Do Words Speak Louder than Action?

We only listen to people say what we want to hear. The key words that pull in laborers are “love,” “family,” and “money.” These labor abusers know that in order to pull these people out of their desperate measures they entice them with words of hope only to place them in even more desperate settings.  In a statement from Ms. Hiu Danh from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Danh had testified that her sister, Be Houng, and many young Vietnamese women were lured to Russia with a promise of a high-paying job as waitresses. However, this labor trafficking turned into sex trafficking. These women were told that they were promised to be paid, but instead they were deceived; they were sold to brothels in Moscow. The story is the same all over the world. There are people trying to survive another day on less than a dollar day. These people see these friendly abusers in a well-ironed suit; their physical appearance leads them to believe that they can be trusted. They appeal to the pathos and ethos of those who needed help. The traffickers are very intelligent in that they know how to pull people in. In a way, as conniving as snakes and charmers as they are, they’re their little own snake charmers. In that situation, I could see why falling for this decoy and why so many people fall for it exists.

The language, the words, the syntax that is used by these people come off as innocent. They seize the naïve and gain their trust. In Dr. Laura Murphy’s Book, “Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives,” Sopheap, although not a Vietnamese native, was trafficked in Vietnam. Her aunt forced her to beg on the streets. The person that took her in; the woman who is supposed to be her mother figure sent her to Vietnam to be a beggar. Sopheap trusted her new family, but she was unable to leave. There were no words of affection that pulled Sopheap in, but most traffickers pretend to act as their savior; their “daddy,” their new best friend. But you could imagine if people from contiguous countries are sending their children to Vietnam to beg, then what actually goes on in Vietnam? I don’t know what is worse: to be trafficked by your own family or a complete stranger.

People say “the pen is mightier than the sword” or “actions speak louder than words.” Words are powerful and they’re powerful in a way that they’re able to corrupt and manipulate people into doing things they don’t know they’re going into. The combination of actions and words result in havoc. Words are dangerous. Everyone knows words, but everyone has a different way of using it.

Progress: The Great “Pression”

Unemployment rate of Vietnam for the past three years.

Unemployment rate of Vietnam for the past three years.

The basics of economics is when there is high demand of something, then you’re going to need the supply to make it whether that be machinery, materials, or actual workers. Where can you find cheap labor and lots of it? Countries like Vietnam. The idea of cheap labor is appealing to many corporations. Would you rather pay 10 dollars per hours for every worker or 2.50? But on the other side, who can say no to money and promise of a PROMIS(E)ing future? That’s what these workers thought. The traffickers take advantage of the jobseekers, and although the Vietnamese natives are working, they may not be paid nor paid well. In Vietnam, everyone; men, women, and children, is being trafficked; children are forced to street hawk, beg, and work in restaurants in major urban cities of Vietnam. These traffickers know how to play the people. Using basic persuasion skills, they try to appeal to the people’s pathos. I remember visiting Vietnam a couple of years ago and there were children selling some sort of lottery ticket. It’s definitely not hard to say no to cute kids with their puppy eyes in torn, filthy clothing. You hope that the money you give them will better their life but it may not. It’s like back here in the U.S. you hope that when you give a homeless person money you hope they put it to good use; food, water, maybe clothes. While these people have a choice, the children are more than likely working for someone and have to give them their earnings. In recent years, however, I think Vietnam has done a better job with their people and their economy. Continuing to decrease poverty and their unemployment rate, Vietnam has gone from an unemployment rate of an all-time high of 4.5% to 2.44% now in the second quarter of 2015. The poverty rate of Vietnam has an amazing record for being a developing country and achieving the first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for halving poverty over the period 1990-2015. And as for their GDP, Vietnam was worth a high of 186.20 billion in US dollars as of 2014. Fortunately there hasn’t been any prevalent hearing on labor trafficking in Vietnam, which is good, but the fact there is some trafficking means we still need to do something about it. Programs like UNICEF or UNIAP need take a stronger initiative on the issue that natives are not being sent to countries like China, Taiwan, and other contingent countries to be exploited and work without pay.

Steps to Tier 1

A girl and her mother scrounge through garbage in Rach Gia, Vietnam. Some 200 families - three generations of Cambodians - live on two dumps there.

A girl and her mother scrounge through garbage in Rach Gia, Vietnam. Some 200 families – three generations of Cambodians – live on two dumps there.

Hope, opportunity, money, food… these are some of the reasons labor trafficking exists. Upon research, Vietnam has had a history of forced labor, but luckily has made an effort to reverse and enforce the laws on labor trafficking. Everyone: men, women, and children from Vietnam immigrate to contingent countries HOPING for an OPPPORTUNITY to make MONEY so that they can send it back home to buy FOOD and necessary commodities. They hope for a better life. They see this opportunity as another day to live. According to the U.S. Department of State, Vietnam is in Tier 2. As a Tier 2 country, Vietnam’s government “does not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.” However, this is progress. In 2011, the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report placed Vietnam in Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year. Criminals found violating the standards in Vietnam could be penalized from two to seven years in prison. Those for trafficking of children range from three years to life in prison. Personally, I don’t think three years is enough for trafficking children, but who am I to tell Trương Tấn Sang he’s wrong. As of last year, the government arrested 685 suspected traffickers. Of the 685, 472 were prosecuted and 413 were convicted. The sentences for these offenders ranged from three to fifteen years. This also showed progress from the previous year; the number of convicts decreased from 420 Three years ago, anti-trafficking amendments provided a criminal law basis to prosecute these crimes; prosecutors primarily pursued labor trafficking cases as administrative violations under the country’s labor laws, however, those do not provided criminal penalties. How can we be more efficient in rescuing those who are trafficked? Thankfully, officials continue to pursue in joint investigations and rescue operations in China, Cambodia, and Laos. Why just those three? I don’t know. Hopefully other countries will cooperate and will put an end to human trafficking. With further improvements, Vietnam could step up to the plate and be categorized as a Tier 1.

Life Without Lincoln

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The I’m With Lincoln campaign was developed at barrettSF by creative director Jamie Barrett and art director Brian Cheung.

The photo provided by the “I’m With Lincoln Campaign” is a collision of modern day and the 19th century. The shadow on the wall is apparent to be Abraham Lincoln, an essential advocate against human trafficking. Lincoln is looking down on to this teenager/pre-adult in disapproval. You can see the condition this girl is living in; fold-up bed, flimsy mattress, trashy decorations and furniture. It’s not difficult to see this isn’t HER room. It’s not personalized like a room would normally look. She’s most likely staying with her “pimp.” Modern slavery comes in many forms and this is one of them. Even though it’s better than living on the streets, she is enslaved and has to sell her body for sex. No one ever said in order to survive you had to wear leather stiletto boots, but no one has ever walked a mile in her shoes.