Abolition Through Adoption: A Revolution to End Slavery!

by Michelle Brock on June 28th, 2010

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As author Shane Claiborne writes in his book Irresistible Revolution, there is a disconnect in our world between people who need help and those who can give it.  The is due partly to the ‘charity world’ we live in, where we can write a cheque or even have an automatic monthly withdrawal from our bank account to feed a kid in Asia or build a well in Africa.  Though charities do amazing work and I promote them at HFTS quite often, making a donation so we can pat ourselves on the back for being a good person robs us of the opportunity to see for ourselves the lives those around the world have.  Helping those in need becomes a business transaction like any other, instead of letting us experience the humanity of it.

So, how does this relate to sex trafficking?  One solution I am very passionate about is prevention. There are 163 million orphans in the world today. Often traffickers target orphanages, posing as boyfriends to the kids who ‘graduate’ at 16 or 17 and luring them into a life of sex slavery.  These kids are so vulnerable, as they often live in countries where there are barely any job opportunities –  let alone for an orphan who lacks life skills and stability.

So what preventative solution am I suggesting today? Adoption. Yes, it can be scary and expensive, but it is a way to break the disconnect we have with those who suffer by allowing them to enter our lives.

Have you ever considered adoption? If not, I urge you to consider it today.  Let your heart for justice push you to do something something of value – adopting a child who would otherwise be vulnerable and offering them a home, hope, and a future.  Become an abolitionist through adoption.

It is crucial, however, that the adoption is done in the right way – adoptive father Rob Morris writes about how traffickers manipulate the adoption system to make a buck.  So be sure to do your research.

Check out one family’s adoption blog here, and be inspired!

Michelle Brock

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Life After Being a Victim of Human Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on June 24th, 2010

You’ve been a victim of human trafficking.

You’ve been rescued.

Now What Are They Gonna Do With You?

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One question I get a lot is about what happens to human trafficking victims when they are found. Does government policy help them or re-victimize them? Do they have any rights in a country that is not their own? I was personally confused as to why victims were so afraid of deportation that they would not seek help from police – wouldn’t it give them an opportunity to escape their current situation and return home?

All these questions prompted me to do some reading.  Here is my attempt to pull together some of the information I have covered this week and summarize it in a way that makes it easier for us to understand.  All sources are listed at the bottom of the post.

So far, governments have responded to human trafficking victims in one of three ways:

1.  ARREST & DEPORT THE VICTIM:

  • Prosecutors do not want to take on the difficult challenge of prosecuting a trafficker when they can win the easier charges of prosecuting the victim for prostitution, document fraud, or immigration & labour violations.
  • In Bosnia, a woman that had been accepted into an IOM program as a trafficked person agreed to testify against her ‘owner.’  On the stand as a witness, the judge charged her with the use of false documents, despite the fact that she had just testified that the owner had purchased her, provided her with a fake passport, beaten her regularly, and forced her to work in a brothel without pay.
  • Why is this approach a problem? Victims are afraid to come forward, as they are the ones who will face punishment.  Deportation re-victimizes these women, because often traffickers are waiting for them back home to re-traffic them or punish them for going to the police.  Even when the victims are not re-trafficked, many feel too ‘dirty’ to have a normal life and return to the sex trade, their dreams shattered.jailed1 225x300

2.  JAIL THE OFFENDER:

  • Often governments offer protection to the victim and allow them to temporarily stay in the country, on the condition that they testify against their traffickers.
  • In 2000 the European Union stated that their residence permits were not to be granted for the benefit of the victim, but for the sole purpose of facilitating prosecution of those engaging in human trafficking.
  • In the U.S., the TVPA (Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act) allows for the provision of temporary visas (T-visas) to victims of human trafficking, with a possibility of permanent residency.  However, they only offer 5,000 of these each year, regardless of how many human trafficking cases come forth.  Last year, only 213 T visas were granted.  The 2010 TIP Report claims that testimony against the trafficker, conviction of the trafficker, or formal denunciation of the trafficker is not required in order to be eligible for a T visa. However, the report immediately follows this by stating “however, such support counts in an applicant’s favor.” In other words, chances are victims will not get a T visa unless they are willing to testify.  This reveals the TVPA to be about prosecution, though they claim to focus on victim protection.
  • Why is this approach a problem? The prosecution model would be great if it actually gave out punishments that fit the crimes.  In Austria, a man guilty of human trafficking, bodily harm, rape, forced abortion, forgery, and damage to property received only 8 years in prison, though two victims had enough courage to come forward.  What do you think will happen to those victims in 8 years when he gets out, angry and full of revenge?  Sadly, 8 years is a high sentence for a trafficker; usually it is much lower even with more witnesses.  Dayna F. Haynes says this:

“If states with strong anti-human trafficking laws are unable or unwilling to prosecute and sentence traffickers for a number of years sufficient to cause traffickers to reconsider the benefits of human trafficking, then it is quite unlikely that states without sophisticated legal systems and laws will be able to do so.”

Victims counseling 300x1983.  PROTECT THE VICTIM:

  • Measures to protect victims include psychological and social services, temporary employment, legal services, safe houses, and protection during the prosecution of their traffickers.
  • Helping the victim regardless of their willingness to testify is good because it is legally easier to identify a victim of human trafficking and provide assistance to them than to identify and prosecute a trafficker.
  • Why is this approach a problem? Victim-oriented models fail to get to the root of organized crime.

So what is to be done?  Haynes suggests that the best way to combat human trafficking is to take the best from the prosecution based model and the victim protection model, and add the missing elements:

1. ALTER PERCEPTION AS TO WHAT CONSTITUTES A HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM

  • People should be given the term if at ANY point they were not allowed to exercise control.  Even if their original mind-set had been to work in the sex trade but then found themselves enslaved in horrifying conditions they did not agree to, the term ‘victim’ should be applied to them.
  • Fortunately, the U.S. is taking some steps in the right direction. Last Wednesday they passed legislation that enables victims of human trafficking to clear their records of prostitution-related offenses.  Read more about this victim protection legislation from articles in Newsweek and Ms.Magazine.

2.  DURABLE IMMIGRATION SOLUTIONS:

  • Italy grants 5,000 work visas annually to Albanians, because Albania is its largest source country for human trafficking and smuggling.  Though limited visas are offered, if people understand that they may legally be able to migrate, they might not get lured by traffickers as easily.  This is something other countries could try as well.
  • Offering asylum for victims, so that they can stay in the country where they ended up, could be determined on a case-by-case basis if the following conditions apply:  (a) the victim experienced persecution by a group the government in their home country cannot/will not control, (b) there is a well-founded fear of being re-trafficked or experiencing retaliation from traffickers, and (c) there is a well-founded fear of social and economic ostracization based upon status as a victim.
  • The most serious obstacle to extending asylum status to victims of human trafficking lies in the state’s fundamental power to preserve its own gate-keeping power.  Some argue that this would open the floodgates and encourage women to seek out opportunities to be trafficked so they can get permanent residency. There is no way that people will volunteer for enslavement, rape, torture, and humiliation with the sliver of chance that they will be rescued and given residency in the country in which they end up.  This fear of gatekeeping, therefore, is unfounded.

3.  AN EMPHASIS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAW

  • Human trafficking should be made less economically appealing to traffickers.  The penalties for human trafficking should be higher, including the forfeiture of assets and restitution to victims.
  • The key here, however, is strong enforcement.  Laws must be fully implemented at every level. Police, border security, prosecutors, judges, and NGOs must all be engaged.  Funds available, shelters, repatriation, and integration procedures must be known by EACH official likely to encounter a victim.
  • As it stands now, traffickers will continue their operations until they know anti-human trafficking laws are actually being enforced.

4.  A LOOK AT THE USERS OF TRAFFICKED WOMEN:

According to p.51 of an ILO report, a survey was conducted with 185 clients (johns) in Italy, Japan, and Sweden, finding that only half would report an unfree trafficked prostitute.  Others openly admitted to a preference for young unfree persons because they are more “docile.”

Therefore, education campaigns aimed at deterring users of brothels must be more widespread.  Cut the demand.

5.  IMPROVED INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS

  • Each country should have investigative teams that seek out their citizens who are engaging in child sex tourism. Furthermore, since peacekeeping forces and international workers are known to regularly and knowingly obtain services from trafficked women, governments must punish this type of behaviour.

From all this we can see that victim-based models and prosecution-based models do not have to butt heads, but can work together under the banner of immigration.

Michelle Brock

immigration policy1

Used, Abused, Arrested, and Deported: Extending Immigration Benefits to Protect the Victims of Trafficking and to Secure the Prosecution of Traffickers by Dina Francesca Haynes **note: this link is to the free online version of the paper. For students who need the citing, you can search your school online archives for this paper, which was published in Human Rights Quarterly, Vol 26 no.2, May 2004, pp.221-272.

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010, Country Profiles by the US State Department

A Global Alliance Against Forced Labor: Global Report Under the Follow Up to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work by the International Labour Office, Geneva

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Do You Travel for Business? Here’s What You Can Do to Fight Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on June 23rd, 2010

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One group that traffickers profit from is travelling business men. Far from their wives, kids, and friends back home, it is easier to pay for sex while travelling than it would be at home.  There is an element of anonymity to it, which many guys prefer when seeking out sex for pay.

Unfortunately, human trafficking victims fall prey to these customers, and sometimes it is not that easy to tell the difference between a sex worker and a trafficking victim.

But just as business men can be part of the problem, they can also be part of the solution.  Business Travellers Against Human Trafficking is a great online source for those who travel and want to do good.

The site offers the following:

  • Articles about sex trafficking
  • Info videos about sex trafficking
  • A list of signs to look for to spot a human trafficking victim
  • A way to report what you have seen
  • A list of things you can do, as a traveller, to stop trafficking

I hope this is a good resource for those of you who take your work on the road.  For more information on anti-trafficking efforts in the area of tourism, check out the UN’s Tourism Code of Conduct. For another list of signs to identify a sex trafficking victim, check out Red Flags by the Polaris Project.

Michelle Brock

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ESPN Video on Sex Trafficking at the World Cup

by Michelle Brock on June 22nd, 2010

chain 199x300Two days ago I wrote a post about the link between the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and sex trafficking.  In it I discussed the debate that is raging in the media about whether big sporting events cause and increase in sex trafficking, or whether these concerns are merely alarmist propaganda and abolitionist sensationalism.  I would encourage you to read the post before proceeding.

Today I came across an ESPN investigative clip about this very issue.  I found it very interesting, and it confirmed some of my suspicions that there is at least some connection between the World Cup and human trafficking.  Watch for yourself and let me know what you think.  I would love to hear what your opinion is on this.

Michelle Brock

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Not for Sale Creative Clip

by Michelle Brock on June 22nd, 2010

I love coming across creative pieces that shed light on sex trafficking.  Here is one I came across recently by Not for Sale, an anti-slavery organization based out of California.

Michelle Brock

Not For Sale | Shadowhands from Not For Sale Campaign on Vimeo.

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Controversy at the FIFA World Cup: Is There Really a Link Between Sporting Events & Trafficking?

by Michelle Brock on June 21st, 2010

SA World Cup Girl4

As the world tunes into the World Cup Games in South Africa, a controversial debate is raging in the media.  There are claims that between 40,000 and 100,000 victims are being trafficked into South Africa to meet the increased demand for paid sex.  Here is an awareness ad from the 2010 Human Traffic website:

Many are arguing about the validity of these numbers, and if there is even a link between sporting events and sex trafficking at all.  Carl Bialik from Wall Street Journal wrote a great article last week called The Elusive Link Between Sex Trafficking and Sporting Events.  He outlines the following arguments made by researchers in the field:

  • 40,000 victims were predicted to be trafficked into Germany for the 2006 World Cup, and these did not materialize.
  • Activists pull these human trafficking numbers out of thin air (the 40,000 estimate for Germany’s World Cup is said to have been started by a women’s organization and popularized by British media).
  • The Germany World Cup was attended mostly by families, instead of men travelling alone who would seek paid sex.
  • 40,000 is a dangerous number to use if it is not accurate, because the alarm might cause an over-abundance of resources to be allocated towards fighting it. These resources could be used to deal with other issues that desperately need funding.
  • If the 40,000 figure is not met, it has the effect of  ‘crying wolf,’ which discourages people from seeing human trafficking as a real issue.

Even if the 40,000 estimate is unfounded however, here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Because so many human trafficking victims were expected in Germany for the 2006 World Cup, the federal ministries, federal state police forces, and special counselling services/NGOs joined together and came up with a preventative strategy to combat an influx of trafficking.  The strategy included press conferences, interviews, telephone hotlines, info posters and leaflets, and educational campaigns on TV and radio. There was greater police presence in high risk areas, tightened border controls, specialized work groups, and increased awareness in hotels.
  • They found that there was an increased presence of ‘prostitutes’ at the game venues and surrounding areas.  5 cases had direct links to the 2006 World Cup, the victims being from Bulgaria, Hungary, Czeck Republic, and Germany. However, the greater police presence had a deterring effect on areas of crime and the predicted increase in forced prostitution did not materialize.
  • This was the conclusion of the EU Council: the prevention strategy proved to be successful, and should be taken into consideration for future major events.
  • In contrast, the 2004 Olympics in Greece, which did not have such a unified effort to prevent trafficking, saw a 95% increase in the number of human trafficking victims identified by authorities around the Olympics.  Therefore, the number of known trafficking victims almost doubled during the sporting event.

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Clearly, both sides of the fence have arguments and numbers showing that sex trafficking does/does not increase during big sporting events.  Some use Germany as an example, saying that because the predicted numbers of trafficked women did not materialize, there is no link between big sporting events and trafficking.  Others, however, look at Germany and say that trafficking would have increased if the joint efforts of the police forces, government, and NGOs had not happened – maintaining that yes, there is indeed a link.  Law Professor Benjamin Perrin throws another twist into the mix when he points out that in 2005 the German criminal code was changed so that each investigation would be labeled as one case, regardless of how many victims are involved.  Therefore, because once ‘case’ can represent any number of victims, it is impossible to know whether human trafficking increased during Germany’s World Cup.

Another tricky part of investigating human trafficking cases during sporting events is this: when trafficking cases increase, is it because trafficking is actually increasing, or because police are putting more effort into investigating them?

All these factors, combined with a limited timeline in which this information can be measured, can be summed up by Perrin’s statement: “At the best of times, human trafficking for sexual exploitation involves a significant ‘dark figure.’ “

So what can we conclude about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?

  • South Africa is already a hub of human trafficking with established networks, which would make it easy to traffic in girls and women.  Due to the economic disparities in the country, many South African girls and women themselves are vulnerable to being trafficked.
  • Germany, Greece, and South Africa are culturally unique from each other, which must be taken into consideration when trying to understand trafficking. Is paid sex acceptable or social taboo? Are the opportunities for women to get work, or are they easily duped by traffickers who deceive them by offering them jobs?  Are family ties strong? Are police corrupt or trustworthy?
  • Germany did confirm 5 cases of human trafficking that were directly connected to the World Cup in 2006. Girls in were being sold on Craigslist in Vancouver during the 2010 winter Olympics.  Clearly some trafficking occurs in connection with sporting events, even if it does not meet the 40,000-100,000 mark.  Just as Michelle Miller from REED says, “one is too many.” In any case, it is in the best interest of everyone to make the games as traffic-proof as possible.

I will leave it up to you to make a decision. In my opinion, however, we must err on the safe side so that those who are exploited do not get forgotten in the midst of this academic debate.  Your thoughts?

Michelle Brock

Here are some sources for more information:

The Elusive Link Between Sex Trafficking and Sporting Events by Carl Bialik

Faster Higher Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics by Benjamin Perrin

A Global Alliance Against Forced Labour: Global Report 2005 by the International Labour Office, Geneva

Anti-Trafficking Campaign for the 2010 World Cup Website

South Africa Country Profile, 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

The World Cup’s Ugly Side by Jaime McIntosh

South Africa’s Vice Squad: Women and Children are Not for Sale by Hazel Thompson

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Bill C-268 Passes Final Hurdle…Time for a Celebration!

by Michelle Brock on June 18th, 2010

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Today is truly a day of celebration!  I just got word from the office of MP Joy Smith that Bill C-268 passed its final hurdle in Senate!  This means that we finally have a law in place in which traffickers of children receive a minimum sentence of 5 years for the trafficking of children in Canada!

For all of you who made your voice heard and supported this human trafficking initiative, thank you!  This would not have been possible without the support of concerned citizens.

Next on the agenda for MP Joy Smith is to advocate for a National Action Plan to combat human trafficking, ensuring that there are effective prevention initiatives in place as well as partnerships formed between federal and provincial governments to provide better protection and rehabilitation for victims.

I would like to send my official congratulations to MP Joy Smith and her team for their hard work over the last couple of years.  It has truly been an inspiration to witness your hard work, tireless perseverance, and raw passion.  We at Hope for the Sold celebrate with you today! We will continue to stand with you in the fight against trafficking, and look forward to supporting a much needed National Action Plan.

Michelle Brock

 

 

 

 

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"Innocence" by Trent Williams

by Michelle Brock on June 17th, 2010

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When we are faced with the horrors of modern day slavery and exploitation, the first thing most of us struggle with is a feeling of helplessness mixed with a sense of responsibility.  This can be a dangerous combination as it leaves many in a dust of apathy and despair.

After reading “A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face With Modern-Day Slavery,” Trent Williams experienced these mixed feelings.  But instead of giving up hope, he did what he knew best: he wrote a song on behalf of all the human trafficking victims trapped around the world. Trent was kind enough to send me his song to share with the HFTS readers, available below:

Sex Trafficking Song – Innocence by Trent Williams

What do you do best?  What do you enjoy? What is your passion?  Use that gift to make a difference!

Check out more of Trent Williams’ music at his website or on his myspace, and be inspired to do something with your ideas, talents, and influence.

Michelle Brock

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Why I’m Excited About the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report

by Michelle Brock on June 16th, 2010

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The U.S. State Department 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report was released this week, celebrating its 10th year anniversary.  Here is why I am excited: for the first time in the history of this report, the U.S. included itself in the list of countries analyzed.  Finally!  Over the years my biggest irk about this human trafficking report has been the fact that every country except for the U.S. itself was graded on their anti-trafficking performance.  Good on Hilary Clinton and her team for seeing this selectiveness as a problem and including their own country in the report.  This is definitely a step in the right direction.

It has been 10 years since the United Nations adopted the Palermo Protocol, which was a global consensus that something must be done about trafficking of human beings.  The Protocol held that governments should adopt a 3-P Paradigm: Prevention, Criminal Prosecution, and Victim Protection. The U.S. State Department released the first Trafficking in Persons Report in 2000, and this year offer a fact sheet summarizing their progress and giving some key figures from the 2010 Report.

Here are some of the basics:

  • There are an estimated 12.3 million adults and children in forced labor, bonded labor, and forced prostitution around the world.  56% of these are women and girls.
  • Human trafficking is a $32 billion annual trade for traffickers.
  • 4,166 successful trafficking prosecutions in 2009, which was a 40% increase over 2008.
  • Countries that have yet to convict a trafficker under laws in compliance with the Palermo Protocol: 62
  • Countries without laws, policies, or regulations to prevent victims’ deportation: 104

canadian flag 2 072809 lg 300x219How did Canada do this year?  Here are the highlights:

  • Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, and to a lesser extent, forced labor.
  • Canadian women and girls, specifically from the Aboriginal community, are found in conditions of commercial sexual exploitation across the country.
  • Foreign women and children, primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe, are subjected to forced prostitution.  Most of these victims are from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova.  Most Asian victims end up in Vancouver, while those from Eastern Europe are usually found in Toronto and Montreal.
  • Canada is a significant source country for child sex tourists, who travel abroad to engage in sex acts with children.
  • Accurate data on human trafficking investigations was hard to obtain, due in part to the highly decentralized nature of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.
  • Courts convicted one trafficking offender under the anti-trafficking law and achieved at least three other convictions under trafficking-related sections of the Criminal Code during the reporting period.
  • Though there are anti-trafficking laws in place, a minimum sentence does not exist.  A private member’s bill establishing a minimum sentence of 5 years for trafficking of children is in progress.
  • There were at least 32 human trafficking cases before the courts as of late February 2010, involving 40 accused trafficking offenders and 46 victims.  All but one of these cases involved sex trafficking.

Recommendations for Canada:

  • Intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses
  • Increase the use of proactive law enforcement techniques to investigate trafficking cases
  • Increase the efforts to investigate and prosecute Canadian sex tourists
  • Ensure that foreign trafficking victims are identified instead of deported
  • Strengthen coordination among national and provincial governments

Get the full details on Canada’s trafficking situation here.  We certainly have our work cut out for us, but thanks to Benjamin Perrin, MP Joy Smith, Naomi Baker, Michelle Miller and many others, we can put an end to sexual exploitation in our country!

Michelle Brock

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Smuggling and Trafficking: What’s the Difference?

by Michelle Brock on June 15th, 2010

smuggling 300x203

From the legislative perspective, there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the differences between smuggling and human trafficking.  I have been reading an article by Dina Francesca Hayes called “Used, Abused, Arrested and Deported: Extending Immigration Benefits to Protect the Victims of Trafficking and to Secure the Prosecution of Traffickers,” in which the author addresses this confusion.

Smuggling is delivering persons to the country they wish to enter, and this process is initiated by the potential migrant.  Though smuggling often takes place under horrible and possibly life-threatening conditions, the individuals are left to their own devices after delivery.  This is not very lucrative for perpetrators, as they simply gain short-term profits from a one-time deal.

Human trafficking is altogether different, though it also often involves the movement of people across borders.  With human trafficking there is an element of force, fraud, or coercion.  There are elements of enslavement, in which the victim cannot leave and often has their documentation stripped from them. Traffickers see people as highly profitable, reusable, re-sellable, and expendable commodities.  Long term-profits are massive.

Hayes criticizes governments for using the horrifying human trafficking statistics and stories to advance their real agenda: tightening borders, controlling illegal immigration, and fighting terrorism.  But if border officers are not trained to understand the difference between smuggling and trafficking, victims are the ones that will suffer.  In order for anti-trafficking initiatives to be effective, politicians must make the eradication of human trafficking and protection of trafficked persons into a prioritized goal distinct from the elimination of smuggling or tightening of border controls.

Let’s encourage our governments to look at human trafficking for what it is, not how they can manipulate the emotions of people in order to advance their own agendas.

Michelle Brock

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