The politics of penises: Myths about transgender people Audrey Mbugua

Download 446.41 Kb.
Date conversion16.05.2016
Size446.41 Kb.
1   ...   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13
‘There is no such thing as a temporary displacement,’ Chaudhry said. ‘When they’re forced out of the city they lose their livelihoods. It’s permanent.’
In India the Delhi High Court has found gross violations of housing and human rights in the process of CWG development. But with no CWG watchdog or ethics committee, ‘the state is not accountable; the state gets away with it’, Chaudhry said.
‘There have to be much stricter rules when countries bid for games,’ Kothari said, along with monitoring and penal measures for non-compliance.
The CWG report recommends that each city draft a legacy plan before a host bid is advanced, yet alone accepted. Kothari said the commitment to ensure human rights are not sidelined as mega-events crowd host cities should be the responsibility of organisers like FIFA and the International Olympic Committee, and both host and participating governments in ‘the international sporting club’.
* Dana Wagner is a recent journalism and political science graduate from Carleton University and an intern with Pambazuka News.

* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.

Licence to live

Nahed Nassr

2010-07-01, Issue 488

cc Wolfram Schubert

Nahed Nassr walks in the footsteps of migrant labour, through the experiences of two young men from Egypt, Mohamed and Salah. Both men have left their communities and families behind on a perilous journey to find work abroad. They talk about the danger and extreme insecurity migrant labourers face and the desperation that drives them to pursue it. The story of Mohamed and Salah is a shared experience of thousands of young Egyptian men who have either made the trip to find work or died trying to do it. The solution Egyptian and foreign authorities favour is heightened border controls, rather than tackling the root causes of the young generation’s suffering.It is my last evening in bustling Istanbul, with only a few hours before my flight back to Cairo, and roaming the city seems the best possible farewell. But just round the corner I can't help overhearing an Egyptian speaking into a public phone, so I stop. ‘Send me a hundred dollars urgently,’ he is panting. ‘I'm running out of money – no credit in my phone card.’ A young man talking to his brother, as it turns out. On seeing him I can't help thinking of Okal, the comedy superstar Mohamed Saad's character, who ends up in a similar situation. I approach him with a line from the movie but although he clearly recognises it he does not have the heart to laugh. A few minutes on he's actually crying.

Mohamed is 18. He landed in Istanbul two weeks ago together with a large group of people, having departed his village Delengat in Beheira with the promise of employment in Greece and leaving behind a widowed mother and four siblings with little if any source of income. He had joined his brother in a patisserie in Cairo after graduating from secondary school, but after a year he felt there was no future in this line of work. ‘I was doing 10 hours for LE10 a day in high season, LE7 on a normal day. What my brother and I made together wasn't even enough to feed the family, let alone save for my sisters' dowry.’ Then, back in Delengat, someone made the offer: a whole community from the village apparently lived and worked illegally in Athens and this person could facilitate joining it. ‘It seemed less risky than making the boat trip to Italy from the shores of Libya, where I knew a lot of people died.’ All he needed to do was pay US$1,000 for a visa and travel expenses to Turkey, where someone would manage the next leg of the journey within ‘a few days’. It's been two weeks since he arrived in Istanbul and the few days haven't ended. ‘My visa will expire in a month. The few dollars I brought with me are running out, and any minute now, I will be kicked out of my zero-star hotel.’
Mohamed explained his routine: less than a dollar a day for food (two meals of bread alone); phone calls to ‘the man’, who urges patience; and updates on when his brother can send the money. ‘The man said not to leave the hotel under any circumstances, but it's hard because I'm scared of walking the streets. Every time I step out I feel I'm going to be arrested. Then, what if the day I am waiting for just never comes?’ And, together with other family members, Mohamed is legally obliged to pay his man no less than US$5,000, whether or not he makes it to Greece. In common with many working-class families, they'd rather pay than expose the traffickers in their desperation to preserve hope; if it doesn't work this time, maybe it will the next. Such is the need to keep the possibility of employment overseas alive at any cost.
Last month the Egyptian coast guard managed to rescue 39 out of 40 young men off the shores of Agamy. The drowned young man turned out to be just 19. The group had been on a lifeboat on their way to a larger wooden vessel awaiting them out at sea, to be conveyed to Greece. When the lifeboat capsised under their weight they started swimming to the shore. None had a penny to their name. Each had been made to sign an LE40,000 cheque and the traffickers could use the cheques to send them to default on payment. The men came from Mansoura and Beheira, several of them from Delengat. Official statistics cited by Wagdy Abdel-Aziz, director of the South Centre for Human Rights (SCHR), an Egyptian NGO concerned with illegal immigration, some 400,000 Egyptians found their way into Europe illegally in the period 1995-2005; 90,000 of them are in Italy. But the actual figures, Abdel-Aziz added, must exceed this by far. From the Daqahliya village of Mit Nagi alone, some 2,000 young men immigrated to Italy in the period 2003-05. Accurate statistics, Abdel-Aziz went on to explain, are hard to come by. ‘It is a fact that countries in which illegal immigrants originate play down the numbers on a regional scale, while those in which they end up overestimate them.’ Other factors impinge: news of drowned immigrants, for example, remains undisclosed by survivors; many report the ‘disappearance’ of family members, and it is never known for sure whether they have died or, having arrived in some kind of destination, simply lost touch or else were killed by traffickers for ‘disobedience’ or to alleviate the boat load; others still, on arrest, dispose of identification to avoid deportation, seeking refugee status.
Fifteen years ago Salah, now 35, left his village Taton in Fayoum (otherwise known as Milan for the number of Milan-based settlers who hail from there; most shops bear the name of the Italian city, and even the architecture seems to mimic that of Milan, however inadequately). He works in a pizzeria in the ‘Italian Taton’, as Milan is in turn called. According to Salah, ‘it's hard to count: out of the village's 60,000 citizens, more than 6,000 are in Italy’. One or two young men for each and every family in Taton at least attempted to make the journey since the early 1990s, when Italy was rather less popular than the Gulf. Few were trying their luck in Europe, even though the risk factor is significantly lower; but many could still live off their land. Like others who left at the time, he left with a one-way ticket via an Eastern European country. Only now is his residency permit expected to come through. On this, his latest visit to Taton, everyone is cheerful. The money he sent through the years has enabled his family to reconstruct the house, provide two girls with a dowry and educate two boys. Still, the grief-stricken memory of Adel, another brother who sought to follow in the footsteps of Salah only to drown along with eight other villagers off the coast of Libya, casts a shadow over the gathering. Adel had completed a commerce diploma and married his cousin, but apart from tending a few acres of the land his father rented – which provided a meager income – he was out of work. Following the now notorious agricultural reforms, however, the rent skyrocketed and Salah's contributions became the only source of income, so the family sold two cows and mortgaged the house in which Adel lived with his wife to see him off with LE25,000. Salah recounts ‘along with 180 fellow villagers my brother left for Libya where he spent a month before setting off with 34 others on a small lifeboat that was to take them to a fishing boat out at sea; the lifeboat capsised and nine of them were lost forever’.
But this was not the end of the tragedy. ‘Afterwards we set off to Libya to fetch the bodies, where neither the authorities nor the embassy were in any way helpful; it took seven days in very hard living conditions to locate only seven of them, among which was my brother's.’ That journey itself cost LE40,000 and two years on the missing bodies have not been found, nor have the families received any form of compensation. ‘The Libyan officials who brought the bodies out of the sea asked for a further LE100,000 to hire Egyptian help. Now it may be wrong to immigrate illegally, but don't governments realise that it's a consequence of poverty and unemployment? All that they can do is criminalise the victims. Nothing will bring back our loved one, of course, but don't they realise the loss? What's left if you can't even bury your loved one?’ Abdel-Aziz agrees:
"they take the risk because there are a few legal opportunities up there, while back here unemployment rates go up year after year while the cost of living skyrockets. Smuggling networks are spreading across the countryside and poor urban neighbourhoods and they are neither tracked down nor punished. They use a handful of success stories to sell the illusion of a better future, generating this vicious circle where, having risked your life, you must risk your money and, having risked your money, you must risk your life again. There is just no end to it whatsoever.’
Only one year before the death of Adel, the same village lost 13 young men in the same manner. Nevertheless, the flow of illegal migrants from Egypt is on the rise, with the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower and Immigration in cooperation with regional partners from the southern and northern shores of the Mediterranean taking only security measures to curb the phenomenon; policing borders more severely with the northern partners and supplying their southern counterparts with the technical and financial means to do so. And this only increases the risk of death. EU-Egypt joint policies promote discussion on the economic, political, social and cultural levels, but still prioritise security. But how will security ensure that tragedies like Adel's are avoided?
* This article first appeared in Al-Ahram Weekly Online.

* Nahed Nassr is an Egyptian journalist and co-founder of the South Center for Human Rights.

* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.
1   ...   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page