UN expert: Contemporary forms of slavery exist in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – A UN expert says contemporary forms of slavery exist in Sri Lanka, with vulnerable groups such as children, women, ethnic minorities and the elderly particularly affected.
Tomoyo Obokata, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said on Friday after a mission to Sri Lanka that he hopes to submit a report to the Human Rights Council on UN in September next year.
Obokata said about 1% of Sri Lankan children are involved in some type of child labor, most of which is considered dangerous.
âGirls and boys work in the domestic sector, in hotels, cleaning in the general service sector. Others are sexually exploited in the tourism sector, âhe said.
Child labor is particularly serious in areas populated by Tamil ethnic minorities, such as tea and rubber plantation areas where children are forced to drop out of school and support their families, he said. -he declares.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says contemporary forms of slavery include traditional slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, serfdom, children working in slavery conditions or assimilated to slavery, domestic servitude, sexual slavery and servile forms of marriage.
âI have witnessed that in Sri Lanka contemporary forms of slavery have an ethnic dimension,â Obokata said. âIn particular, the Tamils ââof Malaysia, who were brought in from India to work in the plantation sector 200 years ago, continue to face multiple forms of discrimination based on their origin.
He said the plantation Tamils’ inability to own land forced them to live in “row houses” built during colonial times.
âI was frankly very distressed by the way they live. Five to 10 people crammed into tiny spaces. No proper kitchens, toilets or showers, just appalling conditions. I recommended that the government do something about it because, frankly, I was upset myself, âObokata said.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by contemporary forms of slavery, with women mainly occupying jobs in demanding sectors such as plantations, the garment industry and domestic work, he said.
In the plantation sector, women must meet daily goals to earn the minimum daily wage, Obokata said.
âLikewise, higher and higher targets in the clothing industry put continuous pressure on women workers. As a result, some even choose not to go to the bathroom in order to achieve the goals, âhe said.
In some cases, such as in the planning sector, older workers are forced to perform physically difficult jobs on a regular basis because younger people choose to be employed outside the sector. They do not have access to adequate health care, social protection or paid sick leave, he said.
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