Friday, October 17, 2008

A New Report to Understand Urban Displacement

To complement the Guidance on Profiling Internally Displaced Persons, in 2006 IDMC commissioned a study from the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University to develop research tools to estimate the number and distribution of IDPs living in urban settings, and to gather information about their assistance and protection needs. Case studies conducted in Khartoum (Sudan), Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Santa Marta (Colombia) between 2006 and 2008 compared the experience of IDPs and other living in the same city.

Please click on the link given on the right column for detailed report

Appeal for $ 17 Million to Help Pakistani Government

UNHCR has appealed for $17 million to help the Pakistani government bring aid to more than 300,000 people displaced by fighting and floods near the Afghan border. Pakistan’s government estimates that 90,000 people who had fled recent fighting remain in North West Frontier Province along the Afghan border, with a similar number displaced due to conflict in the northern part of the province around Swat. In addition, floods have displaced some 84,000 people in August.

(For the detailed news pl. click on the link in the right hand column

On 21 September 2008, Thousands of Tamil Sri Lankans were Ordered to Register

Thousands of mostly Tamil Sri Lankans who had fled from the country’s war zones to Colombo and its suburbs were ordered to register by Sri Lankan authorities on 21 September. The order applies to all those who fled five war-affected districts in the last five years and comes as the army intensifies an offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels in the north. People arriving from the north have long had to register with police when they move to Colombo, but last week the police said that they needed to update their records to ensure security in the capital and that all the people who have made the move in the last five years must register again. The police said earlier that the order would affect more than 100,000 people.

For the detailed news pl. click on the link in the right hand column

Women and Migration in Asia: Volume IV ; Migrant Women and Work edited by Anuja Agrawal;Series Editor: Meenakshi Thapan

Geetisha Dasgupta

Familial gender based division of labour has been produced and reproduced even after women migrated out of the private spaces and tried joining the mainstream workforce. While states have benefited from the remittances sent by women migrant workers from across the globe, they also continued blaming the “absent mothers”, and never actually acknowledging the economic benefits effected by women on the same scale of regard as that sent by men. A woman’s dilemma continues to be one of earning a good livelihood for her family and her children and that of being present there for taking care of them personally by remaining with the family.

In the series introduction, Meenakshi Thapan begins by familiarizing us with the theme of the Conference, from where this book series comes up. She comments, it is time that we go beyond characterizing women as a part of the baggage when men move and reckon the fact that women can, and all over the world, do move from one place to another as independent migrants. Even when women move in tandem with the principal or male migratory in the family, they have a completely independent set of experiences to share and their coping mechanism is also unique to their gender identity. They are individuals with characteristic subscriptions and judgments, and that is evident from their adjusting processes.

Movement opens up a plethora of choices. With the challenges of settling and setting up in a new land, there definitely comes chances to explore, there come encounters that could make life better or worse. Therefore, migration, though generally conceived of as a misfortune, is often taken with the hopes of a better life in an unseen world altogether. Thapan quotes from Jolly Bell and Narayanswamy to remind us that Asia sends out the maximum number of international migrants and every year the number of women migrants have been on a rise. Despite that, women have not been given equal status as migrants; let apart the recognition of their individual agency. Visa policies and work permit rules bear this contention out.

Women migrate both associationally, i.e., for marriage or with the family; as well as independent agents, i.e., for work etc. In the volume introduction, Anuja Agrawal picks up from that point by commenting that when studying in terms of destination and work options, the individual mode of migration sets off interesting patterns of societal displacement in course of the transition from the parent to the host community. For example, one of the papers shows, the global increase in demand for domestic labour is a major factor in the feminization of migration. Sexual division of labour, hitherto restricted more or less within the private quarters, is thereby carried forward to the public space. It becomes paid work, but only when the requisite amount of displacement in terms of work station has occurred. Agrawal quotes Ehrenreich and Hochschild and says that there comes about a revival of domestic work for women, but is responsive only to a ‘care deficit’ in the developed countries, which in turn gives birth to a similar kind of deficit in the parent communities. Back home, these women might hire domestic workers for themselves. In the process, ethnic and class divisions merge as certain occupations become the mark of some ethnic identities.

There are interesting viewpoints, especially about cases of countries like Philippines, Japan, Singapore, the Middle East or Bangladesh that prefer sending or receiving for particular purposes. For example, Japan had a steady demand of women entertainers, specifically for filling up as prostitutes or courtesans. Philippines offered its women for these professions, which later drew much criticism from both the sending and the receiving countries. Filipino women went to Japan under tourist visa to provide such services. Gulati, in her chapter explains, this kind of demand sprung from a decay in the Japanese tradition of ‘geisha’s and Japanese men’s age old habit of seeking release from work pressure by indulging in sexual entertainment; so much so that, Japanese embassy in Philippines came up with the idea of introducing a special short term entertainer’s visa. Gulati further pints out that certain states take exporting workers as an industry altogether. For example, the Governments of Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka encourage migration of women workers for the same reason for which they encourage male migration, viz., source of foreign remittances and maintaining a pressure valve internationally.

Parvati Raghuram, in her chapter called “Gendering Medical Migration: Asian Women Doctors In The UK”, says, while most Asian women labour migrants move to take up jobs as domestic workers, sex workers and nurses, professions that are defined by notions of feminity, there are many who move to take part in the less feminized sectors of the labour market, such as Information Technology, where gender exclusivity and male domination are the standard norms. Such highly skilled migration has received much less attention than its other counterparts. Collating and analyzing secondary data available from the Department of Health, The Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee and the General Medical Council, the British Medical Association and several other individual sources, health consultants and international recruitment consultants, she reveals that in spite of increasing feminization of labour force and women forming sizeable section of UK’s medical force, women never came up to be a recognized as such in the current literature, for it falls between the interstices between the debates on female migration, women and medicine and medical migration.

In a very interesting chapter, Anuja Agrawal discusses the case of the Bedia community in north India. She explains how prostitution is one of the pivotal preconceptions of women’s migration for work. Women engaged in flesh trade have had to move away from their families. While the family would not acknowledge the kinship relation with the prostitute, economic benefits are accepted, often in a camouflaged manner. Agrawal discusses familial factors in the Bedia community that facilitate the women to go for prostitution. This community is largely dependent on the earning of the female members who make a living out of prostitution. Commercial prostitution is an accepted way of survival and even the entire family is seen to migrate to urban areas temporarily for that purpose. The Bedia community that Agrawal studies, show a classic case where the family members reside in situ of prostitution is carried out by the female members and therefore bears evidences of critical conditions of familial adjustments.

The book provokes interesting thought bubbles for both first time encounterers with the theme of women’s migration as well as those who would like to have an overview studies into women’s migration for work. However, there is an over focus on some countries like Philippines or Thailand while some others also needed to be discussed in more detail, like Bangladesh or Pakistan. The book is a pleasure to read for its quality of propelling the reader to study in greater detail about women in migration.

Fate of the Bakassi Returnees

Brenda Ofunne Ogosi

The resource rich Bakassi Peninsula on the Cameroun-Nigeria border, at the SE end of the Gulf of Guinea. The swampy peninsula and associated small islands controlling access to the Nigerian port of Calabar, the surrounding waters are rich in fish and submarine oil deposits. The traditional inhabitants are mainly Efik fishermen with ties to Nigeria

Among the many border disputes that Cameroun and Nigeria have had in the years since independence, the Bakassi Peninsula stands out as the most serious dispute of all because the peninsular is very rich in oil and gas. In 1961, the south British Cameroun [a former German colony] became part of Cameroun while the northern potion joined Nigeria, the control of the peninsula has been in dispute and this culminated in mounting hostilities and sporadic military clashes in the region.

The dispute between the two countries was brought in 1994 by Cameroun to International Court of Justice [ICJ] also known as the world court to settle the dispute over its boundary with Nigeria, especially the question of sovereignty over the Bakassi peninsula and over island in Lake Chad, to specify the course of the land and maritime boundary between the two countries. On 10 October 2002, the ICJ awarded the disputed area to Cameroun, the judgment was largely based on the 1913 Anglo-German Agreement that defined the borders of those nations colonies.

On June 12, 2006 in New York, Nigeria and Cameroun signed the ‘Green Tree Agreement’ under which Nigeria agreed to cede the peninsula to Cameroun in compliance with the verdict of the International Court of Justice at the Hague which held that the territory belonged to Cameroun and that Cameroun was to assume full sovereignty over the peninsula.

In Article 3 of the Green Tree Agreement, both countries agreed that Cameroun after the transfer of authority to it by Nigeria guarantees Nigerian Nationals living in the Bakassi Peninsula the exercise of their fundamental rights and freedom enshrined in international human rights law and in other relevant provision of international law, in particular Cameroun shall

a.Not force Nigerian Nationals living in the Bakassi Peninsula to leave the zone or to change their identity.
b.Respect their culture, language and beliefs
c.Respect their rights to continue their agricultural and fishing activitie
d.Protect their property and customary land rights
e.Not levy in any discriminatory manner any taxes and other dues on Nigerian nationals living in the zone
f.Take every necessary measure to protect Nigerians living in the zone from any harassment or harm

Against this background the rights of the Bakassi people ought to be paramount in the territorial dispute between the two countries because the characteristics of a state in political science includes the people or population and not limited to possession of a mapped out territory.

Due to the hostilities and killing of some Nigerians by the Camerounian Gendarmes, no fewer than 37,000 Nigerians have been displaced from the disputed Bakassi Peninsula and are being resettled in Ibaka in akwa Ibom state. In makeshift camps, very poor sanitary conditions, no proper resettlement centre, poor health care and no basic needs for these displaced persons.

Finally On August 14, 2008, Bakassi peninsula went to Cameroun bearing in mind that the Bakassi people do not share anything in common with the people of Cameroun, that they have been forcefully merged with, like language, educational system, culture etc. this could tend toward wiping out the entire Bakassi race because obviously the Camerounian government prefers the Bakassi oil to the people and has tried on several occasion to quiet the people from that area through their gendarmes , on the other hand the Director General of the Nigerian Boundary Commission Mr. Sadiq Marafa Diggi, said that Cameroun was not happy with what they got as the area did not cover our oil reserves. Sincerely, ‘Oil is all that matters’ to the two countries in the disputed Bakassi Peninsula.

What we legally owe to the displaced persons is captured under Article 15 of the universal declaration of Human rights which states that:

Everyone has the right to a nationality

No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality and also in Article 12:2 of the African Charter on Human and peoples right which guarantees the right to Nationality, it states that “ every individual shall have the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country” because the Bakassi people have been forcefully lumped with Cameroun it has created untold hardship for the displaced persons who are going through the trauma of losing their loved ones and properties and to compound their problems they are yet to be resettled in Nigeria

The Situation of the Iraqi Refugees

Arij Bou Reslan [Terre des hommes ]

The displacement of Iraqis has been identified as the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world . The UN estimates that over 4 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which have fled since the 2003 war in Iraq and its ensuing insurrection. Over 2.3 million have vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq while some 2 million have sought refuge abroad. The figures regarding the exact number of Iraqis living in the neighbouring countries are disputed among the different stakeholders. This issue sheds light on the numerous gaps regarding many aspects of the refugees’ life in these countries. Of this 2 million, an estimated 450’000-500’000 are in Jordan and 50’000 are in Lebanon ; mainly concentrated in the capital cities. In Syria, estimations of the total number of Iraqi refugees are disputed and vary from 300’000 to 1’5 million with the vast majority residing in Greater Damascus. However, as these three countries are not signatories to the UN convention on Status of Refugees, Iraqis have few rights and face difficulties in accessing adequate assistance and services, many are in critical situations.

This massive arrival of Iraqi refugees in Syria is mainly due to its geographical proximity and because the Syrian Government was considered as tolerant among other countries in the region. But Iraqis arriving in Syria are now required to have a visa issued from the Syrian Embassy in Bagdad. Many, who arrived earlier, are now residing in Syria with expired visas and are fearful of deportation. In 2008, to obtain a visa for Syria, an Iraqi needs to be a doctor, engineer or a merchant with a commercial license. Iraqis without visas are no longer permitted to enter Syria . Those who need medical treatment can also be eligible to seek a visa. Iraqi families that register their children in Syrian school automatically obtain one year’s residency renewed on a monthly basis.

With regard to Jordan, the country has hosted an influx of Iraqi refugees since the early 90’s, some of whom conform to the local perception that Iraqis in Jordan are of prosperous backgrounds. A less-affluent flow, however, began after the 2003 US led invasion, whose peak took place during 2004 – 2005. Since this period, Jordan experienced a notable increase in the movement of the Sunni minority often fleeing sectarian violence, such as the bombing of the Samara Mosque in 2006. From the 1st of May, the Iraqis willing to travel to Jordan must request their visa in Bagdad through a private agency (TNT) responsible for the forwarding of applications to the Jordanian government.

Compared to Syria and Jordan, Lebanon hosts a relatively small number of Iraqi refugees. But the Lebanese population already hosts 250’000 Palestinian refugees while being confronted by a plethora of internal conflict and political instability. As the Human Rights Watch report states: “Lebanese are wary of hosting another refugee population whose prospects of returning to their home country in the short term are remote. The situation is further complicated because many Lebanese perceive that the sectarian tensions that plague Iraqi society might feed into, and amplify, the sectarian tensions that are ever present in Lebanon itself.”

The Iraqis who have left Iraq come primarily from urban areas and represent diverse sectarian backgrounds, including Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds as well as minority groups of Christians (who are over represented as refugees in Syria and Jordan compared to their numbers in Iraq), Sabean- Madeans and Palestinians. In Jordan, 77% arrived after 2003 and among them, 68% of the Iraqi refugees are Sunni Muslims; in Lebanon 50% are Shi’a Muslims. In Syria, 52% of the Iraqi refugees are Sunni Muslims.

Iraqis reported numerous reasons for leaving their country. Many left as a direct result of conflict and violence, mostly from the rising sectarian unrests but also from fighting between the insurgents and the Multinational Forces (MNF) allied with the Iraqi military. Many made the personal and family protection decision to leave due to the real and perceived risks present. Some of the reasons for this decision were based on: their employment with the former regime or for the MNF, their ethnicity or religious grouping and/or the lack of financial stability because they could no longer make a living in Iraq or their homes and assets had been taken.
The current situation and the profile of the Iraqi refugees are not heterogeneous and have evolved with time. While some arrived early after the beginning of the war, some have just arrived a few months ago. Some arrived with good personal savings allowing them to set up and live in relatively good conditions, some arrived without money and assets and have immediately faced particularly precarious conditions. However, progressively, with the long lasting situation and work restrictions, many people with medium savings have seen them quickly evaporated, and they are now in need of basic material, financial, social and medical assistance.

A key factor for many male Iraqi refugees is related to their previous status in Iraq. Iraqis who were involved in the Iraqi Army or connected to the previous government are afraid of being identified and targeted and are often reluctant to register for assistance delivery.

The majority of refugees interviewed described themselves as “existing between two situations or two worlds.” They are “standing by:” fleeing from the horrors and destruction of war and consider their residence in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as ‘transitional’ before being assisted to immigrate to a western country. The reality is that many western countries are not accepting the numbers of Iraqis rumoured within the Iraqi refugee community. This reality, once realised, generates understandable stress and anxiety when families and individuals face the hard question of: What now? Compounding this lost and unwelcome positioning is that most people and families do not plan to return to Iraq, the UNHCR/IPSOS report states 89.5% of those interviewed held this view.

Because of non-recognition by host governments, most Iraqis are illegal or have/had only a tourist visa; therefore they are ineligible for employment in Jordan, Syria or Lebanon and have few or even no sources of income. For many of those who had savings, the situation is deteriorating or has deteriorated through these resources drying up. Some families receive money from relatives abroad or in Iraq, but this rarely allows for a comfortable life and is often sporadic and unreliable.

The basic cost of living is increasing in all three countries. Prices for basic items such as rice, bread, cooking oil and vegetables have been increasing and apartments are clearly highlighted to be expensive; many families are struggling to meet the rent payments. Household visits confirm the signs of urban poverty where Iraqis are more reliant on the informal economy and the underground ‘black’ market. They are moving from one area to another in search of cheaper accommodation. Families live in very small and crowded accommodation, often shared with relatives or other Iraqi families. In some cases, it was reported that housing difficulties caused some children and adolescents to avoid contact with their family and to remain on the streets late into the night. All of these factors compound and heighten the risk for children to be exploited and made vulnerable to exploitation, violence and/or abuse.

Precarious housing and difficult access to basic services and care contribute to increase most of the Iraqis’ emotional burdens, such as: stress, lack of hope for a better situation and a loss of dignity. All of these factors add layers of tension within the family unit and heavily contribute to deteriorating family relations and jeopardize the coping process, for both children and adults.

With respect to “Children and Youth”

Children, like adults, have been affected with the events in Iraq. In many cases, they witnessed or were direct victims of particularly dreadful events. They feel and share the distress of their parents. They recognize and suffer from the loss of their previous life and from their current living conditions. Some can not go back to school and have to work to increase family income. Many are in classic ‘child labour’ situations and are open to or are experiencing exploitation.

Children, like adults, have the feeling of living in a “stand-by” or “in-between” situation and do not invest their time in the host country. Manly citing they wish or feel this situation will remain temporary and unstable. The difficulty to integration within the host community contributes to make things more difficult.

Children and youth cited incidents of violence, prejudice, discrimination and aggression directed towards them by their host communities . The most vulnerable Iraqi refugees are often in lower-socioeconomic areas due the affordability of the rent. These host community members have a low understanding of the plight and experiences of Iraqi refugees and are also facing issues of political and ethnic/religious violence, unemployment, low education and difficult living conditions themselves. All of these factors assist in the easy labelling and targeting of Iraqi children and community members to be ‘the’ problem. Understandably the Iraqi children, youth and family members are selective in their movements outside of the home and who they socialise and communicate with.

Parents who themselves are in difficulty find it challenging to adequately care for their children and to have appropriate responses to meet their needs, especially psychological needs, because they are in distressed as well. Some parents expressed feelings of guilt and stress. They shared their difficulty in understanding and dealing with their children’s reactions and needs, but did recognise these needs are high. Sometimes they complained about the bad behaviour of their children and worried about losing influence and/or control over them. This is particularly complex and impacting for women headed households, given the traditional patriarchal role of men and boys in Iraqi and Arabic culture. Often this is leading to frustrated and/or angry parenting of children and youth, such as: negative discipline, over protection, verbal and/or physical violence.

Many children have not attended school for a number of years. When children have missed school for over three years they cannot be re-enrolled in the formal education system . Also, through not wanting to be identified, some families fear sending their children to school and to disclose their children’s and family identity. School remains expensive despite the support provided by some organisations and UN agencies. In some cases, because of the financial situation, families decide to send only some of their children to school. Some families prefer, or are compelled, to enrol children in private schools but cannot afford them . Moreover, differences in curricula and language of education in Iraq and the countries of relocation are additional impediments. Some children refuse to go to school through fear of failure because the curriculum is different, or they fear being teased by children or teachers. Some children are also a victim of their parent’s resettlement dreams and are not enrolled in school because their parents believe it will only be for a temporary period.

Youth are especially at risk. They are at a vulnerable stage of their development, but also since many of them have missed school for extended periods, they cannot be enrolled again unless they accept to be in classrooms with younger children. They have no possibility to enrol in Universities and vocational training opportunities are limited. Many have lost contact with their friends in Iraq and spend most of their time at home. This makes it quite challenging for parents to deal with them, especially for mothers alone. In addition adolescent boys are not really considered as “children” by their families and are often sent to work in order to support the household financially.

1.UNHCR/IOM 2007: Refugees International
2.UNHCR/IOM 2007: Refugees International
3.Fafo November 2007: International Herald Tribune
4.Danish Refugee Council (Beirut), Iraqi Population in Lebanon: A Report, November 2007
5.ICMC report, Iraqi Refugees in Syria, February 2008
6.Fafo November 2007: International Herald Tribune
7.Human Right Watch, Rot Here or Die There, bleak choice for Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, November 2007
8.Fafo November 2007: International Herald Tribune
9.Danish Refugee Council (Beirut), Iraqi Population in Lebanon: A Report, November 2007
10.UNHCR/IPSOS report, Assessment on Returns to Iraq Amongst the Iraqi Refugee Population in Syria, April 2008
11.UNHCR/IPSOS report, Assessment on Returns to Iraq Amongst the Iraqi Refugee Population in Syria, April 2008
12.In Lebanon one particular case involved the situation where an Iraqi boy was becoming friendly with a Lebanese girl. The Lebanese family severely beat the boy and threw rocks at him and his house. The result is the boy now is afraid to go out of the house too often and fears his host community. This is a common story and is faced by children in schools and while they move about their host communities. Youth also state they have been vilified for community problems and made to feel excluded and are exploited because of their ‘illegal’ status.
13.Current policy in practice in Jordan and Syria
14.It is the case for Christian families in Jordan for example, because they are not comfortable with the local schools.

Reflections on Anti – Trafficking Interventions

Pascale McLean

At the end of 2000, the UN Convention against Transnational Organised crimes and two of its supplementary Protocols; the Protocol against the smuggling of Migrants by land, air and sea (which refers to the practice of helping people cross the border illegally in exchange of remuneration) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, Punish trafficking in Persons, especially in women and children (hereafter the UN trafficking Protocol) were signed. The article 3 of this Protocol defines trafficking in persons which refers to three distinct elements:
1. Some actions that involve “recruitment, transportation, transfer,” etc.;
2. The means of those actions more precisely “the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power”;
3. And a purpose, that is forms of exploitation for which people are recruited or moved including “the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.

The focus of the UN trafficking Protocol is based on bringing to justice those responsible for this crime. It refers to anti-trafficking measures that can be taken by the States:
1. Law enforcement measures to detect, prosecute and punish traffickers.
2. Preventive measures to reduce the likelihood that trafficking occurs in the first place.
3. Protection measures, along with various forms of assistance, for individuals who have been trafficked.

The influence of this approach is present throughout most, if not all, the national plans that were concluded since 2000 (Flynn, 2008) and the anti-trafficking measures have grown up in number at the international level.

A few years later, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking of Women (hereinafter referred as GAATW) wanted to study the impact of anti-trafficking interventions. Therefore, in 2007, a report called Collateral Damage: The impact of Anti-Trafficking Measures on Human Rights around the World was published. It provides us an overview of the experience of eight countries: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. More specifically, it attempts to assess the impact of anti-trafficking measures for people living and working there, or migrating into or out of these countries. On August 6-9, 2008, the GAATW organised a forum to that effect.

In the Collateral Damage report, GAATW mentions that there are laws and policies that have negative consequences on the people they want to protect and there are three groups who are affected. Firstly, when the assistance for trafficked persons is made conditional on cooperation with law enforcement officials. Secondly, the anti-trafficking measures affect the migrants specially labourers and workers, and thirdly the concept of ‘trafficking’ has been appropriated to further the political agendas of governments, which refers also to the impact of a prevention campaign, conducted since 2001 in countries throughout the world by the United States government.

The Collateral Damage report also points out that trafficking is a multi-dimensional phenomenon including issues such as social, economical and criminological ones linked with issues like gender, health, migration, development and economic, more specifically in the informal sector.

Concerning India, the anti-trafficking measures came mostly around the debates on the question of legality or illegality of prostitution. In fact, two years after the adoption of the UN trafficking protocol, a regional convention was adopted by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution which restricted the application of trafficking to the purposes of prostitution. The SAARC Convention, to which India is a signatory, defines trafficking as “the moving, selling or buying of women and children for prostitution within and outside a country for monetary or other considerations with or without the consent of the person subjected to trafficking” (Article 1(3)).

Ratna Kapur wrote an article concerning the anti-trafficking framework in the country and reviews the legal aspects of trafficking which focuses more on the method of rescue and rehabilitation of women and girls who have been trafficked for the purpose of prostitution (GAATW, 2007). She mentions that the primary response to victims of trafficking is detention, whether in a protective home or a corrective institution which would drive those women and girls back into sex work. Concerning the brothel raids, she affirms that they could be politically motivated by anti-migrant groups since most sex workers are from lower casts, tribal groups or neighbouring countries. The laws and policies do not address the issues of trafficking within the framework of migration. She mentions that under the name of protection for women, particularly unskilled women, India has imposed some restrictions on their emigration, which have pushed the ones who are really seeking to migrate to do so through clandestine forms. Ratna Kapur points out the issues of inter-state migration in India and refers to the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act (ISMWA) that is there to protect the rights and safeguard the interests of the migrant workers inside the country. The National Commission for Women suggested some changes in the interest of women including that a women recruited in another state could be accompanied by a family member to their place of work at the employer’s expenses.

As a strategy for anti-trafficking prevention, Kapur suggests to address the underlying causes of trafficking and to make a distinction between facilitating the migration for more wealthy people and those who are less well off, for whom a migration policy is needed to ensure safe and legal passage. She states (GAATW, 2007:137):

The anti-trafficking laws in India display a profound misunderstanding of the phenomenon of human trafficking. Failing to make a distinction between human smuggling, irregular movement, illegal migration and trafficking, denies the agency of those who choose to migrate for better life opportunities and undermines the gravity of the abuses suffered by trafficked persons. Criminalising various aspects of prostitution in order to prevent trafficking, as is the case with the existing law or criminalising the purchase of sexual services, as is being proposed by the government penalises those trafficked for sexual exploitation rather than their traffickers. It renders persons trafficked for sexual exploitation more vulnerable to their traffickers, their clients and the police. Finally, failing to expand the application of anti-trafficking legislation beyond cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation has the effect of denying the harm done to persons who experience similar abuses but who are trafficked for other purposes.

The preliminary research findings of Lyons and Ford (2008) presented at the Forum of 6-8 August 2008 on the impact of the anti-trafficking measures on policy making and civil society organisation activism concerned with labour in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore they argue that most States have responded to the trafficking Protocol by establishing a legal framework that restrict immigration and prosecute illegal entries when they have to deal with unskilled or semi-skilled labour migrants because it is difficult to make a clear distinction between smuggling, trafficking and temporary labour migration. The authors also point out that trafficking and smuggling are linked with measures to combat terrorism. Governments are then encouraged to be tough on irregular migration through tighter border controls. On the other hand, many NGOs in this region are attracted to the anti-trafficking framework because of the positive outcomes for the migrant workers in the absence of effective national labour laws. In fact, the migrant women working mostly in domestic services sector or sex industry, face problems in relation to labour laws and citizenship rights. This includes low wages, high debts repayments to employment brokers, difficult working conditions which are worse if the migrant’s status is not regular. Lyons and Ford come to the conclusion that what is needed is an approach that focuses on addressing the human rights violations and abuses perpetrated amongst all migrants, without equating all forms of exploitation with trafficking.

In a briefing paper presented at the forum of August 2008, Rebecca Napier-Moore from GAATW states that if you combine labour and migrants rights you can see globalized structures. She refers to the fact that when an economy has a large need for labour, usually cheap labour, and does not have enough national capacity to fulfill that, the market needs the migrant’s labour. The findings show that there is a large mismatch between immigration laws and economic and migrant realities. The industrialised countries develop with attracting permanent or temporary migrants whom are divided into several categories to establish some control over their number and their characteristics. It follows that the official demand criteria for labour migrants for instance, do not always fully reflect the real demand of national economic agents (Tyuryukanova 2008). Less people are then able to migrate by official, legal and safe channels. Therefore, the migrants unwanted by the official immigration system, but attracted by the real demand for their work and skill, try to enter in the receiving country without the chance to be legalised. The more restrictive immigration control renders more migrants to stay in a vulnerable position where they are subject to exploitation, human rights violations and what can lead to trafficking.

One of the ways to respond to the trafficking issues is to move to the migration framework. It would put emphasis on the fact that people have the right to migrate. It would move away from a crime focus and show stronger empowerment for women. But in the Asian context, the legal migration does not guaranty safe working and living conditions for migrants. Also, to put the focus on transborder movements might overshadow internal movements.

It is also suggested that if we move to the labour rights framework it would improve labour conditions and proceed towards labour rights for all migrant workers. This argument locates trafficking through a labour framework situates the migrant as the victim of labour rights violations. The problem with this framework could be that unions might be reluctant to engage with migrant labour, women are less likely to be involved in unions and there are problems around the informal sector in which many migrants are employed. Also some sectors into which people are trafficked are not called “work” by society.

For all the above reasons, the link between gender, migration, labour and trafficking needs to be established. We have to ask ourselves if the anti-trafficking framework meets the needs of trafficked women and to wonder on the impact on human rights on other groups. From the GAATW interventions, it seems that the UN Protocol respond to trafficking by criminalizing traffickers rather than by ensuring migrant’s rights.

GAATW suggests that gender, migration, labour and trafficking should not be separated because migrant women are not seeing all their rights met by the state; and restrictions on their movement, on the sector they can work, as well as obstacles to their access to justice are not making it easy for migrant women to fully realise their rights. It should not be forgotten that many migrants initiated this movement with the hope to find better living conditions and to find solutions to problems.

Under these circumstances, GAATW is looking for a new combination of women’s rights, rights for trafficked people, migrant’s rights and labour rights and also legal, cultural and social assistance structures to support them.


FLYNN, D. (2008) “Managing (ir)regularity: trafficked persons and undocumented migrants on the spectrum of global migration”. Discussion paper prepared for the GAATW Roundtable on Gender-Migration-Labour-Trafficking Linkages, Bangkok, 6-8 August 2008, unpublished.
GAATW, (2007). Collateral Damage: The impact of Anti-Trafficking Measures on Human Rights around the World.
LYONS, L., FORD, M. (2008). “Anti-trafficking Programs and their gendered implications for Temporary Labour Migrants”. Paper prepared for the GAATW Roundtable on Gender-Migration-Labour-Trafficking Linkages, Bangkok, 6-8 August 2008, unpublished.
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