Posts by Victoria Wylie

Putting a Face to Refugees Worldwide

Posted on June 21st, 2012

During the height of sectarian violence in Iraq, many Iraqis left their country to find solace in Syria. Yasir Imad, 29, was one of them. In 2006, Imad was almost killed when a road bomb exploded on his car in Iraq. Later that same year, he was kidnapped and held captive for three days without knowing why. Ten days after he was released by his kidnappers, he received a note telling him to flee the country or risk being killed. “Some people think it might be because I worked for a telecom company and also for my religious views,” said Imad. “My family said you have to go now. We love you, but we don’t want to lose you.” The grim reality of war,…

The Slaves in the Shadows of America

Posted on April 25th, 2012

Hidden in the shadows of polite society in America are thousands of enslaved men, women, and children. This modern day slavery is known as human trafficking. According to the U.S. Department of State, there are 14,500 to 17,500 victims trafficked each year into this country. These numbers are often under-reported because the victims live in obscurity, hidden from the general public and are afraid to speak out. A common myth is that human trafficking only refers to forced prostitution. Yet trafficking often occurs in legitimate settings like farms, factories, hotels, nail salons, restaurants, and even private homes in ordinary towns. I spoke to a human trafficking survivor Arti (her name has been changed for her protection) about her experience coming to the United States.…

The Alarming Vulnerability of the Haitian Women

Posted on January 12th, 2012

Plagued by frustration and insufficient security, Haiti’s Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps are now the breeding ground for rape and sexual violence against women, young girls, and even infants. Gender-based violence was already a problem in Haiti. However, according to KOFAVIV (which stands for Commission of Women Victims for Victims in Creole), a grassroots organization established by and for rape survivors from the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince, there has been an alarming increase of sexual violence and forced prostitution in the camps since the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Photo Ben Horton With the help of an interpreter, I spoke to Josie Philistin, 38, a director at KOFAVIV and a survivor of three sexual assaults. She and others in the organization work to raise awareness,…

Voices of the Invisible People

Posted on October 13th, 2011

There are millions of invisible people in the world. These are people who have no country, no legal status, and no nationality. They are stateless, not recognized as citizens anywhere in the world. It’s hard to imagine the precariousness of not having a citizenship because it is given to us at birth and rarely questioned or changed, especially if one is born in a first world nation. “Some 12 million people do not have the right to be recognized as citizens of a country which can have a traumatic result… not having any papers, not having a legal identity, not having the right to have your children in school, or to go to the public health services, not being allowed to own property or…

The Russian Wealth Divide

Posted on June 16th, 2011

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s richest have more than doubled their wealth. Yet a recent study by Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, (HSE), says that 60% of the country’s population is either no better off or poorer today than they were 20 years ago. The gap between Russia’s richest and poorest is widening while possibly intensifying class-based tensions. Photo Gordon Wiltsie In large cities like Moscow, Western capitalism has raised the standards of living for the top tier of Russian society. On the other hand, pensioners and those living is smaller cities are falling behind, disillusioned with the reform’s promise of a better life. During the Soviet-era, healthcare, education, and housing were subsidized by the government. These days, people…

Haiti, One Year After the Earthquake

Posted on May 18th, 2011

It has been over a year since the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. While the media’s attention has shifted to more recent world events, the most vulnerable children of Haiti continue to face severe malnutrition, lack of healthcare, abandonment and neglect. UNICEF estimated there were 380,000 orphans in Haiti before the earthquake. It is believed that post earthquake that number has doubled. Sadly, according to USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, many of the children have been abandoned or simply left on the street by their parents because of extreme poverty or disease. Haiti’s shattered infrastructure has left families who were already very poor with even fewer resources to survive. However, in times of tragedy, unexpected heroes have emerge. Jesika Bishop, a 26 year…