By Olivia Terrobias
The Federated States of Micronesia, or FSM, is an independent sovereign island nation and also a United States associated state. It is located near the U.S. territory of Guam, in Micronesia.
FSM is a source country for women who are trafficked into forced prostitution.
The women of FSM are exploited for forced sex trafficking primarily in the United States and the nearby U.S. territory of Guam.
The groups of people that are the most vulnerable to trafficking in FSM include foreign migrant workers and Micronesian women and young girls. FSM women are promised well paying jobs in the United States and the territory of Guam, but are tricked into human trafficking through forced prostitution.
FSM women are exploited because they are seen as an easy target, coming from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. Jobs are pretty scarce, the economy is tough, and education is extremely lacking when compared to U.S. standards. With the minimum wage being just $1.60 in the FSM island of Yap, job opportunities abroad are highly sought after.
Women are allegedly exploited into prostitution by crew members of Asian fishing vessels docked in FSMs shores. The U.S. Territory of Guam is well known as being a sex trafficking destination for military and tourist men. "Special" massages are even advertised openly by people handing out flyers in the tourist district of Tumon, Guam. FSM women are tricked into forced prostitution there.
Local authorities claim that many sex trafficking cases remain largely unreported because of victims’ fear of being shamed and embarrassed in FSM’s very small, family-based communities.
The people of FSM are typically very conservative and put their family's reputation and care above all else. According to the 2010 population census, the FSM island Kosrae had only 6,616 people living on it. These island nation communities are very close knit. Shame and embarrassment toward the individual and their family could spread very quickly if a victim were to report a case of sex trafficking.
FSM women are looking for better socioeconomic opportunities to support themselves and their families. And unfortunately, some take advantage of this and exploit them for forced prostitution.
The problem of sex trafficking in FSM is complex, but one helpful and actionable route is to continue to educate local women on the red flags and warning signs of potential trafficking situations so that they can be avoided.