“Modern-day slavery” that’s now a “scourge” which must be eliminated.
Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, used those words and phrases to describe human trafficking that has turned millions of innocent women and children in the Caribbean and elsewhere around the world into victims.
“Too many mothers have to face tough choices to meet their basic needs,” she told the United Nations General Assembly in a foreign policy address in New York. “Children, especially girls, are being used as pawns for economic gain, including through human trafficking and other exploitive actions. Human trafficking is a dastardly threat to the welfare of our women, girls and boys. Our ancestors fought for our freedom. It is disgraceful that at this juncture of world history we should see the emergence of a form of modern day slavery which renders women, girls and boys to be traded as chattel.
“Many vulnerable young women are deceived and lured away by attractive offers to get them and their families out of poverty,” she went on during the UN’s foreign policy debate. “They then find themselves in strange lands with no support, no identity and no hope of returning home, sold into modern day slavery, their very bodies used as a currency of exchange.”
Her call for international attention didn’t come as a surprise. Several heads of government, including U.S. President Barack Obama and some leaders and cabinet ministers of Caribbean and Latin American countries had made similar pleas for strong action. In addition, international reports on human trafficking have complained that human trafficking was a growing menace in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, the Western Hemisphere and Asia and they too appealed for tough laws and actions to curb it.
When she took to the podium, a few days after President Obama had spoken from the same spot, the Prime Minister said that Jamaica was “resolute in its commitment to strengthening local and national programmes to eliminate violence against women” and she called for “bold action” to end the scourge.
Turning to another perplexing problem, Simpson-Miller said that the fight against HIV/AIDS was being hampered by “inadequate and financial resources” which was hampering developing countries as they sought to scale-up testing and treatment of the disease as well as to heighten awareness and reduce the risk of new infections.
But that wasn’t all. She told the world body that developing countries were the “hardest hit” by the incidence of non-communicable diseases, NCD, such as cancers, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
“The high social and developmental costs of NCDs demand concerted policy at the national and international levels,” she insisted.
Like some of her Caribbean neighbors who addressed the UN, Simpson Miller focused attention on crime and violence, insisting that steps must be taken to stem the flow of illegal guns and ammunition into developing nations.
“Transnational crime, narco-trafficking and the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition are major components of the cycle of insecurity,” was the way she put it. “They continue to endanger lives and undermine the rule of law, and fuel violent crime. We remain resolute in our call for increased partnerships to fight this scourge and will continue to work with al delegations to achieve a comprehensive and robust arms trade treaty.”
When it came to the global economic, the Jamaican leader reiterated a call for global economic reforms, including changes to the international financial institutions that would take into account “the need for special and differential treatment for small and vulnerable economies,” a refocusing of the “development agenda in terms of financial flows” and the need to adopt a new system that would reduce the over-reliance on per capital income figures.
“We are supportive of the proposals put forward by ECLAC, (Economic Commission for Latin and the Caribbean) for an alternative but complementary approach to the criterion of per capita income for the allocation of financing for development,” she said.
The Prime Minister urged the U.S. to end its long-standing economic embargo against Cuba and appealed to the global community to live up to its promises to help Haiti rebuilding its infrastructure after the disastrous earthquake almost two years ago.