GAATW'S BULLETIN 4/98

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 28 May 1998 11:26:59 -0700 (PDT)


GAATW'S BULLETIN
April 1998
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CONTENTS
- Campaign against the Human Rights Violations of Thai Women
- News
- GAATW's activities update
- Meeting
- Networking
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CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OF THAI WOMEN BY THE THAI
EMBASSY AND CANADIAN GOVERNMENT

During September 1997, Canadian police in co-operation with the United
States police raided brothels in San Jose, California and Toronto, rescuing
more than 20 women from Thailand and Malaysia who were being forced to work
and live in debt-bondage.

The Canadian and U,S. police report that these trafficking networks are
linked to criminal organisations. This particular network recruited women
aged 16 to 30 from Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and sold the women
for up to 25,000 Canadian dollars (640,000 Baht). These women were smuggled
to were again re-sold to various sex establishments such as massage parlours
or brothers for 7,500-15,000 Canadian dollars (194,000-388,800 Baht).

The women were forced to work off their debt, and lived in slavery-like
conditions. They were not allowed to rest, were denied any access to health
services, and did not receive any wages. They were denied all freedoms.

Therefore, it was a big surprise when, rather than protecting their human
rights, the rescued women were charged by Canadian officials for doing sex
work and living in a bawdy house. During the arrest process, two women
confessed. These two women did not know their rights and had no assistance
during the arrest process. A Thai official from the Thai Embassy in Ottawa
told them to confess so that they could return to Thailand.

In early April, these two women returned to Thailand. The Thai Embassy in
Ottawa issue these women Certificates of Identity (C.I.). However, when
these women arrived in Bangkok, they were charged by Thai Immigration
officers because their C.I. stated that they had come to Canada with a false
passport.

The actions taken by the Canadian police violate the intentions of the
international community in their treatment of the women as criminals. In
addition, these actions violate international laws, such as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) which have been ratified by both Thailand and
Canada. Further, the actions taken by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa and the
Thai Immigration officers go against the Thai constitution principles of
respect for freedom and humanity of all persons.

We ask for urgent solidarity action for this case. Please write the Minister
of Foreign Affairs in Thailand demand him to take the following urgent action:

- To repeal all charges against these two women and to provide compensation
to the women for being confined and charged.
- To examine the operation of the officials involved from the Thai Embassy
in Ottawa and the Thai Consulate in Toronto.
- To set up standard rules for the treatment of Thai people in overseas
countries who are the victims of trafficking, slavery-like practices and
debt-bondage. These rules must respect the victims" human rights. In
addition, training should be provided to officials after the rules have been
established.
- To reimburse the amount of 1,665.32 Canadian dollars to the volunteers of
the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women for the food and
accommodations given to these women. The volunteers used this money based on
the recommendations of the Thai Embassy in Ottawa.
- To co-operate with the Canadian government and not press charges against
the women who did not confess and are still living in Canada awaiting trail.
These women should not be punished, but rather an effort should be made to
penalize the criminal network involved.

The attached protest letter can be used as an example. Thank you for your
support.
----------------------------------------------------
To : Minister of Foreign Affairs
Email: off0100@mserv.mfa.go.th
Fax: 662-226-1374
Date: 17 April 1998

Subject: "Project Orphan Case" and the work done by the Thai Embassy,
Ottawa, Canada

Dear Mr. Minister,

Regarding the Project Orphan Case in September 1997, Canadian police in
co-operation with the United States police raided brothels in San Jose,
California and Toronto, rescuing more than 20 women from Thailand and
Malaysia who were being forced to work and live in debt-bondage.

On April 1, 1998, two Thai women returned home with a Certificate of
Identity (C.I) issued by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa. After arriving at the
Bangkok Airport, they were arrested by immigration police due to a written
note by the Thai Embassy on their C.I. stating that they had immigrated to
Canada using a false passport.

We consider these two women to be victims of the organized crime of
trafficking in person. Traffic in persons is an international problem which
concerns many countries. The global community, the United Nations and the
European Union have all agreed that it is necessary to punish the organized
crime networks and not the victims themselves. The victims should be
protected and treated due to their human rights. Officials should not use
immigration laws to attack the victims, but rather should help these victims
to come back home safely. These intentions were agreed upon in the Beijing
Platform for Action and in many other important relevant international
documents.

Therefore, the Thai Embassy's note on the C.I. is an abuse of privacy
rights, and intended to discriminate against the women (to let them be
arrested). This work done by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa is against global
intentions and in effect penalizes the women.

Furthermore, if the Thai Embassy in Ottawa wanted to expand this case to
penalize the criminal network, they can do that by asking the women to be
witnesses against the real criminals.

Therefore, we ask you to take action immediately:

- To repeal all charges against these two women and to provide compensation
to the women for being confined and charged.
- To examine the operation of the officials involved from the Thai Embassy
in Ottawa and the Thai Consulate in Toronto.
- To set up standard rules for the treatment of Thai people in overseas
countries who are the victims of trafficking, slavery-like practices and
debt-bondage. These rules must respect the victims' human rights. In
addition, training should be provided to officials after the rules have been
established.
- To reimburse the amount of 1,665.32 Canadian dollars to the volunteers of
the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women for the food and
accommodations given to these women. The volunteers used this money based
on the recommendations of the Thai Embassy in Ottawa.
- To co-operate with the Canadian government and not press charges against
the women who did not confess and are still living in Canada awaiting trail.
These women should not be punished, but rather an effort should be made to
penalise the criminal network involved.

        
Sincerely,

-------------------------------------------------------

NEWS

*Ukraine Cracks Down on Sexual Slavery

[President of Ukraine Leonid] Kuchma on 13 April signed a law establishing
criminal responsibility for trade in human beings and for forcing women into
prostitution, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. The bill provides for prison
terms of up to 15 years for those guilty of sexually exploiting women.
According to Nina Karpachova, a parliamentary deputy who initiated the
legislation, many Ukrainian women seeking jobs abroad "are raped, beaten and
drugged" while being coerced into becoming prostitutes. Ukrainian
diplomatic sources report that some 3,000 Ukrainian women are involved in
prostitution in Greece and some 6,000 in Turkey.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, April 14,1998

*Myanmar tightens laws against prostitution

 Myanmar's military government has tightened the country's laws to curb the
growing prostitution trade, state media reported. The ruling State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) amended the Suppression of Prostitution Act,
1949, and raised the jail terms for those convicted of the offense to a
maximum of five years, the media said. Previously, the prison terms was
"not less than one year and not more than three years." Under the amended
law the term would rise to "not less that one year and not more than five
years."

Amendments to the law also redefine the term brothel to include any house,
building, rook, any kind of vehicle/vessel/aircraft or place habitually used
for the purpose of prostitution or used with reference to any kind of
business for the purpose of prostitution. The media said this was to cover
those who ran prostitution rackets in the guise of operation massage parlors
or beauty parlors in cities including Yangon. "It is therefore become
necessary to review the provisions of existing laws in order to protect
young women against being degenerated and prevent the spread of HIV virus
and AIDS threatening the world," the news report said.

Prostitution has become rife in many cities across the country since the
nation embarked on a path toward a market economy in late 1998. Some local
analysts attribute the increase in prostitution to the growth of tourism and
the worsening economy.

"The authorities seemed to have turned a blind eye to what was happening in
the hotel industry in the past," one analyst said. "I honestly believe it
appeared as a side effect of unscrupulously encouraging hotels and the
tourism sector," he said. "To make matters worse, unemployment and
inflation, both of which have been out of control, keeps forcing many young
women to fall easy prey to this illegal industry, which has been
traditionally frowned upon in our society," he added.

Reuters, April 7, 1998.

*UAE deports foreigners infected with HIV

The authorities in the United Arab Emirates say that over the past few
years, they have deported around six thousand foreign workers infected with
the AIDS virus. A senior health official told local newspapers that the
measure was in line with existing laws, and was part of a campaign to fight
the spread of the deadly disease.

He did not give details of the nationalities of those affected, but
correspondents point out that more foreigners in the country are Asians,
mostly from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

BBC World Service, March 27, 1998

*Sex trade action vow

An escalation in the number of Asian women working in Australian brothels
prompted the government yesterday to initiate a crackdown on organisers of
the burgeoning sex slave trade.

"We need legislation that targets the traffickers that recruit, organise and
profit from those engaged in prostitution in slave-like conditions," Justice
Minister Amanda Vanstone said in a background paper.

She said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of mostly Asian
women working, in virtual slavery, in legal and illegal brothels, often
lured to Australia on the pretence of gaining legitimate jobs.

Existing laws had proven ineffective in curbing the trade, she said.

Immigration department figures showed 54 people were deported for working
illegally in brothels in 1996-97. In the seven months to January, 67 were
deported for the same offence.

The issue is to be discussed on Friday at a meeting of attorneys general in
Perth.

Mrs Vanstone said the movement of women was arranged by international crime
syndicates, some with links to the drug trade.

She said the trade was highly organised and used sophisticated international
networks of procurers, document forgers and providers, escorts, organisers,
financiers, corrupt officials and brothel operators.

Organisers exploit women by demanding repayment of debts as high as A$50,000
(1.5 million baht) supposedly incurred in organising their travel, using the
debt to coerce the women into prostitution.

Some women had to service 500 men to clear their debt. - AFP.

Bangkok Post, Aril 15, 1998.

GAATW'S ACTIVITIES UPDATE

*Documentation Centre

GAATW would like to expand its services and networking with our members and
friends via email and the internet. One of the ways we would like to do
this is by sending information and updates through e-mail. However, we have
very few e-mail addresses of our members and friends. So, please send yours
to us today! And check out our website for current information about
GAATW's activities and campaigns.

*Training

On 27-31 March 1998, GAAT organizes a Facilitators' Training, as part of the
preparation for the National Training Project of GAATW. The National
Training Project aims to provide support and strengthen efforts in building
the capacity of local organizations' skills and knowledge in dealing with
trafficked women in eight Southeast Asian countries. During the five day
training, 16 women activists and organizers came together to learn and
discuss modules, tools and skills in developing the content of the national
training. The training would not have been a fruitful experience without
the enthusiasm and involvement of the participants. Special thanks to the
trainers, Mr. Bert Cacayan, Ms. Rangsima Limpisawas and Ms, Chanida Bamford
whose skills and experiences in conducting training workshops have provided
a living sample to both the participants and the organizer on how a good
training should be.

The trainers and the trainees have made training a real enjoyment and
learning experience for everyone! Upon their return, participants started
to plan for their national training project in which 20 grassroots women
organizers from different organizations will be attending in each country.
Echo-training or follow-up action will be expected as an outcome of these
activities. GAATW is eagerly awaiting to work with our partners in each
country.

*The Research Action Project on TIW in the Mekong Region

The implementing agencies for the RA Project in Vietnam, namely the Youth
Research Institute and the Women's Union of Ho Chi Minh City, co-organised a
national meeting in Hanoi during March 10-11 to disseminate findings from
the field research. Recommendations were made to step up co-ordination
among different governmental agencies in Vietnam on the issue of traffic in
women. Clear directions and measures on the issue at the national level are
also needed.

Training for the researchers in preparation for the action phase was also
held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City during March 12-24. The researchers
learned different tools and methods for developing projects and initiating
activities with concerned women in a participatory way.

The RA project was started in January 1997 and will continued until the end
of 1998.

MEETING

IIAV Know-How Conference

The International Information Centre and Archives for the Women's Movement
(IIAV) will organize and host the next international conference on women's
information, known as the Know-How conference on the World of Women's
Information. It will be held in August in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For
more information, contact IIAV at e-mail: secr@iiav.nl; or fax: 020-665-5812.

Source: Isis-WICCE Communique, November 1997-April 98, No.3

NETWORKING

ANIMUS ASSOCIATION - The Animus Association (AA) is a non-governmental
organization of women with helping professions such as [psychologists,
psychiatrists, medical doctors, and social workers. The name of the
Association comes from K.G. Jung's terminology: Animus is the source of the
problems in the personal world of women and also the creative power to sole
them.

Animus aims to: work for women's intellectual, professional and personal
development; work for the improvement of women's status in society;
stimulate changes in Bulgarian society and family; develop projects to
support women and children; and to mediate between government institutions
and NGOS to coordinate efforts on the problems of violence against women.

AA's priorities consist of direct work and support to women victims of
violence. Current care programmes being implemented include a programme for
women victims of domestic violence, a programme for women victims of sexual
violence, and a programme for women survivors of trafficking and forced
prostitution. AA also runs a help-line for women victims of violence.
Between March 1997-March 1998, AA implemented the first "Bulgarian Project
Against Trafficking in Women," This project was a preparatory step to a
broad programme for help and support to women victims o trafficking.
Information was gathered on the situation of traffic in women in Bulgaria,
relevant institutions and organizations to network with in Bulgaria and on
an international level, and staff training to deal with the specific
problems concerning traffic in women. Since June 1997 AA has also been
working directly with women survivors of trafficking.

Future projects concerning traffic in women include a three-year La Strada
III programme for the prevention of traffic in women, starting in June 1998.
This programme will focus on a prevention and education campaign, a press
and lobbying campaign, and victim support. In addition, AA will further
develop its activities working with women victims of trafficking, including
a counseling programme, a social programme, a 24 hour help-line, and a
crisis intervention programme.

For more information, contact Animus Association, 1408 Sofia, PO Box 97,
Bulgaria; e-mail: Bulgaria; e-mail: animus@mbox.cit.bgl or animus@ttm.bg; tel/fax:
359-2-981-6740.

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