Madagascar: "Poverty and impunity have increased contemporary forms of slavery" warns UN Expert
GENEVA, Switzerland, December 19, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, today called on the Government of Madagascar to take urgent measures to fight poverty in the country. Combatting poverty is at the heart of combating slavery in Madagascar.
"Human rights cannot thrive in an environment of extreme poverty," said Ms. Shahinian at the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country, from 10 to 19 December. "Madagascar's experience has shown the extent to which men, women and children suffering from extreme poverty end up living in conditions of contemporary forms of slavery such as domestic servitude; child slavery in mines and quarries; bonded labour; and servile marriages," the independent human rights expert warned.
The Special Rapporteur stressed that the lack of robust action and commitment from the authorities to tackle extreme poverty has left large sections of societies completely abandoned and in despair. There has been scarcely any investment in services such as health care and education- many of which have closed down due to lack of funds. "This endangers the future human potential of the country and is a major setback to Madagascar which was on its way to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals on reducing the inequity between boys and girls attending school," she said.
"I met with women, boys and girls who had been victims of physical, verbal and sexual violence as a result of working respectively as migrant domestic workers abroad and child domestic workers in Madagascar," Ms. Shahinian said. "I learnt that parents send their children to be domestic workers so as to either pay off a debt or earn money to feed the family."
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