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It’s Time to Talk About it – Debt Induced Migration

Here at Access Credit Management, we keep a close eye on industry news and developments so that we can make sure we inform our readers of the issues that impact their finances.  While this is not likely to affect any of our readers in a direct way, it’s an issue that affects the whole of society in wider terms.  It seems that people in some developing nations who are struggling with overwhelming debts are taking some pretty extreme measures to pull themselves and their families out of the downward financial spiral that they face.

We all know that people smuggling and human trafficking goes on but, here in the UK, we feel pretty remote from the issue, considering it the remit of criminal smugglers.  Many of those who are now being smuggled into Western countries are doing so in order to earn the money to pay of their family’s crippling debts.  Many of these are young women and so many of them turn to sex work, selling their bodies in order to accumulate the money to send home.  A typical case is that of a Thai woman selling herself in Denmark.  Despite not having legal papers, she earns good money and in two years, she’s earned enough to pull her family out of a 20 year debt cycle and improve the family’s lifestyle with some luxury purchases like a new sofa and a flat screen television.

While the subject of immigration is constantly in the news these days, the subject of debt is not featuring in the migration debate, despite the fact that debt is one of the most powerful motives for migration.  If a family member wants to move to Europe to earn enough to repay the old loans, they often need to borrow more money in order to finance the initial journey.  In reality, migration and migrant sex work are often used as a method of long-distance debt restructuring.  We’re not referring to the migrants who are fleeing war and bombs, here, but those who are trapped in a vicious circle of private debt. 

The debt has often come about because in many developing nations, getting a loan to pay for anything at all is nigh on impossible, unlike in the West where opportunities to borrow more and more money seem to be on offer everywhere you look.  In developing nations, it’s often impossible to get together enough money to buy what you need to enhance your prospects and lifestyle – such as a scooter that could be used to travel to and from work, or the seed funding for starting a small business which would improve the lifestyle of a family.  In some cases, the illness of a family member will be the incentive for a young woman to migrate overseas in order to earn the money to pay for treatment!

If we want to address the issue of immigration in future, perhaps it’s time to take a more holistic approach and look at some of the hidden reasons behind the need to make such cynical choices.