Don't join any of these group ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Shabab and Boko haram these are human traffickers

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Maids To The Middle East To Be Dusted

By Gazala Anver
The Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau (FEB) states that in the last four months alone, domestic workers going to the Middle East have brought in USD 1,688 million worth of remittances to the country. The Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare however said that the age limit for domestic workers going to the Middle East will be raised to 30 within the next three years.
Currently the minimum age to work in the Middle East is 21, raised from 18. Many who take up these kinds of jobs are the breadwinners of the family: there are even numerous cases of unmarried women leaving at a young age to earn their own dowry and to take care of their aging parents while they can.
When The Sunday Leader visited an SLFEB training centre in Kadawatha, during a training session where domestics and caregivers were taught how to look after another’s family in order to feed their own; it was evident that this increase in age limit would pose problems.
Subani barely looked 25, but she has a six year old daughter she would be leaving behind to work in the Middle East. “I was reluctant to go initially, I was really scared but not anymore,” she said, explaining that she had been separated from her husband, had no home to call her own and now lived with her brother. “We are in a lot of difficulty,” she said. “My mother will take care of my daughter when I’m gone.”
Subani is one among many. There were a mixture of women, from young to mature, some who were over thirty but many just past their legal age. Among the males there was a majority of young men.
The instructors are seasoned workers, who guided the trainees on how to perform basic duties as well as adjust to a new country and culture. “Many people who come here are those looking for a means to provide for their families,” explained Rani, an instructor. “They always tell us ‘we have to go’,” she said.
The SLFEB has been training housemaids since 1994. In fact, without a certificate, housemaids can no longer travel abroad. They have to complete their training, an important aspect of which is physical fitness.
Physical fitness is the first test they have to face: “If anyone fails the physical training on the first day, we send them back. They are not allowed to continue,” Rani said.
The duration of the training sessions vary according to the country of work: housemaids going to the Middle East for instance are trained for 15 days, whereas others train for five days. The training sessions begin at 7:30a.m. with an hour devoted to physical exercise.
Apart from lower remittances, which the instructors say is vital for a developing country like Sri Lanka, the quality of workers leaving the country will also be affected. Currently educational qualifications are not considered: instead it is physical fitness that is of paramount importance.
The country in this instance will not only receive lower remittances and have a vast pool of unemployed but will also have a weaker outward bound labour force, in a profession where physical strength plays a crucial role.
The training
Every week brings with it new reports of Sri Lankans, working as domestics abroad, being abused or found dead, particularly in Middle Eastern countries. Horror stories have emanated yet, despite this factor, many still choose to leave their country and families to work abroad in hope of earning a better living.
OIC SLFEB Kadawatha Training Centre, Sujeewa Premasiri said that they train as many as 400 people in 15 days, getting them prepared for the hard life ahead. The trained housemaids are then sent to the Middle East, Singapore and Cyprus, while caregivers are sent to Israel, and non domestics (mostly male) leave for the Middle East. For every training session, 15 to 25 domestics are trained to leave for the Middle East. During the last six months,126,787 domestic workers left for the Middle East alone.
The domestics are all instructed on the law of the country, the culture, how to clean, cook and take care of children. They are also taught basic language skills as well as all important details such as contacting the embassy to complain against abuse. In such cases, Premasiri said, the embassy would try to resolve the problem by talking to the sponsors and if that failed, the domestic would be sent elsewhere to work or returned to Sri Lanka. She added that without the training, and the certificate obtained at the end, no one can leave for work and that the demand for domestics increases during the Ramazan season.
“They are also taught personal hygiene,” she said.
Model houses
The living room was carpeted, with low cushions and a shisha bong prominently displayed. There was a sign stating “Model Arabic Living Room.” The rest of the building was fashioned similarly, with model bedrooms, bathrooms and even invalid rooms. The domestics, explained training instructor, Rani, who worked in the Middle East for 11 years, are taught everything from how to vacuum, when to vacuum, to how to arrange tea and coffee sets, how to set a table, soup bowl and cutlery arrangements, how to serve, use waster and steam irons, wash and clean. They were taught different types of bed arrangements, how to change curtains and most importantly, how to take care of a child and clean the baby room.
“After Rizana Nafeek’s case, we pay extra attention to teaching them proper child care,” said Rani. “They are taught how to bathe, feed, arrange, clean, remove the cot, how to carry babies, how to feed newborns, clothe them, the use of pampers, feeding chairs, how to arrange baby cupboards, clean and disinfect the room daily.”
According to Rani, even tasks such as climbing ladders to clean the ceiling and fan are covered. “It’s a completely different culture in the Middle East. They are very strict there, especially when it comes to religion,” she said. “It is important that the domestics leaving for the Middle East understand their culture and their laws.”
Many women, especially those leaving to Israel, went as caregivers, therefore, Rani explained, it was important they learned how to take care of invalids.
A group of eight women were practicing taking care of an invalid, with Rani showing them how to change blankets while the patient was on bed, how they should vacuum only, and not dust the room, how to handle wheelchairs and walking sticks, adult pampers and the medical set, how to arrange towels and take a urine count, among other things.
“The number of complaints received have dropped a lot,” Rani said. “Six to seven years ago we received many complaints about the maids, but now its reduced a lot.”
Glitches in the system
The environment was that of a typical tuition class, everyone chattering with each other, seated for lessons like school children, or giggling in groups. The building itself was very well ventilated and lit, and despite the sheer number of people running to and fro, and often getting in the way, they somehow seemed to be managing.
There seemed to be adequate resources and the building was well equipped. The only thing that they seemingly lacked was time. Rani herself explained that while the domestics learned everything from cooking to cleaning to law and culture, it was learning the language that was the problem. “We don’t have enough time to teach them the language properly,” she said.
In addition, one point to be observed was that while everyone worked in groups and was given tasks, and while they were taught in model bedrooms, dining rooms and bathrooms, would one lecture be sufficient for anyone to remember the ‘basics’ such as the intricacies of arranging beds differently during summer and winter, double bed and piece bed arrangement and all other details?
English instructor, Anuruddha Pannila, stressed that there wasn’t enough time to teach them the language. “Many of them come with a weak fundamental knowledge,” he said. “It’s easier in schools because everyone is in the same age group. That’s not the case here however,” he said.
In the Cyprus room, they were taught Greek. Phrases that might come in handy, such as “did you drink your medicine,” and “do you want more salt,” were taught as well as how verbs always came first in Greek.
During the cooking session, many women in aprons and caps covering their hair crowded around a table where different peppers were neatly chopped, and packets of pasta were arranged. However, is one brief lesson enough to bring all these points home, teach someone an entirely different culture and even cuisine?

OFWs reminded of Ramadan don'ts

July 30, 2011, 7:10pm
MANILA, Philippines — As Islamic countries in the Middle East and Muslims in the Philippines start the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting and cleansing) Monday, August 1, a Filipino migrants’ rights group urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East and in other Islamic countries to closely observe the prohibitions imposed by the host governments during Ramadan.
“This is just to caution our fellow OFWs. Although non-Muslims are not obliged to fast, for instance, we advice our fellow OFWs to observe the religious and cultural prohibitions by the host governments with regard to the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is set to begin Monday, August 1, and lasts 29 to 30 days.
Aside from fasting, Muslims are prohibited from smoking and are expected to refrain from lust, violence, greed, envy, anger, sarcastic retorts and gossiping, and even making noise.
“Obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided, too,” Monterona added.
Monterona said during past years, his group monitored a number of OFWs who were caught by the religious and cultural police locally known as ‘Mutawa’ for violating the customs of the host government. These are considered petty crimes and are punishable by imprisonment of up to a year, plus lashes.
“In 2009, as per Migrante-ME records, there were around 20 OFWs arrested. There were 35 nabbed for violations during last year’s Ramadan,” Monterona bared.
Filipino domestic workers need to be reminded, too, as many of them are expected by their Muslim employers to fast just like them during Ramadan.
Citing complaints received from runaway domestic workers, Monterona said that maids are required to do household and other chores from early morning until late at night during Ramadan.
“Thus, it’s no surprise that during Ramadan, the number of runaway OFW-domestic helpers goes up. They run away because they can no longer bear the treatment they’re getting from their employers,” he said.
Libya Ramadan
Meanwhile in Libya, civil war or not, every year the holy Muslim month of Ramadan must be respected and in Libya’s rebel stronghold of Benghazi women bakers are working overtime to meet demand.
Dozens of women knead dough into shape, making sweets and salty pies, at the iconic Al-Harabi bakery, undaunted by the unrelenting war, sweltering temperatures, power-cuts and tight budgets.
Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, is due to begin on August 1.
Throughout the month, families get together to break the fast with lavish meals that must include olive and cheese pies and special Ramadan sweets.
The revolution launched in February to unseat Libyan strongman Moammar Khadafy has turned life in Libya upside down.
Men, the traditional breadwinners, left for the front line or lost their jobs, universities and schools closed, and businesses and homes were hit by daily power cuts.
As a result women have left their homes to look for jobs, with many finding a job al Al-Harabi.
“We had no money but I had free time so I started working here,” said Iman al-Jihani, 22, a medicine student who also volunteers two nights per week in the surgery department of Benghazi’s Al-Jalaa hospital. (With a report from AFP)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Police arrest gang for pimping and human trafficking

Czech Police announce arrest of gang of eight on charges pimping and human trafficking after investigation lasting over a year
Tom Jones | 29.07.2011 - 17:36
The police’s anti-organized crime unit (ÚOOZ) announced on Friday that they had arrested a gang of 8 from Pardubice, eastern Bohemia, on charges of soliciting sexual services — i.e., pimping — and human trafficking. Four of those arrested have also been charged with robbery. The arrests follow an investigation launched at the beginning of 2010. Five of the gang members face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty and the other three members — eight years.
According to a statement issued by ÚOOZ on Friday, in 1997 three of the gang members opened a nightclub in Pardubice, eastern Bohemia, where sexual services were provided. In time, the other five associates joined the business and helped procure woman to work as prostitutes and entice clients. The women providing sexual services included Slovak, Ukrainian and Nigerian nationals as well as Czechs and were aged between 18 and 35.
Forced prostitution
Investigators say the women were forced to pay part of their earnings to the club’s owners and one young woman says she was The four main gang members reportedly made considerable profits from their illicit business and had homes with swimming pools and tennis courts built.forced into prostitution under threat of violence from the gang.
One of the suspects went on to establish a security firm whose personnel put pressure, including physical violence, on the gang’s business rivals to “dissuade” them from running the same line of business in the Pardubice and Chrudim areas.
The four main gang members reportedly made considerable profits from their illicit business and built lavish homes with swimming pools and tennis courts. Police confiscated property, including expensive cars, with an estimated value of over Kč 30 million.
ÚOOZ spokesman Pavel Hanták told Czech Position that the gang members were arrested in mid-June since when they have all been held in custody, adding that the arrests were not announced earlier due to circumstances surrounding the investigation.
The arrests were conducted by special police units due to reports that the men may be illegally armed. The arrests were made at the homes of the gang members, their nightclub and in public and during the raids found weapons both licensed and held illegally, documental evidence and around Kč 500,000 in cash.
Gray area
Prostitution remains a grey area in Czech law. Providing paid sexual services is in itself not punishable, though failure to declare income is. However, under the Czech Criminal Code offering sexual services near schools or other institutions or locations designated for children is a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison.
Procurement, or pimping, defined as inciting, persuading or forcing someone to provide sexual services, arranging for the provision of sexual services by others, or profiting from sexual services provided by others, is punishable with imprisonment from six months to two years, and up to eight years if the culprit is a member of an organized criminal group or causes harm to the person providing sexual services.
There have been several initiatives in recent years by Czech politicians to legalize and regulate prostitution. The most recent was tabled by a group of Prague councilors which proposes mandatory registration and regular health checks. The proposal has made no headway, however, and it is probable that the proposed bylaws would conflict with the Criminal Code.
According to a recent article in the weekly Respekt, there are around 10,000 prostitutes in the Czech Republic who together generate a total of between Kč 10 billion and Kč 11 billion a year – roughly the same as the Škoda car company, the publication points out. The article does not say, however, who calculated the estimate and what methods were used.

Mexican cartels move into human trafficking

(07-28) 13:23 PDT Mexico City --
The Salvadoran single mother was hoping to support her children in the United States. Instead, gunmen from the Zeta drug cartel kidnapped her in Mexico and forced her to cook, clean and endure the rapes of multiple men

Now the survivor of this terrifying three-month ordeal is a witness for a growing group of legislators, political leaders and advocates who are calling for action against the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Mexico.
As organized crime and globalization have increased, Mexico has become a major destination for sex traffic, as well as a transit point and supplier of victims to the United States. Drug cartels are moving into the trade, preying on immigrant women, sometimes with the complicity of corrupt regional officials, according to diplomats and activists.
"If narcotics traffickers are caught they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity," said Rosi Orozco, a congresswoman in Mexico and sponsor of a proposed new law against human trafficking.
In Mexico, thousands of women and children are forced into sex traffic every year, Orozco said, most of it involving lucrative prostitution rings.
"It is growing because of poverty, because the cartels have gotten involved, and because no one tells them 'no,' " said Teresa Ulloa, the regional director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. "We are fighting so that their lives and their bodies are not merchandise."
"This is an inferno of sexual exploitation for thousands and thousands of women," President Felipe Calderon told officials in mid-July, after they heard the testimony of a young survivor. "With this new law we will all be obliged to act, and no authority can say it's not my responsibility or turn a blind eye to the terrible crime of human trafficking."
Mexico passed a law against human trafficking in 2007.
Hopes for enforcement have been raised by the appointment of Mexico's first female attorney general, Marisela Morales, who was praised for her efforts against human trafficking earlier this year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored her as an "International Woman of Courage."
Authorities said federal police mounted a massive raid against human trafficking in bars and hotels in Ciudad Juarez last weekend, arresting hundreds of suspects and recovering a missing 15-year-old girl and four minors who were being used for sexual exploitation.
But convictions are still rare, making the latent attention seem like empty political rhetoric, or a response to international pressure, said Saul Arellano, an analyst at the CEIDAS think tank. He viewed the new proposed law as a much-needed step in the right direction, but said it would have to be matched by a stronger effort to arrest and convict traffickers.
U.S. prosecutors have won stiff sentences for Mexican traffickers in recent years, often in cooperation with Mexican authorities. A Mexican "padrote," or godfather, from a trafficking stronghold in Tlaxcala state, got 40 years in Atlanta in March for forcing 10 girls, one of them 14, into immigrating north for prostitution. If they refused, he beat them.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement led to the conviction in Mexico of four people, sentenced in late June to 16 to 18 years, for involvement in a ring that forced immigrant women into prostitution in Miami by holding their children hostage in Mexico.
Some witnesses in trafficking cases find refuge in a new privately funded shelter in Mexico City.
There is a skinny 9-year-old from Cancun whose father began renting her to traffickers for 100 pesos a day when she was 7 years old. A 13-year-old from Oaxaca whose aunt sold her to traffickers in Puebla. A tiny, shy 14-year-old, taken from her foster mother in Guatemala and offered to men in southern Mexico. Two 15-year-old girls from Honduras escaped a trafficker who demanded they service 20 men a day.
One survivor-advocate was 17 when she accepted a job offer in Monterrey and found herself locked in an upscale brothel with women smuggled in from Slovakia, China, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba - the kind of transnational operation that is drawing the attention of drug cartels.
The Zetas have begun their own prostitution ventures, rather than acting as suppliers of women, diplomats say.
"They're starting to change their business model and branching out into things like sex trafficking," a U.S. official in Mexico said. "They realize it is a lucrative way to generate revenue, and it is low risk."
A few weeks ago, Zeta gunmen kidnapped Nicaraguan immigrant Maria de Los Angeles, 29, in Veracruz, with another immigrant woman. The Zetas said they would send them to Monterrey or the United States.
"They wanted to put us in a prostitution network or give us to their friends to be the women of Mafiosos," Maria said.
The women, who fled to a church, had escaped by promising the gunmen thousands of dollars they said relatives had wired to a town nearby.
The Salvadoran single mother was traveling through Veracruz by train when strange men turned her group of immigrants over to the Zetas. She was brought to a house where brutality ruled. Dozens of immigrant women passed through the house during her three-month captivity. Zetas inspected the new female arrivals; a few were raped there, others were taken to hotel rooms. When the women returned, "they cried a lot," the Salvadoran mother said. "They had bruises."
One night in early 2009, a gunman let her go, along with a Guatemalan woman whose uncle had traded her to the Zetas for his freedom.
"I knew they robbed you along the way, but no one warned me about this," the Salvadoran woman said. "I prayed to God to let me see the faces of my children again. I thought I would never live to tell."

Two women appear for human trafficking


Sapa | 29 July, 2011 16:35

Two Chinese women facing charges that include human trafficking and running a brothel, made their third appearance in the Parow Regional Court.

They were not asked to plead, and their case was postponed to August 26.
Because they face charges of a sexual nature, they may not be named until their trial commences.
One is aged 39 and the other 34, and both were arrested during a combined police and municipal vice squad swoop on a house in Marais Street, Goodwood, in February.
At their scheduled second appearance in the Regional Court on July 13, only the younger one was in the dock, and prosecutor Francine Ruben informed the court that her co-accused was back in custody after her arrest the night before on similar charges.
At Friday's proceedings, before magistrate Elsa van Zyl, both were in the dock together.
Both had earlier been released on R5 000 bail by the Goodwood District Court, and the older woman was out on bail when she was re-arrested.
Defence attorney Oscar Katz has launched a second bail application on her behalf, in the Goodwood District Court, and this resumes before magistrate Sean Lea on Friday, August 5.
They face 13 charges, including two of trafficking in persons for sexual purposes, two of involvement in human trafficking for sexual purposes, two of kidnapping and one of keeping a brothel between January 22 and February 9.
During the first police swoop, two young Chinese women were rescued who had been lured to South Africa by false promises of lucrative jobs, and then forced into prostitution.
Last week, the Pretoria Regional Court jailed for life a convicted human trafficker, Adina dos Santos, who trafficked three girls from Mozambique, aged between 14 and 18.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Shaytan the devil makes this women lose her patience with the maid

Sri Lanka aims to improve rights for women migrant workers abroad

28 Jul 2011 19:02
Source: Content partner // Global Press Institute// by Wasantha Ilanganthilake
A woman shouts in front of the Saudi Arabia embassy during a protest against the torture of L.T. Ariyawathi, who worked as a maid in Saudi Arabia, in Colombo August 30, 2010. A Saudi couple tortured Ariyawathi after she complained of a too heavy workload by hammering 24 nails into her hands, legs and forehead, officials said on Thursday. The message reads, " The steps that has been taken are not appropriate". REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
AMBATENNA, SRI LANKA – Rohini Jayalath, 42, left her home in Ambatenna in Sri Lanka’s Central province 15 years ago to search for a job in the Middle East in order to help her impoverished family.
Jayalath’s father died when she was 8. Her mother worked at a weaving center to earn money to support their family, but she died in 1993. With the responsibility of her siblings on her shoulders, Jayalath left Sri Lanka, where jobs were scarce, to search for employment abroad in 1995. A private employment agency helped her find a job at a factory.
“I did a job at a factory for about eight years,” she says.
She says she saved her earnings and moved back to Sri Lanka in 2003 to start a better life for herself and her family.
“I started a small grocery shop in my village with my savings,” she says. “Now I am so proud to tell that it is in a well-improved condition. Luckily, I could construct my own house without taking any loan.”
She says that in recent years, the Sri Lankan government has increased support for migrant workers.
“Now the foreign job seekers get more government intervention than we got earlier,” she says. “Government provides big support and facilities now. Foreign embassies have been established in almost in all the Middle East countries.”
She says that the government is also working to resolve other issues.
“More attention is being given to the problems faced by the migrants,” she says. “Training for the foreign job seekers [has] been given by the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, which is very important.”
As hundreds of thousands of women leave Sri Lanka to work in foreign countries every year, many say they are able to earn money to eventually start their own businesses and build houses back at home. But others say foreign employment destroys families and more needs to be done to improve migrant workers’ rights. Nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, and foreign employment agencies are working to help women succeed abroad. Meanwhile, the government has been implementing policies and programs to ensure migrant workers’ safety abroad and create employment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan people used to live under the traditional agricultural system. Thanks to economic and social changes in the country spurred by globalization, they deviated from this traditional system and started to look for new employment abroad to strengthen their financial situation as well as the economy.
The Non-Aligned Conference, a meeting of countries not formally aligned with a major power bloc, was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1976. The conference opened the foreign job market in Middle Eastern countries to Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka, where there were labor surpluses, according to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment’s latest annual report. With the introduction of an open economy in Sri Lanka in 1978, employment opportunities widened. 
In the late 1970s, Sri Lanka became the only country to send women abroad as unskilled housemaids without any restrictions, according to a case study carried out for the International Labor Organization. The main destinations for Sri Lankan migrants have been Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, according to the World Bank.
Women made up slightly more than half of Sri Lankans who went abroad in 2009, according to the Bureau of Foreign Labor report. Nearly 90 percent of them went to work as maids. Thanks to the high rate of unemployment among females in Sri Lanka – more than 20 percent – the number of female migrant workers has increased throughout the years as women are educated here but lack the technical training required for many jobs. Whereas nearly 3,500 women departed for foreign employment in 1986, nearly 130,000 did so in 2009.
The report estimated that 1.7 million Sri Lankans were working abroad in 2009. Major factors that drive Sri Lankans to seek foreign employment include low per-capita income, unemployment or underemployment, high inflation and debts. Some Sri Lankan women say that domestic problems, such as alcohol and drug addiction among male family members, also compel them to leave the country for work.
Swarnalatha Perera lives in Kandy, a district in Sri Lanka’s Central province. A mother of two children, she went abroad seven years ago to work as a maid in the Middle East. 
“I served as a housemaid in Kuwait for about five years,” she says. “I had to look after [a] small child 1 year old. Although the work I had to do so much, I was working there for five years.”
Like Jayalath, she says she earned enough money to buy land and build a house back in Sri Lanka for her family. She says she could invest her money in building the house because her husband, who works as a mason, earns enough to meet their daily needs.
“He works as a daily paid worker and earn[s] 1,200 rupees [$11 USD] per day,” she says. “Somehow, with little difficulty, our family can manage with the money he earns.”
But not all women have had as positive experiences with foreign employment as Perera and Jayalath because of social problems abroad or separated families at home.
Shyama Weerathunghe, 21, lives in Kandy with her husband, a government worker whom she married six months ago. She says she is originally from Anuradhapura, located in Sri Lanka’s North Central province. She says she has a negative view of migrant work because her mother was forced to become one.
“My mother went abroad as a housemaid in [the] Middle East 12 years ago,” she says. “Then I [was 9] years old.”
She says her mother didn’t leave for financial reasons, as her father was a farmer and they had enough paddy fields and land to make a decent living.
“But our father is very strict,” she says. “So mother and we underwent difficulties due to his cruelties. He always blamed us and used to assault my mother. My poor mother didn’t have any other alternative to avoid his cruelties.”
She says her mother went abroad to escape the abuse, leaving Weerathunghe and her elder sister with their aunt and uncle.
“Mother’s elder sister and her husband looked after us with love and affection,” she says. “We lived with their children very well.”
She says both she and her sister are married and successful, but that they haven’t heard from their mother since she left.
“We didn’t get any news about mother since 10 years,” she says. “The private agency, which mother sent abroad, is defunct now. Yet we are expecting our mother to come to us one day.”
She says she regrets that her family was separated when her mother went abroad.
“It always comes into mind that if our father had not been so rude, our mother would not have gone abroad,” she says. “Then four of us could have lived happily.”
The current case of Rizana Nafeek also highlights drawbacks of working abroad. Nafeek, a Sri Lankan migrant worker in her 20s, is on death row in Saudi Arabia because the child she was looking after while working as a housemaid there died.
Dilan Perera, minister of foreign employment promotion and welfare in Sri Lanka, told the media earlier this month that the Sri Lankan government was prepared to pay the dead child’s family any amount of “blood money” to release Nafeek. He said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa sent a personal request to the king of Saudi Arabia to release her, but that it was up to the parents to pardon Nafeek under Sharia law.
The Action Network For Migrant Workers, ACTFORM, is one NGO that helps fight for migrant workers’ rights in Sri Lanka. Voila Perera, senior project officer for ACTFORM, says that advocating for rights for women migrant workers is the most feasible option.
“The best option would be for women to work in their home country, but [they] can’t [be deprived] the option of being employed abroad due to their poverty,” she says. “Sri Lankan governments must handle problems of women in the workplace delicately.”
She says ACTFORM urges the government to implement the National Policy on Migrant Workers, approved by the Sri Lankan Cabinet in 2009, which takes the protection of migrant workers’ rights into special consideration.
“We strongly believe that it is high time the laws enacted and policies agreed upon on behalf of the migrant workers of Sri Lanka, who earn invaluable foreign exchange for the country, are to be implemented,” she says.
She says ACTFORM aims to help the government enforce the policy.
“Initially, we plan to take legal action against the wrongdoers,” she says. “We are already in the process of preparing papers for that. And we will take steps to keep the government alert on a constant basis about incidents violating the rights of migrant workers and urge them to take action against such instances and restore their safety.”
She says ACTFORM also provides training for foreign employees.
“We need to teach them specially languages – English or Arabic – make them aware of the low environment of their workplaces,” she says. “It will help to solve their problem[s] faced at the working places in the respective foreign countries.”
Dhana Roshana is managing director of Bismie Foreign Employment Agency, an agency in Kandy that sends migrant workers to Kuwait, where many work as housemaids, earning 21,000 rupees, nearly $200 USD, a month.
“Most of uneducated women seek for housemaid jobs in the Middle East countries, and at least they must have a proper training before they leave the country,” she says.
But Roshana says that training from the Foreign Employment Board needs work.
“Training needs a lot of [improvement], as it does not do much for the housemaids other than train them to become obedient servants,” she says.
But she says the government is working to change this and implement other initiatives.
“Government recently took a decision to raise the minimum age of a female domestic worker from 18 to 21 because 18-years-old girl is not matured enough,” she says. “At the moment, Foreign Employment Bureau is in the process of grading foreign employment agencies. This will help the people to find a reliable, good agency.”
She says her agency has an office in Kuwait that helps migrant workers with any problems.
“My agency take[s] care of all migrant workers who find jobs from my agency,” she says. “My agency office in Kuwait is always willing to help them.”
The current government has introduced a number of policies to enhance the protection and welfare of migrant workers and their families since it came to power in 2005, according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s 2010 annual report.
The government created a separate ministry to regulate foreign employment – the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare – in 2007. The ministry launched the National Labor Migration Policy in 2009 in consultation with the International Labor Organization to articulate the government’s commitment to a labor migration process that adheres to international guidelines.
The government has also introduced compulsory training programs for migrant workers and has been encouraging youth to receive government training to develop technical skills and enter the technical foreign job market. The government has been promoting education for migrant workers’ children, too.
The government also grants housing loans with lower interest and special insurance plans to migrant workers and their families.
A computer network has been established to maintain links among the head ministry office, regional offices, Sri Lanka mission offices in foreign countries and local recruitment agencies. The government evaluates foreign employment agencies. The ministry has also signed bilateral agreements with the receiving countries, such as Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, for the security and welfare of the Sri Lankan migrant workers.
The government has also worked to create more job opportunities in the country. For example, it has initiated projects through microfinance institutions to promote self-employment opportunities for women, such as in dressmaking, food preservation and beauty culture. It has been promoting the tourism industry, which creates jobs for women and youth. It has introduced various professional training programs, especially for those who have dropped out of school, but it may take time to see the results of these programs.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chinese police rescue 89 children in two major human trafficking cases

China   2011-07-27 13:44:04
BEIJING, July 27 (Xinhua) -- A total of 89 children were rescued when police busted two major human trafficking rings in south China, the Ministry of Public Security said on Wednesday.
Police from 14 provinces and autonomous regions worked together to bust the rings, detaining a total of 369 suspects.
On July 15, police in south China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region broke up a cross-border trafficking gang, saving eight children and detaining 39 suspects.
The gang members were largely Vietnamese, smuggling children from Vietnam into China. However, the channel they used to bring the children into the country has now been closed off, the ministry said.
In another trafficking case, more than 2,600 police officers were dispatched on July 20 from nearly every corner of China to bust a cross-regional trafficking ring that operated in areas ranging from southeast China's Fujian Province to the northern province of Hebei.
Eighty-one children were rescued and 330 suspects were detained during the bust, the ministry said.
While holding a four-month-old infant in her arms, Yang Lijuan, a policewoman from the city of Handan in Hebei, said "the baby was fed with low-quality milk powder as a result of the buyer's poor living conditions." The infant was abducted two months ago.
A number of policewomen were sent to take care of the 13 children rescued in Handan, who were later transferred to social welfare facilities, local police said.
Chen Shiqu, director of the anti-human trafficking office of the Ministry of Public Security, said "all rescued children should be placed under the temporary care of civil affairs departments before their parents can be located and verified through DNA tests."
Chen added that the children are not allowed to stay with buyers after they have been found by the police in order to discourage the growth of the buyers' market.
The ministry said further efforts are being made to rescue more abducted children.
Since April 2009, police nationwide have solved more than 39,000 human trafficking cases, busted 4,885 criminal gangs and saved 14,600 children and 24,800 women, according to statistics provided by the ministry.
Editor: Chen Zhi

Middle East economic crisis affects jobs in the Philippines

Halfway around the world from Egypt and Libya, the Arab Spring is even reverberating in small-town Philippines. Many families here depend on wages sent back from wealthier countries, including the Middle East, which accounted for nearly half of new overseas jobs in 2010.
So far, job losses have been concentrated in Libya, which employed around 23,000 Filipinos before war erupted in February. A far greater worry is the prospect of cutbacks in Saudi Arabia, where more than 1.3 million Filipinos live and work, the largest overseas community after the US. Their wages helped bump up total remittances last year to a record $18.7 billion.
While Saudi rulers haven’t faced sustained protests, they’ve tried to tackle domestic unemployment by capping the number of foreign workers that companies can hire in what some observers have described as part of a preemptive move amid turmoil in the region. This could have a major effect in the Philippines, which is the fourth-largest supplier of workers after Pakistan, India, and Egypt.
In Manila, recruitment agencies are still posting Saudi jobs that run the gamut from civil engineers to nutritionists, waiters, and bellhops. But agencies say they expect fewer contract renewals, particularly at small companies, as a result of so-called Saudization of the workplace.
In addition, more experienced workers are returning home to the Philippines, leaving a gap in the market, says Loreto Soriano, who runs a recruitment company and worked in Saudi in the 1980s. “The pressure is building from both sides,” he says.

Rights of domestic servants in question

A separate row between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia over the rights of domestic servants has had a more immediate impact.
In June the Saudi government said it would stop issuing permits to maids from both the Philippines and Indonesia, which had protested over the beheading of an Indonesian maid convicted of murdering her employer’s wife. Human rights groups say female servants are more vulnerable to abuse than workers in factories and offices.
Philippine officials have demanded that Saudi employers guarantee a minimum monthly wage of $400 to servants as well as improve conditions. Since March, Saudi negotiators have refused to accept the wage demand, says Carlos Cao, the head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). But he predicted that a compromise would be reached.
“There should be a way out of this … we’re still friendly countries,” he says.
Migrant worker advocates estimate that around 180,000 Filipinos work in Saudi households, mostly young women who earn as little as $200 a month. Saudi was the fourth-largest destination for newly hired servants in 2010 after Hong Kong, Kuwait, and UAE, according to the POEA. Nearly 2 out of every 3 servants hired went to the Middle East.
In 2006, then-President Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal made it illegal for recruiters to pay less than $400 a month to domestic servants, but this rule is widely flouted.
New recruits are told in orientation classes that their salaries will be less than advertised, says Darius Ambolario, a manager at Al-Khaleej International Services, which specializes in Middle East job placements. “We’re violating the law but the POEA knows that,” he says.
Far from boosting incomes, the 2006 law led some Saudi employers to cut salaries for maids who were making over the minimum, says Garry Martinez, who runs Migrante International, an advocacy group in Manila. “The government has to realize that even $400 is low given the work that domestic helpers are doing: 16-hour days, and no day off,” he says.

Grace's story

For one family, the cost of migration has been high. Last year, 3 out of 5 daughters were contracted to work in Saudi as either domestic servants or nurses.
In March, the eldest daughter, Grace, was arrested after her domestic employer accused her of stealing a wedding ring worth $10,000. Her mother, a state college professor, who requested that the family name not be published, said that Grace had denied the crime and no ring had been found in her possession.
“I sent her money for her ticket. I don’t believe that she could do this,” says the mother.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

President sends letter to Saudi king to save RI migrant worker

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 07/25/2011 9:53 AM 
                                                                                                                                                            President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent a letter to the Saudi Arabian government asking the kingdom to lift the death sentence on Indonesian national Sumartini.

Members of a taskforce led by Maftuh Basyuni, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, are lobbying the kingdom to commute Sumartini’s sentence. Sumartini is a resident of Moyo Utara in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

“We are happy that the President has sent a letter to King Abdullah,” NTB Governor Zainul Majdi said after meeting Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace on Friday.

“We hope the government can also help other migrant workers from West Nusa Tenggara who face death sentences overseas.”

Sumartini, a 33-year-old migrant worker, was found guilty in a Saudi court of using black magic to kill her employer’s 17-year-old son, Tisam, and is imprisoned at Maalaz Penitentiary.

She is one of 25 Indonesian workers on death row in Saudi Arabia.

Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said the President was committed to protecting Sumartini and other Indonesian migrant workers from execution.

The government earlier helped Darsem — an Indonesian maid found guilty of killing her employer — from execution by beheading after paying “blood money” to the victim’s family.

Yudhoyono said earlier that around 200 Indonesians overseas faced the death penalty, including in the Middle East, Malaysia and China. He said 70 percent of the nationals were found guilty in drugs cases and 20 percent were on death row for murder.

In his meeting with the President, Zainal presented a report on the expected impact of a moratorium on sending new workers to Saudi Arabia, which takes effect next month.

“Some 12,000 residents of West Nusa Tenggara would delay their departure to the Middle East next month due to the moratorium. We need to provide them with jobs,” he said.

Zainal called on the government to accelerate economic development in NTB to create new jobs.

NTB sends between 55,000 and 60,000 migrant workers abroad each year, most of them housemaids. Half of them find employment in the Middle East.

“We ask for two things from the central government: improving the national program for community empowerment [PNPM Mandiri] to create new jobs and accelerating the establishment of international training centers in Lombok,” Zainal said.

Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said the government would prioritize development in NTB to make it a key tourism gateway.

Hatta said the construction of an international airport in Lombok was expected to be completed in October.

“We have set aside 1,200 hectares near the airport to build a special economic zone for the tourism sector. We expect it to be a new hub for economic activity,” he said.

Lombok’s white sand beaches and its proximity to Bali have attracted a considerable number of tourists, both domestic and foreign.

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar earlier said that the government had prepared up to 3 million jobs to offset the impact of the moratorium.