Archive for the 'Human trafficking' Category

Native American Women Grossly Violated

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

In July 2006 an Alaska Native woman in Fairbanks reported to the police that she had been raped by a non-Native man. She gave a description of the alleged perpetrator and city police officers told her that they were going to look for him. She waited for the police to return and when they failed to do so, she went to the emergency room for treatment. A support worker told Amnesty International that the woman had bruises all over her body and was so traumatized that she was talking very quickly. She said that, although the woman was not drunk, the Sexual Assault Response Team nevertheless “treated her like a drunk Native woman first and a rape victim second”. The support worker described how the woman was given some painkillers and some money to go to a non-Native shelter, which turned her away because they also assumed that she was drunk: “This is why Native women don’t report. It’s creating a breeding ground for sexual predators.”

The paragraph above is from a study by Amnesty International, released on April 24, 2007, that has concluded, “One in three Native American or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives. Most do not seek justice because they know they will be met with inaction or indifference.”

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

According to the report, Native American women are about 3 times more likely to be raped in America than other women.  Moreover,

According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. (This is in the case when most rapes in America are perpetrated by the same racial group – Blogian.)

The violation against Native American women is shocking and reminds of all the trouble and suffering that these people have been going through for hundreds of years.  Reading Lakota Woman earlier this year – a book by Mary Crow Dog about her experience as a Native American woman – I could not believe that even in the 1970s there was cultural genocide going on against the Natives.   But it turns out it is going on today, in 2007.

© Blogian 2007 – Pow Wow Native American Festival in Denver

I think the rape of Native American women is continuation of the cultural genocide.  But whatever you name it, it is happening and needs immediate reaction, especially given the Amnesty International charge that the US government is to blame for not protecting these women and children.

Interestingly, I brought similar topic up with my Native American studies professor Glenn Morris two weeks ago when I asked him what was the situation with human trafficking among Native American reservations (having found out about domestic human trafficking in the US, I had figured out that most vulnerable of US communities – the “Indian” reservations – would be a source for violating women and children).  Prof. Morris didn’t know whether there was human trafficking, but he said there were lots of rape.

The full study is available at

My Right to A Promise for Justice – In Action

A simple legislation can save lives

As unholy campaign of parliamentary elections has started in Armenia, all voters get is either a bribe or promise for justice. If they don’t get the first, the second one is absolutely guaranteed. A promise for justice has sort of become a fundamental right in Armenia.

I remember a professor at my University in Denver complaining last semester about Stephan Demirchyan – a popular opposition politician in Armenia – who kept saying “Justice!” when the professor asked him about his presidential campaign platform during an interview. After the professor asked Demirchyan that he wanted to know about his plans, the popular politician – who came to stage after his famous father was assassinated in 1999 – repeated again, “Justice!”

Few would argue that Demirchyan is not, how shall I say this, very bright, yet he is not the only “justice” politician in Armenia.

Economic theorists suggest that there is no supply without demand, so there must be demand for justice in Armenia. So there is no question that ordinary Armenians want justice – especially economic and social. There has been much discussion about the first issue and I am not sure I have enough knowledge yet to give suggestions for economic improvement (it seems it is easier to attack globalization and neoliberalism for world poverty and I can do a good job in that – but I don’t think it would be fair and productive in this post).

Nevertheless, it seems social justice may have better chances for certain improvement – one reason is that it has so many issues involved. Human trafficking, for example, is a social problem in Armenia caused by economic depression and, from the first look, it seems there is no solution/or even reduction without solving economic problems first. But economy is not the only problem for creating conditions for human trafficking. There is domestic human trafficking in the United States, for example, where runaway and homeless youth are often victims of sexual slavery.

This is true for Colorado, the state I currently reside in. Colorado is also both a destination and a transit for human trafficking, because it has the largest airport in the United States and two nationwide highways crossing each other. One way Colorado has tried to fight human trafficking is to punish with life imprisonment or death penalty for trafficking in children (it is the only state as of now to give capital punishment for this crime). The law is in effect just for several months, but I think tough laws and regulations are important.

Coming back to Armenian elections and social justice. I think civil society groups should drop the maximalist call for justice – because all they will get is a promise for “justice” – and initiate and request specific legislation promises (it seems this could be done through lobbying, but not in Armenia).

For example, an act to make t-announcements on flights between Armenia and direct trafficking destinations – such as Dubai/UAE – can be a possible legislation initiated by civil groups in a campaign – if there is any – to fight/stop human trafficking. (A campaign for severe punishment for traffickers could be of help, too.)

In November of 2006 I wrote of new direct flights between Yerevan (Armenia) and Sharja (United Arab Emirates) that will apparently make it easier for traffickers to “import” women and children from Armenia directly to UAE – the largest market of Armenian sex slaves – and enhance Armenia’s role as a transit country for human trafficking. On November 3, 2006, I sent an e-mail to Air Arabia – the operator of the flight – asking

Are you aware that most “travelers” to UAE from Armenia are women and children tricked and sold to sexual slavery (human trafficking)?

If yes, what steps are you taking to make sure you do not transfer trafficking victims?

I received a fast response from an Air Arabia representative arguing that not all passengers will be trafficking victims and that they can’t do anything about it:

Dear Mr.Simon, Thank you for writing to us. With reference to the same, Air Arabia going to start services to Yerevan from 16/11/2006.Further, as an airline, it is not possible to monitor the passengers who are entering to UAE and their intention. Once the whole travel documents are clear, we can not stop the passengers from their desired flight. Also there is a lot of genuine passengers are traveling in between these sectors. Thank you for your interest in Air Arabia With kind regards Princy Kurien

Air Arabia

So I thought a few days for a way to help Air Arabia to fight human trafficking. I wrote in my second letter:

Dear Princy,

I understand that Air Arabia has limited abilities of monitoring trafficking victims getting on the board; it must be done by the overall airport security.

I think we can all fight human trafficking by small actions. Will Air Arabia be willing to pass out brochures (or show a clip) in Armenian, Russian and English to all passengers in Yerevan onboard before the flight takes off to Sharja? The brochure will tell the passengers the brief present of human trafficking and will ask them to let an attendant know (anytime during the flight) that they have been tricked into trafficking. In this case, they will be returned to the security unit of the Yerevan airport.

I can have a non-profit organization to print those brochures for you. So you will not be spending a penny on this good cause.



The e-mail was never answered, and I was not too hopeful in an airline company to be interested in fighting human trafficking – a large portion of their passengers and, therefore, revenue.

So I sent e-mail to some of the few female parliamentarians in Armenia suggesting airplane announcement legislation with the hope that they might show more solidarity to slave women. I never got response from them.

Unfortunately, at this time I don’t live in Armenia and cannot lobby much for “t-announcements” on flights between Armenia and Dubai. But I think specific legislation requests and, thus, promises may be a better way for promoting justice, at least for several issues, in Armenia. And why not start with human trafficking?

Slavery: The Nice Solutions, and the Real Solutions

Another piece by Andy Turpin from tomorrow’s The Armenian Weekly.

WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—The anti-slavery film “Amazing Grace” opens this weekend. It tells the story of abolitionist leader William Wilberforce and his lifelong efforts that ended the British slave trade through the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807 (though it took strict enforcement by British officials throughout the 1830s before the slave trade was effectively curbed.) The film’s screenwriter is Stephen Knight, writer of “Dirty Pretty Things,” a story about illegal immigrant culture in Europe.

From a public relations perspective, “Amazing Grace” looks to be a thought provoking film and an adequate media send-off giving lip service to February as “Black History Month.” The producer of the film, Bristol Bay Productions, has also helped to disseminate information on the anti-slavery campaign, “The Amazing Change.” (For more information about this campaign, visit

Yet, the steps they list to fight modern-day slavery and human trafficking are limited to raising awareness, forming a discussion group, and donating to their campaign.

These are the nice solutions. These are the solutions you tell your elementary schooler. These are not the solutions, though, that save lives.

I burst this bubble not to be uncouth or condescending, but because the people who continue these acts today are virtual demons in human guise. And because these are major issues in Armenia and the Diaspora, in such places as Greece, France and Israel, not to mention every major U.S. city.

These problems aren’t hidden. They are, rather, problems that only law enforcement has jurisdiction over or enough brute force to handle.

Petitioning and letter writing are still valuable avenues to pursue, but let’s walk through the most pragmatic ways to approach the problem: Stay informed and concerned for these people. To not is to de-humanize them. We’re not speaking of “let my people go” situations. We’re speaking of dark places from the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Read Victor Malarek’s The Natashas for background, go to the Investigative Journalists of Armenia website at, then just check the archives of any Greek or Israeli newspaper to see how epidemic the problem is.

1. When it comes to lobbying, almost all countries have laws saying it is illegal to traffic humans or enslave them. Politicians aren’t the ones in charge of breaking down doors— law enforcement agents and peacekeeping soldiers are. Write to Interpol and American UN officers to search more transport vehicles at border checkpoints, and to ask women in these zones if they are in of need protection or are crossing borders of their own free will. (This seems basic, but not all officers are trained to do so.)

This request may not always prove successful due to scare tactics used on victims or their inability to speak the language of the officer, but observing such indicated fear or linguistic inability could be a tip-off to an agent.

Also, write your local customs office or port authority official and ask to increase the number of searched cargo containers. Many victims are smuggled into countries in this way. Ships often contain hundreds of containers, but increasing the requisite search number helps the odds of saving more people.

2. Though it may seem crass to assume that you may be seen in a “gentlemen’s club” of ill repute, such establishments are often fronts for sex slavery. If a dancer seems drugged or scared, ask them about it or discretely call the police. If it is a legitimate club, the dancers will most likely be registered with the proper authorities. If not, your call may help build evidence in a case against the traffickers.

3. As for making donations, “The Poppy Project” based out of London is a growing organization that specializes in therapy and safe harbor for victims of slavery and trafficking after they are cleared by law enforcement authorities.

What makes the fight against human trafficking and slavery so difficult is the passivity of governments, citizens, soldiers and law enforcement officers who, in most circumstances, are decent people.

To that end, especially if are traveling in Armenia, show vigilance towards potentially trafficked victims that may be Ukrainian or Russian. In Armenia, institutional corruption and cultural prejudices often hamper enforcement efforts.

Likewise, if traveling in Dubai or Israel specifically, be on the watch for Armenian women that may be victims.

These are not pleasant things to write about. However, apathy of good people in the presence of evil is tantamount to complicity. With concerted efforts, ground can be gained in this struggle against that which, more than a hundred years ago, curbed a similar hell on earth for people in slavery.

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