Let’s talk about an aspect of trafficking you may not have heard about. First, I should tell you some people have been pretty harsh with me about the way I say that the Albanian mafia and all those other horrible traffickers might be our heroes in the future. I say that because the Underground Railroad provided illegal help to runaway slaves, but they are heroes today. The same for European partisans who broke laws to help Jews escape Nazi Germany. I need to defend those statements, but “how!” you might say!
Here’s one way – –
Trafficked people are heroes too.
We need to talk about some of those trafficked people. Please understand that all trafficked people are not underage girls kidnapped, beaten, and forced to be prostitutes as some blogs want you to believe. Those are very rare, and don’t let anyone tell you that isn’t true. Blogs will also tell you that trafficking victims are laborers held in slave-like conditions. Again, also very rare in the grander scope of things. Trafficking is defined by acts of force, deception or coercion, but if a person wants to go somewhere to take a job knowing it won’t be easy work, then that definition is not met.
Millions of people are held in slave-like conditions, but trafficking them is rare. People interested in ending all slave-like working conditions can get very irritated with anti-trafficking zealots who piggy back their issue onto the back of slavery. These are not the same issue.
Lets talk refugees – – refugees are heroes too
Slavery often implies that people are forced to work in some way. Let’s talk about a kind of slavery where people are forced NOT to work. What if you were trapped, not in a trafficked situation, but instead you are trapped in the far more common situation of being in a refugee camp? Trafficking is illegal. People in a true trafficked situation can organize together, walk out the door, and expect to get help from most police. Trafficking, real or not, is even a situation where people are standing in line hoping to rescue you whether you want to be rescued or not.
A refugee camp is different – – refugees are heroes in a a different way – – simple survival
You will be taken somewhere, behind fences, for your protection. Some one else, usually a government body or charity, will provide food and maybe medical care. Someone else will try to “place” you in a new location, but only after a long wait. You will go to whichever country will accept you. And you have no say in it. Most likely no jobs are available to you while you waste away whatever marketable skills you may have while waiting, waiting, waiting for whatever someone else decides for you.
For me some of my worst experiences as I held normal jobs were those times when I was not busy and had to wait for the next assignment. I would go nuts in a refugee camp. How ‘bout you? In the vernacular, life in a refugee camp sucks! It could easily be called slavery too. If you are in a refugee camp you can’t just go where ever you want because people are “protecting” you. Right!
In come the traffickers – –
A trafficker might be able to take you where you want to go, get you a job of some kind, and do it as fast as you are will to pay. Maybe it works out and maybe not. But it is action, and even a touch of adventure – an escape! How can that kind of trafficker be bad? I want to make a movie where I am the star. I will buy a big truck, break through the fences and take away refugees who run to my truck – like a prison break, which is what it is. I will be a trafficker. Of course I will be the hero of that movie.
I will be the movie star, Call me Sylvester!
For me not only do those horrible maligned traffickers have great potential to be the heroes of tomorrow’s history books, but so do the trafficked people. The song “Eye of the Tiger” from the Rocky movies comes to mind. It is those people with that “eye of the tiger,” a fire in their belly, who will do whatever they must even if it means to be trafficked. They will be heroes to their family and leaders of their communities of the future. They might are our heroes too. And, while editing, I have to wipe a tear from my eye just thinking of the way this could be in real life for many refugees, the smartest, most skilled refugees. The ones with the eye of the tiger! We need those people, but we put them in jail like conditions.
Think 9 billion people, not just 7.3 billion – –
In 2050 when the population is up to 9 billion people and the world looks like a scene from Blade Runner, or some other dreary, highly unequal sci-fi world. That imagery of traffickers helping refugees in camps could be a movies not unlike the Bridge over the River Kwai or The Great Escape. I get to be like Steve McQueen, the first Steve McQueen, not the movie director! My electric motorcycle will jump the fence as I lead the escape from the world’s biggest refugee camp.
Currently there are millions of refugees around the world due to wars mostly, but also famine, political unrest, religious strife, and more. I recently read that the American city of Detroit had over 220,000 jobs in the auto industry not so long ago and now less than 25,000 remain. In a way, while not in a refugee camp, these kinds of displaced workers are in similar circumstance too. Where do they go? What risks are they willing to take?
Many people are temporary refugees and may return to their homes in a reasonable period. Some refugees lose everything even their will to survive. They lose that “eye of the tiger” they might have once had. Those refugees are heroes we have lost!
Here are a few examples for you to consider:
Nepal. In my local Bangkok Post there was an amazing story by Eric Randolph about refugees from several countries including Myanmar, Pakistan, and others who are trapped in Nepal. Nepal was kind enough to take them in to please the UN Refugee Convention, but Nepal is not the good guy in this story. The refugees were only given a 30 day tourist visa and now they are charged $5 a day for overstaying that visa. Some, with families, have accrued fines as much as $100,000 while they have waited, waited, waited for a place where the UN Refugee Convention can place them.
The article gave examples of people who have permission to settle permanently in the United States. But they are not allowed to go because they owe Nepal those huge fees for overstaying their visas. The irony is that, as refugees, they are not allowed to work. They are stuck in Nepal with a penalty that continues to grow. They have no way to pay their overstay fines. I suspect Nepal is waiting for America or the UN to pay those fines or else to take every last penny the refugees may have been able to take when they abandoned their homes. And who is the horrible trafficker in this case?
If this were me – if I could find a way to pay a trafficker, or do some work (any work), or set up an indentured obligation to pay a trafficker (indentured slavery?) – I would jump at the chance, even if the risk is great. How ‘bout you? What would you agree to do for your family to get out of a refugee camp and be welcomed into America?
France. Again in my favorite paper, the Bangkok Post, there was an article on May 7, 2014 with the title “Remembering French rout in Vietnam.” The story is about the way the battle of Dien Bien Phu played out leading to the French abandoning their colonization of Vietnam. The end of the story told me that, after the famous battle, about 5,000 Vietnamese who fought with the French and their families were brought to France. By today’s standards 5,000 is a small number. Refugee camps were provided for these Vietnamese. One camp housed 1,160 people including 740 children. Families were given 60 sq meter apartments in former military barracks regardless of the size of the family. This was in 1956.
The point of this story is that now, 58 years later, about 100 Vietnamese refugees still live in that camp. After 58 years! At the beginning the people were badly treated, called Dirty Chinks and worse. The refugee camp became their home, their refuge.
I want to ask this: were they forced to stay in the camp, did they fail to assimilate to French culture, or did the camp life put out the fire in their belly to go out and they had no energy to escape that life.
We can also ask if an honest trafficker – grant it with a goal to make money – could have moved these people – yes illegally – to a place where Vietnamese were more welcome, where their skills were needed? We know where to find 100 Vietnamese whom we can ask those questions. Not all refugees are heroes in the same way.
Philippines. Elsewhere I write at length about two Swedish men who are serving life in prison in the Philippines for installing cybersex hardware (they are computer technicians) and had a role in operating a cyber sex business. They were arrested in 2009 although cybersex did not become illegal until 2012. Their technicality is that they were charged with trafficking, in this case due to forcing a single woman who claimed to do this cybersex work.
Deeper into the internet you can find some back-story to this horrible injustice. One story quoted police sources as saying that all the women were over 18. Another story reported anti-trafficking zealots as saying some were under 18 years old. One story said that one woman, out of 17, claimed she was forced to strip in front of a camera. But she was considered to be a plant by extreme feminist zealots. And please note that while prostitution is rife in the Philippines, cybersex paid well enough to offer a better alternative and no actual sex act has ever been accomplished on the internet.
The Swedish men lost their last appeal. We know where to find them for the rest of their lives.
Another follow up story reported that all the women found doing this work were taken to a “rehabilitation center” to “help” them. After some days being held in jail-like conditions and being told they were “rescued”, the women attacked their guards, broke out of this “rehabilitation center,” and went home. In some cases they returned to their normal sex work as prostitutes. Cyber sex can improve the lives of Philippine sex workers, but not if they keep being “rescued.”
Those women had a fire in their belly, the eye of the tiger to get out of jail and get on with their lives. I don’t know what you think, but I respect them. I respect them a lot. Send these women to a refugee camp and they will lead the escape. Angeline Jolie can star in that movie.
The women who were “rescued” and others have organized a FaceBook page in support of rescuing the two Swedish men – Solarno & Sederholm and the three Filipinos. It is – –
Also known as “Release the Five” this is one of the biggest injustices of many injustices resulting from use of trafficking laws as the way for feminist extremists and America’s religious right to attack prostitution or what they think is prostitution.
But enough examples. I think, if you consider these things, you will start to see this issue of trafficking in a different way.
When we consider these examples, we have to ask ourselves if the entire situation is worse because of demonizing of traffickers by the United States and their trafficking in persons (TIP) program.
The risk to traffickers, whether wearing a white hat or a black hat, has sky rocketed into an issue all countries must address to please misconceptions of the United States.
Where America stands on this – –
New trafficking laws also become the fences of the future which keep the outcasts, the homeless, the refugees, the unskilled, and the desperate in their place. And, if their place is a refugee camp, traffickers might be their best hope.
My latest study shows trafficking thought, mostly referring to what academics describe and research, as taking three branches. The American government position is called the criminal justice approach to rtafficking. The jailing for life of Swedes Solorno and Sederholm and another Australian for life, Terence Smith the next year and examples of a criminal justice approach to trafficking. There is also an abolitionist approach which see slavery every where they look. And, as I learned about this, I realized I am firmly in the demographic camp as I believe trafficking is a marketing function resulting from over population and loss of semi or unskilled jobs. I will be talking about this later.
Hey, but what do I know? I’m just thinking out loud because I want you to think about it in this way too. Up to you! When you are done thinking maybe you can say something about this point of view to your Congressional representative so they too can think a little deeper about it too.
Twenty or fifty years from now, America does NOT need to be known by most of the world as a thug. Americas can be the hero too with a longer look at the factors at play that America is now throwing under the trafficking laws umbrella. Trafficking is a serious symptom of a migration issue and America needs to set aside their prejudices and start to look at it that way.