Human Trafficking Booming in The Bahamas

Tuesday 28th, June 2011 / 09:15 Published by

stop human traffickingAfter failing to improve the level of cooperation in combatting human trafficking, The Bahamas’ status was downgraded further in this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report, issued by the U.S. State Department.

The report is issued annually to take stock of progress, make suggestions and refine the methods used to combat slavery, forced labor and sex trafficking around the world.

Despite acknowledging “significant efforts” on the part of the Bahamas’ government, the report stated:

“The Government of The Bahamas demonstrated minimal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period; therefore, The Bahamas is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.”

The Tier 2 Watch List classification is reserved for countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.

The reports said that in The Bahamas, the number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is significant and there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat these activities.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that human trafficking unfortunately hurts women and girls disproportionately and fuels the epidemic of gender-based violence.

This is an extreme problem in The Bahamas, where women and girls are treated as second class citizens and violence against women is very common.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was lambasted and voted out of office when he proposed a referendum in 2002 to change the discriminatory language in the Constitution of The Bahamas. Mr Ingraham was trying to honor the committment The Bahamas had made to the United Nations as a signatory to the UN resoltuion to eliminate discrimination against women.

PLP leaders encouraged bahamians to vote against the FNM government’s referendum which would offer women the same rights as their male counterparts to confer nationality on their children and foreign spouses. The public’s rejection of equality was disgraceful.

Ingraham was also villified when he tried to pass a maritial rape law in 2009.

Just yesterday, during the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Mr Ingraham lamented the public rejection of equality for women saying, “It is an unfortunate and painful reality that when one seeks to equalise conditions that are glaringly offensive, the effort sometimes fail to attract support from those who would benefit.”

“Indeed, it appears that many in our society both male and female, are not yet convinced that women are equal; instead stubbornly holding on to outmoded and long discredited 19th Century social mores and laws which regarded women as chattel, incapable of making their own decisions and unqualified to vote, own property or defend themselves against the decisions of male relatives,” the Prime Minister said.

Excerpts from the U.S. State Department Report included:

“The Bahamas is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

“Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in The Bahamas allege there were cases where employers coerce Haitian workers into involuntary servitude by improperly holding work permits and threatening arrest and deportation. NGOs and local experts also have raised concerns that some workers from Jamaica, China, Peru, and the Philippines could be vulnerable to involuntary servitude.

“Anecdotal reports suggest that women from South American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Panama may be subjected to forced prostitution. Groups vulnerable to sex trafficking in The Bahamas include children engaging in sex with men for basics such as food, transportation, or material goods.

“Specifically, there were no reports of victims assisted or trafficking offenders prosecuted and punished.”

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