Curse of Human Bondage Still Exists

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human trafficking

People need to learn about human trafficking in its entirety and realize that treating people in a degrading manner and oppressing them is slavery in disguise.

NAWAR FAKHRY EZZI

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Academy Award winning movie, Twelve Years a Slave, which is based on a true story, depicts the suffering of slaves in America in the 19th century. Solomon Northup, who is the main character of the movie, was kidnapped from his hometown where he was a free man to be sold into slavery.

Sadly, Solomon’s story can still be told around 200 years later by Fatima, Ahmed, Alejandro, Veronica and many others whose poverty and despair made them easy targets for an ongoing worldwide human trade.

Although slavery has been legally abolished, it still exists, but is better known now as “human trafficking.” It was not officially recognized internationally until 2000 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Almost all countries in the world are involved in human trafficking either by being the country of origin, transit, or the destination. Saudi Arabia is considered mainly a destination country. Criminal gangs who come from all over the world kidnap children, in particular, who are mostly from Yemen, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and Chad to exploit them as beggars in Saudi Arabia. Occasionally, they also amputate one of the children’s limbs to gain the sympathy of as many people as they can, which increases their financial gain.

These gangs also exploit the need of many men and women who want to escape from poverty and their war-stricken countries for a a better future only to find themselves sold for labor or less frequently to prostitution.

In 2009, Saudi Arabia formed an anti-human trafficking law, which called for tough punishments for people involved in human trafficking. According to the law, human trafficking includes, “holding a person under control for sexual abuse, forced labor, involuntary begging, slavery or slavery-like practices and enforced organ removal or medical experimentation.”

Despite the passage of this law, the Kingdom has still lots more to do to prevent human trafficking. One of the main reasons lies in the sponsorship system, in which the sponsor has absolute power over expatriates, enabling corrupt people to commit violations of human rights. Some of these violations include holding people against their will in the country, making employees work long hours without compensations, or withholding wages altogether.

Those who escape from their workers as a result of being abused or for other reasons without notifying the authorities contribute to the problem of illegal expatriates in Saudi society. Those who escape are also more likely to be victims of human trafficking.

This could indicate that the sponsorship system, illegal workers, and human trafficking create a vicious cycle in Saudi Arabia that cannot be broken unless we amend the sponsorship system among other things. The goal would be to protect employees as well as employers in order to prevent human trafficking and to facilitate protecting its victims.

Increasing social awareness is essential of course on this matter. People need to learn about human trafficking in its entirety and realize that treating people in a degrading manner and oppressing them is slavery in disguise. Expatriates come to Saudi Arabia in hopes for a better life. They should be free to choose their employers and to have the freedom any other person has without the fear of being deported or not getting paid.

To combat human trafficking in Saudi Arabia, beggars in the streets should be controlled. One of the ways to control them is to stop giving them money. Kind people who give children money should realize that they are further empowering the trade of humans and supporting those who ripped these children away from their homes and are inflicting all kinds of abuse on them. Providing shelters for these children and international cooperation is needed to rescue and protect them.

Slavery has been an infamy in human history, which existed all over the world, and sadly still exists until today. At least, then the cruelties of slavery were obvious to everyone and many brave people fought until it was abolished, but now it is more difficult to recognize. Although formation of laws is important, social changes do not necessarily have to start by changing laws.

Alternatively, small changes on an individual level can transform a society, which might lead to changing the laws. Human trafficking will not end overnight and it will need cooperation from all over the world to just control it. However, if we at least do not promote it, many lives will be saved.–Courtesy Arab News

All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

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