The Plague of Human Trafficking Around Us

The Plague of Human Trafficking Around Us

A couple of years ago, 3 South Asian women entered Singapore, with promises of a lucrative dancing career at a nightclub.

To be employed, they were required to sign a contract in English, surrender their passports, and stay in shared accomodation – all for a pay of S$900 (USD 660) per month, a veritable fortune in their eyes. As newbies to a foreign country, they thought this was normal. Their poverty-ridden background made them view the opportunity to earn Singapore dollars and send money back home, as a dream come true.

The nature of their work soon made it apparent that they were trapped.

They had to provide sexual favours to nightclub patrons and work even when sick. They were barred from leaving their apartment. Unless their employers gave them access to a phone, they had no way to contact their families back home. Being unable to speak English proved a deterrent to contact the authorities. Plus, they were constantly threatened with social stigmatisation if they ever spoke out. Faced with seemingly insurmountable difficulties, they felt truly alone in a country where they knew no one, except their employers.

Just before Covid-19 made global headlines last year, authorities cracked down on the operations and rescued these women. And Singapore got its first ever conviction on labour trafficking charges. The ’employers’ were fined and jailed, and the women were returned to their home countries, and assisted with re-settlement.

This human trafficking story ended on a positive note. Not all do.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as: 

“The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

In simple words, human trafficking is “the process of trapping people through the use of violence, deception or coercion and exploiting them for financial or personal gain” (courtesy: antislavery.org).

So, to qualify as human ‘trafficking’, victims needn’t be transported overseas; they simply have to be forced into a situation of exploitation. Here are some mind-boggling statistics on this crime:

  • There are between 20 and 40 million people in modern slavery today.
  • About 71% of enslaved people are women and girls, while men and boys account for 29%.
  • Human trafficking earns global profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers; $99 billion comes from commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Advocates report a growing trend of traffickers using online social media platforms to recruit and advertise targets of human trafficking.

There are no countries or industries completely immune to the vice of human trafficking. Some high-risk industries are agriculture, fishing, textile manufacturing, hospitality and entertainment. Europe, North America, Middle East, and some countries in East Asia and the Pacific are popular destinations for trafficking victims.

Human trafficking takes many forms; people coerced into working as money/drug mules, sex trade, organ harvesting, cheap factory labour, domestic help, and children forced to serve as soldiers or commit crimes. Human trafficking is considered a hidden crime – nearly impossible to detect through traditional means. This is because victims almost never come forward – be it due to fear of retaliation from abusers, language barriers, or psychological/financial burdens borne by them.

The victims are all around us. They don’t carry placards or have their victimhood stamped on their faces. But look closer, and worrying signs may emerge; persons who appear timid, submissive and fearful in public, reluctant to speak, deferring to another in control, having few possessions or no personal identification. These are potential red flags that indicate trafficking.

Or not. There could always be perfectly valid reasons why someone behaves in a particular way in public. Unfortunately, this ambiguity in behavioural red flags and victims’ reluctance to point out their abusers, makes this crime extremely difficult to identify and convict legally.

Advances in technology has enabled more to join the fight against human trafficking. Financial institutions offer assistance through transaction monitoring and analysis that helps identify patterns in money movement, indicating the presence of human trafficking. Some fintechs have also developed machine learning models that can be trained to detect suspicious transaction patterns, and alert authorities. Yet another tool used to identify human trafficking red flags is social media analysis.

How can you help? First, be aware of the signs of human trafficking – that’s one of the best ways you can contribute. Volunteer your time at a shelter dedicated to victims of human trafficking. Be an informed consumer; find out where/how the products you consume are produced, and boycott companies connected to human trafficking. Together, we can help combat this evil and reduce the number of victims claimed every year.

The United Nations observes July 30th as "World Day Against Trafficking in Persons" and has included it as one of its Sustainable Development Goals.

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ An aside from Veena: The last time I edited my bio was when I joined as a writer here - my son was 11-months old and 'helped' me write by hitting all the keys on my laptop, and 'feeding' it water from his glass when he felt the laptop looked thirsty. Now, as I'm updating my bio, he's a cheeky little 11-year old who already thinks he knows more than me! How time has flown!

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SINGAPORE: A School Fiasco

SINGAPORE: A School Fiasco

My Little One started school during the New Year, and it was with great trepidation that we approached his impending education. And this was for many reasons…

For one thing, he knew no other language but our native tongue. And we were very concerned about how he’d interact in school. In fact, we were more concerned about how the teacher could understand him as there was no one who spoke or wrote the language at his school.

Second, this was truly his first foray into the outside world. He has lived a very sheltered 4 years, and was always at home with nearly no interaction with peers of his own age. This wasn’t intentional, rather, it just happened that everywhere we lived, the kids were always much bigger than him; and, he was also very shy.

Third, was for ourselves. We really had no clue on how to go about educating a little child. Both of us remember our mothers teaching us, but that was when we were much older. How does one go about getting a 4 year old to hold his pencil and learn the alphabet? What does one do when he says he wants to play now and study later? Do we force him to learn, or just let it go?

Despite our misgivings, our son started school on Jan 2nd, and the first day went okay. The school permitted parents to sit with kids on the first day, and we had a nice time watching the proceedings. The second day was when the waterworks started, and that lasted till last week.

Every morning, he’d wake up even before the alarm, and ask me if it was time for school. It is heart-wrenching to hear that plaintive tone in his voice…but as advised by many, we were not taking no for an answer. Come rain or shine, he had to go to school.

Then came the homework – for the first time, he had to write “A,B,C”,  and we weren’t really sure how to tackle it either. Since neither my husband, nor I, were too endowed in the patience department, we didn’t have such a great time these past 2 months. Most days were filled with screams and cries as we forced the little thing to hold his pencil and write. And you know the funny thing – after we had screamed at him for inverting his Bs or not getting the right slant for his As, he would come up to us after an hour or so, and write a perfect A and B.

I know, we were horrible to him – and our only excuse is that we didn’t want to appear to be too lenient and that he get the impression that it was okay not to want to learn. And I don’t know if it was the terror of the home classes that made it doubly difficult for him to adjust to school, where everything was foreign to him.

You see, we feel like we are living a race now – once we get back home after work, we just have time for a bath and to eat, as Little One must be in bed atleast by 10, so that he wakes up fresh at 7 the next day for school.

But two weeks ago, we made the decision not to pressure him so much – because we were also distressed on seeing his pitiful face every time he had to learn something. We decided that any homework would be finished off speedily by holding his hand and helping him write it, while learning it would be done during the weekends, when there was no pressure on any one.

And I don’t know if it was this decision, or as Little One has made friends and adjusted to school – but since last week, he hasn’t cried at all when going to school. He seems more happy about school, and he keeps singing songs they sing in school. He tells me about the kids in his class (he is already interested in girls) and what he ate and the general happenings in school.

And the atmosphere at home is also different now, with him being happy about school and life in general feels so much more lighter and happier. The lesson I’ve learned from the school fiasco is not to pressurise kids so much that they lose all zest for life. His sad face, and moping around all evening was so depressing, and frankly, I was dreading the years up ahead.

After all, he is just 4 years old, and he is a bright little spark. Let him have his fun and the learning will come slowly.

Have you ever faced a situation like this? What do you do to get your kids to study?

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ An aside from Veena: The last time I edited my bio was when I joined as a writer here - my son was 11-months old and 'helped' me write by hitting all the keys on my laptop, and 'feeding' it water from his glass when he felt the laptop looked thirsty. Now, as I'm updating my bio, he's a cheeky little 11-year old who already thinks he knows more than me! How time has flown!

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SINGAPORE: Celebrating Fatherhood

SINGAPORE: Celebrating Fatherhood

DSC_2005_2We continue honoring the fathers out there, even after Father’s Day! Today, Veena writes about her thoughts on the roles of fathers, and their unique hallmarks. 

Motherhood and Mother’s Day are celebrated the world over – but  how much does the world really realise a father’s sacrifices for his family?

According to Merriam-Webster, a father is :

fa·ther  (fär)

n.

a. A male person whose sperm unites with an egg, resulting in the conception of a child.

b. A man who adopts a child.

c. A man who raises a child.

As mothers, we all know the amount of work involved in raising a child. So, how many of you would agree to the first definition of a father – sperm uniting with an egg? Or even the second?

A father – in the truest sense of the word – is one who begets a child and stands up for the mother and child through thick and thin. He is there during the sunny times and rainy days, during happiness and sorrow. And through sickness and health.

I am a full-time working mother – made possible only with the complete support of my husband. When I have to travel on business trips, or stay late at office, he is there for my Li’l One.

India (where I am from) is a patriarchal society with the men taking the upper hand in most spheres of life and work. When a girl gets married, she is usually expected to resign if her husband (or his family) doesn’t want her to work (often with no regard to her wish to continue working), she may have to move to a new city if her husband is located there, and more often than not, she is expected to give up her job once she has a kid. Or if the husband gets a posting abroad, the wife just has to drop everything and follow him there.

Sometimes when I go home, there are relatives who look askance when I say I have to attend a call or a meeting, or that I have no time for some thing. According to some of them, I should be devoting more time to womanly pursuits – like cooking, attending Church or some such activity.

This is quite funny, because my paternal Grandfather was a person who believed in a girl’s right to education and managed to get all 3 of his daughters educated and in government jobs. And he had just 2 granddaughters (me and a cousin) from a brood of 10 grand-kids, and both of us are full-time working mothers. Needless to say, none of the women who married into the family are working outside the house (for various reasons).

I have nothing against home makers – my Mother is one herself – and I am eternally thankful to her for her decision to stay home and look after us. All I am saying is that no one has any right to judge whether a woman should work or not, and decide what should be her priorities in life.

Now, I have a tremendous opportunity to move to Singapore, and my husband is again there for me – completely supporting my decision, and ready to move over as a family – not heeding any unwanted voices that may whisper about the inappropriateness of a husband moving because of his wife’s work priorities.

So far, I have just seen a single friend who moved abroad because his wife was transferred there on a project. And here I am – honoured to have such a caring person as a partner. He is always there with a helping hand in the kitchen (one place I detest). He has a bad back, and yet refuses to let me carry the heavy stuff. Every time I am back from my business trips, he insists on driving over with Li’l One to the airport, so that I don’t have to worry about getting a cab late at night. And no matter how worn out he is, he always has a smile for Li’l One and me.

In fact, it is all there in the little things – the way he always slows down the car to allow a person to cross the road, or a car waiting at a U-turn to take the turn. Or the pains he has taken to win over my family, in spite of us having an intercaste marriage (a terrible taboo in India) and even after having been subtly snubbed by some of my extended family (something that could very well result in cutting ties with the wife’s family forever).  Or even the times he has packed up the house during the umpteen moves we have had ( 6 in the last 7 years), and let me go to a friend’s place or my home (and yes, I offered to stay and do the packing, but he was insistent that I leave it all to him).

Here is a salute to Fathers all over the world!

What makes your partner the best in the world? How does he help you out in your day? 

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ An aside from Veena: The last time I edited my bio was when I joined as a writer here - my son was 11-months old and 'helped' me write by hitting all the keys on my laptop, and 'feeding' it water from his glass when he felt the laptop looked thirsty. Now, as I'm updating my bio, he's a cheeky little 11-year old who already thinks he knows more than me! How time has flown!

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INDIA: My Birth Story

Today, I am going to share the story of how my son came into this world.

Warning: this is an ultra long post, so please make your self comfortable, curl up with a tea or a drink, and read on.

Ahem,  one more thing – the post below may get quite graphic, so please read at your own discretion.

Okay, now those still with me, please continue.

As I entered my 9th month of pregnancy, I went for the routine check-up, which were now weekly. The doctor found that the baby was underweight, and that I had some serious feeding to do. (more…)

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ An aside from Veena: The last time I edited my bio was when I joined as a writer here - my son was 11-months old and 'helped' me write by hitting all the keys on my laptop, and 'feeding' it water from his glass when he felt the laptop looked thirsty. Now, as I'm updating my bio, he's a cheeky little 11-year old who already thinks he knows more than me! How time has flown!

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INDIA: Bonding Between Mother and Child

Today - My Husband and SonTonight I was watching a movie ‘Mother and Child’ and some of the scenes in the movie suddenly brought home to me how much it paralleled my own thoughts. And I got down to penning this post.

Nearly two-and-a-half years ago, I was ecstatic about being pregnant. Every time I heard that a friend had a baby or that another one was pregnant, I was left wondering: “When will it be my turn?” or, as we say in India: “Mera number kab aayega?*”  Thus it was with great elation that I received news of my own pregnancy.

I was all set for the long nine months and soon realised that a pregnancy was not the cake-walk that it was made out to be in Indian movies, where the heroine was assumed to be pregnant as soon as she started vomiting after marriage, and then there was a song sequence in which the family (especially the husband) (more…)

Veena Davis (Singapore)

Veena has experienced living in different climes of Asia - born and brought up in the hot Middle East, and a native of India from the state known as God’s Own Country, she is currently based in the tropical city-state of Singapore. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Several years ago, she came across World Moms Network (then World Moms Blog) soon after its launch, and was thrilled to become a contributor. She has a 11-year old son and a quadragenarian husband (although their ages might be inversed to see how they are with each other sometimes). ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ On a professional front, she works in the financial sector - just till she earns enough to commit to her dream job of full-time bibliophile. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ You can also find Veena at her personal blog, Merry Musing. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ An aside from Veena: The last time I edited my bio was when I joined as a writer here - my son was 11-months old and 'helped' me write by hitting all the keys on my laptop, and 'feeding' it water from his glass when he felt the laptop looked thirsty. Now, as I'm updating my bio, he's a cheeky little 11-year old who already thinks he knows more than me! How time has flown!

More Posts - Website