Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ms. Magazine - "Paradise Lost", Making a Difference for Women in Marianas

I received this in an email from Ms. Magazine and wanted to share it with all of you. I am attempting to post this as they sent it. Please take the time to read and respond.

This is a very important subject and needs to be kept alive. This is not the only place stuff like this is happening, so let us not stop here.

Dear ...,

"Paradise Lost" - the explosive Ms. magazine investigative report on the appalling conditions of guest workers in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory - is making news again as Congress finally acts to stop the worst abuses. Congress has already delivered a victory for the guest workers in the Marianas by including them in the recently passed minimum wage increase.

Ms.'s hard-hitting cover story brought to the nation's attention the labor and immigration abuses that were the focus of a Senate committee hearing last Thursday. When we published our investigative report last spring, we spurred weeks of additional news coverage and generated widespread public outrage. Two of the women we interviewed for our report - including a young woman trafficked into the sex industry against her will - testified at the Senate hearing.

Make a special contribution to the Ms. Investigative fund today to ensure that Ms. continues to break stories of vital importance to women here in the U.S. and around the world.

Here's the background on the situation:

Although the name-brand clothing companies that contract with garment factories in the Marianas can attach "Made in Saipan (USA)" or simply "Made in the USA" labels to their clothes, until now they have been exempt from U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws.

Women trafficked to the Marianas, mostly from China and the Philippines, work up to 20 hours a day in factories at a sub-minimum wage of $3.05/hour in often dangerous conditions. In its report, Ms. detailed how these women find themselves in a situation akin to indentured servitude as they struggle to earn enough money to pay for room and board and to repay human traffickers who charge as much as $7,000 for a one-year contract to work in the Marianas.

Moreover, with expiring trade agreements, some companies have closed down their Saipan operations to move to mainland China, leaving their workers stranded and owed months of back-pay. Ms.'s investigative report documented how, unable to make ends meet, many women have been forced to work in the islands' sex tourism industry in order to survive.

Now, with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff (who lobbied on behalf of Marianas factory owners) in prison, Tom DeLay (a leading supporter of garment-company interests) out of Congress, and other opponents of reform defeated in the November elections, Congress may finally be able to pass long-blocked reforms.

Ms.'s in-depth reporting on the suffering of women in the
Northern Marianas is the kind of ground-breaking investigative journalism that truly changes lives.
We are determined to continue to follow this story, and dispatched a reporter to cover the hearings. Look for updates on MsMagazine.com and in upcoming issues of the magazine.

Help Ms. stay strong by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Ms. Investigative Fund now.

For a Strong Feminist Media,

Executive Editor

Eleanor Smeal


Copyright © Ms. Magazine 2006


franktheliberal said...

Today ,knowing Traci is a vegetarian,I watched a video on PETAs website about how animals we eat are treated. It was disgusting. I imagine human beings beings treated in a similar manner in the Marianas.It shows the true depth of the corrupt nature of the Republican party to take contributions from these inhuman jackals in any way,from golf trips or whatever. But Delay went the extra step by proclaiming that what they were doing over there was what the Republican party is all about. Yuk.