The Islamic Da’wah exhibits Islam as being peaceful and compassionate, in order to delude the infidels and to pave the way for their march to subdue the World.
Moreover, Muslim propagators assert, without hesitation and with high impudence, that Islam is the source of most aspects of Western modernism, and that the values and practices of Islam are the origin of human freedoms and civil rights.
To the consumption of ignorant Western audience, a huge amount of literature has been published under the rubric “democracy in Islam” mostly in English, with the following assertions: a) Islam and democracy are fully compatible; b) Islam has all the ingredients of modern polity and society; c) Islamic values are in fact the source of the democratic perceptions.
The problem begins with the fact that religion, perhaps any religion, is opposed to democratic values, by its own conceptions and principles. It is because the sources of commandment are from divine entity, while in democracy the source is the people, man-made laws, and sovereignty. Any debate on the connection between the two, religion and democracy, is seemingly artificial and may leads to a dead end. However, the astonishing fact is that more than all other religions, Islam is so far away, like between heaven and earth, from democracy. However, Islamic propagandists strive so hard to prove that Islam contains all democratic values from itself.
Why these efforts? The answer belongs to the Da’wah, propagation, realm, as to prove that Islam is the best and perfect religion. According to this, Islam and democracy are compatible, based on following: a) all individuals in the Islamic political system are sovereign, equal before the law, with full civil rights bestowed upon. b) Islam recognizes equality between all people – Muslims and non-Muslims, white over black, man or women. c) Islam does not accept dictatorship system or monarchy but democratic rule. The citizens’ opinion is decisive in formation of government and decision-making process. d) Islam was the first institution ever to advocate and to implement human rights as universal equality to all people. In fact, Islam has promoted the universality of freedoms over 1300 years before UN’s “Bill of Rights.” e) All forms of acts of violence are forbidden. “Jihad” as an aggression against innocent people is terror and by that and a distortion to Islamic law. f) Islam set an unprecedented standard for the ethics of dealing with captured enemies. They treated prisoners of war in a manner that has yet to be imitated in history by others. g) It is categorically forbidden to capture a free person and make him a slave. Slavery is forbidden. Islamic ethics places utmost importance on preservation of human life and dignity. h) In time of war, Islam decreed humane rules of war many centuries before such ideas were put into conventions in the West.
It is suggested to Western readers not to laugh and ridicule while reading this list, even it is hard. Each and every clause of these eight, if examined and analyzed by the three suggested criteria of investigation — Islamic Scriptures; Islamic history, and contemporary Islamic politics — fully reveals how grotesque and meaningless they are.
Moreover, in the influential Muslim internet site, “Islam-on-line,” Muslim exegetes claim that Islamic democracy is fully compatible with Islam, while bringing reference from the Qur’an. However, the verses and practices quoted, absolutely do not refer to the objectives referred to. This is another proof how all these clauses are fabricated, twisted, and non-existent in Islamic reality.
The claim that Abu Bakr and his three successors, the four rightly guided caliphs (al-Khulafa’ al-Rashidun) were chosen in a fashion that reflected popular consent and by the people, is misleading and full of lies. For Muslims, including the Salafiyah groups, this era constitutes an ideal type in the Islamic political history. However, the reality is quite different. All the four caliphs were not elected but imposed on the community of the believers, rather they were nominated by small group from among the elders of the tribe; all of them did not receive the legitimacy of the others among the “political elite”, caused social schism, personal rivalry and political instability; three of the four Caliphs were murdered brutally, and witnessed civil wars. One can find anything in this era but certainly not democracy, freedoms, participation, and sovereignty.
How democracy is compatible with the Qur’an? Islamic propagators use four assertions: a) Shurah (consultation) as if it functions in Islam as a parliamentary Western Political system. b) Ijma’ (consensus) of the Islamic community, as if there is in Islam social and political pluralism based on majority rule. c) Ijtihad (innovative interpretation), as if there is readiness in Islam to absorb and integrate opposing values and conceptions. d) Hakmiyah (sovereignty), as if it expresses political participation of the people in the decision-making process.
However, these, all of them, are false fraud claims and without any substantiation or corroboration: Shurah refers in Islam only to the old tribal system of an advisory council of the elders, which include very scant elders or later on counselors. It has nothing to do with Western perceptions, Western democratic values, and there is not even one example in Arab and Muslim history and contemporary politics that in practice validate this claim. Ijma’ is again the tribal framework made up of the elders of the tribe, the ‘council of the wise men’, and only their voice is binding and for the decision-making processes.
Ijtihad shows by itself how the Islamic pretense is fraudulent. The fact is that the gates of Islamic Sunni innovative interpretations were closed in late eleventh century, due to the conviction that there is nothing outside Islam that is unknown and there is not a thing or set of conceptions that is worthy to be included in Islam from the beginning of history to the end of the world. Hakmiyah does not belong to the people but to Allah alone and dictated only by him. There is no and never have been political pluralism and participation in Islam. There is no other sovereignty on earth other than Allah and the rulers who imposed their rule on the subordinate people.
Western scholars who support the Islamic fraud claims, like the Esposito’s school of Georgetown, operate in three strategies: they exhibit claims and arguments without any scientific proofs or by quoting verses totally unrelated to the truth. They operate their elusive claims by declaring there are different kinds of democracy. There can also be a religious democracy, and Islam is the embodiment of spiritual democracy. At the same time, they accuse the West of being the cause for the lack of democracy in Islam, by preferring Muslim authoritarian rule as a means to continuing Western presence.
Amos Perlmutter calls the ‘Esposito School’ naïve, as harboring illusions originating in ignorance and lack of knowledge about Islam. The issue is not adjusting Islam to the values of representative democracy and human rights, but learning the true nature of Islam which is anti-democratic and anti-liberalism. Islam and democracy are incompatible, unless we decide to call everything and any form of government a democracy. If Marxist-Leninist Communism in the Soviet style could be called “popular democracy”, why not call Islam “religious democracy”?
The reality is that Arab-Islamic history and contemporary politics clearly shows: There is anything Islam but not democratic liberal processes; there were no sovereign states led by electorate people; there were never a civic society, citizen’s rights and freedoms. What is found are authoritarian regimes and patrimonial leadership, which was always the prerogative of the ruling elite, and the people have never been the electing and the sovereign. And that social misery and economic wretchedness are the dominant in Islamic politics, and not openness and freedoms.
Let’s define and analyze how democracy is defined and characterized, and what are its basic components. There are several types of democracy with two most important phenomena:
First, the centrality of the political institutions and the intensity of their influence, with a separation of powers, the functioning of branches of government as an array of checks and balances and their accountability and transparency. Sovereignty belongs to the electors alone, and the legitimacy of government flows from the existence of laws for the sake of the citizens. Power is decentralized, and the leader is less important than the political institutions.
Second, the central realm is the rights and liberties of the individuals with large political tolerance and pluralism of ideas and roles. There are many functional sub-systems with vital influence over governmental decisions and functioning. Political mobility is high, based on equality of opportunity and achievement, while maintaining a free market of information. The power of the bureaucracy is limited and the police operates as a serving body for the public and not a coercive tool of the government.
There are seven features that are the most important to understanding democracy: The individual freedoms and civil liberties; the rule of the law above all; sovereignty and citizenship belong to the people and are empowered by the people; the absolute equality of all citizens before the law; vertical and horizontal accountability of all the ruling systems; responsiveness, eligibility; transparency of the ruling systems to the demands of the citizens; mobility, political participation and equality of opportunities of the citizens.
When compares to Western democracy, Islam is characterized by the following:
In Islam the believer acts out of a commitment of faith and absoluteness, whereas in democracy the source of conduct is rationality, pluralism, choice and judgment.
In Islam the source of authority, sovereignty, and the rule of law are Allah’s alone. Everything stems from Allah and the will of Allah, while in democracy man is at the focus, logic is at the center, and political power meant to serve his security and needs.
In Islam there is only one legitimate party, the Party of God (Hizbullah), and all the rest are the parties of Satan. The party does not represent man’s freedoms, expression, participation, or self-organization, but demands joint action in favor of the Ummah in accord with Shari’ah. There is no legitimate opposition.
The ideology of all the Islamic movements is totalitarian religious dictatorship, governmental tyranny and political suppression without any civil and individual freedoms, and therefore, democracy is conceptualized as a kind of Shirk, associating other deities with Allah.
Civil democratic society is based on pluralism, bargaining, lack of uniformity and even lack of rigid order. In contrast, Muslim political tradition fears anarchy and disorder, and therefore, not any government is preferable to no government, but the government is oppressive and coercive. This leads to a total submission of the people.
Contrary to Qur’anic teachings, no egalitarianism exists between the leader and the subject, between men and women, between Arab and non-Arab, even between parts of society (center-periphery; city-village).
Perhaps the best example is in the words of Sayyed Qutb: Western values pose a critical threat to Islam, since in the West, man is at the center and logic is at focus, while in Islam Allah is at the center, and submission to Allah is the focus. In Islam, the source of authority, sovereignty, and the rule of law is divine, Allah’s alone. In Islam, the believer acts out of a commitment of faith and absoluteness. Islam does not represent man’s freedoms, participation, self-organization, but demands joint action in favor of the Ummah and in accord with the Shari’ah. The Islamic state must be based on the Qur’anic principle of the Shari’ah. It is complete as a legal and moral system and no further legislation is possible or necessary to the end of history.
For Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, `Abd al-Salam Farag, and many other exegetes, Islam is contrary to secular Western democracy, because Islam has the full answers to all humans needs. Democracy must accept Allah’s values of rule and sovereignty; where Islam makes law, there is no need for democracy; the concept of majority rule cannot exist in the Islam; Muslim religious laws decide permanently in all areas of life; Islam includes the entire human wisdom to the end of history; and accepting Western values is forbidden, being tantamount to apostasy.
For the Muslim believers Islam has all universes’ wisdom and contains everything in life from the beginning of the world to the end of history. For the Muslim believers it is clear: al-Islam Huwwa al-Hall al-Waheed (Islam is the only solution). Islam wishes to subordinate democracy to its own principles, and not to integrate itself and become democratic; to rule and dominate the Free World and not to recognize its diversity and pluralism, and to become part of modernity; to subordinate the Free World to its Shari’ah and bring back to the Islamic 7th century governance.
Arab regimes are military or monarchical, and the political behavior are almost the same, exemplified by authoritarianism and patrimonialism. Islam is the very antithesis of secular Western democracy, based solely on the sovereignty of the people and its civil rights and freedoms. Moreover, the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ which is in fact ‘a Tribal Anarchical Islamic Winter,’ is a good example where Islamic regimes are in power, projecting the assertions of impossibility of Islam and democracy.
The Issue of civil society. When analyzing democracy, there is also the question of civil society, whether it can exist in the conceptions and praxis of Arab-Muslim political system. From institutional standpoint, civil society is made up of non-state actors and non-governmental organizations, which have developed in the community, through interest groups and sociopolitical mobility. It is institutionalized through individual rights and social differentiation, by political and regime tolerance; recognition of the rights and the freedoms of the individual; and lack of restrictions, enforcement and arbitrary intervention by the state.
In the Middle East, on account of Islamic tradition and developmental values, a civil society did not and yet is not ready to exist. The problem is not whether there are settings that can be interpreted as fitting the existence of a civil society, but rather their qualitative functioning. Even if there are parties, professional civil associations, and other NGO’s, the question is the extent of influence on the governing system and the decision-making process. The parties operate more on behalf of the regime, as mass organizations for political mobilization, rather than representing the people.
One can estimate the lack of civil society in the Middle East through the following:
a) The character of the regimes and leadership. Authoritarian regimes and patrimonial leadership do not enable the growth of true civil society with a capacity to function. The population is considered as inhabitants/subjects rather than free sovereign citizens. The leader’s will is what decides, and the inhabitants lack basic rights and freedoms. They act in accord with the will of the regime in the sense of giving support but not making demands on the political system. If we define democracy as “rule of the people, by the people, through the people, and for the people”, all these contradict the values of Arab-Muslim society. Most of the inhabitants do not participate in political processes, and do not have influence on shaping its policy. Indeed, in a state where Islam rules, constitutional, representative and pluralistic government cannot develop.
b) Social values. Political culture in the West is participatory. It represents norms, positions, and values of the individual and the group towards political institutions and the state. In Arab society, political culture is, in the best case, native (subjugated) at the center and parochial at the periphery. Most of society is cut off from politics, and sees it as a necessary evil (Sharr) that a man has no choice but to live with. The primordial values are opposed to the development of a civil society.
c) Institutional Values. In Islam, reference is made to normative values that indicate the nature of a good society and the proper community. The system of beliefs refers to a collectivity, which the individual is dependent on, while he is not important in his own right. Civil democratic society is based on pluralism, bargaining, lack of uniformity, and even on a lack of rigid order. Muslim political tradition fears anarchy and disorder. Therefore, any government is preferable to no government, and this leads to submission and political cynicism.
d) The Role of Islam. The principles of Islam are in contradiction to the values of civil society: the absoluteness of Allah’s supremacy that everything depends on him and determined by him. The source of authority and sovereignty is not by social contract or from the people rather it is by Allah alone. Contrary to the Qur’anic teachings, there is no egalitarianism in between the leader and the subject, between men and women, between Arab and non-Arab, or even between parts of the society. The concepts of democracy, liberalism, and parliamentary government, are identified as Western, and rejected out of hand, as indecent phenomena representing materialism, moral corruption, and lack of morality.
From an analysis of these features, the answer is that of Huntington, concerning the waves of democratization in the West, that in non-democratic societies we find political decay and not political development. Indeed, a civil society, however it may be defined, does not exist in any Arab-Muslim state. Even the appearance of political parties and formal associations by itself does not necessarily mean a fundamental move toward democracy, since political parties remain ineffective and play a mostly ceremonial role that serves to legitimate the state and its policies. This does not symbolize pluralism (ta`addudiyah), and even Interest groups, a primary agent of civil society, remain either non-existent.
Indeed, Islam is the very antithesis of Western democracy. One cannot find signs of democracy in Islam, but totalitarianism of thought; oppression of freedoms, and denying basic civil rights. Islamic Scriptures, History and contemporary politics are the proof.
Bernard Lewis claims that historically the Muslim world has been authoritarian and coercive from its inception, and thus a democratic culture has not been internally, culturally, socially, politically and economically, developed. It is non-existent. Classical Muslim exegetes largely agree that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam is the very antithesis of secular Western democracy. It altogether repudiates the philosophy of popular sovereignty and rears its polity on foundations of the sovereignty of Allah and the Khilafah of man.
As inequality grows, the UN fights for a fairer world
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the UN’s blueprint for a better and more sustainable future for all – calls for a reduction in inequality between and within countries. Nevertheless, global inequality is increasing. So what can be done?
Inequality is an “entrenched imbalance”
The question of inequality was raised several times by the UN in January: speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, UN chief António Guterres pointed out that, while technological progress and globalization have led to “fantastic improvements” in many areas, they have also increased inequality and marginalized millions.
And, in her annual letter, Lise Kingo, CEO of the UN Global Compact, which supports private sector efforts to do business responsibly, noted that, in 2018, we saw “a small group of individuals are getting exponentially richer as billions are left behind in poverty.”
Inequality is not only rising, it is also an “entrenched imbalance,” according to Richard Kozul-Wright, a globalization expert and Director with the Trade and Development agency UNCTAD.
In an interview with UN News, which you can listen to here, Mr. Kozul-Wright said that notionally high employment rates in many economies mask the fact that wages and working conditions are not improving, and that whilst wages have been stagnant for a decade, dividends on shareholdings have been recovering, benefiting financial asset holders. His remarks came in the wake of the January launch of the 2019 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report which showed uneven growth (both between and within countries) that is often failing to reach where it is most needed.
Will AI take away our jobs, or transform them?
The beginning of 2019 saw a focus on the role of technology on the world of work, and the impact it is having on inequality. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a landmark report in January: the Global Commission on the Future of Work. This study concluded that technological innovations provide “countless opportunities” for workers, but warned that, if these technologies are not deployed as part of a human-centred agenda based on investing in people, work institutions and decent, sustainable employment, we run the risk of “sleepwalking into a world that widens existing inequalities and uncertainties.”
One of the key technological innovations mentioned in the report, one that garners significant media attention, is artificial intelligence (AI). A report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), published at the tail-end of January, noted a “quantum leap” in AI-related patents, suggesting that AI could soon “revolutionize all areas of daily life beyond the tech world.”
AI inspires as much fear as excitement, evoking a dystopian world in which more and more work is carried out by machines, with society split between a tiny super-rich elite and the rest, an unemployable mass of people with no prospect of finding work.
Kriti Sharma doesn’t see things that way. She has been recognized by the UN as a Young Leader For Sustainable Development Goals, in recognition of her work to ensure that AI helps to create a better, fairer world, through her AI For Good organization, and her role in the Sage Future Makers Lab, which was set up to equip young people around the world with hands-on learning for entering a career in Artificial Intelligence.
Speaking to UN News, Ms. Sharma acknowledged that people who live in countries which are on the wrong side of the digital divide (with less access to data) will be at a disadvantage, and pointed to studies that show a gender divide is looming, with women twice as likely to lose their jobs to automation, because of the kind of work they are involved in: “We need to make sure that we give people enough opportunities to reskill themselves, otherwise we end up creating more inequality that we had before.”
However, she believes that one of the biggest risks is failing to embrace this technology, and not equipping people with the skills to use it to solve global problems. Ms. Sharma laid out three ways to help ensure that AI brings about a fairer world.
First of all, it is important that a diverse group of people from many backgrounds are creating this technology, people who “understand society, policy-makers.” The second point is to ensure that AI is being used to solve the “right problems,” such as accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals, by diverting energy, research and funding into this area. And, lastly, international standards must be agreed upon, to make sure that the technology we create is used in a way that is safe and ethical for the world.
No progress without international cooperation
So, what is the way out of the “entrenched imbalance” of inequality? For the UN, a greater emphasis on international cooperation is an important part of the solution. The 2019 World Economic Situation and Prospects report concludes that, at a global level, a “cooperative and long-term strategy for global policy” is the way towards progress in reducing income inequality, and warns that a “withdrawal from multilateralism will pose further setbacks for those already being left behind.”
As the Secretary-General told the audience in Davos, a coordinated and global response is the only way to fight inequality, because “we need to work together. There is no way we can do isolated responses to the problems we face, they are all interlinked.”
Sexual Diversity in Hindi Cinema: A Beginning
Bollywood, or as the more politically correct call it the “Hindi Film Industry”, released last week what is advocated as the first commercial film to portray love between two women characters in ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga’ (When I Saw a Girl I Felt That Way). A sterner breakthrough was in1996 when ‘Fire’, a path-breaking mainstream film boldly represented same-sex love between two women worn-out from their conjugal lives to find companionship in one another. Gatekeepers of Indian tradition and culture vandalized theatres and ran smear-campaigns against the film; it was way ahead of its time. The later Hindi films did little justice to aptly represent diversity by only typecasting characters to fit into the stereotypes of queer men as effeminate and reducing cross-dressers to a mere punch line.
The misrepresentations and badly written jokes were unobjectionable and continued to amuse the audience and homosexuality was typecast into a box of fallacies. Homophobia persisted, if not strengthened, as influential politicians and famous yoga gurus condemned homosexuality as immoral and abnormal but treatable disease. Some went so far as to call it a Western import, an idea that was flowed in to corrupt the Indian purity. The retrograde legal standing on homosexuality as an unnatural activity remained a hurdle to depict properly the gravity of the issue in mainstream cinema. Yet, the fact remains that these films only reflected homophobia that truly exist in the society.
Following the decriminalization of homosexuality in India in September 2018, a six months later about woman struggling to come out to her family is exceptional. The film plays safe within the realm of a conventional narrative without going overboard. Not pushing the envelope to advocate for a radical change in thoughts and action, the film simply speaks for acceptance. But does it really get its message across?
Perhaps not. The movie’s representation of homosexuality is washed out akin to the superficial dealing of homosexuality in India. It does not even do as much as show some physical intimacy between the main leads. It revolves around the obsolete narrative of a protective family that is oppressive to protect the woman. It shows a self-sacrificing situation where she is ready to marry a man only because she needs to put her family first, even before herself.
By doing this, the film is toying into a genre of a submissive female, a storyline that has always been exploited by Indian films. The act of women as submissive to the demands of the family by suppressing their desires to save the honor which lies in their character is outdated. For a film woke enough to speak about homosexuality openly, these outdated narratives were unnecessary as they tend to reinforce the norms that need to be eradicated from Indian cinema.
It goes without saying that Indian content is consumed across a huge geographical region, covering the whole of South Asia and also across Indian communities all over the world. A form of cultural hegemony has been established as local content is dominated by Indian content, thwarting native culture in the process. For the more diverse and liberal audience that consume these films it is concerning whether such things will also be internalized in more open societies.
However, delving into a topic that is untouched but essential in today’s time, it is one baby step that will gauge the standing of the society on homosexuality. It is not to say that the issue has gained much acceptance largely. Sexual minorities in India continue to be marginalized and their struggles to fit as ordinary or to be treated equally into the society is crushing. Progressive films are one way to get on board to bring the required change.
Nevertheless, it is only with slight trepidation that filmmakers can proceed to depict ‘bold’ issues on screen. The presence of a paternalistically stringent censor board has always been a hurdle to pass. Fringe groups backed by strong political connections are almost at the ready to vandalize a film set and put a bounty on the director and actors for distorting Indian culture.
23 years after the fate of ‘Fire’, little has changed about acceptance – both in cinema and society. More progressive films in the mainstream might be a long way ahead in India, especially since the formula of success is doused in skewed gender representations. However, one can only hope for stronger scripts that stir the audience, incite dialogue, and then bring the change we have always wanted to see.
Human trafficking cases hit a 13-year record high
The latest Global Report On Trafficking In Persons, released on Tuesday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at UN headquarters in New York, shows a record-high number of cases detected during 2016, but also the largest recorded conviction rate of traffickers.
“The report was undertaken for a simple reason: if we want to succeed in confronting human trafficking in all its manifestations, we must better understand its scope and structure,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC’s Executive Director as he presented the report in New York. “We need to appreciate where human trafficking is happening, who are its victims and who is perpetrating this crime.”
According to the latest figures compiled by UNODC, the record conviction and detection rates could either be a sign that countries have strengthened their capacity to identify victims – such as through specific legislation, better coordination among law enforcement entities, and improved victim protection services – or, that the number of actual instances of trafficking has increased.
While in 2003 fewer than 20,000 cases had been recorded, the number of cases recorded in 2016 had jumped to over 25,000.
Despite improvements in data collection, impunity prevails
Over the last decade, the capacity of national authorities to track and assess patterns and flows of human trafficking has improved in many parts of the world. UNODC’s report notes that this is also due to a specific focus of the international community in developing standards for data collection. In 2009, only 26 countries had an institution which systematically collected and disseminated data on trafficking cases, while by 2018, the number had risen to 65.
However, many countries in Africa and Asia continue to have low conviction rates, and at the same time detect fewer victims which, UNODC stresses, “does not necessarily mean that traffickers are not active”.
In fact, the report shows that victims trafficked from areas of the world with low detection/conviction rates are found in large numbers in other areas of the world, suggesting that a high degree of impunity prevails in these low-reporting regions.
“This impunity could serve as an incentive to carry out more trafficking,” the report warns.
Women and girls remain a major target
“Traffickers the world over continue to target women and girls,” wrote Executive Director Fedotov, in the report’s preface. ‘The vast majority of detected victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and 35 per cent of those trafficked for forced labour are female.”
The report notes “considerable regional differences in the sex and age profiles of detected trafficking victims.” In West Africa, most of the detected victims are children, both boys and girls, while in South Asia, victims are equally reported to be men, women and children. In Central Asia, a larger share of adult men is detected compared to other regions, while in Central America and the Caribbean, more girls are recorded.
Sexual exploitation, the top form of trafficking
Most of the victims detected globally are trafficked for sexual exploitation, especially in the Americas, Europe, and East Asia and the Pacific. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, trafficking for forced labour is the most commonly detected form. In Central Asia and South Asia, trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation are equally prevalent,
Other forms of human trafficking include: girls forced into marriage, more commonly detected in South-East Asia; children for illegal adoption, more common in Central and South American countries; forced criminality, mainly reported in Western and Southern Europe; and organ removal, primarily detected in North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.
“Victims can be in restaurants, fisheries, brothels, farms, homes, and even organ trafficking and illegal adoption,” said Rani Hong, who survived child trafficking herself as she was taken from her family in India at age 7, submitted to intimidation, physical abuse and slavery, until she was sold for illegal adoption in Canada and later the United States.
“I was told by my witnesses that when I came into the United States, I was not able to walk because I had been locked in a small cage. This is what this industry is doing, and this is what happened to me.”
Many other forms, such as trafficking for exploitation in begging, or for the production of pornographic material, are reported in different parts of the world.
Armed conflict and displacement, a key driver of human trafficking
The report shows that armed conflicts can increase vulnerability to trafficking in different ways as areas with weak rule of law and lack of resources to respond to crime, provide traffickers with a fertile terrain to carry out their operations, preying on those who are desparately in need.
Armed groups and other criminals may take the opportunity to traffic victims – including children – for sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, forced marriage, armed combat and various forms of forced labour. This is the case for example in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, South-East Asia and elsewhere.
In some refugee camps in the Middle East, also, it has been documented that girls and young women have been ‘married off’ without their consent and subjected to sexual exploitation in neighbouring countries.
In addition, recruitment of children for use as armed combatants is widely documented. UNODC’s report notes that within conflict zones, armed groups can use trafficking as a strategy to assert territorial dominance, spread fear among civilians in the territories where they operate to keep the local population under control. They may also use women and girls as ‘sex slaves’ or force them into marriages to appeal to new potential male recruits.
The study shows that in all the conflicts examined for the report, forcibly displaced populations (refugees and internally displaced families) have been specifically targeted: from settlements of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, to Afghans and Rohingya fleeing conflict and persecution.
Notably, the risk faced by migrants and refugees travelling through conflict areas, such as Libya or parts of sub-Saharan Africa, is also well documented: in Libya, for example, militias control some detention centres for migrants and refugees and are coercing detained migrants and asylum seekers for different exploitative purposes.
“While we are far from ending impunity, we have made headway in the 15 years since the Protocol against Trafficking in Persons entered into force,” said UNODC’s chief Mr. Fedotov, as he noted that “nearly every country now has legislation in place criminalizing human trafficking”.
“The international community needs to accelerate progress to build capacities and cooperation, to stop human trafficking in conflict situations and in all our societies where this terrible crime continues to operate in the shadows,” he stated in the report’s preface.
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