Migration, Neo-slavery and the Female being in Yousafzai's I Am Malala
Catalogue Vol.26 No. 1 Migration, Neo-slavery and the Female being in Yousafzai's I Am Malala



This paper discusses the nature of migration especially when it becomes inevitable and indispensable within the context of a society surged over with uncertainties. Malala Yousafzai's memoir I Am Malala brings one face to face with the vicissitudes of daily living, particularly in a largely conservative environment like Paki- stan, and with how radical and extreme Islamic tenets inhibit the potentials of the female heroine, thereby creating some sort of neo-slavery. Applying the analytical approach with an explication through the lens of Sigmund Freud's Psychoanalysis, this paper foregrounds the effects of migration on the psyche of its victims, especially the female being. Although migrating is usually a conscious decision towards economic empowerment and self-development, this paper however, approaches the phenomenon from a nonconventional perspective where migration can become inevitable and the only choice for not just the salvation of one's life, but also a transition from slavery to freedom.

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Migration involves the movement of people from one place to another with the intention of settling, permanently or temporarily, at a new location. According to the World Migration Report, the movement often occurs over long-distances and from one country to another, but internal migration (within a single country) is also possible. Migrants who migrate have to consider the geographic location, social situation of the place that they are migrating to. They also have to consider the issue of how to integrate into the society they are migrating to. According to Nwiyi and Udoette, 'a number of scholars, anthropologists like Russell King, Jan Lucas- sen, Leo Lucassen and Patrick Manning have written on the geographic and social nature of migration, the motivation and the rather complex significance of relocating to a new/alien society' (251).

In more specific terms, migration is a demographic event that has both tempo- ral and spatial dimensions (Bilsborrow et al.; Fussel et al). The International Orga- nization of Migration defines migration as follows:

…Migration is the movement of a person or a group of persons, either across an international border, or within a state. It is a population movement, encompassing any kind of movement of people, whatev- er its length, composition and causes; it includes migration of refu- gees, displaced persons, economic migrants, and persons moving for other purposes, including family reunification.

Lee also defines migration 'as a change in permanent or semi-permanent residence; something that involves an origin, a destination and intervening obstacles' (49). Migration impacts on both the place left behind, and on the place where migrants settle. According to Caves, 'there are four major forms of migration: invasion, con- quest, colonization and emigration/immigration' (461). People have many reasons why they want to move one from place to another. These reasons may be economic, social, political or environmental. For migration to take place, there are usually push factors and pull factors at work. Push factors are the reasons that make someone decide to move. Often, push factors are the negative things such as unemployment, crop failure, war, concerns about high crime rates, droughts, flood, poor education opportunities or poor services and amenities, a lack of services or amenities, poor safety and security

Pull factors, on the other hand, are the expectations which attract people to the new place. They are usually positive things such as job opportunities, a better standard of living, better education or healthcare, low crime rates, political security and fertile land. Many people choose to migrate. They are voluntary migrants. Many are economic migrants. However, many people have no choice and are forced to leave their homes. These are involuntary migrants. Their lives and homes may be in danger due to a war or a natural disaster. These people are also called refugees. There are different types of migration such as, counter-urbanization, emi- gration, immigration, internal migration, international migration and rural-urban migration. The important factors which motivate people to move can be classified into five categories. They are economic, demographic factors,, socio-cultural, political and miscellaneous factors.

Most of the studies indicate that migration is primarily motivated by economic factors. In developing countries, low agricultural income, agricultural unemploy- ment and underemployment are considered basic factors pushing the migrants towards developed areas with greater job opportunities. Thus, almost all studies concur that most migrants move in search of better economic opportunities. The basic economic factors which motivate migration may be further classified as push factors and pull factors. Demographic factors showing the differences in the popu- lation growth rates of the different regions of a nation have been found to be a determinant in the internal migration. Fertility and the natural increase in popula- tion are generally higher in rural areas which drift the population towards the city. Another important demographic factor in internal migration is marriage because females are used to following their spouses, as some males also relocate to be nearer to their spouses

Social and cultural factors are also important in migration. Sometimes, family conflicts, the quest for independence, also cause migration especially, of those in the younger generation. Improved communication facilities, such as, transporta- tion, impact of television, good network of communication cinema, the urban oriented education and resultant change in attitudes and values also promote migration. In miscellaneous factors, other factors such as the presence of relatives and friends in urban areas, desire to receive education which is available only in urban areas are factors responsible for migration. Closeness of cultural contacts, cultural diversity, great vitality, individual attitudes are also associated with migra- tion.

Neo-Slavery is also known as contemporary or modern slavery. Neo-Slavery connotes a new type of slavery. It is institutional slavery that continues to occur in present-day societies. According to Kevin Bales, modern or neo-slavery occurs ―when a person is under the control of another person who applies violence and force to maintain that control, and the good of that control is exploitation. Modern slavery or neo-slavery is often seen as a by-product of poverty. In countries, that lack education and the rule of law, anarchy and poor societal structure can create an environment that fosters the acceptance and propagation of slavery. Modern slav- ery or neo-slavery takes many forms. The most common are; human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and child slavery

According to Gulnara Shahinian, contemporary slavery often occurs in hard to reach areas of the country or what is perceived as the private realm, such as in the case of domestic servitude. In today's world, neo-slavery takes many different forms, namely, human trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, and servitude. These people are controlled and forced to work against their will and their dignity and rights are denied. The International Labour Organization (ILO) considers forced labour or compulsory labour as

...any work or service extracted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily.

Common forms of forced labour can be found in under-regulated or regular-intensive industries, such as agriculture and fisheries, construction, manufacturing, domestic work and the sex industry.

Debt bondage is the most common form of neo-slavery. According to Anti-Slavery International, a person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, through the threat or use of force or other means of coercion - for the purpose of exploitation. Forced or servile marriage occurs when an individual does not enter into a marriage with free and full consent. The 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery considers illegal any practice where a woman, without the right to refusal, is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian family or any other person or group of persons. Transfer of a woman by her husband in return for payment, as well as inheritance of a woman following the death of her husband is outlawed. While the definition only applies to women and girls (who mainly bear the brunt of forced marriages), there have been calls for it to cover boys and men.

Child slavery and exploitation, including the use of children in armed conflict is another form of contemporary slavery. The worst forms of child labour defined by International Labour Organization (ILO) include the sale and trafficking of chil- dren; compulsory labour, serfdom, and the compulsory use of children in armed conflict. The novel, I am Malala will be used to interrogate the issue of Migration, Neo-Slavery and the Female Being.

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