The Lost Children of FARC Guerrilla Fighters

columbia female farc fighter on the march, photo by reuters courtesy of trustorg

columbia female farc fighter on the march, photo by reuters courtesy of trustorg

BOGOTA, Colombia — On the heels of a grandmother's reunion with her missing grandson after his kidnapping by the Argentinian army 36 years ago, a wider secret is beginning to unravel. Government and guerrilla forces alike in South America have, for decades, stolen infants from their soldier mothers on account of what they consider "insubordination".

Estela Carlotto had been searching tirelessly for her grandson, Guido, who went missing two months after his birth in 1978. Estela's daughter and Guido's mother, Laura, was a guerrilla fighter for the Argentine group known as "Montoneros."

According to CNN, after Laura was already two-and-a-half months pregnant when she was arrested by government forces in 1977. She then gave birth to her son Guido in a military hospital and executed sometime thereafter. Until now, Guido's whereabouts were unknown.

His grandmother, Estela, started the activist group called "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayoor", known as simply the "Abuelas". Estela and the Abuelas carry out searches to find their missing grandchildren that had been kidnapped by the government from their rebel parents in Argentina's Dirty War. This month the Abuelas have reunited Estela and the man proven to be her missing grandson. Guido Montoya Carlotto is Ignacio Hurban, who is now 36-years-old and a music teacher in Olavarria, Argentina.

There is also a search for stolen children in Colombia where the guerilla armies take infants from their mothers as they consider is a crime for a guerilla to become pregnant, according to BBC News. Many of these women that are in the guerilla Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, the FARC, are in it forcedly.

BBC News interviewed Teresa, a woman who demobilized from the FARC five years ago. They killed her mother and forced her to join their army at 16-years-old. She soon became pregnant. She explained to BBC News, "I was 16 years old, they forced me to. How would I confront the FARC all by myself to prevent them from taking my daughter if not even a whole army is able to [defeat them]?"

Teresa pleads to have her daughter back saying, "From the bottom of my heart, I beg you to put yourselves in my place. I did not give up my daughter. They took her from me." She was told by an official, according the BBC News that she cannot get her daughter back "because what kind of example can I be to her with my subversive thinking".

Another girl profiled by BBC News was merely 13-years-old when forced into the FARC. She became pregnant at seventeen. She knew that FARC would make her get an unwanted abortion, so she hid her pregnancy for seven months. BBC News says that Maria was allowed to give birth out of fear that a late-pregnancy abortion would kill her. However, she was forced to give her baby to a local family that she knew to raise as their own. She recalled the moment she handed off her infant with her partner saying, "I waited for him at a distance, I couldn't go there. I cried for four days. It was very difficult. But taking the baby and deserting wasn't an option."

While many of the stolen children were supposedly adopted by local families, there are reports of the children being killed. Still, many of these mothers from Argentina to Colombia are committed to finding their lost children in the hopes of one day reuniting with them.

Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

U.S. to Send Aid for Safe Return of Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

Boko Haram Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls, Photo by Gullpress

Boko Haram Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls, Photo by Gullpress

NIGERIA - Three weeks ago, the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Borno State as they were about to sit for their final exams.

Boko Haram, which translates to "Western education is sinful," then set the school on fire. Since then, 53 girls have managed to escape -- though Tuesday, 6 May 2014, there was another kidnapping of 8-girls from the nearby village of Warabe.

Thus far the search for the missing girls has primarily been conducted by residents of Borno, who have been braving the dangerous Sambisa Forest as well as potentially fatal encounters with Boko Haram, all with little on-ground military support.

The military says it is using aerial surveillance to look for the girls. However, many suspect that the government is afraid to engage in a conflict with Boko Haram which is heavily armed.

After three weeks of little or no support from the Nigerian government, as well as the lack of information on the exact location and status of the kidnapped girls, citizens have begun to lose confidence in authority.

However, the girls have international support: the British government expressed concern, the UN condemned the kidnappings as acts against humanity, protests are happening worldwide, awareness has gone viral with the hashtag "#bringbackourgirls," and Nigeria has recently accepted help from the US military.

While the girls were originally kept nearby, there is belief that some have been transported to neighboring countries.  If the girls have been split up into several groups, rescue efforts could potentially take years.

Boko Haram plans to sell the girls. Additionally, some may be kept as human shields to prevent rescuers from bombing the camps they're kept at, and others may be ransomed back to their parents.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that finding the girls will be a top priority.

Thailand's Human Trafficking Record

Sam Hargadine, ContributorLast Modified: 14:48 p.m. EDT, 7 March 2013

Crying Girl, Photo by London Street ArtBANGKOK - Thailand and America are bracing for an awkward situation. In June, the US State Department will release its annual human trafficking report. In this year's release it is widely believed that Thailand may be relegated to the 3rd tier watch list. In other words, the worst of the worst.

Thailand's economy and civil society is a leader in the region. It is the United States' strongest ally in mainland Southeast Asia and in many ways does not deserve to be on the same list as Eritrea, Sudan, Syria, or Zimbabwe.

But there are two Thailands. One: the shimmering lights of Bangkok and the beautiful beaches and rice fields. The other: where two million legal immigrants and another few million illegal ones toil away in harsh labor conditions; keeping the Thai export economy afloat.

A report from The Economist looked at the Thai shrimp industry, worth roughly $1 billion a year. In the Samut Sakhon province, shrimp-peeling outfits have been observed physically abusing workers, denying pay, and confiscating workers' international paperwork. The State Department asserts that in Samut Sakhon, "nearly three-fifths of workers experience conditions of forced labor."

Relegation with respect to Thailand's standing in the State Department report would bring about automatic sanctions from the United States. However there are several ways Thailand and America can reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement for the current year to avoid such a measure.

Despite current conditions, there are vast incentives for the Thai and American governments to avoid the public loss of face such a downgrade would bring. After all, both governments want to have friendly relations.

Thailand is currently trying to attack the enabling environment it hosts by enforcing a 2008 law against human trafficking. Instituting penalties for police who tip off shrimp boat owners prior to inspection for instance would be a good start. Also the Thai government is encouraging illegal immigrants to now get temporary papers and be properly registered - without the immediate fear of deportation (a quasi-guest worker program). Laborers who are properly registered are then entitled to a daily minimum wage of $10/day, a strong incentive to self-register.

Only June will tell which way the report will go. However it is unlikely either party, America or Thailand, will let this impasse continue. Perhaps though, for as long as real improvements come for Thailand's most vulnerable, that is a welcome result.

Follow Sam Hargadine on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributor: @SamHargadine

Paedophilia Sex Ring Busted in UK

doll-young-girl-photo-by-olga-santiago.jpg

Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 13:14 p.m. EDT, 17 January 2013

Young Girl Mannequin, Photo by NachtjägerOXFORD, England -- Over eight years, girls as young as 11-years-old were exposed to unbelievable sexual acts and behavior. They were being trafficked around the UK by male gang members out of Oxford.

The victims endured extreme physical and sexual violence, and some victims were even sold for prostitution. The men each face a total of 51 counts of charges that range from rape, forcing a child into prostitution, and trafficking. From 2004 to 2012, six of the victims were given drugs and drinks before being repeatedly raped for days at a time by multiple men.

The men targeted girls from chaotic backgrounds, who they then coerced into recruiting other girls for the sex ring. At times, members of the gang received payments for any new child prostitutes the girls brought in.

All nine of the men, ages ranging from 24 to 38, deny the charges against them. It has been stated that there are more men involved as well. The trial is expected to last eight to twelve weeks. Nine men face 19 counts of rape, seven of them with a child under the age of 13, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking within the UK, and using instruments in to induce miscarriages. The jury was told to prepare themselves for the evidence that would be brought before them in the court.

The girls were taken to guests houses as well as vacant houses, where they were abused and prevented from escaping. The men conducted perverted acts on the young girls such as biting, suffocation, burning, and scratching. The men carried and used weapons to torture the girls which included knives, baseball bats, and meat cleavers, while some men went as far as urinating on the young girls.

As previously stated, the girls involved were from chaotic backgrounds which made it easy for these men to take advantage of the girls' desire for positive male attention. Under this guise, the men initially plied the girls with gifts, and lavished attention on them which they craved, with the goal of enslaving them.

These benign gifts soon gave way to heroine, crack, cocaine, and cannabis, resulting in addiction. The addictions eventually made the girls dependent on the men in order to feed their drug addiction. The girls were often threatened with grievous bodily harm or even death if they tried to escape. To further alienate them, the men threatened to also kill their families as well.

The ring functioned like an out-call prostitution service where men would make appointments then travel from places as far as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough to pay to have sex with the under aged females. Sometimes, the pimps delivered the girls to customers by ferry to London and Bournemouth.

One girl, who can not be named, was 12-years-old when she was targeted by the gang. Just like many of the other young girls, she was tortured and subjected to extreme physical, sexual, and psychological abuse for the next 3 years until she was able to escape at age 15.

Though it is likely that many of the men involved in the ring as well as their customers are paedophiles, it is just as certain that these men are misogynist. The men involved in this reprehensible crime were not only unbelievably cruel, but also perverted. Unfortunately, these young girls have been scarred for life, and have had their childhood irrevocably taken from them.

Innocent children should never be subjected to acts of this sort no matter what their backgrounds, country of origin or religion. Global trafficking of children for prostitution is not a new phenomenon; however, most people generally think of this as a problem unique to and more prevalent in developing nations.

They would in fact be surprised that in "America, approximately 250,000 children are trafficked each year, the average age of entering prostitution is thirteen. Many of these children entered prostitution from homelessness or as an escape from an abusive situation. The documentary 'Very Young Girls' introduces the audience to girls who have been manipulated by their pimps, beaten and raped, sold for sex and then sent to jail. (Source: Fem 2.0)

That it happens anywhere is a travesty. That it happened in the UK raises eyebrows though it shouldn't. No country or society is immune to this scourge which has earned the moniker of 'the oldest profession in the world.'

However, this assignation is only applicable to women and men who willingly chose to ply this trade, not girls or boys who are coerced, beaten, kidnapped, or otherwise forced to engage in this industry. It is incumbent upon us all to face the ugly truth of this problem and to persist in shining a light on this horrendous darkness.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe