I like Nicholas Kristof, I don’t know him, of course, but I like him. I like the New York Times too. How can the NYT be bad when they have one of my heroes, Paul Krugman, working for them.
But I consider myself to be a trafficking realist, willing to set aside concern about a minority of young women or male workers forced to do an undesirable job. First I am in favor of proper concern for a good US foreign policy.
Second, I believe anyone in a retention camp or prison are likely to be true victims of new trafficking laws and our policies are putting them there.
Of course I will explain
Nicholas Kristof has created his own trafficking conundrum this week. He has written an article about the sad situation in Myanmar concentration camps with no consideration for the evil of the camps themselves. Bring in those doctors, he says.
Kristof talks of apartheid. I say he has a trafficking conundrum when he worries about sexually abused Cambodian girls in one article, but has no respect for the real rescuers of the Rohingya Muslims in the next article.
Mr Kristof, and the Myanmar government too I suppose, use the expression “internment camps.” I suggest that “internment” is interchangeable with “refugee” camps, “concentration” camps, and even “prisons.” A word is a word but it is all the same. It is a loss of freedom, but of course it isn’t slavery because the government is doing it and they don’t expect people to work. There is nothing for a refugee to do and that’s the problem.
The Rohingya not only have no medical care, they also don’t have lots of other services and freedoms they used to have before they were attacked and then isolated. I wonder which is worse, the chance of further attacks or being in an interment camp?
Mr Kristof has a conundrum on his hands in my opinion because he is very out spoken against sex trafficking. He is strongly out there as a person attacking trafficking. He is wrong on that but he has picked his side.
But one real hope that Rohingya people have is the efforts Thai people are making to rescue them. I happen to live in Thailand and here there are stories on a regular basis about Thai military men and Thai elected officials near the border who are helping Rohingya people – and Karen refugees too – escape those same refugee camps and make it over the border where a job waits for them. Thai unemployment is less than one percent. Some industries are desperate for more workers. Maybe those people, those traffickers, are getting money for doing that, but there is risk and many have been arrested. They deserve a reward. I suggest the real heroes are the traffickers in this case.
When Thai officials arrest them, and I see that in the newspaper, for me it is evidence of Thailand’s desperate need to please the United States TIP program so Thai tourism won’t be put in impacted.
Mr Kristof is ready to tell the same sad stories that every other blogger, except this one, tells about children being raped. But he asks the wrong government to do something to get medical support to the Rohingya. Like most countries around the world (not including the USA quite yet) there is universal healthcare in Myanmar, but the Rohingya are in a concentration camp. If they were not in a camp they are likely to have medical care available again within their own community.
It is time to make demands of the Myanmar government to safely resettle the Rohingya and not just lock this minority away in a prison camp. Does Myanmar think it has solved their Rohingya problem by isolating them in a camp?
As a side bar I will talk elsewhere about trafficking as an issue is all about an imbalance of jobs. All the nationalistic and prejudicial issues people share, as well as American foreign policy, prevent real progress on trafficking. The key is allowing reasonable globalization of labor as we have already done with capital and technology.
The problem is not the lack of medical care, it is the camps themselves.
Mr Kristof’s trafficking conundrum is to decide whether trafficking is a horrible scourge under every circumstance or whether there are times the people who are trafficked – let’s say helped – are indeed getting exactly what they want and need from traffickers, even if it is provided illegally. How desperate are the Rohingya people, and the Karen people and many other people in refugee camps around the world? Are traffickers offering a very realistic, altruistic service, even if it has a price?
Are those military men, cross border neighbors, and village elders in Thailand who are being arrested for trafficking all just thugs all the time?! Why can’t all these people wear either black hats or white hats so we know the bad guys and the good guys.
I will say over and over in this blog that trafficking laws are early efforts to keep poor people, desperate people in their place. Good people are not thinking about it that way, but that is what it is! This is a very good example.
Late breaking news:
Nicholas Kristof’s recent claim to fame is his interest in claims of abusive trafficking in Cambodia. Unfortunately those claims fall flat when it seems clear his most sensational story is largely false, at least that is the explanation here in this expose of the false claims of Somaly Mam. Mr Kristof’s story also appears to be exaggerated for his benefit and for the fund his endorsement can bring in – – read more here.
Kristof believed the wrong person, as so many others did, because they all wanted to believe the over blown, out of balance coverage of such an entertaining story which includes sex, children, abuse, and gangs. Sorry Kristof you are completely wrong on this important issue. You will be remembered when we all realize we are living in a stratified, feudal world Philip K. Dick predicted in his novels.