appeal!  We still have work to do and a $20,000 goal to reach.

In our world today, young people face a multitude of risks, known and unknown. Keeping children and youth safe from violence and exploitation is critical to the health of our communities and our world.   

In partnership with IOFA, you can:
  • Stop a 14-year old child from being sold as a prostitute
  • Prepare an orphaned young person to safely leave their care center and start of life of independence
  • Build ground-breaking research on the most critical issues faced by our young people today
We invite you to help build a safer world for all of us.

If you agree, please consider an end of year gift to IOFA this holiday season. Our goal is $20,000. 

We believe that we can get there.

Your donation is tax deductible for 2012, if you make your donation before midnight tonight.  Please donate today! 

Wishing you a happy 2013,

Shelby French, Sehla Ashai, 
the IOFA Intern Team
and The IOFA Board of Directors:
Alison Boak
Jennifer Greene
Meghan McGrath
Philip Roy
Monica Thornton


Monday, December 10, 2012

Global Human Trafficking: How Migrants Are Impacted

Migrant women are at an increased risk for becoming targets of human trafficking perpetrators. It is estimated that 27 million people are trafficked for labor and sex trafficking  globally. Women comprise 80-98% of those who are sexually exploited across the world. United Nations reports that of those who are trafficked,  95% experienced physical and/or sexual abuse while being trafficked. Migrant women who lack support structures in  their destination country and come with low funds, can find themselves coerced into being trafficked. Whether they came under the guise of a job or continued education, or met a trafficker who befriended them with one goal in mind, migrant women can find themselves in a triple bind. They are poor, female, and undocumented while being trafficked in a foreign country. The Inter Press Agency (IPS)states that “migrant women who get involved in the commercial sex trade face multiple challenges. These include “insecurity in relation to the immigration status (such as) the potential breach of immigration law on top of prostitution-related law; criminalisation by the state; isolation and lack of friends; disorientation from the constant movements around brothels in different towns; vulnerability to extortion and blackmail; control by pimps and advertisers and lack of medical care (apart from certain clinics for sexually transmitted diseases).”   

Not only do these women suffer  the dehumanizing treatment of being victims of trafficking, they also lack access to health and medical care. As a result, many women attain a variety of illnesses that go untreated and further erode trafficking victims lives. Migrant families also face job discrimination whether they enter a new country through legalized routes, as asylum seekers, or as undocumented families. Women, who are still globally denied basic human rights, face extreme barriers to finding work in a new country and can fall into stereotypical gender roles which pay low and demand long hours (IPS). Thirty-two percent of trafficking  victims are forced into economic exploitation, over half of this population is female. Global profits for human trafficking is around 32 billion dollars and climbing. Worldwide, prostitution is an act which women and girls, due to severely oppressive factors, can become imprisoned.

 Migrant men also face great circumstances and make up a large number of those found in the forced labor market. The Solidarity Network writes that migrant is a person who leaves a country in pursuit of work. In North America, there are 18 million migrant workers. The migrant worker population, which usually consists of domestic workers, construction workers, contract laborers, low-skilled service sector workers, agricultural workers, and export production factory workers. Often, those who possess these jobs have left countries to find the work in which they are engaging. The need for work, puts this group in a precarious position and makes them vulnerable to being exploited through lowered wages, unlawful working hours, and other forms of abuse. Here too, a lack of proper documentation gives traffickers further power over the lives of migrant families. To be a migrant family, asylum seeker, or refugee in a new country is to be presented with unique problems. Those seeking the ability to provide for family members, those needing an economic boost, or those fleeing prosecution should not be subjected to further disempowerment, discrimination, or undue hardship. What can be done to aid migrant families and keep them from getting lost in human trafficking circles? Give us your ideas and feedback.

Sherie Shields
Task Force Intern IOFA

The U.S. Lags Behind in Ratification of Human Rights Convention

Happy International Human Rights Day! December 10 was chosen to honor the day when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. According to the UDHR, human rights are indivisible and inalienable, and encompass three categories: 1) civil and political rights, 2) economic, social, and cultural rights, and 3) rights that extend beyond the confines of a country and an urge for all countries who have signed the UDHR to mutually safeguard these rights for each other.

Eleanor Roosevelt and the UDHR

This morning, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, released a press statement celebrating the important of human rights and also reiterating the United States’ priority commitment to protect human rights for both its citizens and those abroad. “Human rights cannot be disconnected from other priorities,” she wrote. The U.S. is no doubt in a privileged position, with both political power and technical knowledge that allows it to contribute to far-reaching human rights work. Our nation seems to excel in the open discussions of many human rights issues and does not have as serious of human rights violations as some other countries. Isn’t it uncanny then, that the U.S. has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)?

The U.S. is among one of seven countries who have yet to ratify the CEDAW, placing it alongside Iran, Nauru, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, and Tonga. It is also the other country besides Somalia who has not ratified the CRC to this day, although it has ratified two provisions: 1) prohibiting the involvement of children in armed conflicts, and 2) prohibiting the sale, prostitution, and pornography of children.

Both the CEDAW and CRC are crucial in protecting the freedoms of children. The CEDAW promotes equality for women in the legal system, in political and public life, in access to education, in the right to equal pay, in the right to enter marriage, in the right to maternity leave. It protects women from discrimination linked to parental responsibilities and places women on the equal footing as men to enjoy human rights. The CRC protects children from neglect, abuse, exploitation, sexual abuse, underage labor, and deprivation of a national identity, healthcare, and education. It even calls for pre-and post-natal care for mothers, and seeks to ensure that children have adequate living standards that are conducive to their physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development.

There are several reasons for why the U.S. has not reached ratification of both of these long-overdue treaties. Opposition to the CEDAW comes from the contentious debate on women’s rights in the U.S. with regards to family planning, reproductive rights, and gender equality. Some of the same individuals and organizations that protest adoption of the CRC fear that parental rights to raise children at each parent’s discretion and traditional family structures will be undermined. However, the CRC does emphasize the importance of family involvement and guidance in nurturing the child.

It has been 31 years since the CEDAW and 12 years since the CRC went into force. The women and children of the U.S. have been waiting to have their rights. The people of the U.S. have a responsibility to recognize them and do them justice by serving them as equal human beings. 

Esther Liew
AATOP program development intern