Wednesday, April 22, 2009



TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by any form of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception and abuse of power. This involves the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for exploitation (UN, Article 3 of The Trafficking Protocol).

EXPLOITATION: the use of people for prostitution (and other forms of sexual services), forced labour, slavery, servitude or the removal of organs (UN, Article 3 of The Trafficking Protocol).

DEBT BONDAGE: the status or condition arising from a pledge by a debtor of their personal services (or someone in their protection) as security for a debt, if the value of these services is not applied towards the liquidation of the debt.3

FORCED LABOUR AND SLAVERY-LIKE PRACTICES: “[t]he extraction of work or services from any person or the appropriation of the legal identity and/or physical person of any person by means of violence or threat of violence, abuse of authority or dominant position, debt-bondage, deception or other forms of coercion” (GAATW definition as cited by Chuang 1998).

GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE: violence which is directed against a woman because of her gender. It includes acts which “inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other depravations of liberty” (CEADW Article 1).

PEOPLE SMUGGLING: the “procurement of illegal entry of a person into a State of which the latter person is not a national in order to obtain a profit” (United Nations Global Program Against Trafficking in Human Beings).


GOVERNMENTS: The responsibility for the protection of women’s and girl’s human rights lies first and foremost with the state. A commitment to creating laws and policies that protect human rights and do not further exacerbate women’s social, economic and political disadvantage, are essential to preventing trafficking, prosecuting the perpetrators and providing adequate protection for women who have been trafficked. This may include facing up to the uncomfortable reality of endemic corruption at all levels of government (Carpenter 2003). Governments with domestic immigration policies and anti-prostitution laws incompatible with international trafficking conventions and who continue to criminalise women who have been trafficked and deport them as illegal immigrants, are not providing adequate protection (Chuang 1998). Unfortunately, women continue to be under-represented or absent from decision making bodies and as a result are limited in their ability to instigate and influence reform, particularly in relation to gender-based violence (Cook 1994).

SEX TOURISTS: One key demand driving the trafficking of women is the increased popularity of the sex and tourism trades in the developing world:

  • “In Amsterdam, it costs you 200 guilders for 2 hours. And the girls watch the clock, you know? Here it costs you 10,000 bolivars for the whole night. And they’re lovely girls. They enjoy sex. They want to please you.” 45 year old man from the Netherlands (ECPAT FAQ n.d.)
  • “This is such an open, natural culture. Girls are so willing and open, they want to please. They’re sexual from the age of six…” 52 year old man from Canada (ECPAT FAQ n.d.)

Men (and very occasionally, women) are increasingly attracted to the developing world to engage in acts such as pedophilia which, even if illegal, are poorly regulated and rarely prosecuted. Racism pervades this issue, driving demand for women and girls from the South. Myths surrounding particular cultures and their ‘suitability’ for sexual exploitation are commonplace.

ORGANISED CRIME SYNDICATES: Trafficking is increasingly the domain of highly organised international crime syndicates, attracted by the high profits that can be made for very little risk (Anti-slavery Campaign n.d.).

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOS): are crucial in addressing the trafficking of women and girls. However, NGOs working in this field are divided over the issue of prostitution. This has affected the focus of preventative and protective measures. Those who promote the abolition of prostitution tend to adopt ‘Protective Models’ of intervention, which focus on the restriction of international migration, shelters and medical care for trafficking victims (Chuang 1998). This is criticised by some as having the potential of sending the industry underground and exacerbating women’s vulnerability to abuse. Those who adopt an ‘Empowerment Model’ believe in respecting women’s autonomy and capacity to engage in consensual prostitution as a form of employment (Chuang 1998). Those NGOs adopting this approach tend to lobby for increased labour rights and regulation of conditions, and seek to address exploitation and abuse to empower women rather than see them as victims (Chuang. 1998). The range of views amongst NGOs has often resulted in uncoordinated approaches to challenging the practice of trafficking. Greater dialogue and coordination of activities are needed.

UNITED NATIONS (UN): UN institutions and in particular bodies such as the United Nations Women’s Development Fund (UNIFEM), The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and The United Nations Office on Drug Control and Crime (UNODC) HIGHLY AFFECTED, RARELY CONSIDERED TRAFFIKING OF YOUNG WOMEN have been central to the creation and monitoring of international conventions relating to trafficking. Despite this, the UN as a whole continues to be slow to recognise gender-based persecution and the gender aspects of much of the language and protection offered by international law.


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