The Immigrant Council of Ireland, a supposedly ‘migrant-support’ NGO, has just announced a new initiative to combat ‘human trafficking’ and ‘sham marriages’. Together with the Department of Justice’s Anti-Trafficking Unit, the ICI joins poorer EU states Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Slovakia in an EU funded research on ‘the issue of human trafficking for the purpose of sham marriage’.
NGOs such as the ICI have been problematic for a long time now. Purporting to support migrants, it has no problem in joining forces with the government in researching, publishing reports and initiating policies the aim of which is ultimately (in the ICI’s own words) to ‘regulate’, ‘mainstream’ and ‘control’ migration into Ireland, and to ‘integrate’ those migrants permitted to remain.
A ‘sham’ or ‘fake’ marriage is defined as a ‘marriage of convenience’ entered into for the purpose of gaining a benefit, in this case leave to remain for a non EU national in an EU state. In many cases it’s the only way for an asylum seeker or migrant, otherwise deemed ‘illegal’, to enter and remain in a western state. I remember finding photographs in my father’s collection of a woman we didn’t know, only to discover that while studying in a Prague university, he married a local Jewish woman so as to save her from remaining in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia as it was then called. Upon arrival in Palestine a quick divorce was arranged, but father kept the woman’s photograph, knowing that had he not married her – in a ‘sham marriage’ as it would now be called – she would have been sent to the Nazi camps.
I do admit that there are many ruthless gangs of traffickers who force women and children into sex slavery (in India, for example, 60,000 children are abducted each year for sex slavery), but this is a completely different issue. My unstinted support for the ICI’s Stop the Red Light campaign against the exploitation of women and children in Ireland’s sex industry has changed somewhat recently. While I definitely do not support men’s god given right to have sex whenever and however they please, or criminal gangs making billions from trafficking children and women for sex purposes, we need to differentiate between this and the erroneous assumption that all women brought to Ireland by so called ‘traffickers’ are victims, as claimed by EUROPOL, the Department of Justice, and by NGOs such as the ICI. Most asylum seekers need smugglers to get them to safety, and using smugglers is often the only way these women migrants – as free and active agents – can find their way out of oppression and misery.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is funded by the EU to join forces with the Irish government that still incarcerates thousands of asylum seekers in direct provision and stops many others from presenting their asylum applications. This shameless collaboration will result in further controlling Fortress Europe’s policed borders, the consequences of which we have all witnessed recently in the drowning of hundreds of migrants escaping the horrors of Syria, Afghanistan and Africa in the Mediterranean.