I am writing to address the possible promotion of dangerous activities through the very pages of your newspaper, of which you and your readers may be unaware. In the January 8, 2013 edition of your paper, a vacancy ad was posted in the classifieds for a female, aged 18-25, to wash, cook and sell in a small shop in the interior for a salary of $70,000 monthly. Why must this position be filled by a female and why must she be 18-25? These specifications raise an alarm within me. A common method of securing young women for trafficking in persons is to advertise jobs in distant places, offer what seems to be a lucrative salary, pay for the passage to the place of work, and then strip the person of her identification and demand that she work to repay her passage, often by forced prostitution. All females should be aware of this practice and exercise extreme caution when responding to vacancy postings in distant or remote locations, especially when that post requires that the employee be of a certain age.
Further to this, discrimination by sex and age (amongst other attributes) when hiring employees is illegal in Guyana under the Prevention of Discrimination Act 4(2)(a). Through this act, advertisements which specify sex and age are also illegal (5(1)(a)). To prevent illegal discrimination, I ask that Stabroek News consider making a policy that it will not print vacancy ads that specify age, sex, race etc. requirements. I have also observed vacancy ads with age and sex specifications in other newspapers including Kaieteur News and Guyana Chronicle. I hope that these papers will also take note of the Prevention of Discrimination Act and create policies not to print discriminatory ads. In addition to reducing illegal discrimination, these policies will barricade TIP activities which may very well save young women from horrific situations and death.
I know that your paper is always quick to highlight cases of TIP in Guyana, so I trust that you will take the necessary actions to ensure your paper is not used as a tool for these activities to occur.
J E Mader
Stabroek News already has a policy of not accepting advertisements of the kind cited above. We regret that it slipped through, and have taken measures to try and ensure this does not happen again.