Post #8 Australia

One of the most informative and my favorite lecture was by Sherry Mariea about Women’s rights.  She was very enthusiastic and passionate about the topic and it made the lecture very engaging and interesting.  There was so many things that she talked about in the lecture that I, especially as a male, did not really think about before.  She talked about the term gendercide, which is very prevalent in India because females are a financial burden in India.  In India, there are 50,000 abortions a month because many people prefer to not have a female child and the preferences for sons intensifies discrimination against women.

I was always aware of sex trafficking and the issue of it but I never realized how the system was flawed in a way that it is very easy for sex traffickers to evade the law even after being accused.  Sherry Mariea told once again how it was many times based women and girls being lured by financial incentives.  There are many times where even the girls are prosecuted and not the pimps because the Judicial system allows victim blaming.  This is startling information that I was never aware of when it comes to sex trafficking and those that are victim.

As a country, I have always felt like there has been great progress for women up to this point and I was hoping that gender inequality was not as big of an issue as it was back then.  Unfortunately, I, along with many other men, are mistaken.  As the results of the election show that we have a long way before true gender equality will be achieved and just hidden.

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One thing that stuck with me about this lecture was how she said the women must value independence and most importantly men must value that.  I do think that men are very unaware of how much they do not value or respect women independence.  Even though there is much less apparent sexism, it is still a large issue that is not explored nearly as much as it should be.

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Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with the world’s 12th-largest economy.  Australia has a high ranking in national performance, quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.  The country is part of the UN, WTO, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, G20, and the Pacific Islands Forum.  That is some things that Australia takes great pride in but there are still many issues with Australia as well that we have explored through this blog.

Something that I have noticed is that Australia is part of many world organizations and they have made great strides in progress but they are still overshadowed by other countries such as the United States.  The country has many similarities to the United States in the sense of their progressive steps taken and their similar governments, but I do personally say that Australia has made more positive progress than the United States.  Australia in a way is slowly trying to become the new power country and as their power gains the similarities to their western counterparts are increasing as well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Australia has an increasingly larger problem with economic equality.  The gap between rich and poor in Australia is constantly widening.  The top 20% of households receive half of the income.  The bottom 20% only gets 4% of the income.  According to the Guardian, The Australian Council of Social Service reported in 2014 that the wealthiest people in Australia are now making five times as much as the poorest in the country.  The wealthy also have 70 times the assets of those with the lowest income.

Australia is a state that really does try to address many issues that the US does not do a very good job of such as trying to bring more indigenous or aboriginal people’s representation into their government along with a clear and concise plan to combat climate change.  Though overlooked many times, Australia is a good model country for a developed country that is make steady progress and it always trying to improve itselfimage-adapt-985-medium

 

 

 

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Blog #8

My favorite guest lecture this semester was Karen Piper’s talk on environmentalism. I loved that she talked about water shortages, climate change, population growth, pollution, and many other topics as global problems that need to be addressed. Her lecture brought together many world problems dealing with human rights and the depletion of the environment into one big picture through one vital element for human life: water.

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Saving water one droplet at a time

Piper relayed how climate change, groundwater loss, and pollution are all contributing to a global water shortage. Water consumption, nutrient pollution through fertilizers and pesticides, along with a loss of biodiversity are problems that I could personally impact! It was interesting how means that had been used to enhance life were now depleting life like fertilizers and antibiotics from overuse. Before her lecture, I had not seriously considered the effects of my water consumption on the rest of the United States. There were so many elements and factors that affected water shortages that Piper wove together to create an action plan for reducing water consumption and adapting to climate change. By adapting to the environmental changes around us and avoiding overconsumption of resources, intense problems like water shortages can be minimized. It was astounding and overwhelming to me that many factors culminated into one huge issue. Thankfully, readings from the day before the lecture talked about ways to reduce water consumption like shorter showers and decreasing car emissions, so the huge issues of climate change, pollution, and less water did not seem totally unchangeable. Honestly, I thought it was very interesting how huge problems are not exclusive like water shortages, deforestation, wildfires, polluted water, and erosion are all interconnected and related. This mindset helps me understand that by attacking one problem like pollution, I can make a tiny impact in other issues too.

Before the beginning of the semester, I had not heard of Oceania and only recognized the name: Papua New Guinea. My research on Papua New Guinea definitely opened my eyes to an entirely unfamiliar world that is very different from my own. I had no idea that one place could contain more than 800 different languages, nor that the government could be very corrupt even under supervision from the United Nations and the United States. It was new that people would want to live in isolation from the rest of the world for the sake of keeping their culture and way of life just as it is without technology. The tropical and mountainous geography of PNG also helped remote tribes remain independent from other people. Yet, voluntary isolation also excludes opportunities for modern medicine and vaccines that could help save lives in the community. The way of life is old and education, gender equality, human rights, and the like are all behind as well. Even so, modern advances like mining, logging, and sex trafficking are all over PNG isolated or not.

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PNG copper mine

The logging industry works towards deforestation in PNG. Without as many trees, biodiversity depletes because there are not enough trees to absorb carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide pollutes the atmosphere and creates a ripple effect on the environment. The mining industry brings polluted air and possible erosion to the ground. Mining and logging both bring job opportunities along with negative environmental effects.

Sex trafficking is pervasive since women are generally regarded as inferior to men due to traditions like the bride price, a payment a husband brings to his finance’s family for her hand in marriage. Divided gender roles like hunting for me and gardening or taking care of children for women help enforce the superiority of men.

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Port Moresby, PNG

It is still hard to imagine living in a tribal community in PNG after stopping by the urban areas like the capital, Port Moresby. Before the blog, I had no exposure to living in traditions and isolation, but PNG research helped broaden my scope. Like Karen Piper’s presentation on environmentalism, I was exposed to a variety of issue that were wrapped into one small country. The blog and presentations throughout the semester showed me that problems I thought could be solved with a little work were a lot more complex than I imagined. Gender inequality runs deep within societies especially in indigenous tribes like ones in Papua New Guinea. Climate change stems from humans polluting and taking advantage of the environment’s resources along with a myriad of other problems. The 30 United Nations Human Rights standards is the best picture of how humans should be living each day, but few know or live their full rights out. All of these problems are way more complex and broad than I ever thought. To reverse an issue, there will be a complementary set of complex steps towards a solution. These steps are similar to the actions it took to create the problem like human error and selfishness. A viable solution will take lots of errors and corrections to be made right along with a selfish desire to make the world better for one’s own sake.

Blog #7

For a couple to marry in Papua New Guinea, it is traditional for the soon-to-be husband to pay a bride price to his betrothed’s family. This bride price is set by the bride’s family and can be paid in goods or cash. If the couple decide to divorce, the bride’s family must pay the entire payment back to the husband. This tradition is one aspect of the PNG culture that contributes to the objectification and abuse of women. With the high inflation of bride prices, women are often left in difficult and potentially abusive relationships, because they or their families unable to repay the bride price. The ingrained view of dominant husbands and submissive wives coupled with the high payment for marriage, men can become entitled and view women as a prize or object to command. This subservient view  contributes to PNG’s high rate of sex trafficking.

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Kina shells as seen above traditionally paid for the bride price in Papua New Guinea. 

Along with the bride price tradition, tribal leaders commonly exchange the servitude of girls or children to forge political relations. Parents have been reported to prostitute or sell their children to brothels to pay for family expenses.

“Children, including girls from tribal areas as young as 5 years old, are reportedly subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe.” 

If separated from their husband or forced to beg for family income, women and girls can also be lured into sex slavery by promises of work and income. Men and boys are also trafficked for slavery working in logging and mining camps. Altogether, the Papua New Guinean government has made small steps towards addressing and preventing the trafficking of its people and foreign visitors.

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Landowner Tusuwe Nekaiye of the Kapolasi clan sits in front of sign against logging in Bula, Middle Fly district Western Province

PNG enacted the Criminal Code Amendment of 2013 that outlaws human trafficking like sexual and labor forms including penalties of a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for adult trafficking and 25 years imprisonment for child trafficking. Yet, in 2016, the government of PNG did not prosecute any perpetrators of human trafficking as reported by the U.S. Department of State. This trend has been pervasive in PNG with sparse convictions of trafficking and cases of trafficking offenses dropped on the basis of little evidence. Trafficking cases in the criminal courts were referred to tribal courts where no perpetrators were imprisoned and traffickers were forced to pay only restitution to victims. In the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report for PNG, the national government is not making efforts to meet minimum international standards for eradicating trafficking. Instead, international organizations are the ones identifying victims, yet the national government sentenced 12 of the 21 identified victims of trafficking to prison for illegal entry into PNG.

“A major barrier hindering PNG’s progress is the presence of trafficking-related corruption at high levels of government, for example through the acceptance of bribes to allow illegal migrants to enter the country or the trading of female trafficking victims for political favours and votes.” 

The government does not provide any services or support for trafficked victims nor has prosecuted any offenders. No investigations of government officials regarding sex slavery were enacted in 2016 either. With the government and culture of PNG behind human trafficking, the pervasive slavery climate has become the norm of the country. With further international regulation from the National Human Trafficking Committee and work with NGOs and international organizations, PNG should make continuous progress towards decreasing human trafficking and increasing victim support.

International steps towards the recognition and eradication of human trafficking are being made under the table through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

According to the article, Born Free by Sarah Mendelson, Sustainable Development Goals are the new  sources for international awareness of human trafficking. The SDGs previously replaced MDGs or UN Millennium Development Goals that focused donors and organizations alike on specific issues in developing countries like HIV infections and extreme poverty. The new goals, SDGs, include vague references to human trafficking by supporting gender equality, decent work for everyone, and inclusive societies. It is documents like the UN’s Outcome Document that continue to perpetrate human trafficking by not specifically addressing the issue. In fact, the Outcome Document talks about “trafficking” of wildlife.

“We recognize the economic, social and environmental impacts of illicit trafficking in wildlife, where firm and strengthened action needs to be taken on both the supply and demand sides.”

There needs to be more awareness and education about human trafficking rather than only supporting gender empowerment and equal opportunity.

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Human trafficking is the modern age slavery 

Without broadcasting trafficking as an international, urgent problem, governments like PNG may not be pressured or highly regulated to eradicate the practice. Human trafficking can be eradicated through awareness and support of the public, donors, governments, and the global community to create accountability and action for this modern-day slavery.

Post #7 Australia

“Freedom is the birthright of every human being.”

Human trafficking is an apparent problem in Australia and has been addressed by the government.  According to the Human Trafficking section of the Australian Federal Police website, “Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour and forced marriage are complex crimes and a major violation of human rights.”

Around the world men, women and children are trafficked for a wide range of exploitative purposes, such as:

  • Servitude
  • Slavery
  • Forced labour
  • Debt Bondage
  • Forced marriage
  • Organ harvesting

Australia is a primary destination country for many people that are trafficked from Asia.  Countries include Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.  Australia’s slavery, slavery-like and human trafficking offenses are described and laid out in Division 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995.

As with many crimes, an accurate and exact figure for the number of persons that are trafficked into Australia is virtually impossible to ascertain.  There are estimates of number of victims but they show a huge discrepancy of the amount that are officially detected.  This shows how many potential cases that are not being addressed and thus being a large problem for Australian government.  The discrepancy between the amount of recording trafficking and the estimated number is due to high levels of under-reporting.  Trafficked persons are often scared and too terrified to contact authorities because they are fearful of the possible consequences for themselves and their families if they were to be detected.

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The Global Slavery Index puts the number at 29.8 million, which is over twice the number of Africans enslaved between 1525 and 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

Unfortunately, trafficking matters may not be identified as trafficking matter but instead be charged with a range of other offenses.  Other offenses include kidnap/abduction, assault and domestic violence but not with trafficking.  This has raised concerns for the validity, accuracy and reliability of the methodologies used to calculate reported estimates.

The Australian Institute of Criminology provided aggregate statistics from the Autralian Government agencies between January 2004 and June 2011.  They concluded that 305 investigations and assessments of trafficking-related offenses were conducted by the AFP’s Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams.  184 victims of trafficking had been provided with assistance through the government funded Office for Women’s Support for Trafficked Persons (STP) Program.  13 people have been convicted for people trafficking-related offenses (9 of the 13 defendants were convicted of slavery offenses, 3 of sexual servitude and 1 of people trafficking).

Australia works collaboratively with other countries to combat human trafficking. For example, Australia and Indonesia co-chair the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. Australia’s aid program also supports a number of aid projects in the Asia region, including the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19 provides the strategic framework for Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery. The plan was developed with government and non-government partners, and was launched by the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, in December 2014.

“Three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are in forced labour at any given point in time”

According to the plan, “Australia is committed to a future where no one is subjected to human trafficking or slavery, and the human rights of all people are valued equally.”  They  acknowledge that the international community has recognized the fundamental right of all people to be free regardless of race, age, disability, religion, sex, sexuality or gender.  The plan says how human trafficking and slavery are serious crimes that do not exhibit the fundamentals of freedom and how it is the most grave of human rights violations.  The plan is a strategic framework for Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery over the years 2015 to 2019.  The plan is the successor to the Australian Government’s 2004 Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons, and further extends that plan.  The plan of the goal is to expand and build on the successes of that plan.

Human trafficking is mentioned a couple times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Human trafficking is first mentioned in the 27th article of the introduction of the goals stating, “We will eradicate forced labour and human trafficking and end child labour in all its forms.”

In Goal 5, Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, human trafficking is addressed again in the second statement.  “Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.”

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There are multiple ways to combat human trafficking but the most important thing for everyone to do to help is to know the signs of human trafficking so it can be identified.  The U.S. Department of State and the Australian Federal Police have listed indicators of human trafficking on their respective websites.  Some signs include:

  • the person appears to be servicing a large debt to their employer or a third party;
  • the person does not possess their passport or travel/identity documents, which are with their employer or a third party, and the person is unable to access these documents when they wish to do so
  • the person does not have a labour or employment contract/agreement , or they do not understand the terms or conditions of their employment;
  • the person is unable to terminate their employment at any time;
  • the person is subject to different or less favourable working conditions than other employees because he/she comes from overseas;
  • the person never or rarely leave their accommodation for non-work reasons;
  • the person is living at the place of work or another place owned or controlled by their employer;
  • the person has little or no money or no access to their earnings;
  • the person has physical injuries which may have resulted for assault, harsh treatment or unsafe work practices;
  • the person is always in the presence of their employer, who does not want or allow the worker to socialise with others;
  • the person works excessively long hours and have few, if any, days off
  • the person regularly between different workplaces, including interstate.

(Source: AFP)

Once a victim of human trafficking is identified or suspected, it must be reported immediately.  Human trafficking is a global problem and everyone can help if they have proper awareness and knowledge of the topic.