February 2016

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One year ago today, we were in Armenia with a group of bloggers including Anna Whiston-Donaldson, who inspired her readers to make sure that all of Aida and Vova’s children were sponsored!

A year later with World Vision’s partnership, see what’s different and new for this family of ten … and the challenges they’re still facing.

Exactly one year ago, as part of a team of World Vision bloggers, I headed to Armenia to experience cold weather poverty first-hand and see the work World Vision does to strengthen families and communities.

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By Jillian ‘JJ’ Janflone, Graduate Director

Too often forced marriage is framed as an issue of culture, socio-economic need, or religion. Yet forced marriage stretches far beyond these perimeters. Indeed, there are cases where forced marriage occurs as a result of government policy both creating the conditions under which brides must be imported, and for continuing legal policies that permit it.

Since the mid-1990s, the only practical method of escaping North Korea has been through China. Roughly 80% of those refugees have been “women and girls who have become ‘commodities for purchase.’”

Young women without the financial ability to bribe border guards often indebt themselves to smugglers or fall prey to human traffickers. An increasing demand for young, single, fertile women in male-heavy rural China has made North Korean women prime targets for human trafficking and forced marriage.

Since 1990, Chinese demographers have reported that more women than men have left Chinese villages in search of jobs in cities or industrial centers, due in part to factory owner’s preferences for female workers. This female shortage, coupled with the lack of women brought on by the one-child policy introduced in 1979, has left the Chinese countryside brimming with bachelors. Failing to marry and continue on the family line is a major sin in these rural areas where filial piety still reigns supreme.

The act of bride-buying, an old tradition legally ended under Mao, has seen a resurgence along with China’s growing economy. In many cases the buyers are farmers, poor laborers, mentally or physically disabled individuals, or people otherwise “unwanted” in the eyes of local Chinese women.

The United States Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Person’s estimated in 2012 that between 80 and 90 percent of North Korean migrants in China are actually the victims of human trafficking, with the great majority of those migrants engaged in sexual slavery. Women are coerced, tricked, or forced from the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) to China in a number of ways.

When women do voluntarily contact human traffickers, smugglers, or marriage brokers, neither they nor their families receive any of the funds derived from the bride price. Women are also picked up and trafficked to China via kidnapping.

As marriages between undocumented North Koreans and People’s Republic of China (PRC) citizens are not legally acceptable, women in these marriages are at constant risk of deportation. Their illegal status makes them further open to physical abuse or sexual exploitation. If identified as illegal immigrants, they will be repatriated to North Korea, where the crime of defection is punishable by death. Fearful of being arrested for harboring illegal immigrants sometimes trafficked women will be given up by their captors, forcing victims to choose between their abusers and possible death in North Korea.

North Korean brides also cannot participate in any Chinese civil processes, meaning they cannot register the births of their half-Chinese children, nor legally work. As such, these women—and their children—rely entirely on their husband. Fearful of being caught by PRC authorities, they have no access to health care or other forms of government assistance. Their only support networks outside of the home come from local Chinese, underground aid organizations, or Christian missionaries. All of this aid is illegal, making many women reluctant to reach out for assistance.

These North Korean victims are therefore harmed by two governments: their own DPRK, and the PRC. China does not recognize North Koreans as refugees despite their labeling as such by the UNHCR, and “prioritizes the bilateral agreement with North Korea over its international obligation of non-refoulement under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees to which it is a party.” The Chinese government offers no comment on the known number of North Korean women serving as forced brides in China.

Image via Roman Harak.


About the Human Trafficking Center

The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.

 

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In rural Honduras, our “Common Pot” program learns from families whose children are thriving and teaches those lessons to other families to help them better cook for and nourish their children!

Meet a family that helped bring World Vision to their community and see the transformative difference that better nutrition makes.

I learned about healthy eating from my mother, who learned both from her mother and from a variety of health-food books she read during her health-food heyday.

Those books and cooking classes were readily available to my mom, but what if you’re a mother living in rural western Honduras and you have maybe a 6th-grade education?

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The director of the Freeland Foundation on operations to save wildlife, studying personality types and getting funky.



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Note: This blog was originally published on the Free the Slaves website. You can find the original post here

By Rex Hamaker, Director of Marketing and Communications

When asked what he does for a living, Maurice Middleberg answers with a smile: “I free slaves.” Last week, he told students just how he does it, as a guest lecturer at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies’ Human Trafficking Center.

Long after the Emancipation Proclamation and an array of domestic andinternational laws criminalizing exploitive labor practices, an estimated 21 million people remain in slavery around the world, minus the over 10,000 Free the Slaves has liberated since 2000.

Middleberg described three main approaches to fighting human trafficking:

  • Groups like Verite seek to fight trafficking by exposing labor exploitation in corporate supply chains.
  • Others, like International Justice Mission, focus their efforts on increasingcriminal prosecutions to change the cost-benefit analysis to traffickers who benefit from this “low-risk, high profit” crime.
  • Free the Slaves focuses on community-building strategies. Even while freeing individual enslaved people, Middleberg noted that vulnerabilities to trafficking tend to be community-wide, and solutions for sustainableliberation must be rooted in communities.

With that in mind, Free the Slaves seeks to step-up its efforts by expanding the number of countries and communities it serves, strengthening the capacity of more local institutions, and building coalitions within and across borders.

With a staff of only around 25 people worldwide, this may seem like a daunting task, but Middleberg explained Free the Slaves partners with many local activists, and takes a long-term vision of capacity building that makes sure people who are freed have productive places in communities to which they can return.

The Human Trafficking Center is committed to using academic rigor and transparency, sound methodology, and reliable data to understand forced labor and human trafficking, so students took particular interest in Middleberg’s discussion of how Free the Slaves monitors and evaluates its projects. Having done the difficult and resource-intensive studies necessary to determine the prevalence of human trafficking at the individual level in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Free the Slaves has since shifted its focus to the community level. Middlberg described 16 standard indicators that measure things like institutional capacity and the efficacy of the local criminal justice system that can be improved to eradicate trafficking.

This exciting work should be a welcome complement to other approaches, and the results thus far show promise as the work of Free the Slaves scales up to bring increased action and not just awareness.

Photo Credit: Lise Ehlinger


About the Human Trafficking Center

The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.

 

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.