|Gulnara Shahinian, UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré|
19 December 2012 – A United Nations independent expert today called on the Government of Madagascar to take “urgent measures” in its fight against poverty, adding that poverty was the driving factor in the island nation’s slavery epidemic.
“Human rights cannot thrive in an environment of extreme poverty,” the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, stated in a news release at the end of her first-ever visit to the African country.
During her trip – which included stops in the towns of Antsirabe, Ambositra, Fianaransoa, Ihosy, Sakaraha, and the capital, Antananarivo – Ms. Shahinian noted that she was informed that over 70 per cent of the population in Madagascar is poor and over 50 per cent is extremely poor.
Moreover, she detailed the lingering effects of Madagascar’s caste system and the deeply rooted discrimination resulting from it, which continues to marginalize the most vulnerable people in society, particularly those descended from slaves.
“Madagascar’s experience has shown the extent to which men, women, and children suffering from extreme poverty end up living in conditions of contemporary forms of slavery such as domestic servitude, child slavery in mines and quarries, bonded labour, and servile marriages,” Ms. Shahinian said.