Contemporary Abolitionist of the Month: Simona Broomes
By Katie Masi
The fight to end slavery is rooted in history and extends until today. Each month we profile some of the brave men and women, both contemporary and historical, who have fought to eradicate slavery. Our contemporary abolitionist of the month is Simona Broomes.
As a miner for 25 years, Simona Broomes witnessed first hand the physical intimidation and exploitation of women in Guyana mining communities. She now works tirelessly to assist victims of human trafficking and raise awareness around the issue.
In 2012 Broomes established the Guyana Women Miners Organization (GWMO), focused on combatting human trafficking in the mining industry as well as economic discrimination and physical intimidation against female miners. GWMO also provides education and further job training. Broomes raises awareness through engaging the government, the international community, and the media.
Broomes often travels to remote mining areas to discuss trafficking and rescue young girls. Once rescued, she helps to find them shelter, send them to school, and reintegrate into society. During one of her rescue missions, traffickers physically assaulted Broomes. She has also received numerous death threats. Undeterred, Broomes continues her important work.
Simona Broomes believes the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report is an important tool to motivate and pressure her government to improve mine conditions and enforce anti-trafficking laws. According to the latest TIP Report, between April 2014 and January 2015, the Guyanese government investigated a meager seven trafficking cases and only four suspected traffickers were prosecuted. Only one trafficker was convicted—a police officer for child sex trafficking. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but was ultimately released on bail.
While Guyana has anti-trafficking laws, further enforcement is needed to increase the risk and decrease the profits for traffickers. There should be uniform guidelines for identifying trafficking cases so that all actors are prosecuted. Additionally, increased funding for law enforcement trainings to identify and protect victims from further traumatization is sorely needed. For more information, see our blueprint, “How to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking.”