Human Trafficking and the Kafala System

By Casey Johnson

Faculty Mentor: Professor Farhang Rouhani

For my Middle Eastern Studies Minor and Honors Program capstone, I studied the Kafala sponsorship system practiced within the Gulf states. The Kafala system is the state program that facilitates labor related immigration to these countries. The system requires a citizen or company within the country to act as a sponsor for an immigrant to be able to travel to the host state and become their employee. This sponsor-employee relationship has specific legal obligations laid out by the state. The sponsor becomes responsible for the residential, medical, and legal wellbeing of the employee. The employee, in return, fulfills various work projects that have been contractually agreed upon. The Kafala system sees immigrants employed in various sectors; however, I focused solely on female immigrants employed in the domestic sector by individual citizens. The problem I argued is that the Kafala system has fostered a new form of contemporary slavery and has increased the likelihood of human trafficking within the region. I believe this topic is important for further study to create greater awareness of the issue. The emphasis of more popular and internationally recognized human rights abuses in the Middle East has, like other regions of the world, has facilitated a situation where the abuses taking place under the Kafala system are not as known or understood. It is also important as the states where abuses are taking place are often seen as economic powerhouses and have close ties to the West compared to other countries in the region. Additionally, I thought this topic was equally as important as it has implications beyond the borders of countries within the Middle East. The issue of human rights regarding immigration is a global problem, particularly for immigrants who come from the Global South and lack the agency to advocate for their own rights. I felt that it was important to cover a topic that had greater meaning beyond a few countries in one region of the world.

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Redlining, Tree Cover, and Temperature Variation

By Caylie Sims

Faculty Mentor: Professor Melina Patterson

Redlining is an environmental justice issue where, in the past, neighborhoods were graded based on a number of factors, one of which being race and class of its residence. These neighborhoods were given a grade, ranging from A as the highest grade, then B, C, and finally a D as the worst grade. Findings suggest that lower graded neighborhoods, occupied by people of color and poorer citizens, have higher internal temperatures and lower tree coverage, which can greatly affect health of residents. Certain regions of the United States have lower temperature differences between high graded neighborhoods and low graded ones .This project sought to analyze whether the variation in temperature is due to differences in tree coverage. High tree canopy coverage was analyzed in 2 cities (one low temperature difference and one high temperature difference) within 4 regions of the US (Midwest, South, Northeast and West). The tree coverage was tabulated to then calculate the mean of high tree coverage in each grader (A, B, C, and D) In all regions, for the lower temperature difference cities, there was more area covered by high amounts of tree canopy in the low graded neighborhoods than the high graded neighborhoods.

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