The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an armed group that originated in northern Uganda 20 years ago, now operates in the border areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. When the group attacked Josephine’s village, she and her family had too little time to flee. A group of about 80 LRA men surrounded her house. They tied up the family and shot and killed Josephine’s grandfather in front of her. They took Josephine and her three brothers into the bush. After an hour of walking, the men separated the children into pairs. Josephine and her 14-year-old brother Patrick never saw their other two brothers again. Josephine remained on the move with the LRA for eight months, never staying in one place for more than a week. She was forced to carry heavy loads, find food, and cook. She and other girls, some as young as 12, were forced to become LRA “wives.” Josephine was assigned to a boy who had also been kidnapped and forced to be an LRA fighter. She watched as the men forced him to kill another boy by striking him on the back of the head with a machete. Josephine managed to run away one day when she was sent out to look for food. She walked 40 km and found safety in a village in Sudan. Her brother Patrick escaped two months later during a Ugandan army attack on the LRA.
these programs. The high level of documented exploitation of low-skilled workers – particularly domestic workers – throughout the Middle East, for example, is proof of this vulnerability. As the 2010 TIP Report highlighted, migrant labor flows worldwide have become increasingly feminized, and as women are emigrating to search for jobs that currently exist outside of normal labor protections, such as domestic service. The mass migration of female domestic workers from places such as Indonesia and Nepal to Gulf states and Malaysia is intrinsically perilous, with physical and sexual abuse of domestic workers commonplace and protections for abused maids scarce. Reflecting, at least in part, these concerns over the abuse of migrants, countries have moved to restrict Asian workers from working in the Middle East and East Asia. These cases do not occur simply because there is an abusive boss on the other side. Many of the problems are structural. International labor migration is increasingly dominated by labor recruiters – both licensed and unlicensed. Rather than fostering competition and efficiencies that are passed onto potential workers or employers,
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the dramatic expansion of this market has had a predatory effect. Exorbitant recruitment fees are all too common, as are bait-and-switch scenarios that trick workers into jobs that are substantially different than what was promised or jobs that simply do not exist. In the worst cases, this exploitation can metastasize into a situation of forced labor, with restrictions on workers’ movements, nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse, all within the context of a burdensome recruitment fee. The 2011 reporting period showed a disturbing trend: cases in which domestic servant guestworkers who had suffered sexual abuse in the home were then turned over by their bosses to third parties for prostitution, unable to seek help because of restrictive guestworker laws and the debts that they owed.
Published on Jun 26, 2012