February 24, 2009: The Penang office of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) is preparing to launch a large community outreach operation to encourage victims to come forward.
The reality is that victims of human trafficking and other forms of labor violations do not always know that they are being exploited, or that the crimes against them are actually against the law. This ignorance is actively encouraged by many employers, who may create barriers between workers and their knowledge of their rights. These barriers may be as simple as making it difficult for employees to talk to the outside world by limiting their Internet and cell phone access. Or the barriers may be as complicated as “security” measures that actually keep workers as virtual prisoners in compounds that labor and human rights advocates have difficulty penetrating. All of these are obstacles that CAMSA has documented as imposed on Vietnamese workers, whether in Jordan or Malaysia.
To begin to close this gap between knowledge and action, the CAMSA staff will be distributing brochures and flyers stating workers’ rights and applicable labor laws. The hoped-for effect is a chain reaction, where as more Vietnamese employees get to know their rights, they will pass that information on to ever-greater numbers of their co-workers.