Volunteer Service in the DR
Caroline Hames recently wrote this powerful analysis of human trafficking. It applies to the Dominican Republic. Until there is change in migration laws, trafficking will only get worse. As you read the following article think about how this applies to the Dominican Republic and the economic refugees of Haiti. By making the border along the Dominican frontier a zone of corruption without consistent policies and equal treament, irregulat Hatian migrants are forced to turn to brokers who traffick them and others into the various sectors of the Dominican economy. There is no incentive to fix immigration law. Too much money is being made by Dominicans who are also the very ones who complain and blame everything that is wrong in the DR on these Haitians.
For those who work to protect the rights of trafficked persons, the failure of the government's recent inquiry into trafficking to identify significant numbers of trafficked persons comes as no great surprise. According to the Guardian, Operation Pentameter Two, the government's latest anti-trafficking purge, was more a crackdown on prostitution than human trafficking; most of those detained were found not to have been trafficked.
Nearly 10 years after an internationally recognised definition of trafficking was adopted at the United Nations, little progress has been made towards addressing the root causes of trafficking worldwide. Instead, like the "war on terror", trafficking has become a conveniently unquantifiable phenomenon that allows governments to violate human rights, most often of non-citizens, in the name of "protecting" them. By linking trafficking with a particular industry, in this case prostitution, rather than looking at more complex factors which are causing people to be trafficked into the UK, the government is failing to address severe exploitation within its borders.
One month ago the French authorities destroyed the "jungle", a migrant camp in Calais that was home to hundreds of migrants hoping to reach British shores. While many politicians and media reports lauded the successful destruction of the camp, success was measured by the numbers of homes destroyed and migrants disbanded. Furthermore the home secretary, Alan Johnson, said the camp's destruction would not only serve to "prevent illegal immigration, but also to stop people-trafficking".
Today, many of those who were made homeless by the destruction of the "jungle" have been forced to rebuild their fragile homes in order to survive. As we watch people being deprived of their human rights, living in conditions of squalor, politicians unrepentantly continue to describe the demolition as a success.
By describing this as a way to "stop people-trafficking", Alan Johnson is painting the destruction of shelter and arbitrary detentions as a humanitarian act to save people from traffickers. This twisted logic seems even more tragic when taking into account the fact that many of the Calais migrants are seeking refuge from conflicts, such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia, which we are participating in or have instigated. It is difficult to see how these people are better protected from trafficking now that the camp has been dismantled and their living conditions are even more precarious.
The link between the treatment of migrants in Calais and the failure of the UK government's anti-trafficking purge, Operation Pentameter Two, may not be self-evident. However, the Global Alliance against Traffic in Women – a network of over 90 anti-trafficking organisations worldwide – has seen such patterns of hypocrisy repeated around the world. On the one hand the government's large-scale anti-trafficking response has been demonstrably unsuccessful in identifying traffickers; and on the other hand, there are reportedly many traffickers operating with impunity in Calais.
The secret of Operation Pentameter Two's failure is in its single-minded focus on one industry – prostitution – rather than addressing exploitation in many labour sectors in the UK. As tragic incidences of migrants being exploited in agriculture, domestic service or food production have shown, trafficking and severe labour exploitation is not limited by sector, gender or migration status. Poor labour conditions need to be improved for trafficking to be lessened in any meaningful way.
Until governments create safe work and migration opportunities, people will continue to rely on brokers and agents to acquire informal and unprotected jobs. If the government is really committed to ending trafficking, instead of focusing on detaining prostitutes or rendering migrants homeless, it must address the inconsistencies in immigration policies that seek to exclude irregular migrants and anti-trafficking policies supposedly designed to prevent human rights violations.
12:48 PM - Oct. 21, 2009
A journal of activities relating to volunteer service in the Dominican Republic mostly related to orphaned, abandoned, and disadvantaged children and the people who work with them.
- Children's Relief for Haiti
- 32 Volunteers this month
- Deacon Sam
- In Jail at Christmas
- A Thankyou from the Children