Blast from the Past #2

Following the latest news from Gaza, about Maltese activist Bianca Zammit, we thought it was appropriate to commemorate her activism with ADZ. She wrote this article way back in 2003.

From the whole team we wish her a speedy recovery.

Human trafficking

Posted 11 Mar 2003 by Bianca Zammit.

Human trafficking, a term used to define a situation where people including children are tricked, forced or threatened in order to be transported to other parts of that country or another country all together where they are coerced to work in factories or enter the sex trade. Those destined for factories become imprisoned with no compensation for their labour and become victims of an irrational schedule that allows very little time to rest. Human trafficking uses the same methods that were used in the slave trade. It is difficult to know for certain the amount of people that are trafficked each year but the United States government estimates that at least 700,000 women and children. In Bangladesh traffickers trick parents by promising a bright future for their children with job opportunities and marriage but in reality they are taken to India and Pakistan and forced into prostitution. Those women that manage to escape are detained by government officials to “protect” them. They are usually put in cells with criminals and these leads to further personal aggravation. Those women that reach their families are greeted with disappointment and shame due to their prostitution and the importance of family honor in these countries leads them to become social outcasts with any possibility of recovery from the trauma experienced extremely difficult. In 2000 the government passed a law that made trafficking illegal with harsh penalties but this law remains to be implemented effectively. Up to now police either ignored accusations regarding trafficking or are themselves part of this business.

In Russia, promising advertisements about stable job and career opportunities abroad are used as traps so that once the women that apply reach their destination they are immediately forced into prostitution. The experience of being in a foreign country where people do not understand one’s language is a very alienating condition and many times these women succumb to the orders they are given. This nightmare is increased by the further rape, abuse and torture these women are subjected to by the traffickers. If men are trafficked these are forced into agricultural or construction work with no pay. Some horrendous circumstances state that the trafficked victims must repay their traffickers the whole cost of transportation. If a victim manages to escape and return home there are no services that can aid the victim and have to face the turmoil on their own. In Russia there is no law against trafficking and cases are rarely taken into consideration. Similar above experiences are shared also in Japan where activists calculated that Yen 4 Trillion ($400 million) a year is made out of trafficking. In Japan there are no laws against trafficking and traffickers are penalized in accordance with the prostitution or immigration laws. In 1999, 127 sex slaves were freed by police officials, the traffickers being charged with trafficking. However, such incidents remain the exception rather than the rule. It is important that all governments introduce into the laws a clear definition of trafficking and a prohibition in any form of exploitation. The measures must be consistent with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Police officials must be trained on how to recognize trafficking and how to treat it, including how to help the victims.

Blast From the Past

Jurgen Balzan July 8th, 2002

Malta, the EU and AD

Malta is one of the candidate countries vying for EU membership and therefore is going trough a very important phase in its long history. At the same time the European Union too is passing trough a very important phase. These changes in the EU will be discussed in the convention on the future of the EU. Malta will participate in this convention as one of the candidate countries and I sincerely hope that Malta will be a EU member in the near future.

One major reason why Malta should join the European Union is that small countries within the Union are much stronger than many non-EU countries when confronted by multinational corporations and the World Trade Organisation.

EU countries cannot be bullied by multinational corporations or the WTO, because they form part of a block, that, with all its defects, is the most progressive, democratic and socially just block in the world.

Other reasons why Malta should join the EU include Environmental and Social standards. In comparison to EU countries Malta is lacking in both sectors. EU membership will not only mean financial support and expertise for Malta but it will also mean that the Maltese government will finally put the environment on its agenda and make it one of the top priorities.

The European Union will also bring along consumer rights, human and civil rights and many other things that right now do not really play an important role in our countries political agenda. Another thing that I really hope Malta will adopt is an improved electoral system.

One thing makes Malta different from all European countries including the smaller states such as Gibraltar and San Marino. Malta is the only country with 2 political parties in parliament in Europe. All other European countries have at least 3 political parties in parliament.

This is where Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) The Green Party comes into the frame. AD The Green Party has never been stronger. In the past year AD has grown and consolidated itself. One of the major changes was the foundation of Alternattiva Demokratika Studenti(ADS) which is the youth section of the Green Party. ADS has been working hard to bring along this much needed breathe of fresh air in this country. One of the little victories the party has made is the doubling of it’s support in the country according to the latest polls. The Green Party has the support of 10% of youths aged 18 – 24. This is very significant in a country that has always known a bi-party system. These survey results are very encouraging to us and the Green Party youths will be working very hard to help AD  make history by being elected in parliament as early as next election which should come along next year.

Alternattiva Demokratika Studenti being such  young and fresh Greens are willing and eager to participate on national and international fronts.

The coming months are vital for all of us. The EU will be accepting up to 15 new member countries and will also undergo other changes that will be very significant. The same applies for Malta and Alternattiva Demokratika. Changes will occur in Malta due to the eventful EU membership and Alternattiva Demokratika will hopefully be the protagonist of the radical change that Malta is in such a need of.