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Provost’s forum to focus on rights

BY SHANE ERSLAND | MARCH 5, 2009 7:29 AM

Human rights will be highlighted at the third-annual UI Provost’s Forum for International Affairs, which will take place today and Friday in the University Capitol Centre.

Gay Seidman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison sociology professor, will lecture today on the need to ensure better treatment of laborers worldwide. She said labor monitoring groups — who are responsible for investigating the treatment of workers in countries such as Guatemala, India, and South Africa — need to be allowed more access to suspicious businesses in order to effectively do their job. Siedman added small companies are exploiting workers by paying them inadequately.

“We need to make sure employers are complying with the corporate code of conduct,” Seidman said.

His most recent book, Beyond the Boycott: Labor Rights, Human Rights and Transnational Activism, examines transnational efforts to monitor working conditions worldwide.

He will also discuss immigration relief available for the victims of human trafficking.

Frank Bean, the Center for Research on Immigration director at the University of California-Irvine, will also speak today, starting off the forum at 9 a.m., with “U.S. Immigration Trends and Policies: The Intersection of Demographic and Workforce Issues Going Forward.”

Bean researches immigration issues, such as the implications of U.S. immigration policies, Mexican immigrant incorporation, and the determinants and health consequences of immigrant naturalization.

Immigration attorney Shivali Shah will speak on Friday on the labor exploitation of workers in the Middle East.

Shah said recruiters from Middle Eastern companies will entice laborers with large sums of money, but will overwork and underpay the worker once he or she arrives.

“The laws there aren’t as good as they are in the U.S. when it comes to protecting workers,” Shah said.

While living in the Middle East, Shah did consultation work for grass-roots human- rights organizations working for Asian immigrants’ labor rights.

Kathleen Kim — director of the Human Trafficking Project, which focuses on trafficked individuals’ civil rights — will also speak on Friday regarding the issue of human trafficking. She said immigrant workers need to be aware they have access to immigration relief as victims of human trafficking.

“Trafficked workers need to feel empowered to pursue aid for civil rights violations,” Kim said.


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