Women and the trafficking of human organs

Geoffrey Cain

As I sit in Washington, DC, watching the UN summit unfold from afar, I can’t help but feel smoldered by the countless global crimes against women that go unrecognized. It’s great that the CRW is making strides; but, as a young, idealistic college student, I feel the urge to write about one major transgression against women that’s usually overlooked: the global traffic of human organs.

In the global South, the kidney trade is a booming industry. And let me tell you, when I say booming, I really mean booming. Indebted women in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Brazil—especially mothers—are selling kidneys in droves just to make end’s meet and to pay off mounting debts. They’re usually cheated out of their promised pay, denied necessary after-treatment, and forced to cope with fatal post-surgery infections. To make matters worse, they can’t work for months, their debt is piling up, and they typically have a menagerie of starving kids to feed.

Meanwhile, the broker who facilitated the sale runs off with a hefty wad of bills, and, thanks to the sadistic powerlessness of the world’s poor, will never be brought to justice.

Think that’s bad? Organ brokers are now preying on tsunami victims in southern India, according to Observer journalist Dan McDougall.

“At least 80 people we know of have given their organs in recent months, most are women, but the figure may be 10 times as much,’ says S Maria Silva, head of Ernavoor’s tsunami fishermen’s association. ‘Our community is little more than a refugee camp, made up of eight tsunami-affected villages. … The fishermen here are literally washed up; they can’t afford the commute to their boats. Their wives put food on the table now. They either sell firewood and coconut husks from dawn to dusk and still starve, or they sell their organs to keep heads above water.”

The fact that destitute mothers need to sell their body parts just to survive reveals something seriously twisted with the state of women around the world. I certainly hope that CSW will recognize this as a critical problem and come to the aid of the victims of such crimes.

Geoffrey Cain is a freelance writer and founding member of IEGOT, the Institute for the Elimination of Global Organ Trafficking.


1 Response to “Women and the trafficking of human organs”

  1. 1 Angela March 12, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Hello Geoffrey,

    What a wonderful article! The world needs writers like you.

    Thanks for sharing your article.



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