The exploitation must be addressed Guyana Chronicle
June 18, 2002

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THE exploitation and abuse of Amerindian women and young girls by some unscrupulous business people has been going on for years, seemingly without any major intervention by the authorities to curb the practice.

Young Amerindian women and girls - many of school age - have been lured by owners of restaurants, hotels, bars and other places to the city and the coast with promises of gorgeous lifestyles and high salaries.

However, on arrival they find themselves trapped as virtual slaves of their employers, working in some instances as sex slaves under the guise of being domestics or employed as waitresses at hotels and bars to attract male customers.

Far from the gorgeous lifestyles and lucrative salaries promised them, most end up as drunks and prostitutes because of the environmental and societal conditions under which they exist.

In the process they are subjected to all forms of abuse and human degradation, including rape and other forms of physical abuse.

The slightest show of dissent most times results in harsh measures by their employers, including being thrown out on the streets even in the wee hours of the morning.

Amerindians cannot be regarded as being inferior and open to exploitation by some employers.

There should be a sustained programme aimed at addressing this problem and ending the deplorable and disgraceful acts.

A serious problem such as this should attract the attention and collective efforts of the pertinent ministries and agencies - Human Services, Education, Amerindian Affairs, Home Affairs, and the National Commissions on Women and Child Abuse.

Those who employ the women under such deplorable conditions should also face the full force of the law because they do not fulfill the requirements of the constitutional labour laws and regulations governing employment.

In this age when there is so much talk about equality of women and the rights of the child, it is most unfortunate that some women are forced to labour under such conditions.

However, apart from the legal/administrative approaches in tackling the problem, it is imperative that the economic conditions, employment opportunities and educational standards be further significantly improved in the interior communities.

It must be acknowledged that such problems are not resolved overnight, but a recognition of the issue is an essential first step.

There have been improvements in many Amerindian communities in recent years but the exploitation of the women and girls by the unscrupulous continues and cannot be ignored.

The elimination of social injustice is essential in the building of a modern humane society and the lot of those Amerindians caught in the trap of the unscrupulous has to be addressed.