Simona Broomes recognized internationally as TIP Hero
President of the Guyana Women Miners’ Organization (GWMO) Simona Broomes’ determination to rescue women and girls from the jaws of sexual slavery and expand opportunities for them in Guyana’s remote interior has landed her international recognition as a hero.
The US Embassy in Georgetown has announced that Secretary of State John Kerry has recognized Broomes as one of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes yesterday at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State to unveil the 2013 TIP Report.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) requires that the TIP Report assess Governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery. This year’s Report includes
narratives of 188 countries and territories.
According to the Embassy’s statement, this year nine persons were chosen as TIP Report Heroes in the “Fight against Modern-Day Slavery”. Broomes was selected from among the many impressive nominees from around the world.
The Embassy said, “Broomes has demonstrated extraordinary bravery and leadership in raising the awareness of human trafficking in Guyana. After 25 years as a miner, she established the Guyana Women Miners Organization in 2012 to empower women miners and address unique challenges women face operating in remote areas.”
Prior to the GWMO being established, the Government of Guyana had always down-played the seriousness of TIP in Guyana. In 2011, The United States accused Guyana of failing to take action against “official complicity” in human trafficking, but then Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand, denied this and wanted the US Government to supply the evidence.
In 2012, following the establishment of the GWMO, Government was still adamant that human trafficking is not a major problem in Guyana. Instead, the sex business, particularly in the “gold bush”, was labeled as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution.
Human Services Minister, Jennifer Webster, had acknowledged that there were instances of TIP in Guyana but claimed that coverage of the issue in the media was being overrated.
Webster had said that there should be a clear understanding between prostitution and TIP, which are both illegal activities in Guyana. She emphasized that what is being purported in some instances as human trafficking is prostitution.
However, Broomes and other members of GWMO with assistance from concerned citizens, rescued several women and teenage girls from the sex trade. In one of those rescue operations Broomes was assaulted by the perpetrator, according to a report.
According to the Embassy, “Ms. Broomes has rescued several trafficking victims, and her organization provides temporary housing for victims to ensure their safety. Under Ms. Broomes’ dynamic leadership, the GWMO and its 440 members take direct action to protect victims and have become consistently powerful advocates against human trafficking.”
The Embassy said that from a small group of women banding together to solve common challenges, the body is a recognized force in combating TIP and promoting equality and economic opportunities for women in Guyana.
It was noted that Broomes is a consistently powerful, vocal advocate against TIP and continues to take direct action – often at great personal risk – to protect and assist victims of trafficking.
The Embassy said that Secretary Kerry paid special tribute to the 2013 TIP Report Heroes, men and women whose personal efforts have made an extraordinary difference in the global fight against modern slavery.
Yearly, the Department of State honours individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. They are Non Governmental Organization workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens committed to ending modern slavery.
In addition, to the TIP award, Broomes will participate in other activities such as, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange from June 17 to June 26, 2013, entitled “2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes.”
The Embassy related that the IVLP is the premier professional exchange programme managed by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the purpose of fostering mutual understanding between the United States and other countries, through programme events and visits that reflect the professional backgrounds of the participants.
“Sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), the IVLP exchange programme will provide an opportunity for Ms. Broomes to travel to U.S. cities outside of Washington for meetings with American counterparts engaged in combating trafficking in persons,” the Embassy stated.
She will have the opportunity to share her perspectives on this global problem and cultural experiences with fellow TIP Heroes.
The Embassy said, “It is our hope that the experience will be valuable for Ms. Broomes as she continues to engage the Government of Guyana, law enforcement authorities, the international community, local communities and the media to bring public attention to human trafficking, while advocating for improved monitoring, education, counseling and law enforcement interventions.”