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This blog is dedicated to women from Sri lanka and Ethiopia working as domestic workers in Beirut, Lebano
n. These women take upon themselves great voyages to foreign countries in the hope of a better future. Their courage and endurance is outstanding.

As time passes, the issues covered in this blog have expanded to cover other kinds of specific women's work like sex work, historical ways of describing the plight of women: white slavery, human traffic or modern slavery as well identitarian politics and gender...

If you want to contact us: minainbeirut[at]hotmail[dot]com



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6 juin 2007 3 06 /06 /juin /2007 15:01

Lately, I am getting more and more confused about the concept of human traffic as applied to women migrating to work. What is the difference between human traffic and smuggling? What is the difference between human traffic and abusive work conditions or work scams? Is every woman who wants to migrate a victim of human trafficking? I'm not sure I am able to answer these questions, but let's go step by step:

The definition of human traffic

As always, the authoritative definition in these cases can be found by taking a look into a UN protocol.

Art. 3  of the UN-Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime  (Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000) defines trafficking in persons as follows:

 "Trafficking in persons" shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;

My first question relates of course to the title: "especially women and children" Because they are more often victims? Because they are  defenceless? Because we are being paternalistic?

It cannot be affirmed with any degree of certainty whether more men or women fall victim to trafficking. What can probably be said is that worldwide more women and children become victims of trafficking, although this may not be true of particular regions and countries, where young men and boys are often trafficked into bonded labour or as child soldiers.

IOM, 2007: The IOM handbook on the Direct Assistance to Victims of Trafficking.

Take a look at this picture I took in the Parisian underground in 2005 on a national campaign on human trafficking showing a naked woman.

If anybody has any doubt about the social construction of  a gender identity of this victim- object then...


  take a look at this description:

From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities, people - especially women and girls - are attracted by the prospect of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker. Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertisements, mail-order bride catalogues and casual acquaintances.

Upon arrival at their destination, victims are placed in conditions controlled by traffickers while they are exploited to earn illicit revenues. Many are physically confined, their travel or identity documents are taken away and they or their families are threatened if they do not cooperate. Women and girls forced to work as prostitutes are blackmailed by the threat that traffickers will tell their families. Trafficked children are dependent on their traffickers for food, shelter and other basic necessities. Traffickers also play on victims' fears that authorities in a foreign country will prosecute or deport them if they ask for help.

from: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime website

So we have one of these perfect victim images: young, female and exotic,  with a lot of sex and violence involved...

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