APPOINTMENT OF A COMMISSION OF INQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE THE INCIDENCE OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN GUYANA
Mrs. Lawrence: Thank you, Mdm. Deputy Speaker. This motion which requests the establishing of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the incidence of trafficking of persons in Guyana is long overdue and ought to be recorded in the Hansard of this National Assembly as one of the non-contentious motions of the Tenth Parliament.
Modern day slavery has taken a grip in our land and the business milieu of men and women, either on a small or large scale, has indicated to all that the 2005 legislation on Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act will not, in any way, inhibit them from plying their trade. Their actions propel us in this National Assembly to embrace the call made by the mover, the Hon. Mr. David Arthur Granger, of this motion not only to declare our abhorrence of the clime of trafficking in persons, but to take stern and immediate measures to address this situation which is spiralling out of control.
At the Coalition Against Trafficking Against Women (CATW) meeting earlier this year in Washington, Dr. Janice G. Raymond said:
“Trafficking in human beings – mostly women and children – has become a global business that affects almost all countries and reaps enormous profits for traffickers and their intermediaries. Human trafficking is not new. What is new is the global sophistication, complexity and consolidation of trafficking networks, and the increasing numbers of women and children who are trafficked from/to/in all parts of the globe.”
This issue of trafficking in persons has been discussed on countless occasions inside and outside this honourable House without any firm sanction imposed. I, myself, have spoken about this modern day slavery and my discourse has been deliberately downplayed. Nonetheless, it is opportune with the steady increase in sexual expectations, the way in which sex is so casually addressed in advertisements, the movies, in our speech and, moreover, in the way in which sex has been tolerated as a male right in a commodity culture, that stiff measures be implemented to stem the tide that is sweeping our women folk in its relentless wake.
The economic ventures of some large industries thrive on the exploitation of human commodity. This violation must be arrested and, with our legislation, we must protect the rights of our women and children.
Trafficking has become endemic. It is not only an issue of violence against women and girls; it is a human rights violation, a deep seated economic and development problem. In short, it is a heinous crime in which the traffickers, not the women, are the perpetrators.
Our women and girls are lured and forced into situations with or without their consent, and through force, fraud, deception or abuse become victims within and without our country. More recently, we read of traffickers under the guise of employers who have taken our young girls to the interior regions to supply the brothels in the mining centres. The faith of these girls is lamentable as they are at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers, let alone drunken miners and depraved and diseased male prostitutes.
Should we take our mind a bit further back, we will recall many reports, which went unnoticed, of young girls being brought from our interior regions, under the same guise, to the coastal regions or the city of Georgetown, and were made to prostitute themselves for proprietors of bars and restaurants. Certainly, these are stories which would not have escaped our notice and hearing. Can we not hear their pleas for release from bondage and servitude?
The second AND WHEREAS Clause speaks to the credible reports of persons who have been subject to trafficking or have been kept in involuntary servitude. The lack of education, coupled with the tight economic stranglehold, has forced many women to seek domestic work outside their village or outside this country and has resulted in them being violated and exploited, unaware of their basic rights.
Many who seek employment do not receive sufficient protection from the State. Those who work as domestic helpers often face physical and sexual abuse during the recruitment process from persons who pretend to be friends and later by employers. For many of these women, it is a no-no situation. They have no other choice than to comply if they wish to sustain their families.
Despite the various programmes outlined by the Hon. Minister of Human Services and Social Security, it must be noted that the paucity of information and statistics on traffickers and persons who have been trafficked in our country sadly tells of the premium which has been placed on this issue. The inability to document and to provide education for potential at-risk women and girls is an indictment on all of us in the leadership position. The lack of initiative to draft a planned programme to police areas such as sawmills, restaurants, bars and mining camps, and educate persons employed in these sectors show our lack of will to curb the incidences of trafficking in persons.
Further, our inability to provide mechanisms within the various prone regions to assist victims of trafficking speaks loudly of our negligence, laissez-faire attitude and lack of empathy for this afflicted group of our nation.
This motion, in both Be It Resolved Clauses, provides the opportunity for us as a nation and as leaders to redeem ourselves and give life to the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act 2005.
Be it resolved that we, in this honourable House, take immediate steps to establish a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations and make recommendations for the suppression and abolition of the unlawful trade of trafficking in persons.
The perpetrators of these inhumane actions must be held accountable and must face stiffer penalties and consequences as efforts are made to cope with this illegal act of trafficking of persons nowhere else, but right here in our beloved country, Guyana.
I thank you, Mdm. Deputy Speaker. [Applause]