WOMEN SEX TRAFFICKING – Evaluation of the problem



–         « The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use or force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation »

(UN Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish   Trafficking in Persons (2000)

The Protocol:

–         Defines trafficking as a crime against humanity

–         Acknowledges that men are also trafficked,but it emphasizes trafficking in women and children

–         Contains rights-based and protective social, economic, political and legal measures to prevent trafficking, protect, assist, return and reintegrate the victims, and to penalize trafficking

–         Calls for international cooperation to prevent and combat trafficking

The issue:

–         ≈ 500,000 – 2,000,000 trafficked persons per year. But –> no exact data available => implication: it is an underground problem difficult to tackle because not visible

–         127 countries of origin and 137 countries of destination for trafficking in human beings

¡     Countries of origin: C & S-E Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Asia, West Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean

¡     Countries of destination: W Europe, Asia, N America

¡     in 1997, the UN estimated that procurers, smugglers and corrupt public officials engaged in international trafficking in persons had a profit of $7 billion from their activities => more lucrative than the international trade in illicit weapons

–         ILO-IPEC estimate that 80,000 women & children – trafficked to Thailand for the sex trade since 1990

–         Trafficking for sexual purposes– contemporary form of exploitation

–         It is not new, but it is increasing because globalisation

–         The networks vary from small informal to highly organised crime syndicates

–         The networks opperate transnationally

–         They are either out of reach of the legal system or operate close with it by bribe

–         The networks opperate through kidnapping, fake adverts (Eg: domestic staff, dancers) or buying directly from family

Why does women trafficking occur?

Supply side

–         Poor socio-economic condition: lack of employment opportunities & unequal access to education, less access to information

–         Erosion of traditional family values -> the sale of women & community attitudes which tolerate violence against women

–         Weak law enforcement mechanisms


Demand side

–         Profitable sector: cheap labour and increasing number of clients

–         Devaluation of women rights

–         Low risk-high profit nature of trafficking encouraged by a lack of will on the part of enforcement agencies to prosecute traffickers

–         Development policies promoting tourism

How does UNIFEM address this issue?

–         It evaluates the policy from the perspective of the freedom of the victim

–         Objectives:

¡     To raise awareness & public consciousness

¡     To promote policies and programmes that transform ideas, perceptions, values that generates the demand

–         Organisation of workshops to discuss good practices between countries of origin and of destination

Why do policies fail?

–         Not enough research on « why » in order to tackle it in more depth

–         No multisectoral approach – need to empower women, to give them an alternative

–         Most of the initiatives focus on assistance and less on prevention

–         Output – UNIFEM has done advocacy. But the OUTCOME: very poor, no major changes

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