Girls as young as 13 trafficked in Cambodia

March 18, 2011 § Leave a comment


Girls as young as 13 are being recruited from Cambodia to work in Malaysian households with fake birth certificates, according to a UN report out today.

The girls are being confined in overcrowded and unhygienic “training centres”, with reports of several being killed or injured in desperate attempts to escape – and of course, with human trafficking, someone makes money. And not the person being abused.

In this case, brokers source the girls and get paid the fees. The recruiting companies trick illiterate village residents – more than 100 agencies are reported to exist targeting this sort of business.

The government has made some very positive noises about tackling this problem, which can only be positive, but nonetheless estimated that it will take three more years to fully tackle this problem.

MP and former minister for women’s affairs Mu Sochua has accused the government of complicity in trafficking: “The Cambodian government has effectively legalized human trafficking.” She also said the government was protecting the recruiting companies because some of its members might have financial interests in them.

These examples could be the tip of the iceberg, with the likelihood of girls also being smuggled through into Thailand.

The best way to tackle this is to improve the status of women in Cambodian society, and their rights as female workers. Make a collective decision that it is not acceptable to employ a young girl, without her passport.

Women in Cambodia were denied the right to hold a rally for International Women’s Day this month. Bizarre rules around Cambodian women marrying foreigners are also intended to target trafficking but could easily also be seen as a way of restricting a woman’s human right to marry who she wishes. Domestic violence is largely seen as a matter to be left between husband and wife, even though one-in-four women have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse from their husbands

Give women equal status, equal standing in society, make them financially independent and this sort of abuse will be whittled away to a memory.


Ten years old – and married

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Having only recently discovered the brilliant World Pulse, it is a wealth of information – this is one story that struck me from it today.  The young girl, Reem Al Numery, was married at 10 in Yemen, whose case became the focus of international media attention. She even has a Wikipedia page.

But what happened after the camera flashes stopped? According to this article, the media focus did not relate to practical help – although Yemen has raised the legal age of marriage at least, to 17, in the wake of the negative media focus, there are still many who oppose the shaky law, and its too late for the quarter of all women in the country married before the age of 15. As for Reem, she is struggling to afford transport to school, to secure an education. Hailed as an “activist against early marriage”, she is left poorer financially, in the poorest country in the Middle East.

“I am so frustrated,” she said. “I see girls who are able to study and able to speak English and I am not. I would like for someone to help me.”

And this is the girl who has been the centre of focus in the media. Imagine all the girls who are forced into marriage and don’t get the benefit of media focus

“It is not really marriage, it is rape” says Shada Nasser, the lawyer who represented both Reem and the little girl Arwa in this video –  a good piece on another girl’s story of early marriage. Particularly interesting is the interview with the male doctor who helped Arwa escape her husband – but says that raising the legal age to 17 was a mistake.

“Islam determines the age of marriage to be when a girl is ready for intercourse” he says.

Indian women banned from using mobile phones…

November 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

…..for their “own protection”, of course. I’m not sure who broke this story first, but it seems to have exploded everywhere now. A friend even emailed me today from halfway across the world to say he’d read it in the Egyptian Gazette. It’s a good example of how the media can take a story and really raise awarenes of an important issue we wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

Photograph: Jayanta Shaw/Reuters/Corbis: Indian Woman uses her mobile phone

In the small village of Lank, in northern India, single women have been banned from using their mobile phones. It subjects them to the temptation of elopement, apparantly – reinforcing the idea that women cannot be trusted to make their own mature sexual and romantic choices.

Unmarried boys can of course still have phones, but are only supposed to actively use them under parental supervision. Good luck effectively enforcing that one. 

Does it apply to emails? Will letters be monitored? Are landline telephones forbidden? What about social networking sites? There are so many anomolies and problems with this as a tactic that it becomes ridiculous – it smacks more of an excuse to rid women of their independence as much as target any particular cultural concerns.Although this story is as much one of race prejudice (the village was reacting to more than 30 recent inter-caste marriages which went against the parents’ wishes) as sexual discrimination, it is a spot on example of how women are punished more than men. Of the ways that in times of cultural change and controversy, it is the women who are cracked down on, suppressed, seen as the irrational and irresponsible ones. Case in point: this article outlines so-called honour killings where three women were beheaded for eloping with a boy from a different clan.

There is no justification and no logic in this outdated, racist, sexist and frankly ridiculous measure.

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