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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Madagascar maids: Misery in the Middle East

A woman and her child in Madagascar (archive shot)  
 Poor women are most a risk of being duped into travelling to the Middle East

Related Stories

Forced to work as a "slave maid" for wealthy families in Lebanon for 15 years, Abeline Baholiarisoa - a 59-year-old woman from Madagascar - finally achieved her freedom in March.
Madagascar's government chartered a plane to evacuate her and 85 other women.
The youngest of her four children, whom she left behind when he was six years old, played a key role in her evacuation, tracking her down via a welfare agency that rescues "slave maids", she says.
Ms Baholiarisoa says she was trapped in "a living hell" after being duped into going to Lebanon.

Start Quote

Abeline Baholiarisoa
We didn't have time to eat or sleep - night and day. We didn't even have time to clean ourselves”
Abeline Baholiarisoa Ex-maid
A recruiting agency had promised her a nursing job for three years, with a salary of $800 (£486) a month.
Ms Baholiarisoa says she thought it would give her a chance to save money, which she could send to her children.
But her dream was shattered the minute she touched down in Beirut.
"It was a trap, because as soon as I got there they took away my papers and said my contract didn't mean anything," Ms Baholiarisoa says.
"They said, 'Abeline, this is null and void.' For the next 15 years they shattered my life and the lives of my children."
Ms Baholiarisoa says she was put to work as a maid with another Malagasy woman in the house of a rich couple with newborn triplets.
"We didn't have time to eat or sleep - night and day. We didn't even have time to clean ourselves.
"I worked 24 hours a day and received $160 a month. From this, I had to pay the lady of the house money for my food because they only gave us a quarter of a loaf of bread and some bits of fruit each day."
'Women crippled'

Start Quote

Some families decided to open the coffin and found that the girl didn't have eyes”
Noro Randimbiarison Social worker
Ms Baholiarisoa says she ran away from her first job after seven months and her second job after two years.
But with no papers and no way to return home she was forced to accept maid jobs for 12 more years.
Fabienne Marie Ange - a social worker with Madagascar's Union of Qualified Domestic Workers (SPDTS), which specialises in helping "slave maids" - says many of them are so traumatised that they do not even know where they are.
"Sometimes in Lebanon the boss gives them drugs to keep them strong. They have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they don't eat properly. It has an effect on their mental [health]," Ms Ange says.
Ms Baholiarisoa says she refused her employer's attempts to give her pills for "stress", but she knew of people who ended up with an "empty brain" after taking them.
"You become like a beast, like an animal made for work," she says.
Some women are forced to work in Lebanon's clubs and streets as prostitutes, while some maids sell their bodies on the side just to pay for food, Ms Ange says.
According to SPDTS President Noro Randimbiarison, some of the women have died in mysterious circumstances in Lebanon.
When their bodies were eventually returned to Madagascar, it was discovered that several of them had missing organs.
"Some families decided to open the coffin and found that the girl didn't have eyes, her eyes had been replaced by doll's eyes, or they didn't have a tongue or intestines or the heart. This really happens. It's real," says Ms Randimbiarison.
Medical reports on the cause of death are vague - and some families have been told that the women committed suicide by jumping off tall buildings, she says.
Ms Baholiarisoa claims women were pushed from windows, sometimes to cripple them just enough so they could not run away; others disappear, fuelling suspicion that they were killed.
'Trafficking rackets' "We have no idea how many women have died out there or have gone mad because if you ask a boss where is his maid they say she ran off with someone and it's over," she says.
"Where is the proof that she's run off and they haven't buried her in the courtyard? We don't have any proof."
Madagascar's Minister of Population Nadine Ramaroson, the only government minister tackling the issue, says "a very organised network" involving senior government officials and businessmen emerged in the 1990s to engage in human trafficking.
Children playing on a street in rural Madagascar (archive shot)  
Poverty in rural Madagascar forces people to look for foreign jobs

Government officials provide fraudulent work permits, travel and identity document for around $5,000 per trafficked woman, social workers say.
Ms Ramaroson says the government is trying to break the criminal networks, but it is not easy.
While one job agency flew 300 women to Jordan last month with the government's approval, 43 women bound for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were stopped from boarding planes.
Ms Ramaroson said all were recruited from remote rural areas with high illiteracy and poverty levels. Some 16-year-old girls were given forged identity papers showing their age as 21.
She said their contracts stated they would work in top institutions "when these girls don't even know what electricity is".
Ms Baholiarisoa considers herself lucky. Given up for dead by her older children, her youngest child - now an adult - contacted SPDTS to help trace his mother.
They picked up one of her many calls for repatriation at the consulate in Beirut, she says.
Ms Baholiarisoa now helps SPDTS track down other women trying to escape Lebanon and to prevent other women from being duped into taking jobs in the Middle East.
"If the madam at SPDTS hadn't taken me in with open arms I don't know what I would have done," she says.
"It pains me that these girls are leaving because I know what awaits them, especially the beautiful ones."
From the plane load of women rescued in March, Ms Baholiarisoa is the only one with a job.
Some of the women have returned to discover husbands remarried and children adopted.
Others, like Ms Baholiarisoa, have to rebuild relationships after much hurt and loss.

Abuse, hardship for migrant workers in Lebanon

Sunday, June 1, 2014

DW.DE | 21.05.2014 | Author Tamsin Walker

In the context of the Syrian war, Lebanon has emerged a benevolent neighbor willing to open its borders, homes and schools to refugees. But migrant domestic workers say there is another, harder side to the host nation.
An Ethiopian woman at work
Many migrant domestic workers in Lebanon are subjected to unfair and even abusive conditions
Home to some 200,000 migrant domestic workers, Lebanon is the caretaker of the fragile dreams of women from across Africa and Asia. In uprooting their lives and making the journey from countries such as Ethiopia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, they hope to earn enough money to help ease the burden of poverty on their families back home.
Not always, but all too often, they find themselves enduring a different kind of burden as victims of a system that facilitates exploitation and abuse.
The Kafala system - which is also in place in a number of Gulf states - requires domestic migrant workers to have a sponsor in the country of their destination. This is usually the prospective employer, who has to pay visa and flight costs and possibly an agency fee. It is an outlay that runs beyond the thousand dollar mark, and which assistant coordinator of the Migrant Community Center in Beirut, Rahel Abebe, says leads to a misplaced sense of ownership.
"Because they bring a woman in from another country - such as Ethiopia - they think they have bought her. They don’t understand they are paying for the process, they think they are paying for her."
"Set of abuses"
Migrant domestic workers on the street
Some 200,000 migrant domestic workers are employed by Lebanese families
And that mindset leads to abuse which Human Rights Watch women’s researcher for the MENA region, Rothna Begum, says ranges from unpaid wages, confiscated passports, exhaustive working hours and no holiday or days off, to confinement, death threats, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. And there is no legislation for them to turn to.
"Most migrant workers fall within the Kafala system, yet they receive the least protection under labor laws," she told DW.
In the case of domestic workers, who live where they work and may consequently be expected to be on call 24 hours a day, the lack of a legal framework can lead them to take potentially fatal action.
"There are cases of women who end up risking their lives by climbing out of buildings in which they have been confined," Begum continued. Those who succeed are deemed to have absconded, a status that brings with it another set of problems. "In a system which is designed to make workers complete their contracts, they cannot just leave and find another employer."
Although there are some small groups and NGOs on hand to help women who escape abusive employers, Ethiopian Rahel Abebe, herself a former domestic servant, says most workers are unaware of their existence. "If they run away, it takes them months to find an organization, so they live with friends or just somehow."
"Second class entities"
Lina Khatib, Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, believes the basic problem in Lebanon is that migrant domestic workers are not regarded as equal human beings but as "second class entities" without full social and human and economic rights. And she attributes this to an inherent sense of racism and superiority toward domestic work that harks back to the days of feudalism and Ottoman rule.
Construction site and crans in Beirut
Construction is booming in Lebanon, and many new flats are built with a servant in mind
"It is a widespread problem that is shared across social strata, and it has become socially acceptable for migrant workers to be living the way they do."
Citing the new builds that are going up across the country as part of the booming real estate scene, Khatib says it is now standard practice to incorporate a dedicated "servant’s room" into modern apartments.
"Very often no bigger than 2.5 by 2m, they have no windows and they resemble prison cells, which shows that the livelihood of migrant workers is regarded as inferior."
Tackling the problem
Workers themselves and human rights groups agree that the only secure way out of the trap is via legislation, but in a country currently characterized by political paralysis and tensions that have spilled over from neighboring Syria, improving the lot of domestic servants is not at the top of the agenda. On the contrary, says Khatib, highlighting the influx of Syrians as a potential problem.
"There is a degree of resentment from certain sectors of the Lebanese population regarding the position of Syrian workers, so there is debate in some political circles to reduce their rights, which would have an indirect negative impact on migrant workers."
Syrian refugees in Lebanon
The influx of Syrian refugees is putting a strain on neighboring Lebanon
Until the government can muster the political will necessary to draft and pass labor laws to protect the most vulnerable, it falls to civil society to continue campaigning for an end to the Kafala system that destroys dreams brought to the country in the battered cases of young girls.
"I don’t know why, but they want to use us for slavery," Rahel Abebe said. "This is more than slavery, this is how it is. It is very shameful."

Human Trafficking Of The Mentally And Physically Disabled

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

There are few facets of human trafficking that are more desperately evil than the exploitation of the mentally and physically disabled. It has been a subject that we have touched on at COH before. But since that time there have been numerous documented cases of the trafficking of disabled persons. Whether this is a testament to the added scrutiny from governmental and non-governmental agencies in chronicling the phenomena or it is the rate at which these truly vulnerable people are being exploited, is not clear. What is painfully clear is this is one of the most gut-wrenching, cruel and horrific injustices in the world today.

In the 2012 T.I.P. report the US State Department outlines the issue this way:

"This Report includes recent reports of the abuse of deaf domestic workers in the United Kingdom, addicts forced to labor in fields in the United States, people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities enslaved in Chinese kilns, and persons with developmental disabilities forced to work as peddlers on the streets of India. Persons with disabilities remain one of the groups most at risk of being trafficked. Due to disability-based discrimination and exclusion common in many places, however, governments often ignore this risk factor or fail to make provisions for persons with disabilities as part of anti-trafficking efforts.

The stigma and marginalization of a person with disabilities creates a particular vulnerability. For example, parents who see no hope of jobs or marriage for their disabled children may place those children in exploitative situations with the intent of shedding a “burden” or seeking income. Where schools fail to accommodate students with disabilities, high drop-out rates leave them on the streets and at much higher risk of being trafficked in forced begging or other criminal activities. The commonly held view that persons with disabilities are not sexually active increases the risk of sex trafficking for persons with disabilities, especially disabled women and girls. For example, a Global HIV/AIDS survey conducted by the World Bank and Yale University showed that women and girls with disabilities were assumed to be virgins and thus targeted for forced sex, including by HIV-positive individuals who believed that having sex with a virgin would cure them.

Societal barriers limit the access of persons with disabilities to systems of justice. Lack of training of police, prosecutors, and judges on how to accommodate persons with disabilities (through, for example, sign language interpreters, plain language, and physical access) can leave victims with disabilities unable to provide effective statements and report the abuse they have endured. Laws expressly prohibiting people with disabilities from being witnesses, especially those who are blind, deaf, or have mental or developmental disabilities, leave such victims excluded from processes that should provide them with redress. Even when the justice system is not to blame, societal prejudices that devalue or discount the experiences of persons with disabilities can mean that their evidence is given less weight, and that sentences given to perpetrators may be lower than comparable cases where non-disabled people are the victims. This exclusion of persons with disabilities from the justice system in turn contributes to their being targeted by traffickers, who might assume that such victims will be less likely to raise an alarm or seek help."

*(bold italic print emphasis ours)

In 2011 Newsline online reported "a 20-year-old disabled man Sajad Chadar was rescued by the Khairpur police as he was being kidnapped. Chadar was the victim of a gang involved in the abduction of individuals with disabilities for purposes of trafficking to Iran and other Gulf countries where they are forced into beggary." What police found was over two hundred disabled and child trafficking victims.

 Sajad Chadar, 20, abducted from Pakistan and forced to beg in Iran.
Mujahid Shaikh, a 25-year-old disabled man was also trafficked to Iran, but managed to return to Pakistan. He recounted for police “The kidnappers are ruthless; ...[t]here are hundreds of people with disabilities, including children, living in the custody of Kashmir Jafri in Iran."

The article goes on to state: "Shockingly, often the very people who are ostensibly the caregivers of the handicapped victims are themselves guilty of complicity in their ordeal. There is a standard modus operandus. After a disabled candidate has been identified – usually hailing from an impoverished family – the trafficker will develop a link with his parents or guardian, and entice them to partner with him in a business enterprise involving their son/charge. He offers them money – that too in advance – for their compliance."

In 2009 Chinese authorities arrested 10 men for trafficking 32 individuals with physical disabilities and forcing them to work in brick kilns in the Anhui province. (2010 T.I.P. Report) "The report echoes a major scandal in 2007, when Chinese media found least 1,000 people forced to work as slaves in brick kilns in Shanxi province, following a father''s desperate search for his missing teenage son. Many of the brick kiln slaves were mentally handicapped people, some of whom were so confused they did not know where they had come from, media reported at the time." (DNA)

In Danny Boyle's movie Slumdog Millionaire criminals take homeless children and force them to beg. And to add to the sympathy factor some of the children are forcibly blinded. This fictional account resembles all to closely the reality and embodiment of the philosophy behind the trafficking of persons into forced begging. A child or homeless person may elicit certain sympathies and a few pennies from a stranger but add to that dynamic a disability and the sympathy and spare change grow.

In her book Trafficking for Begging: Old Game, New Name author Iveta Cherneva states that in forced begging situations a handicapped child earns three times more than a healthy child. A survey by the Stop Child Begging Project in Thailand found that disabled children earn as much as 1000 baht a day, as opposed to a healthy child beggar who earns 300 baht a day. Well over 3 times as much.

While forced begging makes up a large percentage of the exploitation the disabled face around the world, sex-trafficking is also a very real, deeply disturbing reality for persons with disabilities. 

In a sex slavery case that U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called "among the most horrific ever prosecuted". Four Missouri men who paid a fifth man to either watch him torture a mentally disabled woman online or torture her themselves; sexual and physical torture that lasted five years, until one of her abusers induced a heart attack while suffocating and electrically shocking her on Feb. 27, 2009. You can read the full horrific account here. It is deeply disturbing and NOT for the weak at heart. And reveals that the victim was 16 at the time her abuse began.

This March another Missouri man pled guilty to sex trafficking two women into prostitution, including a mentally disabled woman. Federal prosecutors say 26-year-old Carl Mathews of Breckenridge Hills forced the women into sex in the St. Louis area from 2010 through October 2012. Authorities say the mentally disabled woman was forced to sleep and use the bathroom in a closet, and was supplied with little food. The woman was also beaten and set on fire. ( Associated Press)

In a case study from the 2012 T.I.P. report Saeeda, a deaf Pakistani woman, was ten years old when she left Pakistan for Manchester, England for a job as a domestic worker. For nearly a decade, she was abused, raped, and beaten by her employers, a Pakistani couple. Now in her 20s, Saeeda told the courts that she was confined to a cellar and forced to work as a slave.

During the four years that investigative journalist Benjamin Skinner researched modern-day slavery for his book, "A Crime So Monstrous," he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents and says he is most haunted by an experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.

UNICEF reports, “[s]ocial beliefs about disability include the fear that disability is associated with evil, witchcraft or infidelity, which serve to entrench the marginalization of disabled people”  As a result, these children wind up in orphanages where they are much more susceptible to violence. Women and girls with disabilities are especially vulnerable to physical and sexual violence which puts them in danger of unplanned pregnancies due to sexual exploitation.

A child who requires assistance with washing, dressing and other intimate care activities may be particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Perpetrators can include caretakers, attendants, family members, peers or anyone who enjoys a position of trust and power (UNICEF, 2007).

Not only are disabled children dumped off into the system and stripped of their inalienable human rights, but as they grow up they are blacklisted from employment. (UNIAP, 2007).  In Cornell University’s 2007 Disability Status Report, they show that the employment gap between individuals with and without disabilities is 42.8%, in the United States alone (Baker, 2008). This enormous gap in employment exacerbates the vulnerability of poverty that these individuals experience by denying them access to a self-sustaining life with gainful employment. (

Along with superstition, religious pretense has often been used as a justification for exploitation. In India the devadasi are young girls given to the temple of the goddess Yellamma to serve as sex slaves. The disabled fall victim to similar practices of religious exploitation.

"Outside a Muslim shrine in a dusty Pakistani city, a "rat woman" with a tiny head sits on a filthy mattress and takes money from worshipers who cling to an ancient fertility rite.  Nadia, 25, is one of hundreds of young microcephalics -- people born with small skulls and protruding noses and ears because of a genetic mutation -- who can be found on the streets of Gujrat, in central Punjab province.  Officials say many of them have been sold off by their families to begging mafias, who exploit a tradition that the "rat children" are sacred offerings to Shah Daula, the shrine's 17th century Sufi saint.

Nadia, 25, and a microcephalic, seen here in July 2008, sits outside the Shah Daula's shrine in Gujrat, in central Punjab province. Nadia was just a young child when she was dumped at the shrine 20 years ago in the dead of the night. Her parents were never traced. (

According to local legend, infertile women who pray at Shah Daula's shrine will be granted children, but at a terrible price. The first child will be born microcephalic and must be given to the shrine, or else any further children will have the same deformity.

"Some of these children, the handicapped ones especially, are accompanied by relatives," he told AFP. "But begging gangs also look for poor parents who will sell them because they are a burden to feed and shelter."  Sohail said his department had busted more than 30 gangs across the province involved in exploiting street children, some of which had broken the limbs of children so that they would earn more as beggars." (AFP)

With current refugee crises around the world the disabled find themselves at extreme risk for trafficking. "Migrating may be particularly challenging for a person with a disability. In the context of forced migration, persons with a physical or mental disability may benefit less from early warning systems and may also be more easily disoriented during the process of flight. Assistive devices may be lost or left behind, creating another layer of vulnerability in an already dire situation. In addition, although denying an immigration application solely on grounds of disability (and leaving a disabled person isolated or permanently separated from their group) is a human rights violation , such cases have been recorded in different countries of the world." (The International Organization for Migration)


As always, from all of us at COH, thank you for being a voice for the voiceless. And when it comes to the most vulnerable among us, the children and the mentally and physically disabled, please let your voice be ever loud, ever clear, and ceaseless in its resolve. This evil must end, and in our lifetime. Please call the National Human Trafficking hotline 1-888-3737-888 if you suspect trafficking. Do not be afraid to ask questions or to speak up if something just doesn't seem right. And in the cases of the disabled remember their ability to communicate or even appreciate the severity and urgency of their situation may be severely inhibited or even totally compromised. 

Human Trafficking and Women's Rights in the News 4-26-12

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here are stories of human trafficking, child exploitation, gender based violence and human rights violations in the news for the week of April 26, 2012. Click the bold heading for the original story and thank you for being a voice for the voiceless.

Egyptian women speaking out against horrifying new legislation introduced  in the Egyptian Parliament that would legalize necrophilia.
Egypt plans 'farewell intercourse law' so husbands can have sex with DEAD wives up to six hours after their death: The controversial new law is part of a raft of measures being introduced by parliament. It could also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 and the ridding of women's rights of getting education and employment.

100,000 women undergo genital mutilation illegally in Britain with some victims as young as ten: "Investigators from The Sunday Times said they secretly filmed a doctor, dentist and alternative medicine practitioner who were allegedly willing to perform circumcisions or arrange for the operation to be carried out. The practice, which involves the surgical removal of external genitalia and in some cases the stitching of the vaginal opening, is illegal in Britain and carries up to a 14 year prison sentence." 

National sweep targeting human trafficking nets 15 in Atlanta area and 36 in Texas: Fifteen people from the Atlanta area were among more than 600 arrested this month as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on gangs involved in human smuggling and trafficking in 150 cities and in Honduras.

Woman trafficked into Britain by gang who wanted to harvest her organs: An unnamed woman was brought into the UK by criminals operating a black market trade in body parts for transplant. 

More good news from Africa as Nigerian police break up Human Trafficking syndicate and rescue five children: A source told police that the traffickers ringleader, a woman, normally steals children on Saturdays when they are at home alone and often times she pretends to be a relative. She then takes the children to Imo where they are sold to unsuspecting couples looking for a child to adopt. The five rescued children ranged in ages from six months to two years. 

Kerala train ride!

We left this morning a little after 5am. Jainy, Abraham, myself and 15 of our little princesses hurrily rushed to the railway station just in time for our train to Kerala.

Ever since I met Jainy she had told me about her home in Kerala. She spoke so highly of her 2 sisters, Joice and Jaya and would always tell me how much she loved them. There were so many resemblences between her life and mine and as we grew to know each other more we were so stunned to learn how much we had in common.

Jainy lost her father when she was 11, the same age as me when I lost my mother. She lost her mother when she was 16, I lost my father at that same age... her mother died from heart related problems, so did my mother. Her father died from stomach related problems, my father from stomach cancer. She was so close to her father but not so much her mother, exactly how I was...

After her parents died her older sister looked after her and her younger sister, working endless hours to provide for them. I too remember when my parents died, my brother Mehdi worked so hard to make sure me and my younger brother had everything that we needed. Without my 2 brothers, Mehdi and Amir, my life would have been so lonely. Jainy would always say the same thing - that her life certainly had tradegies but the fact that she had her 2 siblings by her side gave her the strength and determination to overcome those times, grow stronger as a person and give back to the world.

I loved spending time with her and I loved learning more about her past.

She moved to Orissa 10 years ago when she was offered a job as a nanny in a Girls orphanage, having felt the need to serve other children that had also lost their parents she took the offer emmidiately and moved permanently to Orissa, crossing 3 states having to leave her sisters behind for the first time in her life. It was at this home where she met Abraham. He was living in a boys orphanage that was across the road from where Jainy was working. They would meet secretly once in a while, exchange love letters and plan their future together. They decided to get married and 10 years later, 2 children (and 1 on the way!!!) they are still happily married, very much in love and together started Assist orphanage home for girls. Since then they have helped more than 100 orphans in Rayagada. Many of those children are now working as nurses, teachers and social workers! I am so proud of them both and so honored to be working alongside them now!

I promised Jainy that the next time I returned to India I would take her back to Kerala to see her sisters again and to see the home where she had so many fond memories.

Out of our 34 girls, four are between the ages of 18-27, they have been trained in social work and if Abraham or Jainy need to leave Rayagada for any reason these girls look after the rest of the younger children. When we were planning our Kerala trip, me, Abraham and Jainy decided that we would take 15 of the girls with us, 5 children per adult and 18 of the girls would remain in Rayagada to be looked after by our 4 older girls, Mukta, Suman, Baghya and Bidusi.

Now came the difficult decison of choosing which 15 of the girls to take! At first we decided to write each of our 34 girls names on a peice of paper and randomly pick out 15 names, seemed fair...but then we changed our minds. We wanted to take the girls who had never left Orissa before, the girls that had never been on a train before and had never seen the ocean...

This way worked out better and after explaining our decision to the rest of the children they all agreed that it was the best choice and every one was happy!

So here we are, all 18 of us embarking on the 39hr train ride to Kerala!

4hrs into our journey I hear our 4 youngest girls, Jamuna, Srooti, Ramya and Emi shreaking with joy! I looked down from my bunker and noticed them all fighting each other to get to the train window...

It was their first time seeing the ocean!!!!

I sat back, took a deep breath and watched the girls experience something that was quiet possibly the most amazing thing they had ever seen! I don't think I had ever seen them so happy! I wish there was a way I could stop the train so they could enjoy their special moment longer!

The ocean passed and the girls were still beaming with joy, shouting 'samoontro samoontro' (Oriya for Ocean) this is now my favourite word of all time!

The rest of the evening on the train we saw more beggars that I have ever seen in my lifetime, more than my heart could handle. Every child beggar that would come to our cabin, Jainy and Abraham would offer them a home with us, freedom from a life of begging, poverty and crime but none of the children wanted to listen. It was as if they were just not hearing what was being said. They were zombie like, tired of this world and didnt want what we were offering, they simply wanted money... they were children with a mind of an adult, they had to be this way to survive.

I wish, I wish, I wish, there was a way to save every child living in poverty.

I wish, I wish, I wish, there was a way to show every child in this world the love that they deserve.

Why are there so many children hurting in this world?

Why are we not doing more to help them?

It gave me a great opportunity to tell our girls just how lucky and special they are and to never EVER ignore someone who is hurting.

It is NOT normal to see someone suffering and not be affected. I never want our girls to grow up and not help other children. Help does not always mean financially. They can help someone with a simple smile, with a hug, with a 'you are so beautiful'.

I remember specific times when I have been smiled at by a complete stranger when I needed a kind smile. That smile changed my whole mood, made me forget about what I was thinking, even if it was for a few minutes. We were created with the ability to smile for a reason, please lets use this wonderful gift as much as possible!

I hope the girls will love Kerala and I hope there will be many smiles to be exchanged while we are there.

'Smile and the world smiles with you'

Posted by

Prishan Foundation!!

Prishan Foundation

Dedicated in improving the lives of orphaned & abandoned children around the world.

It was the exact same time last year that I was sat in my brother Mehdi's apartment in Vancouver having just come back from 6 months living in Milandhoo and Sri Lanka. I was going through the pictures I had taken of my time in Milandhoo island, clicking through each one and sharing my experiences with him. With each picture I would look at, my heart would break more and more. I missed those children, so much, but yet had only been away from them for such a short amount of time. My heart was still there with them in our English classes and our after school adventures!

The pictures of Sri lanka were next - the country that had made such an incredible impact in my life. I felt a lump in my throat, I wasn’t even able to speak about my time in Mother Theresa’s orphanage, it was so magical and so intense that speaking about it felt like something I was physically unable to do. No words could ever come close to how I was feeling. Anyone who I was in contact with during my time in Mother Theresa’s orphanage heard about the boy who had changed my life - Prishan. I wrote to my brother almost every night when I left the orphanage, I couldn’t stop speaking about Prishan, about how much of a connection we had, about how angelic his face was, how gentle his touch was and how much love I had for him.

Mother Theresa’s orphanage was the first orphanage I had ever been to. I had prepared myself emotionally several months in advance before flying to Sri Lanka. I knew that working with children was something my life was going to be dedicated to but I didn’t know if I was ready for it. I didn’t know how I would feel being around children who I knew didn’t have parents. Would I feel sorry for them? Growing up having lost my own parents I knew how much I tried to hide this fact from people. The majority of people in my life never knew I didn’t have parents, they were always ‘travelling’ or ‘back home in Iran’. The conversation would quickly be changed if the subject of my parents came up, for the simple fact that I never wanted to be different. I feared that I would unintentionally do the same to those children. I wanted to go there to show them love, not because I felt sorry for them but because I wanted to show them that they are no different to any other child. They are special and unique and deserve the absolute best in life.

I remember the first day I went to the orphanage, I went straight into the office and introduced myself to Sister Eliza, I told her that I was there to be at service, to do anything that was asked of me and to help as much as possible with the day to day activities of the children. She seemed surprised but very respectful and she told me to go back the next day because the visiting times were over. I was so desperate to see those children becauee I was so close to them but yet so far. I went back to the church I was staying at and could barely sleep that night. I returned in the morning, waiting at the entrance for the gates to be opened, it felt like a lifetime! Finally, the warden opened the gates and I walked in to the garden. The orphanage doors were not yet opened, the children were still waking up and the sisters were getting them ready but I could see them through the opened windows. I could feel my heart beating so fast, I was finally where I belonged.

I stood by an open window where some of the children were sat, I extended my arm out offering a hand shake to one of the little boys but instead of a handshake, he held my hand. I didn’t want to let go and neither did he. I held his hand so tightly, closed my eyes and wished that he could feel how much love I had for him, even though it was the first time we were ‘meeting’.

It was time for the orphanage to open its doors. I was still sat outside holding this boys hand from inside the window when one of the sisters came next to me and offered to show me around. I was so happy! We walked in together and I had a permanent smile on my face. All of these beautiful children around me, all with so much energy and so welcoming, I was a stranger to them but they never made me feel that way. I felt so overwhelmed. The sister took me to several of the rooms where the children slept in, she showed me the kitchen where all their food was prepared, then pointed to the second floor of the orphanage and said ‘that is where the babies are, no visitors can go up there unless they are adopting’. I didn’t ask anything further about it.

For the rest of that day me and the children on the first floor played so many games! We ran around the orphanage and garden playing tag and tickled each other to the point of tears. I was the happiest I had ever been in my life, I felt like I was reunited with my long lost sisters and brothers.

The visiting hours were over and I had to leave. Those 6hours flew by! The walk back to the church that evening was so painful. I missed those children.

While lying on my bed that night all I could think about were the babies on the second floor. I wanted to meet them too, even if it was for a few minutes. I was determined that the next morning I would ask one of the sisters to allow me to go up with them to meet those precious babies.

The next morning I got there an hour early. I stood outside the orphanage gates counting every second until the doors would open. As soon as the warden opened the door, I ran into the garden. I could see from his face that he found me to be quite an odd and yet an amusing character. I went back and introduced myself to him with a huge smile on my face and every morning after that, even before he opened the gates and could see me, he would say ‘Hi Narges!’

I stood outside the orphanage waiting for the doors to be opened. One of the sisters opened the door and let me in and my second day with these beautiful children began. Every once in a while I could hear the babies crying from the second floor. I was ready to  finally ask permission to go upstairs. I asked a sister who was coming down the stairs if I could go up and help but she politely said no. She said that they already had many sisters up there, she appreciated the offer but preferred not to allow visitors. What she was saying was reasonable, I totally understood but I just wanted to help out so desperately.

Every day at the orphanage I would play with the children of the first floor near the steps leading up to the babies. I wanted to be with those children but also needed to feel connected with the babies upstairs. Every time a sister would come down the stairs I would ask ‘are you sure I can’t help?’… they would give me a wonderful smile, a little laugh and say ‘Narges, again!?’

Every day I would sit one step higher on the steps until the forth day… Sister Eliza came and sat next to me on the forth step and told me she had never met someone so determined, took my hand and led me up the stairs!

I was so happy!! She took me to wash my hands and instructed me to wash them every time I was to pick up a new baby. She walked into the baby ward but I had to just stand there and take in everything I was seeing. She looked back at me, gave me a smile and continued to walk.

I remember so clearly how I was feeling at that point. I couldn’t believe how honored I felt to be allowed into the world of these precious babies. They were all lying in their little cots, so innocently, so peacefully and I felt so overwhelmed with emotions. I couldn’t take my eyes off one particular baby. He was the only baby that stood up in his cot. He was wiggling around, stepping from side to side and shaking his rattle around with the biggest smile on his face. I had floods of tears streaming down my face when I saw him. I must have been at least a couple of meters away from him but I could still see every expression on his face. He was so happy and it was as if he knew that he had to entertain himself. It was as if he had mastered the art of baby dancing and he was in his own little world – a baby world that I wanted to experience too. I slowly walked up to his cot, not for a second taking my eyes off of him. I got to his cot and on a label attached to his cot a sign read ‘Prishan, born March 17th 2008’.

That moment my life changed. Prishan was now my world.

I smiled at him but he didn’t seem to notice me. I attempted to do his little baby dance but still he didn’t notice me and continued to look around without ever focusing on anything. I stopped, stood still and realized then that he could not see. His eyes were so beautiful, a colour that I had never seen before but they just simply weren’t made to see the world. I took his little hands and put them on mine. I gently stroked them and from then onwards our wonderful and magical relationship began.

I spent my final 2 weeks in Sri Lanka with him in my arms. I fed him, bathed him, clothed him, played with him, listened to music with him and put him to sleep. Every minute of my time in Mother Theresa’s orphanage was about him. Every time I picked him up, he would reach out to find my necklace, a way for him to know that it was me. That is why this picture will always be so special to me. It captures everything about our relationship that my words can never even begin to explain.

The day that I had to say good bye to him was the most difficult time of my life. I felt like he knew that I was leaving. I had never seen Prishan cry, I had never seen him refuse food but that day I felt he could sense my sadness. I waited for him to sleep, sat by his cot in tears for several hours and left knowing that this little baby had changed my life forever.

I was sharing this with my brother when I was back in Canada, showing him more photos and telling him about how I wanted to support this home as well as other homes in Sri Lanka. I decided to post pictures on Facebook and ask my friends to consider helping too and that was the exact moment I decided to start my own charity…

But what will the name be?? I asked Mehdi what he thought. He told me to think about something in the past 6 months that really stood out for me, or a name that I really liked. He even suggested ‘Daffodil’ (my name translated into English)…I was silent for a few seconds then shouted PRISHAN, PRISHAN FOUNDATION! I burst into tears, my brother burst into tears and we held each other so tightly. That was it! This was the name of the most special baby boy in my life, a name that was in every conversation I had had since he came into my world.

In his inspiration and in his name, Prishan Foundation was started on January 1st, 2011. Since then we have raised more than $55,000 for children in South Asia.

One baby boy changed my life and because of him hundreds of children around the world have been made to feel loved. 2011 was an incredible year for Prishan Foundation. Thank you to each and every single individual, community, church, school and business that have helped us bring smiles to these childrens faces.

‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ – Gandhi

Happy New Year everyone!
Posted by

Child Pornography and Human Trafficking in the News

Conspiracy of Hope

Friday, January 3, 2014

New research shows that Internet pornography is more addictive than cocaine and heroine — and that it “literally changes the physical matter within the brain so that new neurological pathways require pornographic material in order to trigger the desired reward sensation”. And current trends suggest that the material desired is of an increasingly violent nature and of younger and younger victims. The rate of production of child pornography is eclipsing all other forms of porn production.

Though it is true that there are women who choose to be filmed sexually, any child filmed pornographically is always a coerced or forced victim and therefore they have been exploited. And if they have been transported or sold or rented for this purpose they have also been trafficked. The following articles are vile and horrific and they reveal an alarming escalation in the amount of child pornography being produced and children being violated. These stories involve some of the youngest victims of commercial sexual exploitation by some of the most perverse perpetrators the world has ever known. Please read them, let the horrors of these stories change you forever. Let them be the catalyst that makes you an abolitionist for life. Truly there is no one more voiceless than children. Please be their voice. Thank you.

Click the bold heading to be taken to the full articles. 

John Bidmead (above), 65, was caught red handed by police as he watched a child sex abuse movie on a 50-inch television, when they knocked on his front door with a warrant to arrest him. They found him in possession of one million child porn images including 24,000 images of adults violating children.

Stewart Matthew Kidwell (above), 36, of Blanchester, Ohio, was arrested today on charges that he sought someone online to rape a 4-year-old family member while he watched and that he distributed child pornography through a social media website.

Experts say New Zealanders seeking child pornography are increasingly demanding younger victims and more violent abuse. The Department of Internal Affairs has already blocked 34 million attempts, now upwards of a million a month, within New Zealand to access at least one of 582 child sex abuse sites blocked by government filters since 2010.

Tommy Lee Waugh (above), 29, of Wartburg, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday morning to production of child pornography. Authorities rescued a 5-week old infant baby girl in his care that he had sexually abused, recorded it, and shared the images over the internet.

Bret Allan Nichols, 29, made an initial appearance in federal court Tuesday on three counts, including producing child pornography, possessing it, and receiving and distributing it. A woman reportedly told agents that he would make payments of up to $200 to watch her and her husband have sex with their daughter.

Toronto Police Service Detective Constable Lisa Belanger (L) and Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins of the Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes Unit (R) announce hundreds of arrests in a global child exploitation investigation.
Nearly 400 children have been rescued and 348 adults arrested following an international child pornography investigation. A pornography site run by 42-year old Brian Way, sold and distributed images of child exploitation to over 50 counties. Police seized over 45 terabytes of data from the $4-million business that included images and videos of “horrific sexual acts against very young children that were some of the worst they have ever viewed." Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests and three foster parents.

A Broward county Florida man — who agents say was using a dead man's identity — was arrested Friday on allegations he was part of a child pornography conspiracy that victimized a baby girl and toddler. For now, the suspect is booked into the Broward County jail under the name that he gave to law enforcement: Cliff Shaw (above), age 48. "Shaw" and Jason Barber, 36, who lives in Las Vegas, are accused of creating and exchanging pornographic images of an infant girl, between 6 and 9 months old, and a female toddler.

Violence Against Women: A Lexicon, An Overview, A Call To Arms

Conspiracy of Hope

Friday, November 29, 2013

Violence Against Women: A Lexicon, An Overview, A Call To Arms

Violence against women, or Gender-based violence (GBV) is pandemic. All research, all the diabolical data, every painful statistic suggests that it is growing, and in some cases exponentially so. The causes for these trends are complex and many, but the simplest truth lies in the desires of men, the marginalization of women and the apathy and ignorance of the un-involved. This lexicon with its devastating images is a call to arms. It is an antidote against ignorance and a light on the darkest evils committed among us. 

For continuity sake all definitions were sourced from Wikipedia unless otherwise footnoted. Some of those definitions have been edited for space sake or augmented for clarity. The pictures were gathered from the web and are not the property of COH. As always we are disinclined to post such pictures as they can further humiliate and exploit the victims of these crimes. It is with great reluctance that we do so, and only after considering that these are already in widespread use across the internet and many are used with the permission of the women to facilitate an end to the violence against future victims. In every sense we are deeply indebted to all who have studied these issues in depth and who work tirelessly to end these injustices. We bring these terms (alphabetically) and images together in one place as a tool for the justice fighters, for the voices for the voiceless, for the lovers of women and girls everywhere. Never give up, a society without women ceases to exist. A society where woman are not safe is the very definition of barbarism and the absence of society itself. From all of us at Conspiracy Of Hope, thank you beyond all our words.

Acid Throwing 

Acid throwing, also called an acid attack or vitriolage, is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill. (This is usually directed at the face or the female sexual anatomy.)

Experts say that women and girls are victims in 75-80% of cases. Of the female victims, about 30% are under 18. Although 1,500 cases are recorded around the world every year, according to the Acid Survivors Trust International. "That is likely to be massively underreported," says Jaf Shah, ASTI executive director. "Most victims are fearful to report it to the police for fear of reprisal." India has an increasing problem with acid attacks. ASTI estimates that 1,000 take place there every year. BBC News 

Breast ironing 

Breast ironing (also known as breast flattening) is the pounding and massaging of a pubescent girl's breasts, using hard or heated objects, to try to make them stop developing or disappear. It is typically carried out by the girl's mother who will say she is trying to protect the girl from sexual harassment and rape, to prevent early pregnancy that would tarnish the family name, or to allow the girl to pursue education rather than be forced into early marriage. Mostly practiced in parts of Cameroon, where boys and men may think that girls whose breasts have begun to grow are ready for sex. The most widely used implement for breast ironing is a wooden pestle normally used for pounding tubers. Other tools used include leaves,bananas, coconut shells, grinding stones, ladles, spatulas, and hammers heated over coals. 

Obviously extremely painful and psychologically traumatizing. Young girls can have many life long health issues from the barbaric procedure, including inability to breast feed and higher risk for breast cancer.

Bride burning

Bride burning is where a groom or his family kills the bride due to his dissatisfaction over the amount or duration of the dowry. (Above, two survivors, scarred forever) Kerosene is most often used as the fuel and the practice is most common in India accounting for around 2,500 deaths per year in the country. In 1995, Time Magazine reported that dowry deaths in India increased from around 400 a year in the early 1980s to around 5,800 a year by the middle of the 1990s. A year later, CNN ran a story saying that every year police receive more than 2,500 reports of bride burning.

Child Brides and Forced Marriage

Child marriage is defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18. While child marriage is observed for both boys and girls, overwhelming majority are girls. It is related to child betrothal and unmarried teenage pregnancy. In some cases only one marriage-partner is a child, usually the female, due to importance placed upon female virginity. Other causes of child marriage include poverty, bride price, dowry, laws that allow child marriages, religious and social pressures, regional customs, fear of remaining unmarried, and perceived inability of women to work for money. Today child marriages are fairly widespread in parts of the world, especially in Africa, South Asia, Southeast and East Asia, West Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. The five nations with the highest observed rates of child marriages in the world, below the age of 18, are Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh and Guinea. Nations with greater than 20% rates of child marriages below the age of 15 are Niger, Bangladesh and Guinea. As you can imagine child brides are also victims to higher rates of spousal abuse due to their diminutive stature and lack of understanding as to what their rights are and what is acceptable. And children fleeing these unions are often stoned or killed in some other violent fashion.

Every year, an estimated 14 million girls aged under 18 are married worldwide with little or no say in the matter. As many as 39,000 a day. In the developing world, one in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine. More statistics and ways you can help at Girls Not Brides.

Dating abuse 

Dating abuse, or dating violence, is defined as the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. It is also when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse/violence. This abuse/violence can take a number of forms: sexual assault, sexual harassment, threats, physical violence, verbal, mental, or emotional abuse, social sabotage, and stalking. It can include psychological abuse, emotional blackmail, sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological manipulation.

According to Love Is Respect, one quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. Approximately 70% of college students say they have been sexually coerced. 

Date rape

Date rape refers to rape committed by a person, who could be a friend, acquaintance or stranger, against a victim. Commonly, date rape is referring to drug facilitated sexual assault or an acquaintance rape. Sexual assault is any sexual act done to someone without their consent. Drug facilitated sexual assault is any sexual assault where alcohol and/or drugs affect the victim's ability to give informed consent. Drug Facilitated Rape typically involves the use of a the "date rape drug" (Flunitraepam, Rohypnol, GHB (Liquid E or Liquid G) and/ or alcohol. It is quite common, but not limited to, many college campuses across the United States. According to recent studies, alcohol is the #1 drug used to facilitate a sexual assault. For rape which takes place on campuses, alcohol is being used in 90% of cases. Acquaintance rape is an assault or attempted assault usually committed by a new acquaintance involving sexual intercourse without consent.  Nearly 2/3 of all victims between the ages of 18 and 29 report that they had a prior relationship with their attacker.

Stories of date rape told by the victims.

Domestic violence

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation. 

Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates's Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he does not leave physical marks. The social acceptability of domestic violence also differs by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Afghanistan and Jordan, 87% in Mali, 86% in Guinea and Timor-Leste, 81% in Laos, 80% in Central African Republic. Refusing to submit to a husband's wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence in developing countries: for instance 62.4% of women in Tajikistan justify wife beating if the wife goes out without telling the husband; 68% if she argues with him; 47.9% if she refuses to have sex with him.

Domestic Violence statistics in the USA

-One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

-An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

-85% of domestic violence victims are women.

-Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.

Domestic Violence statistics Worldwide

-35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

-30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.

-Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner

More Statistics here from Women's Aid

Domestic Violence and Pregnancy

Pregnancy when coupled with domestic violence is a form of intimate partner violence (IPV) where health risks may be amplified. Abuse during pregnancy, whether physical, verbal or emotional, produces many adverse physical and psychological effects for both the mother and fetus. 

Domestic abuse can be triggered by pregnancy for a number of reasons. Pregnancy itself can be used a form of coercion and the phenomenon of preventing one’s reproductive choice is referred to as reproductive coercion. Studies on birth control sabotage performed by males against female partners have indicated a strong correlation between domestic violence and birth control sabotage, or reproductive coercion, such as replacing birth control pills with fakes, puncturing condoms, and threats and violence are examples of prevention of an individual's attempt to avoid pregnancy

Although pregnancy can also lead to a hiatus of domestic violence when the abuser does not want to harm the unborn child. The risk of domestic violence for pregnant women is greatest immediately after childbirth.

Other related facts:

-Unintended pregnancies are 2 to 3 times more likely to be associated with abuse than intended pregnancies. 

-Among adolescent populations females who experience IPV use condoms at low rates and are fearful of negotiating the use of condoms.

-In a study of sexually experienced women 15-19 in Uganda, surveys found that fourteen percent of women’s first sexual intercourse had been coerced. Of those, girls were far more likely to be having unprotected sex and to have had unintended pregnancies within the last six months compared to women who had not been sexually coerced.

-In Egypt, over 80% of rural women believe that beatings are sometimes justified and one of the most common reasons given as a just cause for beatings is refusing a man sex. This affects the ability of women to protect themselves from unwanted sexual contact and the consequences of sexual intercourse, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

 Dowry death

Above, children protest the dowry system and its death penalties. Below, a young survivor of an attempted dowry murder.

Dowry deaths are deaths of young women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by husbands and in-laws in an effort to extort an increased dowry. It is widespread in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and some regions of Africa. Pakistan has the highest reported rates of dowry-related deaths per 100,000 women in the world. In India, In 2010, there were 8391 reported cases of dowry death in the country. That works out to a shocking one death every hour approximately. Bride-burning is on the increase - just a decade ago, in 2000, there were 6995 cases.

Honor killing

An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members. This crime is especially targeted against women. These atrocities are often the culmination of other crimes and human rights violations including rape, incest and child abuse. The use of the term 'honor' comes from a distorted belief held by the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor or shame upon the family or community. Perpetrators committing these murders rationalize their actions, blaming victims for refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their relatives, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, and even dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate.

These figures from Honour Based Violence Awareness Network, are considered estimates and are widely believed to be severe underestimates.  Due to lack of focused reporting and recording of Honour Killings internationally very little is known about the true extent of HBV worldwide. These don't figure in the large number of honour violence that may not be fatal.

-5000 honour killings internationally per year

-1000 honour killings occur in India per year

-1000 honour killings occur in Pakistan per year

-12 honour killings per year in UK per year

Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons." FGM is practiced as a cultural ritual by ethnic groups in 27 countries in sub-Saharan and Northeast Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia, the Middle East. It is typically carried out, with or without anesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife or razor. The age of the girls varies from weeks after birth to puberty; in half the countries for which figures were available in 2013, most girls were cut before the age of five.

The practice involves one or more of several procedures, which vary according to the ethnic group. They include removal of all or part of the clitoris and clitoral hood; all or part of the clitoris and inner labia; and in its most severe form infibulation is the removal of the labia minora (inner lips) and labia majora (outer lips). When the labial tissue heals, it forms a wall of skin and flesh across the vagina and the rest of the pubic area. By inserting a twig or similar before the wound heals, a small hole is created for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. The procedure is usually accompanied by the removal of the clitoris. The legs are bound together for two to four weeks to allow the labia to heal into a barrier. The procedure is usually carried out on young girls before the onset of puberty. It is used by practitioners to render women sexually inactive, unlikely to engage in intercourse, and the visibly intact barrier of infibulation assures a husband he has married a virgin. The barrier produced by infibulation is usually penetrated at the time of a girl's marriage by the forcible action of the penis of her husband, or by cutting the connected tissue with a knife. The procedure frequently results in organ damage, urinary incontinence, obstetric fistula, and death.

Around 125 million women and girls in Africa and the Middle East have undergone FGM. Over eight million have experienced Type III, which is predominant in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The practice is an ethnic marker, rooted in gender inequality, ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics, and attempts to control women's sexuality. It is supported by both women and men in countries that practice it, particularly by the women, who see it as a source of honour and authority, and an essential part of raising a daughter well.

Female infanticide

Female infanticide is the deliberate killing of newborn female children or the termination of a female in utero through selective and forced abortions. The practice has been the cause of death for millions in China and India. In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But in India there are 112 boys born for every 100 girls. In China, 121 (with plenty of Chinese towns over the 150 mark, mostly due to the countries one child policy). Azerbaijan is at 115, Georgia at 118 and Armenia at 120.

Above, Chinese propaganda poster championing its one-child family planning policy. Below the rapid increase of female infant mortality since the inception of the policy.

In her book "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men", Mara Hvistendahl reports on this gender imbalance. By her count, gender-based abortions over the past three decades mean there are 163 million girls missing from the world.

Ms. Hvistendahl predicts that such a gross gender imbalance is a harbinger of very bad things to come. And rightly so, as Columbia economics professor Lena Edlund corroborates: "The greatest danger associated with prenatal sex determination is...that a significant group of the world's women will end up being stolen or sold from their homes and forced into prostitution or marriage."

Forced Pregnancy and Pregnancy From Rape

Forced pregnancy is the practice of forcing a woman to become pregnant, often as part of a forced marriage, or as part of a program of breeding slaves, or as part of a program of genocide. When a forced pregnancy leads to reproduction, it is a form of reproductive coercion. The statistics are hard to come by, they are convoluted and hidden in the shadows of other crimes.

Pregnancy is also a very real potential result of rape. Although claims have been made to the contrary, the current scientific consensus is that rape is as likely to lead to pregnancy as consensual sexual intercourse. Rape can cause difficulties during and after pregnancy, with potential negative consequences for both mother and child. Some statistics suggest over 90% of pregnancies in children 15 and under are due to rape by family members.

Estimates by one study concluded coerced sexual intercourse causes over 32,000 pregnancies in the United States alone each year. That same study revealed that among women aged 12–45, pregnancy occurred in 5% of victims of rape. A study of Ethiopian adolescents who reported being raped found that 17% subsequently became pregnant, and rape crisis centers in Mexico reported the figure the rate of pregnancy from rape at 15–18%. These numbers will always reflect a low rate as family abuse pregnancies are almost always covered up.

Forced prostitution 

Forced prostitution, also known as involuntary prostitution, is the act of performing sexual activity due to coercion by a third party. There are a wide range of entry routes into prostitution, ranging from "voluntary and deliberate" entry, "semi-voluntary" based on pressure of circumstances, and "involuntary" recruitment via outright force or coercion. Sexual slavery encompasses most, if not all, forms of forced prostitution.

Child prostitution, is ALWAYS forced prostitution because it is inherently non-consensual and exploitative, as children, because of their age (18 and under in most developing countries), are not legally able to consent to sex.

In many poorer countries, child prostitution is widespread, and numerous tourists from the Western World travel to these countries to engage in child sex tourism. Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil and Mexico have been identified as leading hotspots of child sexual exploitation and forced prostitution.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 500,000 women are forced into prostitution each year. Most organizations set that number at 1.2 million. with 100,000 in the US alone.

It is also estimated that children make up 21% of forced sexually exploited labor in the private economy. And 80% of those are girls.

COH explicitly supports International Justice Mission in their work to end forced prostitution. And My Refuge House in their aftercare of girls freed from sexual bondage.

Genocidal rape 

Above, Bosnian woman is the victim of genocidal rape. Below, three Rwandian victims of the same, including one child.

Genocidal rape is a term used to describe the actions of a group who have carried out acts of mass rape during wartime against their perceived enemy as part of a genocidal campaign. During the Yugoslav civil war and the Rwandan genocide the mass rapes that had been an integral part of those conflicts brought the concept of genocidal rape to international prominence. While war rape has been a recurrent feature in conflicts throughout history, it has usually been looked upon as a by-product of conflict, and not an integral part of military policy. During the Rwandan genocide the violence took a gender specific form, with women and girls being targeted in a systematic campaign of sexual assault. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 were victims of rape

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) it is estimated that in 2011 alone there were 400,000 rapes. In the DRC the genocidal rape is focused on the destruction of family and communities. An interview with a survivor gave an account of gang rape, forced cannibalism of a fetus taken from an eviscerated woman and child murder. In the ongoing War in Darfur the Janjaweed militias have carried out actions described as genocidal rape, with not just women, but children also being raped, as well as babies being bludgeoned to death and the sexual mutilation of victims being commonplace.

Human trafficking 

Human trafficking is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal. Trafficking is a lucrative industry, representing an estimated $32 billion per year in international trade. 

The facts:

-Estimates of human trafficking worldwide range from 20.9 to 27 million.

-The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 68% are held in forced labor exploitation, 22% in forced sexual exploitation and 10% in state-imposed forced labor.

-The ILO estimates that women and girls comprise 55% of all those in forced labor and 98% of all those in sex trafficking 

-According to the ILO, 74% are adults and 26% are children under the age of 18.

There is more that can be said about this issue than a library could hold, but to truly understand the devastation of this evil called human trafficking, as well as all the other forms of violence against women, it is necessary to read women and children's first hand accounts

Marital rape 

Marital rape, also known as spousal rape, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim's spouse. It can be equally, or even more, emotionally and physically damaging than rape by a stranger. Once widely condoned or ignored by law, spousal rape is now repudiated by international conventions and increasingly criminalized. Still, in many countries, spousal rape either remains legal, or is illegal but widely tolerated, with the laws against it being rarely enforced. Traditional views on marriage which dictate that a woman must be (sexually) submissive to her husband continue to be common in many parts of the world. In one study in Haiti, 100% of the women interviewed did not consider forced sex by their husband as rape. In the US upwards of 15% of women have experienced spousal rape. Worldwide the numbers are mired in traditions that view women as property and punish them for speaking out against the patriarchal hegemony in marriage and sexuality.

Murder of Pregnant Women

Murder of pregnant women is a type of homicide often resulting from domestic violence. Pregnancy-associated death has become more commonly termed as pregnancy-associated homicide. and is he third leading cause of death for pregnant women. ABC News reported that about 20 percent of women who die during pregnancy are victims of murder but most sources put the rate at 10%. A Maryland study in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found "a pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause". These killings span racial and ethnic groups. In cases whose details were known, 67 percent of women were killed with firearms. Many women were slain at home — in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens — usually by men they knew. Husbands. Boyfriends. Lovers. 

World wide the murder of pregnant women has been a function of genocide and warfare for centuries. And there are many documented cases of woman murdered and the unborn child in their womb being desecrated. Even in the event the woman wasn't killed for being pregnant, the psychological message to others is the same. No one, anywhere is safe.

Pornographic Violence

Research concerning the effects of pornography is concerned with multiple outcomes. Such research includes potential influences on rape, domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Viewers of novel and extreme pornographic images become tolerant to such images.  

89% of scenes in the ten most popular pornographic videos in the US contained either verbal or physical aggression. 94% of that violence was directed at women. Many men who view these images say that one reason they are drawn to specific types of porn is to allow them to fantasize about the things they want to do in real life. Those that abuse women in a sexual violent way have admitted to viewing porn in almost 100% of cases.

"Two hundred twenty-two undergraduate males were administered an “attitudes survey” examining pornography use, attitudes, and self-reported likelihood of rape or using sexual force. Nonviolent pornography was used by 81% of subjects within the last year, whereas 41 and 35% had used violent and sexually violent pornography, respectively. Twenty-seven percent of subjects indicated some hypothetical likelihood of raping or using sexual force against a woman. Discriminant function analysis revealed that use of sexually violent pornography and acceptance of interpersonal violence against women were uniquely associated with sexual force and rape." (from an abstract of a larger work entitled "Violent pornography and self-reported likelihood of sexual aggression" by Dano Demaré, John Briere and Hilary M. Lips)

Rape as corrective measure 

Corrective rape is a hate crime in which a person, usually a woman, is raped because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The common intended consequence of the rape, as seen by the perpetrator, is to correct their orientation, to turn them heterosexual, or to make them act more in conformity with gender stereotypes. The term was coined in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rapes of lesbians like Eudy Simelane and Zoliswa Nkonyana became public. Often suspected lesbians are raped by heterosexual men with a goal of punishment of "abnormal" behavior and reinforcement of societal norms.The crime is sometimes supervised by members of the woman's family or local community. Corrective rape has also been known to occur in Thailand, Ecuador, and Zimbabwe. Corrective rape and the accompanying violence can result in physical and psychological trauma, mutilation, HIV infection, unwanted pregnancy, and may contribute to suicide.

Sexual slavery 

Sexual slavery is slavery by means of sexual exploitation. Sexual slavery may include single-owner sexual slavery, ritualistic slavery sometimes associated with certain religious practices, such as devadasi in India and trokosi in Ghana/Togo/Benin, or forced prostitution. Sex trafficking is the most prolific type of sex slavery involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbor or receipt of persons, by coercive or abusive means for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Where that person is unable to leave through threat of violence or physical captivity, it would be considered sexual slavery in the strictest sense, but all sexual exploitation is generally considered sexual slavery. Woman are victims well over 90 percent of the time. With minor girls making up almost a third of that number.

There are over 100,000 women working as sex slaves in Turkey, of which half are children, a non-governmental organization has revealed in an extensive report on prostitution in the country.

Violence Against Prostitutes

In 2004 the homicide rate for female prostitutes in the United States was estimated to be 204 per 100,000. This figure is considerably higher than that for the next riskiest occupations in the United States during a similar period (4 per 100,000 for female liquor store workers and 29 per 100,000 for female taxicab drivers). 

Perpetrators include violent clients, pimps, and corrupt law-enforcement officers. Prostitutes themselves often take their clients to out of the way places where they are less likely to be interrupted, which is very convenient for their attackers. Being criminals in most jurisdictions, prostitutes are less likely than the law-abiding to be looked for by police if they disappear, making them favored targets of predators. According to a study conducted on one hundred and thirty people working as prostitutes in San Francisco, as adults in prostitution, 82% had been physically assaulted, 83% had been threatened with a weapon and 68% had been raped while working as prostitutes. 

This small list of terms by no means claims to be comprehensive, but is a precursor to a greater understanding of the dangers women face worldwide every second of everyday. There are no excuses that can be made for any of the violences listed above. We must choose today to protect the female species. She is and always will be the human element at the heart of the best of us, the deep tender inner strength of us, the compassion and conscience that makes this life more beautiful.