By Laura Sheahen “Where’s your mother?” Usually when you ask small children this question, the answer is predictable: At home. At the market. At work, a few kilometres or a drive away. In villages of Nepal, a deeply impoverished country on India’s northeast border, children answer differently. “In Kuwait.” “In Saudi.” “She’s in a foreign country.” Mahesh Upadhaya is older—he’s 17. “My mother went to Saudi Arabia for two years. I was 15 when she left,” says Mahesh, who lives in an area of western Nepal called Bardiya. “When my mother wasn’t here, I couldn’t go to school. I had to do chores and work in the fields.” Mahesh’s father is deaf, and as the oldest of five children, Mahesh had to help the family get by until his mother began sending home the money she earned as a maid for a Saudi Arabian family. About 200,000 Nepali women like […]
In the early 1990s the country of Bhutan, in the Himalayas, forcibly drove out over 100,000 ethnic Nepalis they claimed were not true citizens. These Bhutanese refugees ended up in eastern Nepal as migrants in limbo. Required to stay in refugee camps, they’ve lived for 20 years without electricity or good health care. The camp residents are also vulnerable to underhand job offers. In March 2012, photographer Katie Orlinsky and Laura Sheahen of Caritas Internationalis visited the camps with Rupa Rai, who runs safe migration programmes for Caritas Nepal. 8:00 As we drive along the road to the camp, we see refugee men bicycling into the nearby town of Damak for work like bricklaying. At the camp entrance, we pass a dozen thatched-roof kiosks with Western Union signs. Many refugees have finally been admitted into countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada. Some are doing well and are sending money […]
When impoverished women decide to leave their countries to work abroad, they often are deceived or abused. Smugglers and human traffickers may exploit them, forcing them to work as unpaid prostitutes or beggars. Women who become domestic workers are sometimes beaten, overworked, or not paid. Many women leave behind their own families to care for others, making their children vulnerable. The Female Face of Migration, a report by Caritas Internationalis, describes the problems that migrant women face. Explore this page to learn more: read the policy paper, get to know to stories of four women, and play our interactive game “Follow the Migrant Woman” to see what choices you would make if you were a poor woman going abroad.
By Laura Sheahen “In the brothel, there were no windows. The only light was from the lightbulb—that was the sun and the moon for us.” Charimaya Tamang grew up in the hill country of Nepal, working on her family’s farm. She was used to the outdoors and sunshine and freedom. But after waking from a drugged sleep thousands of miles from her village, the sixteen-year-old was shut in a room behind three doors, each one locked after the other. Unlike most girls from rural Nepal, Charimaya knew early on that the men who eventually abducted her were criminals. One had approached her in her village, complimenting her intelligence and her classroom work, suggesting she leave her home for better opportunities. “They’d say, ‘You have potential, you could work in a business,’” she remembers. But Charimaya had read in a book about human traffickers who buy and sell unsuspecting people into […]
To mark the launch of a new Caritas report on the female face of migration, communications officer Laura Sheahen and photographer Katie Orlinsky travelled to Nepal to document the trafficking of young girls and women. Follow their journey.
By Laura Sheahen
“We girls were hidden under floorboards during police raids. There were ten girls there — it was so cramped you couldn’t breathe.” Rekha* was fourteen when she left her homeland of Nepal for India, saying yes when a friend’s mother offered her domestic work abroad. But when Rekha reached India, there was no maid job. Instead, she found herself in a dark room with many other girls. “I cried a lot. I didn’t even know how to speak Hindi,” she remembers. “I met another Nepalese girl, and she said, ‘They’ve sold you.’”
Over the course of 18 months, Rekha was sold into three different brothels. In the last one, she convinced […]
By Laura Sheahen
This is Part 1 of a two-part article on human trafficking. To find out more about how COATNET helps former victims, see Part 2.
“When we started in the early 2000s, a common way for traffickers to lure people was through ads in the newspapers,” says Gabriela Chiroiu of Caritas Bucharest. “They’d offer attractive jobs in modeling or dancing, needing no experience. The ad would say ‘young people preferred.’”
“In Romania, unemployment is high. Factories and companies continue to close,” says Chiroiu. “People think, ‘OK, someone’s offering a job that’s maybe not the best job in the world, but something is better than nothing.’”
But the ads were really targeting teenage girls for sex work. “Then people started being careful about such ads,” she said. “We and other groups checked all the modeling agencies—we called them. We created a blacklist of about 20 agencies.”
Today, such ads are more likely to be on […]
By Fr. Francisco Gallardo, director of the Caritas migrant house at Matamoros, near Mexico’s border with the USA.
People leave their homes in search of the “American dream” but they end up coming to us looking for lodging, clothes and help.
Many of them arrive completely exhausted. There are people who’ve been kidnapped and who come to us full of fear. They’ve been tortured and abused and are in a pitiful state.
Most of those who come to us are men. There are very few women and children. Sometimes people come with children but they can’t prove they are their parents. We think that they’re taking the children to their real parents in the US.
We’ve been working with migrants in this diocese for the past 24 years. Originally, we opened our doors to migrants who came from the centre and the south of Mexico. But then the situation became more dramatic and […]
In Tinzawaten there’s next to nothing to eat or drink, the houses are roofless shells, it’s freezing at night, scorching in the day, murder and rape go unpunished, women are sold as slaves and babies are born in the open.
This is the desert of Mali. The people of Tinzawaten are migrants who’ve been deported from Algeria, shoved across the border and dumped with nothing.
The harrowing scene is described by Fr Jerome Otitoyomi Dukiya at a conference organised by the Caritas Internationalis General Secretariat and Caritas Senegal in Saly, Senegal. Fr Jerome said, “Algeria signed an agreement with the EU in exchange for financial and development aid that migrants would only be returned to their own countr y. The deal doesn’t mean abandoning them to years of limbo in places like Tinzawaten. But who’s making a fuss about it?”
Caritas is. It is advocating for full legal protection for migrants, especially […]
Alice was 25 when she left her job in Manila, the Philippines. She is a qualified civil engineer, yet her salary was not enough to pay for her four brothers and sisters to go through school. When she saw an advertisement offering well-paid posts as civil engineers in Kuwait, she contacted the recruitment agency immediately.
She had to pay half the agency’s fees up front, agreeing to repay the rest on taking up her position. But when she arrived in Kuwait she was told to sign a contract to work as a domestic servant. The agency refused to allow her to return to the Philippines, insisting that she take up the post and pay them the money she owed. For two and a half years she worked as a domestic servant for a family. She never had a day off, and regularly worked 20 hour days.
“Child trafficking and sexual exploitation […]
Sanumaya Tamang and Sani Tam-ang were both 16 when they were taken to brothels in India. More than 10,000 women and children form Nepal are trafficked into India every year. Internal conflict, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in Nepal are the root causes of the problem.
In India, Caritas is working with authorities to toughen government boarder controls to shut down the activity.
Caritas works around the global to combat trafficking.
Caritas strongly condemns trafficking as a criminal act that violates basic human rights.
Caritas is committed to taking decisive actions
To raise public awareness and enable people to take preventative actions
Caritas works in communities with at risk groups to explain the dangers of trafficking.Caritas also works with various key groups such as doctors, religious, social workers and government officials to build a long-term network of awareness building.
To advocate for alternatives for vulnerable people
Caritas works to provide alternatives to vulnerable groups who are looking to […]
They are forced into sexual slavery, their organs are removed, they are exploited in the workplace. These are just some of the realities of the people who fall victim to human trafficking. Caritas members are currently at a meeting in Paris to urge the current French Presidency of the EU to raise awareness about the risks posed to vulnerable people by trafficking.
Here are some of the pictures from an accompanying photo exhibition which tells the stories of trafficking victims.
Falak Sher took his young son and his nephew from their rural village in Pakistan’s Punjab region to race as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 1998. He was in search of a fortune, but found a nightmare.
Once there, his children were starved to keep their weights at the minimum for racing. They were given electric shocks as punishments for minor mistakes. “We were not allowed to leave the premises. It seemed we had landed in a prison,”he said. Camel racing is a hugely popular sport inmany Gulf States. As children weigh less, the camels go faster. Although the UAE repatriated 3000 child jockeys in 2005 to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sudan, the use of children as jockeys in the Gulf States is still reported.
Reintegrating the children has been a challenge. Despite a government scheme to get them back into school, many were reluctant. Parents and children […]