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Ear to the Ground

Greed, Sex Slavery and Forced Abortions—Made in the USA

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Posted on Apr 24, 2006
Saipan workers
From Ms. magazine

In an investigation, Ms. Magazine documented “what amounts to indentured servitude on the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas: substandard living and dangerous working conditions, forced abortions, and a declining labor market that has left many women few options than to be trafficked into the sex trade.”

Ms. Magazine documents quasi-endentured servitude in garment factories in the Northern Mariana Islands—which, because they’re a territory of the U.S., labels their clothes “Made in the USA.” The surprise: Jack Abramoff facilitated the situation.


Ms. Magazine:

That expensive blouse you’re wearing? It may have been sewn by a Filipina garment worker laboring in a factory owned by a Hong Kong mogul on a western Pacific island. The Northern Mariana Islands, a territory of the United States, offers the possibility of an American label—Made in Saipan (USA), Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA), or simply Made in USA—to garment manufacturers, and throws in a unique exemption from U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws.

Anti-sweatshop leaders and some members of Congress have long sought to increase wages and protect the islands’ garment workers, most of whom are women, from what amounts to indentured servitude. But their efforts were repeatedly stalled in Congress. And who was among the biggest opponents of reform? None other than the notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose tentacles reached deep into House Republican leadership. And who was one of the loudest congressional cheerleaders against reform? Tom DeLay, who praised the islands as “a petri dish of capitalism.”

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By deangelo jackson, May 11, 2006 at 9:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

terrible situation these poor women are placed in.Those heartless fat cats in washington is at it again

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By deangelo jackson, May 11, 2006 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Its a very terrible situation, and the time for change is now

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By Pol Set, May 11, 2006 at 12:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading the article, I found that history had never change from the begining because no matter how educated or uneducated a person can get, a women is always a victim in the work force which is always control by men. Life is never fair, the bestest way out of this problem is there isn’t any solution. It is just a belief that women cannot be as equal to a men can be. This is the major problem in today society. Not only in the United States, but also the world have continue to follow as well.

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By Pol Set, May 11, 2006 at 12:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading the article, I found that history had never change from the begining because no matter how educated or uneducated a person can get, a women is always a victim in the work force which is always control but men. Life is never fair, the bestest way out of this problem is there isn’t any solution. It is just a belief that women cannot be as equal to a men can be. This is the major problem in today society. Not only in the United States, but also the world have continue to follow as well.

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By AMERIKA, May 10, 2006 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I FIND THIS VERY UNFAIR TO ALL WOMEN…WHETHER IT BE A PHILLIPINA…OR AN ASIAN WOMAN….NO WOMAN SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE THIS…AND THOSE MEN WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS WRONG DOING TO THESE WOMEN..SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ALL THEIR WRONG DOINGS….

ALL WOMEN ARE HUMANS…AND HUMANS ARE NOT ANIMALS..THESE MEN NEED TO BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS SCANDAL…THESE WOMEN DESERVE A BETTER LIVING..AND THESE MEN..DESERVE WHAT THEY SHOULD GET….CRUEL PUNISHMENT…

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By AMERIKA, May 10, 2006 at 10:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I FIND THIS VERY UNFAIR TO ALL WOMEN…WHETHER IT BE A PHILLIPINA…OR AN ASIAN WOMAN….NO WOMAN SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE THIS…AND THOSE MEN WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS WRONG DOING TO THESE WOMEN..SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ALL THEIR WRONG DOINGS….

ALL WOMEN ARE HUMANS…AND HUMANS ARE NOT ANIMALS..THESE MEN NEED TO BE PUNISHED FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS SCANDAL…THESE WOMEN DESERVE A BETTER LIVING..AND THESE MEN..DESERVE WHAT THEY SHOULD GET….CRUEL PUNISHMENT.

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By Brenda Covarrubias, May 10, 2006 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

for many years we the people have fought against slavery in many ways we don’t have excuse,now the goverments have to pay more attention to these crimes. we can not put our ears in silent about this, what about if your daugther,son or someone you love would be in this situation.we need to reinforced the laws againts this acts, and to put it clear,zero tolerance and punishment to the ones participate in this crimes.

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By Brenda covarrubias, May 10, 2006 at 10:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For many years we the people have fought againts slavery in many ways we dont have excuse, now the goverments have to pay more attention to these crimes. we can not put our ears in silent about this, what about if your daughter,son or someone you love would be in this situation.
we need to reinforced the laws againts this acts,and to put it clear,zero tolerance and punishment to the ones paticipate in this crimes.

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By Cynthia Hughes, April 30, 2006 at 11:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The atrocities illuminated here are, sadly, not unique, but just another in the long list of inhumaine and entrenched circumstances that negatively affect a large number of women around the world. Besides the urgent need for focused (read indepth and pervasive) media exposure of these practices and systems of exploitation and marginalization, the citizens of America need to continue thier support for these women by demanding that those in power be held accountable and the companies responsible are forced to change their practices. Boycotts of goods may be a viable method to begin the pressure for change.

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By samia bano, April 28, 2006 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It’s so ironic that people who talk about themselves as having family values are allowing these guest workers to be exploited in the harshest possible ways,”

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By Campbell, April 28, 2006 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This event doesnt shock me in the slightest bit, but I am surprised that someone is covering this horrific and inhumane act in print media. After the media has exposed such a practice the only thing that needs to happen is for general public to realize the consequences and reality of this event and also for political officials to stand up and speak out against both illegal work practices and sexism(women being treated almost as lower than second class citizens).

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By Heather, April 27, 2006 at 11:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for posting this story.  Clearly Ms. Magazine brings up very important issues— and they’ve got the integrity to do it.

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By Sara, April 27, 2006 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a great example of how “guest workers” are already being exploited, which is surely what will happen if the program is implimented to the extent that it is currently being discussed.

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By Daisy, April 27, 2006 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

With all the Immigrant Reforms in the talks, it is critical that we do not overlook matters such as this- inhumane treatment of Immigrants and Women.  If the Bush Administration really wants a positive change, then we must focus more attention on issues mentioned in this article and hold those in power accountable.

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By Michelle Stover, April 26, 2006 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tom DeLay insists that he’s never heard such stories. “Sure, when you get this number of people, there are stories of sexual exploitation,” he told the Galveston County Daily News in May 2005. “But in interviewing these employees one-on-one, there was no evidence of any of that going on. No evidence of sweatshops as portrayed by the national media. It’s a beautiful island with beautiful people who are happy about what’s happening.”

Yes, let’s hide our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. 

The arrogance of Delay’s comments is appaling. I am disturbed by the nonchalant manner of Delay’s comment that, “Sure, when you get this number of people, there are stories of sexual exploitation”. Sexual exploitation is a serious matter, women’s rights are human rights and thus this constitues a human rights violation (not a mere aside).

I doubt that Delay is telling the truth that no women spoke about sexual expoloitation in interviews. But, even if he was, we must wonder if women were pressured to withhold information about sexual expolitation. When women are subjected to forced abortions and basically indentured servitude, it should not be surprising that they would be directed to lie about it.

And, finally, I am tired of the Right’s complaints that “the media” has created an unrealistic picture of these places. The media has not even begun fully exposing human rights violations abroad.

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By lexi Smith, April 26, 2006 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Surprise? I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise to find that yet another neo-con is not only a liar and a cheat, but also hypocritical about their beliefs and values. What surprises me is that this story has remained so low profile.  Thanks to Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, and friends the ‘made in the USA” shirt you’re wearing may actually have been produced by indentured servants laboring through the night in a sweat shop in The Northern Mariana Islands. Would someone please hold these people accountable!

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By Alberto Farinas, April 25, 2006 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Tom DeLay, who praised the islands as “a petri dish of capitalism.”....”

Interesting… I have long argued that as a consequence of capitalism, “slavery” would have been abolished in exchange for a far more efficient form of human exploitation.  You really do not need to go to the territories to find evidence of this.  Wake up and look arounnd you…  May I Supersize that for you Madam…? Wellcome to Wall Mart….! and Praise the Lord…!

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By John Champlin, April 25, 2006 at 5:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By now it’s obvious how grossly hypocritical Bush, the late Tom Delay and the neocons are.  The question is, what does it take to wake up Americans to all this lying?

The Democrats need louder, more coherent and more effective leadership.

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