Sunday, October 08, 2006

Indentured Servitude

I have written here before on the plight of modern slavery in Canada, the so called indentured servitude program of the Federal Government, that allows nannies and other guest workers into the country to work with no labour protection, and they face deporation if they do not remain with the family that sponsors them. Now it appears there is another form of slavery and exploitation of women occuring in Canada; mail order brides.

Mail order brides face exploitation in Canada, BC researcher says

A new study by Simon Fraser University's Jen Marchbank says the scenario is not unique. Mail-order brides coming to Canada have little knowledge of their rights and face exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous husbands.

And the business in Canada is thriving, thanks in part to the Internet.

She details the situation Mail Order Brides: Causes, Experiences, and Policy Responses in North America

Many of the problems such women face in Canada come as a result of changes to this country's marriage laws as they relate to immigrants.

"Unlike many U.S. states, the industry is unregulated in Canada," says Marchbank. "In this country, there are no specific rules to control agencies, which work transnationally, and no specific provisions to ensure that brides know their rights."

Recent changes in Canadian marriage law regarding common-law spouses could also have implications.

"This might aid unscrupulous men in deceiving women into entry to Canada with a promise of marriage - then not being able to leave the man without threat of deportation."

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act changed the definition of a spouse in 2001 so that certain common-law marriages are recognized under the family section of immigration rules.

Under those rules, a woman can come to Canada as a common-law spouse without being married elsewhere. That, however, puts a women at the mercy of her husband.

Should the relationship fail, she could be deported.

Congrats to the Green Party for speaking out on this issue. To bad it has not gotten more coverage.

Party Leader Elizabeth May says the situation is akin to "human trafficking."

May said women coming from countries outside of western cultures suffer due to their lack of language skills and support systems.

"All the more so in this particular group where women come in, potentially as mail-order brides without any support and are subject to abuse," May said. "We've heard about situations where it's really not a marriage; it's actually sexual exploitation."

While the Minister of the Status of Women, Bev Oda stood in the house this week justifying her funding cuts to that program, she stated one of reasons was that now the Conservative government was focusing on the international campaign against the trafficking in women.

"In a few short months the new Conservative government has provided safety in communities by putting more law enforcement officers on the street. We have provided $1.4 billion in affordable housing. We introduced legislation and movement on human trafficking.''

Thats ironic since it is clear that the Canadian government endorses and abets both indentured servitude and the trafficking in women.

So are they going to end indentured servitude in Canada and regulate the mail order bride progam? Guess she better talk to Monte Soldberg about it since it is his department that is in charge mail brides and the Minister of Labour who is charge of rules around indentured servitude. Because so far it is all talk that has come out of the Tories.

Bill C-49 the act to criminalize trafficking in human beings was passed by the Liberal Government in 2005.

And all the Tories want to do is address it in it's international context, as if it is just a case of what used to be called the white slave trade, the exploitation of women coming to Canada from Eastern Europe to work in the sex industry. They don't want to look at the real root causes of both indentured servitude of women workers, like nannies, and mail order brides from the third world; womens poverty. Of course not that would be advocacy as defined by Oda and the Conservatives.

Conservative Government Refuses to Address Women’s Economic Security

The Conservative government refuses to address women’s economic security, which is the root cause of human trafficking and many other social problems, Liberal Status of Women and Multiculturalism Critic Maria Minna said today. At a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women held Thursday to determine the work plan for the fall session of Parliament, Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members voted to study human trafficking, while Liberal and NDP members pushed for the study of economic security for women, identified as one of the chief causes of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a serious issue affecting women around the world, and one of its primary causes is a lack of economic security for women. The Conservative government’s failure to address this issue comes as a severe disappointment,” said Ms. Minna.
“Significant progress has already been made through anti-human trafficking legislation passed under the previous Liberal government, but in order to further our fight we must address the causes behind this and other social problems facing women – namely, that women are economically disadvantaged,” said Ms. Minna.

“Women are economically disadvantaged and it is time for action,” Ms. Minna said. “I am extremely disappointed the Conservative and Bloc Quebecois members have chosen to revisit this law and order path instead of addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality among women.”



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